4-H Mentoring: Impacting Communities, Saving Lives

By _Amaya_Collins_ January 06, 2017

Mentoring is a powerful tool to help guide, empower and encourage others to reach their full potential. It’s a gateway to both learn and share a wealth of knowledge and experiences. Whether through peer mentoring, adult-child mentoring, or reverse mentoring, both mentor and mentee benefit in more ways than one.

Since January is National Mentoring Month, it only makes sense for us to celebrate what has been such an integral part of the 4‑H experience for so many years.

4‑H mentors are more than advisors; they are role models, educators, life coaches, and friends to the 4‑H kids in their communities. The partnership between a 4‑H mentor and young mentee is important because youth are encouraged to explore their interests and receive valuable, active support.

Here are just a few of the many 4‑H Mentoring programs that not only impact, but save young lives.

Missouri 4‑H: A Powerful Message Combatting Bullying

The Marshall Mentor Program helps youth understand the importance of empathy, courage, perseverance, kindness, and forgiveness, and it challenges them to put these traits into action when facing one of the most common social problems: bullying. The program was inspired by the book, “Marshall the Miracle Dog,” which tells the story of a courageous canine who overcame his battle with bullying. Marshall’s survival led to the creation of the Marshall Movement, which focuses on the importance of teaching kids anti-bullying and anti-animal cruelty.

Missouri 4‑H has implemented the Marshall Mentor Program and applied it to local schools and communities across the state. A young participant of the programs says, “The first way to stop bullying is to treat others the way you would like to be treated. Marshall changed lives and so can we.”

Washington 4‑H: Exchanging and Appreciating Culture through a Common Goal

2016 Standing Rock Reservation - YouTube

Youth and mentors of the Washington State 4‑H National Mentoring Program participated in a state-wide summer trip to North Dakota, Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. North Dakota 4‑H and Washington 4‑H are both a part of the 4‑H National Mentoring Program. Funded in partnership with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), the 4‑H National Mentoring Program supports various initiatives that assist in the development of mentoring services in high-risk communities and populations. The goal is to reduce juvenile delinquency, drug abuse, truancy, and other problems and high-risk behaviors.

The trip was unique as the visit took place just before the Dakota Access Pipeline protests began. Through the cultural exchange trip, mentees of both programs had the opportunity to learn from and understand one another’s experiences, as well as grow an appreciation for the other’s history and culture. A smaller Washington 4‑H group later returned to the reservation to deliver supplies to protesters.

Louisiana 4‑H: Pledging their Hands to Serve the Community

Louisiana 4‑H - Flood Relief - Kids with Supplies

Louisiana suffered severe flooding during the summer. During this time, youth involved in the 4‑H National Mentoring Program came together to give back to communities in need. Pairs of mentors and youth spent time together collecting clothing, baby items, and school supplies, and delivering up to truckloads of items to affected communities. United Way in Lafayette, Louisiana was the recipient of the thousands of supplies that were collected by the group.

“The reach of the mentoring [program] is widespread and powerful,” says one 4‑H Agent when speaking about the program’s influence. “This kind of impact can’t be captured in an evaluation. The program has shaped teens into people who have responded in a quick and unselfish manner.“

Click here to learn more about 4‑H Mentoring.

Mentoring Curriculum: