The season for giving has come to a close, but if your kids are more focused on all that they can get this time of year, how about trying a gratitude practice?  Studies have shown that people who regularly practiced gratitude were found to have lower rates of depression, more impulse control, and stronger immune systems.  By encouraging children to develop these habits at an early age, you can help to set them up for happier, healthier, and more successful lives.

Here are three ways to cultivate a gratitude practice with the young people in your lives:

The holiday season is upon us! No matter which holiday you’re celebrating, December is a busy month. Between shopping for your loved ones and preparing those traditional family recipes, you may not have much time to consider that there are easy things you can do to create environmental or social impact in terms of food advocacy this season. To help, the Food Advocacy Team has created a simple list of ways you can continue to practice food advocacy through the holidays.

1.  Reduce Food Waste

This past month ten youth from Illinois were able to attend the 100th National 4-H Congress. This was a five day event held in Atlanta, GA where they were able to take part in many activities such as workshops hosted by individuals from high level universities, fun sightseeing, and a morning of service with everyone who attended. I was able to ask some of the participants some questions about their experiences and how national networking opportunities help them grow.

 

Q: Favorite Part of the week?

hands planting a tree

OK, I get it.   We’ve changed our environment in ways that need immediate attention. So what can I do? We need to improve our water quality. Storm water runoff with too many nutrients needs reduced. We need to become “carbon neutral” by producing less CO2 gas and find more ways to absorb and hold (called sequester) these carbon molecules so they don’t get trapped in the atmosphere thus warming our planet. But what can I really do and how can I help demonstrate to others we all need to care? One good answer….plant a tree.

One of my favorite holiday traditions is my annual family baking day. Ever since I learned how to bake in 4-H, I’ve gotten together at least once every winter with family to spend time in the kitchen. These occasions are a great opportunity to celebrate community, foster relationships, create delicious treats, and share stories and family recipes. If you find yourself in the kitchen this holiday season, I challenge you to use this opportunity to introduce kids to the joys of cooking and baking.

“To make the best better”—We all know the 4-H motto by heart. As 4-H members and supporters, this is what unites us—the passion and perseverance to take something that is great and pour our head, heart, and hands into creating something even better. Over the past four years of my time on the Illinois State 4-H Youth Leadership Team and my past year as Chair of the team, my driving force has been improving a team that already has so much to offer to 4-H members across Illinois.

As I reflect on my years of being a 4-H member, most of my time was spent in the Shooting Sports program at my SPIN Club. When I first started shooting, I was seven years old, out at a local gun camp. The first gun I ever owned was a pink Crickett rifle. As I grew and entered 4-H, my father took me over the SPIN Club for McLean County.  Every Tuesday night, the other members and I practiced and trained to shoot air rifles and learn important 4-H skills as well as shooting sports safety.

4-H has given me so many opportunities, especially through Shooting Sports. When I started 4-H, I didn't feel l like I would really fit in with everyone because it was all about farming and raising animals, but that wasn't the case. Shooting Sports opened a huge opportunity for me and made me feel as if it was meant for me. 

Building your leadership skills can seem scary or unachievable, but 4-H teaches us that nothing is unachievable. Here are three easy ways to build your leadership skills.  

It is important to note that everyone has leadership skills!

Text that says "4-H Celebrates Native American Heritage Month"

4-H celebrates Native American Heritage Month!

Every November we celebrate the history, heritage, traditions, and culture of Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. Here are some ideas of how youth and 4-H clubs can help celebrate this month!

Learn 

Learn more about Native American Heritage Month, why it is celebrated, and its history and impact at

Read

Dishes of food surrounding a globe with the words "World Food Day"

Illinois 4-H is excited to be a part of celebrating World Food Day. Along with young people worldwide, you can play a role in creating a healthy, sustainable food system for all. Here are some ideas to celebrate World Food Day, 4-H style: 

Colorful fan with the text "celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month"

¡Feliz Mes de la Herencia Hispana! Hispanic Heritage Month is observed each year September 15th - October 15th. This month celebrates not only the histories and cultures, but also the contributions of American citizens whose ancestors come from the Caribbean, Spain, Mexico, and Central/South America.  Ready to celebrate? Here are some ideas of how you and your club can get involved on your own, with your family, as a club, or at school.   These ideas can be done in person or celebrated virtually!

ice fishing dangers thin ice

Jake’s family farm had two ponds full of bluegill, and he had always wanted to learn how to catch them through the ice. His friend, Carmen, had been taught how to ice fish by her uncle from Wisconsin a couple years before, so they decided on a Saturday afternoon adventure to try their luck.

Walking up to the first pond, Carmen stopped Jake for a moment.