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Publication #4HCIM13

4-H Exploring Citizenship, Unit V: My Community1

John Rutledge, Joy C. Jordan, and Dale Pracht2

Introduction

  • What is a community?

  • What is your role as a citizen of a community?

  • What opportunities are available to you as a citizen of your community?

  • What can you do to improve your community?

If you are interested in any of these questions, the "My Community" project is for you. This project will help you learn more about your community. You will learn about the many functions of your community and how they relate to each other. You will understand the importance of becoming involved in your community.

Objectives

This book is divided into two parts. In part one, you will research five different components (com-po-nent: one part of a whole) of your community. You will learn:

  • The responsibilities of different components of your community

  • How these different pieces work together to make a healthy community

  • Some of the challenges facing these areas of your community

In the second part of this book you will develop a plan to improve one component of your community. You will learn:

  • How to discover your community’s needs

  • How to make and carry out a plan of action

  • How to organize ideas and record results

  • How to share your newfound knowledge with others

This action project involves real-life learning experiences. Your experience in participating more fully in your community will be fun, exciting, challenging, and rewarding.

Planning “My Community” Project

This project may be taken either as an individual or a group project.

Exploring your community can be exciting. It will help you learn to act with intelligent concern for the good of your whole community, which includes yourself and your friends. There are different definitions of “community.” A community could refer to people who live and work in the same geographic area. “Community” could also refer to a group of people who have similar interests or goals. For example, people who have an interest in acting and theater are part of the “thespian community.” People who enjoy playing video games are part of a “gaming community.” As 4-H members, you are part of the “4-H Community.”

When this book talks about “community,” it will be referring to the first definition: a group of people who live and work together in the same geographic area. They share ideas and feelings about each other, what they do, and where they live. In a way, the community is like a jigsaw puzzle with many different pieces. As long as the pieces of the puzzle are jumbled, it is hard to see what the picture is. Taken by itself, each piece has no meaning. Only when all the pieces are fitted together can we see the complete picture. In addition, it is this way with the parts or components of a community.

What are the major components that make up your community? Here is a list of community components. Each component affects our lives almost every day.

Community Components

  • Government

  • Courts and Laws

  • Business and Industry (Our Economic System)

  • Transportation, Communication, and Utilities

  • Faith-Based Organizations

  • Culture and Heritage

  • Natural Resources and Environment

  • Education

  • Recreation and Entertainment

  • Health, Safety, and Welfare

Some of these can be broken down further and some combined, but the list provides a starting point for you to explore your community.

You may take this project for one or more years, depending on how much you want to learn. Each year in the project, you will study five components of your community.

Summary of Steps to Follow

  1. Read about the ten community components featured in this book.

  2. Choose five community components to study (examples: government, faith-based organizations, etc.)

  3. Explore your community by:

  • Completing one or more study activities from each of the five components chosen.

  • Interviewing at least one person from each of the five community components. Record these interviews on pages 24 to 28.

  • Summarizing interviews on page 29. Note achievements, as well as goals that are still unrealized.

4. Select a project to benefit your community that is within your interests and abilities from one of the community components studied. This project should arise from the problems discovered in your interviews.

5. Make a plan of action for the community project selected.

6. Carry out your plan.

7. Keep a record of what you do.

8. Share your knowledge with others.

Part 1. Study the Community

Record Your Study Activities

Write below the five components of your community you selected to visit and study. Select one or more study activities for each of the components chosen.

Example:

Community Component

Government

Study Activities

Tour city hall and find out names of city officials.

List your choices here:

Community Component Study Activities

  1. ____________________________ ____________________________

  2. ____________________________ ____________________________

  3. ____________________________ ___________________________

  4. ____________________________ ____________________________

  5. ____________________________ ____________________________

Your 4-H Project Leader can guide you in carrying out your study activities. After you complete each one, record it in your project summary.

Community Study Guide

Government

Description

Our leaders are elected by the people. This means that we the people are responsible for selecting our city or county officials. To exercise that responsibility with "justice for all" requires people to be informed. You can cultivate this habit, thereby making our government better and better.

As you study local government you will find there are three basic forms: the council form, the commission form, and the city manager form. Which type of government does your town have?

Study Activities
  • Tour your city hall, county commissioners’ office, and/or courthouse to learn more about your local government. Research your city or county officials. List their political party, previous jobs or offices they have held, and a brief biography.

