Randy Yohe Published

W.Va. 4-H Expands Its Educational Focus

4H at fair.jpg

West Virginia’s 4-H presence at this year’s state fair demonstrated a much more diverse educational platform from its agriculture base.

With representation from all 55 counties, the sprawling 4-H State Fair exhibit hall was not big enough to contain the nearly 3,000 student project entries.

First organized in 1912, West Virginia 4-H has more than a century of experience in youth development. In 2022, there are about 142,000 4-H club members in all 55 West Virginia counties.

Club members may also learn about higher education opportunities and even be eligible for scholarships offered by WVU Extension.

State 4-H Curriculum Specialist Jenny Murray said a strength of the organization has always been to embrace diversity. She said 4-H is doing just that with an expanded instruction platform.

“We’re in the business of educating our next generation of West Virginians in the areas of agriculture all the way through things,” Murray said. “Areas such as cooking, rocketry, science, healthy lifestyles, and being good citizens in our communities.”

Murray said the biggest challenge for 4-H is getting all student members access to resources like transportation, mentors and financial support.

“For the young people in our state, some of them are positioned to have better access than others,” Murray said. “Trying to break down those barriers so that all youth have the same access is probably our biggest challenge.”

Anyone between the ages of 9 and 21 can join 4-H with a parent or guardian’s permission. Younger kids, ages 5–7, who are interested in the practices of 4-H can start in the Cloverbud program, which focuses more on fun and social activities that set the stage for future learning.

To find a 4-H club or 4-H Cloverbud club in your area, contact your county Extension office.