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K-State Today

August 12, 2016

Kansas 4-H revitalizing Paraguay 4-H program

Submitted by Barbara Stone

In observance of International Youth Day, Aug. 12, Kansas State University's Extension 4-H program is revitalizing a relationship with the Paraguay 4-H program, a 40-year relationship with Partners of the Americas. 4-H in an American program that provides positive youth development by promoting citizenship, healthy living, science education, leadership skills, and more.

"We like to see kids learning that they need to give back to the community in community service projects," said Deryl Waldren, 4-H specialist for K-State Research and Extension's northwest area in Colby. "The best way is to look at local needs and develop a plan or a project that will give back to the community what that community needs. Obviously, 4-H around the world is based on local needs, but there are certain things we hope 4-H is teaching, which is life skills through these and other projects."

Worldwide, there are more than 7 million youth in at least 80 countries who are involved in similar, 4-H-inspired youth development programming. Some of these programs across the globe include the Finnish 4-H program, which is more than 90 years old, and the Korea 4-H program, more than 75 years old.

Youth development can take any number of paths to grow abroad, including land-grant university staff who mentor other countries as they develop their own programs modeled after 4-H. In Senegal, youth grow vegetable seedlings and organize money-raising traditional Senegalese wrestling events in a positive youth development program modeled after Virginia Cooperative Extension's 4-H program.

In addition, States' 4-H International Exchange Programs, a non-profit organization headquartered in Seattle, Washington, sponsors international exchange programs for cultural immersion and exchange programs. These exchanges create opportunities for 4-H'ers to gain global experience in leadership, service, and project work.

Since 1972, these exchanges have reached nearly 50,000 youth and their families in 24 countries on six continents.

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