October 6-12 is National 4-H Week and 17-year-old Tom Malone from the Camino Go Getters 4-H Club is just one example of the type of leadership that participation in 4-H can develop.
On Oct. 12, Malone will be facilitating a youth forum in Sacramento with teens from all over the state of California, giving them a voice to share their views on health and to develop solutions to help create healthier communities across the state and nation. The Teens Take on Health Town Hall is just one of the events in 4-H’s new initiative “Revolution of Responsibility” taking place nationwide as 4-H’s centennial year gets underway.
Malone, who has been involved with the Camino 4-H group for about 10 years, was one of only two youth selected to represent the state of California with Teens Take on Health, a partnership between 4-H and Molina Healthcare. The Jesuit High School senior responded to a state-wide e-mail requesting applications for the delegate position earlier this year.
“Ann Iaccopucci, (California State 4-H Healthy Living Coordinator) said my application stood out because of my leadership experience, minor event planning and the commitment my Eagle Scout project demonstrated,” said Malone. ”I’ve always been interested in health — it’s the way we were raised. My family is very active and my mom ingrained healthy living into us.”
Malone attended three days of training in group facilitation and public speaking techniques in Chevy Chase, Md. along with California’s other delegate, Morgan Johnson of Humboldt County. “I got to go to the National 4-H Center and meet our national 4-H Council representatives,” said Malone. “That was very cool.”
Between his 4-H participation at the El Dorado County Fair, 50 hours of community service for his school, taking physics in summer school, working at Kids Incorporated, checking out colleges and senior year demands, Malone managed to squeeze in visits to El Dorado High School and meetings at Jesuit to explain the Teens Take on Health forum and invite teens to register to participate in the event. He’s also had a hand in planning the event, which will take place at the Sacramento Job Corps, 1-4 p.m. on Oct. 12.
“Our goal is to have about 150-200 participants from all over the state and to facilitate a conversation about what teens think about health. My job is to fuel the conversation and draw out in-depth thinking and then to gather the most information I can about what they think the problems are,” said Malone. “I can’t tell you what topics we’ll be discussing because our goal is to have the youth at the event choose the health issues they want to talk about — anything involving health and healthy living is up for discussion.”
Malone will also split the forum up into interested groups after the initial conversation and facilitate each group’s ideas for moving into action. “If I give them the tools to take action, that will make it easier. In the moment, people get excited, but then the next morning when they wake up, they don’t know what to do and nothing happens. I want to give them the tools so that the next morning it’s easier to get something started,” he said.
Groups from around the state will be Skyping into the TTOH event and participating in the discussion. About 16 regional high schools have been invited to participate and 4-H groups from neighboring counties such as Yuba, Yolo, Amador and Placer will participate.
Malone said he isn’t subject to stage fright, despite the number of people he will be working with. Leadership skills he learned in 4-H and experience with state-wide 4-H meetings have helped. “The public speaking skills I’ve learned have also helped in my classes,” said Malone. “The benefits of doing this forum are endless both for me, personally, and for the youth involved.”
Tracy Celio, El Dorado County 4-H Youth Development coordinator, said there are about 600 El Dorado County youth involved in 4-H. “They are learning all the skills that Tom is demonstrating. These are real-world skills they will use in many ways for the rest of their lives.
“The most important thing about Teens Take on Health and the things happening during the Revolution of Responsibility is that teens are doing amazing things and taking on challenges that affect all of us,” said Celio. “They are being part of the change.”
Currently 3.4 million youth participate in 4-H Healthy Living programs. As 4-H celebrates its 100th anniversary, look for more activities and events showcasing 4-H youth as they learn to take on the responsibility of national challenges.
For more information about TTOH or to register, visit ucanr.edu/TTOH. Registration is still being taken.
Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.