When I first started teaching, I did not want to take much of an active roll in the 4-H activities that take place in my class. There is one meeting each month where the students learn different life skills and participate in demonstrations and contests. The goals of 4-H are to develop leadership skills, life skills and citizenship.
So, as I stated, I initially did not want to be very involved. My observations that first year lead me to conclude that without my involvement, many of the students would not participate in these monthly meetings. I also began to see each meeting and as a teachable moment!
One of the activities that 4-H promotes is community service. At first, my students wanted to settle on the fact that we are recycling in the classroom and that is a community service project. I agreed with them, but told them that the recycling was my idea and while they could use that as one of the projects for this year, they needed to come up with at least two more on their own!
In a meeting in October, my students decided to start collecting money for a local animal rescue group to help purchase food and supplies. To make the collecting easy, the class comes back to the classroom for lunch on Fridays, but in order to pass through the door, they have to donate $0.25. We have over $30 so far!
One of their other service projects was to sponsor two needy children from the High School's Angel Tree. The children are all members of our local community, so the students are happy to help out someone close to home. We sponsored a little boy and a little girl and today I cheerfully gave the gifts that my class brought in to the Angel Tree Coordinator.
I also got them involved in FreeRice.com, and they are busily answering questions every day and collecting their grains of rice! (I like FreeRice as it gets them thinking!!)
They have plans to help out at the local thrift store one Saturday, and have not decided on their final project.
The secretary wrote up the reports for the 4-H officer so that the class can receive credit for completing these projects.
It is amazing to watch them brainstorm ideas and then carry them through to the end. At least some of them are learning how to take responsibility for themselves and others, how to help out someone less fortunate than themselves, and they are proud of their accomplishments. I am glad that I got so involved this year, as the students abilities are really shining through!