4-H evolves beyond the farm, expands into urban areas

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) Hundreds of students from across Virginia are in Blacksburg for a summer camp, of sorts, that will introduce them to science related careers, problem solving challenges and economic education.

It's part of the 4-H state congress and a far cry from what the organization used to be.

The change is happening to stay relevant. When you think of 4-H, agriculture typically comes to mind. Now the organization is broadening its education for students in urban areas and on the farm.

"They're learning so many life skills that will not only help them in their adult life but in their college experience, in the workforce," said Tonya Price, the 4-H State Congress Coordinator.

The goal is building students with leadership qualities and life skills. This week about 400 kids from across the state are competing, collaborating, and learning hands on how to advance in the classroom and in life.
In some ways that's what 4-H has always been about, but now the farm-centered group is evolving.

"We have a lot of 4-H'ers that are in Northern Virginia and also our rural areas so even though they may be in an urban area and they don't have live stock there's still lots of other things they can participate in like horticulture and the STEM programs," Price said.

4-H started in 1902 as an agriculture focused organization. In the 21st century, more students aren't in the fields. There's a push to attract more students from urban areas as well as rural.

By changing with the times, the organization is growing a new student base.

It's helping 4-H succeed. The state congress continues all week.