Ask seventh-grader Eli Shadwick about 4-H, and he says, "I really do like it, because it gives me something to do." But while Eli and other club members have fun in this Purdue Extension program, they're also developing skills they'll use as adults.
The "Cool Dogs" 4-H Club at Fountain Square Academy in Indianapolis fosters independence, individual success, and a sense of belonging to a positive group among its fifth-, sixth-, and seventh-grade members. These characteristics are important for all youth, but they're even more crucial for at-risk youth growing up in poverty.
"If I didn't have 4-H," says Eli, "I would probably just go home and let my brain rot by watching TV or playing video games." Instead, club members participate in activities that align with Indiana academic standards and promote college career exploration, giving them tools for developing into productive adults.
"These kids will learn these life skills and leadership skills, and how to get along with one another for later on in their lives, when they get into high school," says Laura Hildebrand, a science teacher at the school. "And then on to college and the job front, hopefully they will have these lifelong skills they will be able to use in the future."