NEW CASTLE — Head, heart, hands and health are the principles on which the 4-H was built.
The head is for thinking, the heart is for caring, the hands for giving and health for living. 4-H clubs from around the country have been using this philosophy to mold young people into leaders since the beginning of the 20th century.
Cassidy Baker, 18, can’t vouch for the program enough. The recent Portersville Christian graduate has been a 4-H member for eight years, including the last one as Pennsylvania 4-H Council president. Her term expires next week.
“I think 4-H is a great program,” the daughter of Lawrence County residents Bruce and Cindy Baker said. “Just seeing my personal growth within the program, and how it’s helped me out of my comfort zone.”
At first, she didn’t want to join the program, but after attending one meeting she kept coming back. The friends she made while attending 4-H camp were more than enough motivation to keep her a part of the program.
“The people were different and I made really good friendships,” Baker said. “I thought it was really cool to see 18-year-olds helping 8-year-olds.”
Baker is not looking forward to stepping down as president next week. During her one-year term, she’s spoken on behalf of the 4-H to several public officials and done a lot of traveling. That included a trip to Bucknell University for a speak-out panel and several trips to Harrisburg.
Baker credits the 4-H for developing her into the person she is today.
“As soon as I joined the program I saw my grades skyrocket,” said Baker, who was her class valedictorian.
At the county level, Baker has been involved with her equine club and the county’s teen council. She also has had the opportunity to serve as a camp counselor and attend various statewide events. In addition, she attended the 2010 National 4-H Congress and the 2012 National 4-H Conference.
She is headed to Robert Morris University this fall. She believes her involvement in 4-H has helped prepare for the transition to college.
“The program helps you build connections, broaden your horizons, and it really helps change people into leaders,” she said.
Baker said she will age out of the program soon, because she will be 19 as of Jan. 1, which is the cutoff date to still be in the program. However, she still plans on being active with the 4-H.
“I owe a lot to the program so I’m obviously going to give back.”
She said there are always options to be leaders and volunteers. She also plans on coming back to chaperone and aid their statewide events.
“If you cut me open,” she said, “I’d bleed green and white.”