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We love hearing those familiar and inspiring 4-H stories that start or end with:
“I am where I am today because of 4-H.”
“I credit the skills I learned in 4-H for who I am today.”
“4-H changed my life.”
They’re just about the same sentiments from every proud 4-H’er and 4-H alumni across the country. However, there is one rare but true statement that we hear from current and former 4-H’ers who have gone through particularly trying circumstances: “4-H saved my life.”
Just imagine finding yourself in a situation—life or death—that requires you to put the skills learned in 4-H to the ultimate test. That’s what happened when two California 4-H members and sisters found themselves lost for two days in a local California woods that is known as ‘mountain lion country.’ They were tested, and they prevailed.
Here’s the story (excerpt via NPR):
The Carrico sisters knew something about wilderness survival, having been trained through 4-H, and may have put those skills to use after getting lost during a walk in the woods Friday afternoon in pursuit of a deer trail. Once the girls failed to return to their Benbow home, located in Northern California’s rugged region near the South Fork Eel River, a rescue operation was launched. Two nights passed while a 250-person-strong crew, including dog teams, assisted in the effort to find them, combing the steep terrain. Then by Sunday morning, tracks left by the boot-shod girls led rescuers to the sisters huddled together, safe, under a bush.
Leia (8) and Caroline (5) are the brave sisters who survived on granola bars, water droplets from the leaves, and the skills they learned in an Outdoor Adventures Project through the Miranda 4-H Club in Humboldt County, California. The project is widely participated in, with an annual project participation count of 2,952 in the state. Lei was in her second year of the project, while younger sister Caroline was in her first year.
Yes, not only does 4-H teach skills in agriculture, STEM and healthy living (to name a few), but life skills are at the core of what 4-H provides to its nearly 6 million members nationwide. Life skills such as resilience, problem-solving, confidence and compassion were the skills Leia and Caroline needed and possessed to keep each other safe, hopeful and alive.