Article by Clayton Helstrom and Ann McHugh
Few high school seniors can say they have met the governor of their state. Senior Andrea Repetz can. As part of her role as PA State 4-H Council president, she spent some time with Gov. Tom Wolf in January when she emceed the 102nd Farm Show opening ceremonies in Harrisburg. She also met PA Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding.
Having been a member of 4-H most of her life, Repetz now serves in a leadership position for the group she enthusiastically endorses. She is grateful for the opportunity to serve the organization that has been so influential in her life.
“Definitely I leave every event with my heart completely full. It’s just really nice to be able to give back to this program that’s given so much to me.”
Repetz said her role as president “is overwhelming at times,” but that the responsibility is worth it. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Repetz said she has been going to 4-H meetings her entire life, ever since her mother and her friend formed their local club.
“I stayed with the program as I got older and found that this is something I really like, the community of people. I met some of my best friends through the program.”
The 4-H motto is "To make the best better." The 4-H name represents four personal development areas of focus: head, heart, hands, and health.
Leadership is a key focus for the 4-H organization. Originally an agriculturally oriented program, today 4-H focuses on citizenship, healthy living, science, engineering, and technology programs. The goal of 4-H is to develop citizenship, leadership, responsibility and life skills of young people through experiential educational programs and a positive approach.
4-H organizations exist in over 50 countries in various formats and administrative structures. Each operates independently but cooperatively through international exchanges, global education programs, and communications. In the United States, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers the program. The organization has nearly six million U.S. members in approximately 90,000 clubs.
The National 4-H website hosts its 2016 Annual Report. The opening letter cites results from the 4-H National Youth Survey on Leadership, which revealed 86% of respondents saying they need more adult encouragement to help them build confidence and grow skills.
The letter also indicates that the National 4-H Council, America’s land grant universities, Cooperative Extension System and the United States Department of Agriculture have the goal to help 10 million young people become leaders over the next 10 years.
In Pennsylvania 4-H is part of the Penn State Extension organization. Every county has a chapter. The Cumberland County chapter is open to youth from ages 8-18. Anyone interested or seeking information can contact the chapter in person at 310 Allen Road, Suite 601, Carlisle, PA, 17013. Interested persons can also call 717-240-6500 or email the chapter at CumberlandExt@psu.edu.
Repetz encourages anyone of eligible age to join at anytime.
“Even one year involved in the program is still incredibly worth it. You’ll learn more than you ever thought you would.”