Want to encourage a youth today to become a leader of tomorrow? It may be as easy as asking them.
"The No. 1 reason kids give for not taking a leadership role is no one has asked them," says Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO of the National 4-H Council.
4-H is encouraging its 25 million alumni to connect with area youth encouraging them to get involved with 4-H and gain new experiences and knowledge in areas like agriculture, STEM, healthy living and citizenship. It's a part of a larger, ambitious campaign that hopes to grow 4-H membership from to 10 million youth by 2025. That's a 67% increase.
"We've been thinking about the future and our responsibility to grow and serve more kids," she says.
That means making more inroads into urban and suburban areas, but Sirangelo says 4-H will not abandon efforts in rural America and sees room for growth there, too.
The 4-H Grow True Leaders campaign began with a survey of 1,500 youth nationwide. Findings showed almost all (96%) of the respondents think strong leadership will solve the country's most pressing issues, but only one in three say they have the skills they need to lead.
"America is facing a critical need for more leaders - true leaders - who are prepared with the skills to deal with the problems of today and the challenges of tomorrow," Sirangelo says. "This campaign is giving youth a platform to ask for more support in preparing them to lead and to be recognized for their positive contributions."
4-H is asking adults to "shout out" positive messages on social media to area youth who are positive examples of courage, responsibility and resilience - tag them with #TrueLeaders. The group is also pushing a multimedia campaign to push back against the limited view many still have about 4-H. Sirangelo says today's 4-H student can choose from hundreds of high-tech STEM projects, including GIS/GPS, robotics and rockets, for example.
For more information about the campaign, visit http://www.4-h.org/get-involved/grow-true-leaders-campaign/.