  • Attend a city council or county commissioner’s meeting. What topics were discussed? Who attended?

  • Write an explanation of how your city government functions and how it is financed.

  • Find out what services are offered by your city government.

  • Make posters encouraging people to register and vote.

Do: Describe which study activity you completed.

Reflect: How can you encourage youth in your community to be more involved in local government and decision-making processes?

Apply: How will you act differently now that you know more about your local government?

Courts and Laws

Description

Although we live in a democracy, we need a certain amount of rules and regulations. These rules and regulations are laws which help the community run smoothly and protect the lives, property, and the rights of the citizen. It is the job of the court to make sure the laws are justly applied. The court must not only punish those who break laws, but must also protect the citizens who follow the law.

Study Activities
  • Have a mock trial complete with judge, jury, defendant, and witnesses.

  • Find out how many different courts there are in your county and list the different responsibilities of each court.

  • Interview a lawyer to learn what he or she does to help people with legal problems or needs.

  • Research the difference between civil and criminal court cases. Record a description of each type of case and list an example of each.

  • Interview a judge to learn about a judge’s responsibilities. Ask the judge if there is an upcoming court case that you can observe.

  • Research and list any strange or unique laws that your community may have.

Do: Describe which study activity you completed.

Reflect: What did you learn about the courts and laws in your community?

Apply: How will you act differently now that you know more about your local court system?

Business and Industry (Our Economic System)

Description

People depend upon each other for their needs. This interdependence makes trading necessary and has led to a complicated production and marketing system in America.

Industry has the responsibility for turning raw materials (such as iron, coal, sand, or wood) into products people can use. These products include not only such things as cars, appliances, and furniture, but also food, clothing, and electricity. Business also includes the selling of services, such as malls, restaurants, auto repair shops, and banks.

Private business depends upon profits from the sale of good and services for stability and expansion. Successful, progressive businesses benefit the community by providing jobs and increasing family incomes.

The US economy is sometimes called a mixed economy because it is made up of private for-profit businesses, nonprofit organizations, and public (or government-run) agencies and businesses.

The consumer has a say in what kind and quality of goods will be produced through what he chooses to buy. His choices influence producers, processors, the middleman, and the retailer.

People all wish for more things than they can afford, which means that they have to make choices. Acquiring the ability to make good choices is part of the whole business of growing up. All good citizens need to learn how to make intelligent spending choices.

Study Activities
  • Visit a store in your community and pick out four different products for study. Find out where the raw materials for the products come from and where each of the raw materials was processed or manufactured into the finished products.

  • Make a list of the main industries in your community and locate them on a map. Visit one of these industries. Discuss with a company employee what steps are taken in the manufacturing process. Record these steps below. Do these industries get the raw materials for their products from within the community or from somewhere else? Are the products produced by this industry sold locally or elsewhere?

  • Visit a farmers’ market and speak with the merchants. Discuss their produce business. What crops do they grow each season? How many acres of land do they farm? How many employees work on the farm? Who do they sell their produce to?

  • Discuss with a member of the Chamber of Commerce the future plans for business and industry in your community.

  • Make a map locating where you and your family get various goods and services in your community. What goods and services can you purchase in your community? Are there goods and services that you have to travel to purchase or that you have to order online? How much time/gas money does your family spend each week in purchasing goods and services?

Do: Describe which study activity you completed.

Reflect: What did you discover about your community’s economy?

Apply: What will you do differently now that you have learned more about your community’s economy?

Transportation, Communication, and Utilities

Transportation
Description

Transportation is used to move people and merchandise around in the community and from one community to another. Most often when we think of transportation we think of cars, buses, trucks, trains, ships, and airplanes. However, there are other forms as well, such as bicycles, mopeds, motorcycles, and rapid transit systems.

It is important to remember those things that are necessary for transportation, such as roads, bridges, airports, railroad tracks, warehouses, bus terminals, harbors, and bike paths.

Study Activities
  • Make a list of all the different types of transportation found in your community. Are there many opportunities for you to use public transportation or carpool to reduce your carbon footprint? Why do you think that is?

  • On a map, phone, computer, or GPS device, record the route you take (your transportation route) to get to school, restaurants, the grocery store, and entertainment sources. How many miles do you travel in the typical week?

  • Research your community’s transportation options. On a map, draw the bus routes, train stations, airports, and park-and-ride locations.

