Search For Excellence in 4-H Programming

Bruce J. Black
Horticulture Educator
University of Illinois Extension, Unit 4

Black, B.*1, , Ebbesmeyer, Martha S2,
1 Horticulture Educator, University of Illinois Extension, Unit 4, Sterling, IL, 61081
2 4-H Youth Development Educator, University of Illinois Extension, Sterling, IL, 61081

The University of Illinois Extension 4-H Youth Summer Gardens were held at six locations across Carroll, Lee and Whiteside Counties in 2018. This past year, a record high of 202 youth (182 participants’ ages 6-12 and 20 participants’ ages 4-5) from local summer programs participated. Since the initial Master Gardener and 4-H program started in 2003, this yearly summer program has expanded to reach various youth audiences including first generation 4-H families, minorities and low-income participants across Carroll, Lee and Whiteside Counties. Each week youth learned about specific garden topics in both a garden and classroom setting. Taught by University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners and Extension Staff, hands-on activities focused on environmental science and horticultural science topics. Summer program coordinators commented that the yearly 4-H Youth Summer Gardens reinforced life skills (teamwork, cooperation, and communication) development and during the lessons, participants were more willing to taste at least one new vegetable that they grew.