Editor's note: Helping Hands is a Sunday column offering our area nonprofit groups a chance to talk about their work. If your group would like to be considered for participation, email jperry@dlnewspapers.com. This column is by Leigh Nelson-Edwards, BC 4-H Extension Educator.

Do you know that 4-H is the nations’ largest youth development organization, offering today’s youth opportunities to learn lifelong skills through high-quality experiential learning opportunities?

4-H stands for Head, Heart, Hands and Health, and Becker County 4-H has opportunities for youth to get involved in a variety of ways. There are 10 Community 4-H Clubs in Becker County, various after-school programs (LEGO robotics, STEM, visual arts), clubs for youth with specific interests (such as dogs, books/reading, livestock, horses, shooting sports and wildlife), summer learning opportunities (gardening, photography, 4-H summer school programs) as well as in-school programs (embryology, community engagement, leadership).

4-H Community Clubs meet on a monthly or bi-monthly basis and youth and adults offer learning opportunities in a wide variety of topic areas at these meetings. All youth in grades K-12 are welcome to join local 4-H Community Clubs and parents/guardians or family members are encouraged and welcome to participate alongside youth.

Leigh Nelson-Edwards, Brown County 4-H Extension Educator
Leigh Nelson-Edwards, Brown County 4-H Extension Educator

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Clubs also volunteer in their local communities and members work together to determine how to help others. In the past three months, Becker County 4-H Community Clubs have wrapped and distributed toys to families in need, delivered cookies and led activities at local care centers, served treats to the community during local events, made and distributed fleece tie-blankets to Frazee Rescue and youth in foster care, and have supported youth in various leadership efforts throughout the county. Clubs also get together for fun events such as potlucks, sledding, snow tubing or determine other fun gatherings. Each 4-H Community Club is unique which makes 4-H appealing to youth with varying interests.

4-H after-school programs take place throughout the school year in partnership with area schools and other youth-serving organizations. 4-H project clubs (Horse, Dog, Shooting Sports and Wildlife, Book Club, Kinship Club) meet at various times throughout the year, led by staff or experienced youth and screened adult volunteers. Becker County 4-H volunteers have provided our local communities with over 162 volunteer hours since November, providing financial worth of $20,900 to our county – thank you, Becker County 4-H volunteers!

Many youth who participate in 4-H Clubs choose to share what they’ve learned with the public. Perhaps you have seen some work exhibited during the Becker County Fair in the 4-H Exhibit Hall, or you have watched youth show their animals and demonstrate what they’ve learned during the livestock or horse shows? Learning in 4-H takes place year-round and the county fair provides a fun way to present what they’ve learned to the public. Perhaps you have eaten delicious food from the 4-H food stand? Did you know that Becker County 4-H members volunteer their time throughout the fair to prepare and serve delicious food to all fair-goers? All money raised through their efforts goes back into the 4-H program to further support 4-H youth when they attend camps, leadership workshops, training opportunities, and other 4-H events.

If you or a child you know is interested to learn more about opportunities provided through Becker County 4-H, we welcome new youth and families to join us. You can find the Becker County UMN Extension Office at 1120 Eight St. in Detroit Lakes or visit “Becker County 4-H” on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Visit our website atlocal.extension.umn.edu/local/becker/4-h or download the Becker County 4-H app for a great way to keep up on what’s new!

You can always call us at 218-846-7328 or email me at Nels1425@umn.edu, or Gina Schauer, BC 4-H Extension Educator, at dahr0004@umn.edu for more information.