Dr. Goodwin jumps in to referee a game of
“It’s not just livestock,”
State 4-H coordinator Jeff Goodwin emphasizes, for perhaps the thousandth time
during his career. 4-H includes a variety of activities to increase youths’
health, well-being, leadership skills, and community engagement, and it
continues to add to its repertoire, incorporating STEM-focused activities such
as rocketry. Rearing and showing cows, pigs, chickens, and goats is still an
important part of the venerable organization. But even here, the focus is not
just on the animals but also on the skills, from time-management to
recordkeeping to simple patience and respect, that the kids who raise them
New to his position—he just came to Hawai‘i last
year from Colorado—Dr. Goodwin identifies the greatest challenge here as
growing what’s still perceived as primarily a rural organization in urban
Honolulu. He’s done it in the city of Denver, though, and he’s ready to do it
support 4-H and the children it it, devoting more than 40,000 hours annually.
He’s getting plenty of help, including the 500-plus
volunteers who support the program and the children in it. Some fifty or sixty
4-H community clubs are active throughout the Islands, as well as around 100
military clubs, at least one on every base throughout the state and elsewhere
in the Pacific. Upwards of 3,200 youth in the state ages 5 to 19 participate.
And with only four dedicated faculty agents in the college, the work 4-H does
would be literally impossible without these volunteers, who contribute more
than 40,000 hours annually, at a value of almost $1 million, to the program.
Many of the volunteers begin because their own
children are involved with the program but continue on after they graduate.
Others join because of their own positive memories of 4-H as kids. “We have
lots of multi-generation 4-H families,” Dr. Goodwin concurs. Older youth
participants also volunteer to mentor the younger members.
All the volunteers are supervised by the agents and
Dr. Goodwin, but there’s room for personal initiative, too: they lead
activities that interest them. They go through orientation training and
periodic supplemental training to gain new skills and knowledge, from fiscal
issues to how to keep learning fun.
Not to mention Dr. Goodwin’s newest introduction to
the Island clubs: shooting sports, such as drilling and marksmanship. One of
the most popular activities on the Mainland, it should considerably boost
youth engagement here. And not to worry, he reassures: the volunteers will get
plenty of training before guiding that activity.