  • Research the different ways you could send a 10-pound gift package to a friend or family member in another state. What is the cost? How long will it take for the package to arrive? What modes of transportation will potentially be used to move the package from your house to its final destination (truck, plane, boat, etc.)?

Do: Describe the study activity that you chose to participate in.

Reflect: What modes of transportation do you think will be most common in the future? Why?

Apply: What will you do differently after studying about transportation?

Communications
Description

Can you imagine what life would be like if you did not have a cell phone, landline, television, computer, radio, post carrier, or internet access? How would you know what was going on in the world? In America, we are very fortunate to have all these forms of communication available to us at a price most of us can afford. Take a little time to learn more about how these types of communication work.

Study Activities
  • Tour your local newspaper office, television station, or radio station. Ask employees how they became interested in working in the communications field. What did they study to prepare for this career? Have they worked other jobs in the communications field?

  • Write a report on four of your club’s activities and submit these to your 4-H county newsletter.

  • Read the “Letters to the Editor” in your local newspaper for one week. Compile a list of issues mentioned in this section.

  • Watch local news on television for a week. Create a list of main issues mentioned. What type of stories are covered the most—for example, politics, the economy, crime, community happenings, or stories featuring members of the community?

  • Survey your peers, people your parents’ age, and people your grandparents’ age. Where do they get their news from? Does their news come mostly from newspapers, television news shows, radio news shows, news websites on the internet, or social media platforms?

  • Look through the social media platforms on which you have profiles. How many of the people or pages that you follow cover news? For example, do you follow your local news station on Twitter? If you are not following what is happening in the news on social media, where are you getting your news from?

Do: Describe the study activity that you chose.

Reflect: What did you learn about communication?

Apply: What will you do differently after studying about communication in your community?

Utilities
Description

Many communities have businesses which are owned by the public and are run by local government for the benefit of all the community members. Other businesses serving the community are operated for profit.

Whether owned by the public or by private corporations, these businesses charge a fee for their services. These businesses are called public utilities. They exist to serve everyone and offer useful services at uniform prices. If you live in a city, your water and sewer systems are public utilities. Some communities own their electric power and gas systems, but most are privately owned.

Public utilities play an important part in the community by ensuring that everyone has an equal right to enjoy the benefits of these basic community services. Without them, each family might have to get its own water, dispose of its own garbage, generate its own electricity, and carry its own messages.

Study Activities
  1. Research answers to these questions concerning water. Attach your answers to this record book.

  • Where do you get the water you use in your home?

  • How is water pumped from its supply source to homes and businesses?

  • How is your community water system financed?

  • How often are water samples tested by public health officials?

  • Is water treated to guard against the spreading of diseases? What method is used?

2. Research answers to the questions below concerning electricity and gas. Attach your answers to this record book.

  • From where does your electricity come and how is this utility financed?

  • From where does your gas come and how is this utility financed?

3. Tour a water treatment facility or a garbage/recycling facility. What are the steps involved in cleaning your community’s water or processing your community’s garbage?

Do: Describe the study activity that you chose to participate in.

Reflect: What did you learn about your community’s utilities that you did not know before?

Reflect: Have you experienced a power outage? How did it disrupt your life?

Apply: What will you do differently now that you know more about utilities?

Faith-Based Organizations

Description

Faith-based organizations develop around a religious ideology or religious mission.

Some examples of faith-based organizations are places of worship, such as churches, mosques, synagogues, or temples.

Some nonprofits are also faith-based organizations that were developed around a religious mission like caring for the poor, orphans, or elderly citizens. These organizations may work to make a community stronger by serving those in need.

Study Activities
  • Inquire about the core beliefs of this religion. How are your personal beliefs similar to this religion's? How are they different?

  • List and define the faith-based organizations that are active in your community.

  • Locate on a map (digital or paper) all the places of worship in your community. Indicate the denominations they represent.

  • Chart the history of a faith-based organization in your community. Make an exhibit of your findings.

  • Visit a faith-based nonprofit, such as a food pantry or homeless shelter. What is the organization’s mission? How many people in your community do they serve?

Do: Describe which study activity you chose to participate in.

Reflect: What did you learn about faith-based organizations in your community?

Apply: How will you act differently after studying faith-based organizations?

Heritage and Culture

Description

Every community has its own history, traditions, and folklore that make it different from other communities. This can be seen in such things as houses, buildings, cemeteries and other historical landmarks. Also important are museums, libraries, theaters, and art galleries, which show the culture of the community as well as the crafts and skills that are a part of the past.

