Instilling a Sense of Community in Children

Elementary students are learning what it is like to be part of their community through the 4-H Cloverbuds program.

The program, designed for children ages 5 through 8, teaches life and leadership skills in three areas: science, healthy living and citizenship. Each monthly meeting provides hands-on activities covering a range of topics from gardening and environmental education to personal development and community service.

Lane McCann has been club leader for two years. Recent lessons have focused on fitness, self-esteem, geography, time management, patriotism and the government. Occasionally, McCann brings in guest speakers to share their expertise.

“I have had fitness instructors, master naturalists and military members come and talk with the children and share their knowledge,” says McCann. “Last year, I had a fitness instructor come in to show the children easy exercises they could do and she taught them about their heart rate. This year, I will have a meeting teaching the children healthy lifestyles to include eating well and exercising.”

Heavy emphasis is placed on healthy living as well as the environment. Through the years, students have learned the importance of physical activity, as well as how to choose healthy snacks. During one lesson, students measured the amount of sugar in different beverages so they could see just how much sugar they may be consuming. Some meetings are held outside, weather permitting, so that students develop an appreciation of nature.

The 4-H Cloverbuds program “encourages children to be curious, active, kind and silly all at the same time,” says McCann.

That’s what Adrianne Tropilo likes about the program. Her two 6-year-old daughters are current members.

“My girls have benefited from this program in several ways,” says Tropilo. “They have made new friends. They are encouraged to speak in front of the class and that is always a good experience for their future classes and jobs. They are made to feel as though their answers are ‘right’ even when it might not be what Lane is looking for with her question. I like the overall acceptance to be kids. So many things nowadays are pushing our kids to be stronger, more competitive, smarter, and 4-H simply encourages their childhood. It shows them they are an important part of the world around them and that even the little things that little hands do make a huge difference.”

The goal of the program is to get children to take what they’ve learned and apply it to the real world.

Tamra Elim-Durden’s two daughters, now 20 and 15,went through the 4-H Cloverbuds program and have since moved on to other 4-H service programs.

“Both girls talk about the friendships that they have formed and confidence they gained to participate in other extracurricular activities beyond the Cloverbuds program,” Elim-Durden shares. “They also value the time spent with youth, which has flowed into other facets of their lives, such as babysitting and mentoring. Personally, I love the fact that Cloverbuds is for both boys and girls and its curricular framework enables you explore and learn on almost any topic that interests the members. We had fun.”

For more information on the 4-H Cloverbuds program visit to find a program in your area.