Someone holding a centipede during the Hillsborough County 4-H Youth Development program’s open house at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa.

Students striving to enhance their life skills to help them become more productive members of society can join the Hillsborough County 4-H Youth Development program. The youth development program of Florida Cooperative Extension is part of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

This program is geared toward students ages 5 to 18. It promotes life skills, civic participation and educational activities. The Hillsborough County 4-H hosts a club program which covers a wide array of topics, such as photography, livestock, gardening and dog training.

Brandi Yancy, 4-H Youth Development agent at Hillsborough County, stated what makes this program stand out: “I grew up in the 4-H program and loved that it was very much a family-oriented activity for me.”

The Hillsborough County 4-H also offers two after-school programs, such as one on aeronautics, engineering and robotics. The second after-school program educates students on water resources, water conservation along with steps to protect for future use. A 4-H club consists of a group of five or more students led by one or more adult volunteer leaders.

“We are always looking for adult volunteers to either join a club or become project leaders,” Yancy said.

The Extension Service became established in 1914 by Congress. It aims to provide a way for disseminating and implementing research-based information from land-grant universities. The University of Florida, located in Gainesville, is one of Florida’s land-grant universities. 4-H can be found in all of the counties in Florida as well as in every state and internationally.

In addition, 4-H has partnered with Tufts University in Massachusetts for more than 10 years to study the effectiveness of its youth development programs. The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development conducted by Tufts University discovered that 4-H’ers are four times more likely to give back to their communities, two times more likely to make healthier choices and much more.

For more information, visit http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/hillsborough/4-h-youth-development/. For upcoming events, visit http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/events/?location=hillsborough. If you’re interested in joining or becoming a volunteer, contact 744-5519 ext. 54116 or ext. 54132.

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