Monday, April 11, 2016

4-H expanding in urban areas in bid to boost Hispanic and African American membership

4-H clubs will soon be expanding into urban and suburban areas in a quest to attract Hispanic and African American youth, T. Rees Shapiro reports for The Washington Post(Post photo by Katherine Frey: Mica Biamonte, 12, gives a demonstration on how to sew a pillow to her fellow 4-H'ers on April 7, 2016, in Damascus, Md.)

The new effort is part of a campaign to add 4.2 million Hispanic or African American members by 2025. About half of the six million 4-H members from kindergarten to high school are white, with 1.7 million members Hispanic or African American. Jennifer Sirangelo, chief executive of the National 4-H Council, told Shapiro, "We just know we need to break out of this limited view that people have of 4-H. We’re still connected to our roots in agriculture, but we are so much more.”

In an attempt to attract more urban youth "the transformation will involve emphasizing 4-H projects surrounding science, technology, engineering and math—the STEM fields—promoting activities such as rocketry or building drones," Shapiro writes. "Sirangelo said that demographic data collected by the organization shows that there are about 30 million children in the country who are underserved and could benefit from leadership­-development programs such as 4-H." She told him, “We want to ensure that our program has a welcome mat in every community. We know if we don’t get them ready for leadership, we may have a huge leadership void affecting every industry and sector in the future.” The National 4-H Conference is being held through Thursday in Washington D.C.

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