​​​A Season of Giving and Saying Thanks 
By Richard Clark, Assistant Dean and Head, Department of 4-H/ Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications 

One of the hallmarks of 4-H is teaching young people the importance of giving back to their community. 4-H Service Learning provides hands-on opportunities for youth and adults to be blessed with the inner satisfaction that comes from knowing they made a difference. It also reinforces the concept that the world does not revolve around “me,” but is better focused on serving the larger community. 

In 2015-2016, Tennessee 4-H members engaged in hundreds of service learning projects. Some projects were large and some were small, but all of them made a huge difference in the lives of Tennessee citizens and their communities. These projects accounted for 1,914,046 hours of service by Tennessee 4-H members, with a $40,041,842 impact on the state of Tennessee. It goes to show that you don’t have to be an adult to make a huge difference in communities and in an individual’s life. 

Three examples of current 4-H service learning projects include helping decorate the Tennessee governor’s mansion, providing shoeboxes filled with gifts through Operation Christmas Child (OCC), and creating Tiny Trees for the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville. 

Tennessee 4-H will be well represented this year at the governor’s mansion. Last week we delivered a van full of holiday ornaments representing each of the twenty-six educational 4-H project areas, designed by 4-H members across our great state. They will be on display at the residence during the holiday season! The conservatory, part of the residence grounds, will be filled with trees decorated by 4-H, FFA, and Ag in the Classroom!  

The UT Knoxville Collegiate 4-H Club has been busy the past few weeks engaging in service projects to benefit children and families in the Knoxville community and around the world! At their recent meeting, members decorated holiday trees to be used for children who are hospitalized at the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. 

Collegiate 4-H and 4-H members from across Tennessee are collecting items and putting them in shoeboxes to be sent to children in need from all over the world as part of the OCC program. Collegiate 4-H will be packing approximately 500 boxes on the UT Knoxville campus and over 2,000 boxes will be packed in UT Extension offices across the state.