As a community service and an opportunity for children interested in hands-on experience at a number of practical life skills, the 4-H Agents at the Community and Natural Resources (CNR) division of the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) have initiated an After-School Program for youngsters from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. every Wednesday for the duration of the spring 2016 semester. Activities fall within the components of 4-H, namely: head, heart, health, and hands.
Active in the United States since the early 1900s, the initial purpose of 4-H was to bridge the gap between public school education and rural life. Over the years, 4-H has evolved into a global network of youth organizations whose mission is "engaging youth to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development." The goal of 4-H is to develop citizenship, leadership, responsibility and life skills of youth through experiential learning programs and a positive youth development approach. Though typically thought of as an agriculturally focused organization as a result of its history, 4-H today focuses on citizenship, healthy living, science, engineering, and technology programs. The 4-H motto is "to make the best better", while its slogan is "learn by doing."
In American Samoa, 4-H is one of the four CNR Extension programs at ASCC. The 4-H After School Program, offered free of charge to youngsters aged 8-19, includes a wide variety of activities that relate to “head, heart, health, and hands,” such as food safety, nutrition, staying healthy, fishing, team-building, textile printing, arts and crafts, sewing, vegetable gardening and forestry. “They all seem excited,” said 4-H Program Manager Molly Lagai of the first group of 35 youngsters who signed up to participate in the first semester of the program.
“After a semester with us, we hope the children will have picked up both practical knowledge and social skills, such as learning from each other and sharing,” continued Lagai. “We help them work together, share information, and evaluate themselves and others, so that ultimately they can take responsibility for their own learning and relate the experiences they have with us to their own lives.” In addition to Lagai, the 4-H team includes Agents Nellie Fuimaono, Aliimau Petaia, and Daisy Talatau Maugalei, all of whom provide instruction with occasional assistance from other agents and professionals who come to lead workshops, depending on the topic.
While the federally-funded After-School Program is offered free of charge, enrollment is limited to 25 students each semester. To attract the current group of youngsters participating, 4-H ran an advertisement in the local newspapers prior to the start of the semester. Although registration is closed for this semester, parents interested in enrolling their children for the fall 2016 4-H After-School Program can contact Nellie Fuimaono, Daisy Talatau, or Aliimau Petaia for more information at 699-1575, extensions 236 or 243.