By Kelsey Markus

4-H program representative

The 4-H Program is proud to teach our youth members about giving back during this holiday season.

Our 4-Hers are grateful for the donation of time and money that local community members give all year long, and we like to teach our members to return the favor as well. An integral part of the 4-H program is service learning. Through service learning, members give back to their community while increasing their learning.

Key components of 4-H Service learning are: integrating learning, meeting genuine needs, promoting youth voice and choice, creating partnerships, benefiting everyone and building civic responsibility. In utilizing the service learning method, 4-H members brainstorm issues they see in their community and begin to address them.

One example of this is when a member of Tuolumne County began to see an increase in the homeless population and wanted to help. She contacted the Lambert Community Center (a center dedicated to outreach and engagement in response to mental illness, addiction, poverty, and homelessness in Tuolumne County) to learn how she could best help with this problem. Once she learned how to help, she began collecting socks, other small hygiene products, and nonperishable foods to put into “Kindness Bags” which she handed out to those in need.

Other members learned about fellow teenagers who were living in hotel rooms because their families did not have homes. Teens brought microwavable meals to their annual Teen Retreat in order to help these 4-H families.

In Calaveras County, members have participated by getting their hands dirty. They have helped in clearing old trails and creating new trails along the Arnold Rim Trail. The trail is rapidly growing in popularity with locals, as well as the tourist community. The increase in number of trails allows more people to spread out amongst the hills and keep safe while still feeling away from the masses.

Calaveras 4-Hers also wanted to do more than just collect toys during the holidays, so they contacted Santa’s Express to learn how they could help the most. Organizers were happy to have them help sort through the thousands of toys donated so it would be easier to give the right gifts to the right families.

If you would like to learn more about the 4-H Program, call (530) 621-550,3 or go online to