Study Activities
  • Research information on folklore, history and craft skills in your community. Present a report on your findings to your 4-H Club.

  • Visit several historical landmarks in or near your community. Report the significance of what happened there.

  • Help clean, repair, or paint a historic building.

  • Serve as a tour guide on a historical walking tour of community landmarks and help to maintain them.

  • Take tours of historical homes and buildings.

  • Interview older citizens in the community regarding community history and tradition. Record your findings and share them with others.

  • Make a list of cultural happenings and art facilities in your community. Take a tour or attend a performance.

Do: Describe the study activity that you chose to participate in.

Reflect: What did you learn about your community’s culture?

Apply: Imagine if someone from another country visited your community. What parts of your culture would you want to share with them?

Natural Resources and Environment

Description

The environment is everything that surrounds us. It consists of the earth’s natural resources: land, water, metals, minerals, trees, and air. It also consists of man-made things such as houses, roads, factories, and shopping centers. Each one of us has a responsibility to conserve and preserve the environment in order that future generations might enjoy the world in which we live. Citizenship as it relates to the conservation of the environment means using things wisely. It means being careful with our energy, water, and other resources, and not littering or polluting the environment.

Study Activities
  • Obtain and paint roadside trash receptacles. Arrange for regular cleaning.

  • Help to plant or care for trees, shrubbery, flowers, and/or grass around a nonprofit organization, community building, or street intersections.

  • Make an exhibit on conversation of energy in the home, soil and water conservation, or wildlife conservation. Share your exhibit with your 4-H club.

  • Build and place birdhouses and/or feeders in your community.

  • Keep a chart on air pollution for one week based on your television news.

  • Conduct a home energy conservation survey on your home. What can your family do to save money and conserve energy?

  • Make anti-litter posters and display them in a public place.

  • Raise money for an endangered species protection group.

  • Organize a work day for your club at a community park. Clean litter in the area to prevent the trash from endangering the wildlife.

  • Secure and evaluate data (both historical and current) on the population trends of your community and county.

Do: Describe the study activity you chose to complete.

Reflect: What programs or projects does your community have to protect the environment?

Apply: What actions do you take or will you take to protect the environment?

Education

Description

Education is the knowledge and skills a person needs to be able to live and work in his or her own society. Much of the knowledge and many of the skills come from those around us every day, such as parents, friends, and neighbors. However, in a large and complex society, such as the one in which we live, the knowledge and skills needed are also very complex and specialized. Therefore, we have special programs for education.

Most communities have both public and private schools at the grade school and high school levels. Many communities also have colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools, for those who want to continue their formal education.

Communities are offering more and more opportunities for informal education. Your county Extension office, podcasts, libraries, book clubs, and radio and television shows are all sources of informal education for people in your community.

Study Activities
  • Visit a school board meeting. Summarize what is discussed.

  • Give an illustrated talk to your classmates on school facilities or the functions of your school board.

  • Determine how your local school board is financed. What percentage of financing is federal, state, county, and local?

  • Make a list of informal educational facilities in your community. Tour one or more of these.

  • Find out the cost of education per student in your community.

  • Make a list of schools in your community (private and public).

  • Tutor one elementary student after school for five weeks.

  • Become a school safety guard.

  • Raise money for the school library.

  • Volunteer to work in your school library after school for two weeks.

Do: Describe the study activity that you chose to participate in.

Reflect: What types of informal education have you received?

Apply: What will you do differently after studying education in your community?

Recreation and Hobbies

Description

Recreation and hobbies are important for the physical and mental well-being of all people. They may be something as simple as reading a book or collecting coins, or more involved such as a camping trip or hunting for Native American artifacts. Recreation may be done alone or with others. This may be at home, in a park, or in a wilderness area. As people have more and more free time, finding ways to spend that free time becomes very important. Most communities try to provide some recreation opportunities for their citizens. This includes not only facilities such as parks, playgrounds, theaters and bowling alleys, but also activities such as Little League Baseball and swimming teams.

Study Activities
  • Visit one of the public recreation facilities in your area. Find out who operates it, who provides the money, and why we need such facilities.

  • Assist with a day camp for children in your community. What recreational activities did you lead?

  • Make a map of the bike paths or hiking trails in your community. Visit one of them and tell others about your experience.

  • Participate in an arts and crafts sale or show, a summer theater show, or a talent show for youth.

  • Assist in beautifying a 4-H camp or a park.

  • Take pictures of recreational activities available in your community. Post pictures on social media and encourage others to enjoy these recreational activities.

  • Assist in constructing a nature trail in a park or forest preserve in your community.

  • Assist in planning and carrying out a recreational activity for differently abled and/or elderly persons (e.g., Special Olympics).

Do: Describe the study activity that you chose to participate in.

Reflect: What recreational activities are you involved in? What recreational activities are most popular with your peers? Are these activities available in your community?

Apply: What additional activities could you help bring to your community?

Public Welfare

Description

Welfare means being able to care for one’s own needs. Many people are unable to care for themselves at times. People may need help because of sickness, injury, fire, family problems, being out of work, or other difficulties. Public welfare helps persons and families in times of need. Government agencies have specially trained workers to find out the best way to help people in time of need. This may be by means of money, food, medical treatment, job training, job referral, or some other type of help.

In many emergency situations, faith-based organizations and other nonprofit organizations are the first to offer help.

From the above explanation, you can see that health, safety, police and fire protection, and welfare are all closely related. All of these have to do with being well and safe.

Study Activities
  • Work with an organization, such as Toys for Tots, to collect, repair, paint, make, and distribute toys for needy families during the holidays.

  • Adopt a grandparent, either in or out of a nursing home; run their errands, do letter writing and reading for them, clean up for them, talk to them, bring small gifts, and learn crafts or other skills from them.

  • Visit a charity, foodbank, a school for the differently abled, or a home for the aged and learn about its operation. What can you do to help with the welfare of the group you visited?

  • Collect clothing, canned goods, extra vegetables from gardens, old toys, etc. for the needy.

  • Become involved on a regular basis with a service organization.

  • Visit a public welfare agency in your city or county. Learn (a) the needs of the people they serve, (b) how the programs are financed, (c) what the social workers do as they work with families and individuals, and (d) why it is necessary to provide these programs from public funds.

Do: Record the study activity that you chose to participate in.

Reflect: What did you learn about the public welfare of your community?

Apply: What would your community look like if the government were no longer able to fund welfare programs?

Policy and Fire Protection

Description

Police and fire departments provide safety for the citizens of the community. With the help of citizens, the police work on crime prevention and traffic control, and they give assistance in all types of community emergencies, such as floods, hurricanes, and tornados. Firefighters serve mainly in fighting fires but also have strong fire-prevention and safety programs. Like the police, they also help out during community emergencies, and in many communities, provide emergency ambulance service.

Study Activities
  • Make an appointment and visit the police department. Determine the type of training policemen receive for their jobs.

  • Find out if your police department has any special programs to help citizens protect their property. List and explain these programs.

  • Find out if your police department has any special plans for emergencies such as tornadoes or hurricanes. Share these emergency action plans with your 4-H club.

  • Make an appointment to visit your fire department. Witness a fire drill.

  • Write a brief report on how your fire department investigates fires. Attach your report to this record.

  • List and explain your fire department's fire prevention programs. Attach your report to this record.

  • Plan and practice a fire drill for your family

  • Interview an emergency responder in your community.

Do: Describe the study activity that you decided to participate in.

Reflect: What did you learn about emergency responders in your community?

Apply: How will you act differently now that you know more about emergency responders?

Health, Safety, and Welfare

Health and Sanitation
Description

All people need to consider if their community is a healthy place to live. There are many ways in which the community helps to keep its citizens healthy. There are hospitals, clinics, doctors, nurses, druggists, nursing homes, ambulances, and public health inspectors, to name but a few. Large cities have all these to help people stay healthy, while many small communities in rural areas may lack some important services.

A part of keeping the community clean and healthy is disposing of trash, garbage, sewage and other waste materials. Most communities have regular trash and garbage pick-up and special disposal facilities.

Study Activities
  • Select a food product, such as milk, and note all the checks or inspections that are made on it as the product goes from the producer to the consumer.

  • Make an appointment to visit the head of your community health department. Learn about the department’s primary functions and duties of the personnel.

  • Visit a hospital, clinic, or nursing home. Determine how many people use the service each year. Give a summary report to your 4-H club.

  • Find out how mosquitoes are controlled in your community. What agency or organization is in charge of pest control?

  • Visit a city garbage dump. Write a report on how the garbage is disposed of.

  • Visit a sewage treatment plant and write a report on treatment and disposal of sewage.

  • Volunteer to help with a health drive.

  • Visit a recycling facility and drop off recyclable items.

Do: Describe the study activity that you chose to participate in.

Reflect: What did you learn about health and sanitation in your community?

Apply: How will you act differently now that you know more?

Safety
Description

Safety is a concern of people every day of their lives. Community safety programs are aimed at protecting people from accidents, illnesses, and injuries. Many groups both in and out of government are involved in community safety. Some examples are the Red Cross, the fire and police departments, the auto inspection center, and the driver’s license office. As a young community citizen, you will want to take an active part in preventing accidents by your own actions and by educating others.

Study Activities
  • List the safety hazards you see in your neighborhood.

  • List the organizations or agencies in your community whose primary concern is safety. Name them and describe the function of each.

  • Map a safe bicycle trail from your house to your school.

  • Distribute “hot dots” or fluorescent tape strips to your school class or club for use on their coats.

Do: Describe the activity that you chose to participate in?

Reflect: What safety issues exist in your community?

Apply: How will you act differently now that you know more about safety hazards?

Part II. Your Community Project

Step 1. Interview People in Your Community

Interview at least one employee or volunteer from five different components of your community. Ask each person what some of the problems are in their area of the community and what might be done to correct these problems. You, your leader, or your parent will want to contact the person or their agency to set up your interviews. Let the agency or person know that you are a 4-H member and the purpose of your 4-H project. Ask them for a convenient time for the interview. Next, practice interviewing your parents or 4-H leader before beginning your community interviews. After you feel confident, and you have your 4-H leader's permission, you are ready to do your interviews. Unless you have your own questions to ask, use the interview sheets found on pages 6 to 8 to record their answers.

Include a section of questions participants should research the answers to prior to attending the interview. Youth should know what the organization/agency does, when it was founded, who it serves, etc.

  • What is the organization/agency’s purpose?

  • Who does the organization/agency serve?

  • When was the organization/agency founded?

Additional questions:

  • What is your role in the organization?

  • What made you interested in working in the field?

  • What are the organization/agency’s greatest resources?

  • What is the organization’s mission?

Interview Sheet
  1. Community component studied: __________

Person interviewed: _______________ Position: ___________________

  • How long have you worked for this organization/agency?

  • What made you interested in working in this field?

  • How did you receive the training or experience required for your current position?

  • What is the organization/agency's mission?

  • How does your role fit into the organization/agency?

  • What are your organization/agency’s greatest resources?

  • What do you like best about our community?

  • In your area of work, what are some issues or challenges facing our community?

  • How do these issues or challenges affect other parts of the community?

  • What could youth like myself do to help solve these problems?

2. Community component studied: __________

Person interviewed: _______________ Position: ___________________

  • How long have you worked for this organization/agency?

  • What made you interested in working in this field?

  • How did you receive the training or experience required for your current position?

  • What is the organization/agency's mission?

  • How does your role fit into the organization/agency?

  • What are your organization/agency’s greatest resources?

  • What do you like best about our community?

  • In your area of work, what are some issues or challenges facing our community?

  • How do these issues or challenges affect other parts of the community?

  • What could youth like myself do to help solve these problems?

3. Community component studied: __________

Person interviewed: _______________ Position: ___________________

  • How long have you worked for this organization/agency?

  • What made you interested in working in this field?

  • How did you receive the training or experience required for your current position?

  • What is the organization/agency's mission?

  • How does your role fit into the organization/agency?

  • What are your organization/agency’s greatest resources?

  • What do you like best about our community?

  • In your area of work, what are some issues or challenges facing our community?

  • How do these issues or challenges affect other parts of the community?

  • What could youth like myself do to help solve these problems?

4. Community component studied: __________

Person interviewed: _______________ Position: ___________________

  • How long have you worked for this organization/agency?

  • What made you interested in working in this field?

  • How did you receive the training or experience required for your current position?

  • What is the organization/agency's mission?

  • How does your role fit into the organization/agency?

  • What are your organization/agency’s greatest resources?

  • What do you like best about our community?

  • In your area of work, what are some issues or challenges facing our community?

  • How do these issues or challenges affect other parts of the community?

  • What could youth like myself do to help solve these problems?

5. Community component studied: __________

Person interviewed: _______________ Position: ___________________

  • How long have you worked for this organization/agency?

  • What made you interested in working in this field?

  • How did you receive the training or experience required for your current position?

