It’s no secret that today’s youth feel pressure. How they overcome those pressures is a true testament to their character. Take West Palm Beach native Edward Matos, for example. Matos, 17, credits his enrollment in 4-H for helping him overcome adversity and build confidence along the way. The life skills taught through 4-H helped Matos learn to work with others, overcome challenges and complete jobs once he started them.
Matos took advantage of the breadth of programs 4-H offers, from science and agriculture to business and creative arts.
Matos is particularly enthusiastic about his involvement with the local 4-H Tech Wizards team, which recently completed a large-scale Lego project. He has enjoyed his 4-H involvement so much that he has invited others to participate.
One of the greatest benefits Matos discovered through 4-H is widening his circle of friends and social opportunities.
“A close friend of mine is the former president of our 4-H club and encouraged me to join,” Matos said. “I recall how much I enjoyed the first meeting that I attended. The most appealing thing about the group to me was how nice and humble all of the members were. 4-H allowed me to meet people at my school that I wouldn’t have been able to interact with otherwise.”
Meeting all those other students has helped boost his confidence. “I have been able to become more confident through 4-H because it has allowed me to have more social opportunities,” Matos said.
A recent survey by National 4-H Council found that 71 percent of today’s youth view leadership as something they can practice and improve over time. But those same youth need supportive adults to help them along the way.
4-H brings a community together to grow true leaders, helping build confidence, teamwork, curiosity and resilience. “The volunteers and leaders in my club really went above and beyond to help me,” Matos said. “They really helped me explore options for my future.”
Any child can grow with 4-H, but 4-H is always looking for adult volunteers and funding to help expand its reach and empower young people through doing. To find out more about helping 4-H in your area, contact the Florida Cooperative Extension Service or visit www.4H.org.
ABOVE:Edward Matos has learned leadership skills through his time with 4-H.