April 30, 2006 - 4-H in its Second Century

During the last week of April, I spent two days in Atlanta, Georgia attending my first meeting as a new member of the Board of Trustees of the National 4-H Council. My involvement in 4-H goes back to my days as a member of the O'Connell Rustlers 4-H Club near Ontario, Wisconsin and it has continued during my broadcast career as I cover 4-H activities on my radio-TV shows.

I learned a great deal about the current changes and goals in the 4-H movement and came away from the meeting at Coca Cola world headquarters more convinced than ever that 4-H is one of the best leadership-building organizations for young people in the world. Twenty-nine of the 38 Trustees are adults who have reached top positions in the corporate and academic world, and because of their 4-H Club membership, are fully committed to supporting 4-H.

The other 9 Trustees are outstanding current 4-H'ers because a core principal of the 4-H movement recognizes that young people must have an equal role with adults in both the development of opportunities for young people as well as in the development of the communities where they live. They are actively involved in Council discussions and votes.

I mentioned goals of the National 4-H Council and there are four top priorities through 2010. #1 is to strengthen 4-H through value-added resources. #2 is to assist in building the capacity of 4-H to be a high performance and inclusive movement. #3 is to leverage high-impact leaders to advance the 4-H movement and Goal #4 is to move high priorities of the 4-H system to action with our partners.

Fund-raising to carry out those goals is an important part of the work of the National 4-H Council and each Trustee makes an annual personal contribution. We saw an example of going far beyond the personal giving when Board member, Ken Hicks, President of J.C. Penney presented the Council with a check for $1,000,000.00 to fund the National 4-H After School program. Needless to say, I was impressed!

4-H is a community of young people across America who are learning leadership, citizenship and life skills and all of us who were members received those benefits and it's time for us to give back with time, talent and money to assure the continued growth of the 4-H movement.

While 4-H has had many changes over the years, one thing has not changed...the words of the 4-H Pledge that we recited at every meeting...."I pledge my Head to clearer thinking, my Heart to greater loyalty, my Hands to larger service, and my Health to better living, for my club, my community, my country and the world." In a changing and more complex world that still works for me and I look forward to my three years on the Board.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez