If I were asked to choose one program for youth to get involved in, I would recommend 4-H.
The non-profit 4-H is an organization that allows youth from grades three to 12 to raise livestock for auction, and participate in projects ranging from culinary arts to shooting sports.
Four-H encompasses important values a child should learn while growing up; a sense of community, the ability to work hard and a strong sense of ethics.
These three things are important aspects of 4-H.
Four-H'rs are a close-knit community, and as we experience life lessons we become even closer as a 4-H family.
We learned a hard lesson this year when we lost one of our young 4-Hers, Matti Matin.
As our 4-H community came together to deal with the grief and tragedy, I realized how much Matti's family does for 4-H and how much 4-H is a family oriented program.
Matti personified 4-H with his energy and happiness.
He easily carried out the 4-H motto of "learn by doing." I will never forget seeing Matti barefoot, knee-deep in mud, in a pig pen in the rain, learning how to show pigs.
As a 9-year-old boy, Matti always had fun while learning.
Four-H'rs have a remarkable ability to have fun in any circumstance.
This is an important skill that 4-Hers will find to be useful later in life.
Four-H not only teaches us life skills, such as the ability to have fun while working, record keeping, public speaking and leadership, but it also teaches us to have good values.
Ethics is highly regarded in 4-H. Although we compete, we place more emphasis on helping one another.
Although competition motivates 4-Hers to work harder, they never lose sight of what is truly important.
I realized this especially after we lost Matti.
All the 4-Hers, even the young ones, worked harder than ever to help each other and Matti's family.
When Matti's family left the fair, they said they knew that their animals would be taken care of, and they were right.
Even the young 4-Hers that didn't realize what was going on helped feed animals and take care of the family.
Although I will miss 4-H when I graduate from the program next year, the ideals I have learned will be a guiding light for the rest of my life.
I have made life-long friends, learned to work hard, and ingrained strong ethical values.
Any youth wanting to have this experience should definitely join 4-H.
This article is the opinion of Maya Johnson. Johnson is a senior at Kenai Central High School.
Peninsula Clarion ©2014. All Rights Reserved.