The Kansas 4-H Foundation is encouraging alumni of 4-H to “raise their hand” in support of the youth organization as part of the National 4-H Council’s overall campaign to reengage with alumni.
Representatives from 4-H — Kansas State’s youth development program — tabled on Water’s Lawn April 18-19 to encourage current students who are former 4-H members to register as alumni.
“A lot of people don’t realize that 4-H is K-State’s youth development program,” said Jake Worcester, president and CEO of the Kansas 4-H Foundation. “It’s part of delivering on the land grant mission of the university to take education to our communities across the state, so it’s a natural integration.”
Janae McKinney, freshman in agricultural communications and journalism and a 13-year 4-H member, said she sees the connection between 4-H and K-State every day.
“4-H has honestly given me everything that I needed in college because it helped me with time management skills, organization, being able to talk to people, public speaking,” McKinney said. “All those life skills that you learn in 4-H are the real keys to staying on top of it while in college.”
Worcester said he does not know how many 4-H alum are current students at K-State.
“We know we have a good number of 4-H alums here at K-State,” Worcester said. “We’re happy in Kansas to participate in that, and our effort is to share with folks the opportunity to be proud of that, that they’re a 4-H product, they are 4-H grown and that there’s an opportunity to reengage with the 4-H community. Our effort is to make sure as many K-State former 4-H’ers here at K-State reengage with us and raise their hand as proud 4-H’ers.”
The top three states with the most alumni who “raise their hand” by June 30 will win a $20,000, $10,000 or $5,000 reward for their local programs. In addition, Stanion Wholesale Electric Co. Inc. is donating $2 for each hand raised in Kansas up to $10,000.
Alumni can “raise their hand” by filling out an information form at www.4-h.org/raise-your-hand.
“It’s more than money,” said Hannah Fry, sophomore in agricultural education and a 12-year 4-H member. “Once you raise your hand and get your email in there, you’re kind of stuck with knowing what’s going on with 4-H, and it helps you know what you’ve done and how it makes a difference for these kids.”
Worcester said there are opportunities for former 4-H’ers to give back to the organization as soon as they leave the program.
“So the sooner we engage with K-Staters who were 4-H’ers and provide them with opportunities to be part of the 4-H family again, the sooner they’ll be volunteering,” Worcester said. “We know there’s so much that K-State students could provide in terms of mentorship, friendship and leadership to current 4-H’ers.”
McKinney said she is proud to raise her hand because of what 4-H stands for.
“A lot of 4-H’ers want to keep giving back as they’ve grown up with 4-H and have that volunteering spirit,” McKinney said. “This is a really great way for us to contact them again and keep the spirit of volunteering going.”