Wisconsin 4-H Sees Growth, New Programming

According to the latest Wisconsin 4-H impact report, membership has increased to just over 26,000 students, an 8 percent jump from 2022.

While it’s not a new record for the organization, it is higher than it was just before the pandemic. Wisconsin 4-H State Program Leader Jessica Jens says this increase in both membership and chapters is the start to a decade of growth. Wisconsin 4-H has launched new programming to engage students both in and out of the classroom.

AmeriCorps Partnership

There’s an opportunity while you’re out of school to stay involved in 4-H. Wisconsin 4-H recently received an AmeriCorps grant to help grow Wisconsin 4-H across the state. Not familiar? Jens describes AmeriCorps as a domestic Peace Corps.

There are opportunities to get involved across 29 counties. It can be a year-long commitment or just for the summer. Jens says she finds the opportunity is great for retirees or recent graduates. You do need a high school diploma to participate.

The benefits are that you receive a living stipend and a few thousand dollars as an education grant. She finds that grandparents like to gift their “education” grant to their grandkids going to college.

There are still summer positions available: https://4h.extension.wisc.edu/wisconsin-4-h-and-americorps/

4-H In The Classroom

Rural communities still make up most of 4-H membership, but Wisconsin 4-H has seen growth in urban areas with help from new programming in the classroom.

Jens explains that staff and volunteers are getting creative to build out 4-H clubs and groups in urban areas of the state. This includes after-school programs and classroom 4-H clubs are reaching urban families the most.

“We can’t always assume that young people have access to 4-H,” she explains. “Families who can’t have a parent around to drive to the community club meeting at night, those kids can’t really be part of 4-H as easily. When we bring 4-H into after-school programs or even into the classroom, it now opens up access to all kinds of kids around the state, which is very exciting.”

Learn more: https://4h.extension.wisc.edu/