  • What is the organization/agency's mission?

  • How does your role fit into the organization/agency?

  • What are your organization/agency’s greatest resources?

  • What do you like best about our community?

  • In your area of work, what are some issues or challenges facing our community?

  • How do these issues or challenges affect other parts of the community?

  • What could youth like myself do to help solve these problems?

You should now have some idea about the issues, challenges, and needs in each of the five components of the community you selected. However, just as it is hard to see the picture that pieces of a puzzle form by looking at each piece by itself, so is it hard to see and understand the community by looking at each part by itself. Only after the components are joined to see how they work together can we really understand the community. Therefore, after you have finished your interviews, summarize on the next page what you learned. This will give you some idea about projects you and/or your citizenship project group can do.

Summary of all Interviews

What are the general impressions you received from all the people you interviewed?

What things did the people you interviewed like best about your community?

What issues or challenges were mentioned?

What suggestions were given concerning things youth might do to solve problems?

* If you take this project a second year, make your own form using this one as a guide.

Step 2. Identify and Select a Challenge Facing Your Community

Look at your summary list of problems on page 17.

Which problems are mentioned most often? What is suggested about how youth might solve them? Next, take these steps:

  1. Select one of these problems that a 4-H club and/or citizenship group can help solve. Describe this problem below:

  2. Think about ways you or your group can improve or remedy the problem described. Set a goal. Your goal should describe how you plan to improve a component of your community. Write this goal in the goal box in Step 3.

  3. Decide on what you and/or your group members will do, the dates each thing will be done, and the location for the work.

  4. Plan how you can use community resources to get what you and others want for your community.

  5. Find people or agencies to work with you to get the action started.

Your 4-H leader will help you and your group plan your project, secure support for the project and carry it out.

Step 3. Make Your Community Plan of Action

My Plan of Action Worksheet

My goal:

Plan of Action:

  • What will be done to reach the goal?

  • Methods to use?

  • When to do?

Table 1. 

WHAT WILL BE DONE

DATE TO BE DONE

WHERE

RESOURCES NEEDED

(People, film, supplies)

       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       

Step 4. Carry Out Your Plan of Action

Carry out your planned activities to help make your community what you want it to be.

  • Put your plan into action.

  • Make changes in your plan as necessary.

  • Inform others of what you are doing (this should be done throughout the project).

  • Evaluate your plan in view of your original goals.

Project Summary
  1. Summarize your community project (please attach pictures).

  2. Record any changes that you had to make as your project went on.

  3. What makes you most proud of your project?

  4. What was the most difficult part of completing your community project?

  5. Did your final project look different than you thought it would based on your plans and goals? If so, how?

  6. How can you motivate your peers to help address issues and challenges in your community?

Step 5. Spread the Word

You have worked hard, studied your community, discovered challenges facing the community, and planned and implemented a project to make your community stronger. Now, you need to spread the word.

Sharing information about your project is important for several reasons. First, it makes people aware of the challenge that faces your community. Next, it makes people aware of your specific project and allows them to support your project or similar projects in the future. Finally, it motivates members of your community to look for ways that they can make the areas that they live and work in better.

There are two ways that you should spread the word about your community project.

  1. THROUGH THE MEDIA. Send a report and photos to your local newspaper, community newsletter, school journal, 4-H social media pages, or other forms of media.

Record which media sources you sent your report to and which sources shared your report with the community.

2. IN PERSON. Present a summary of your project at a county commissioners meeting, city council meeting, school board meeting, or give a presentation at a county 4-H meeting, at your school, or to an organization in your community.

Record who you shared your report with (include pictures).

Citizenship in Other 4-H Projects

Citizenship responsibilities in earning and spending and in many other areas of life are practiced through 4-H Projects. These are a central part of your 4-H experience. Learning to sew or build a birdhouse is not citizenship education in itself, but there are citizenship responsibilities that go along with learning such skills. These skills can be used to help you and others. You can help yourself by:

  • Broadening your interests and knowledge

  • Developing self-confidence and self-discipline

  • Developing an awareness of job opportunities

  • Learning how to make intelligent decisions

  • Getting pleasure from interesting activities

  • Standing on your own two feet and being less dependent

Additional Citizenship Units

Good citizenship involves more than understanding and participating in government. Good citizenship is important in relationships with your family, friends, and neighbors. Good citizenship is important to your 4-H Club and other organizations you belong to. It means understanding and appreciating yourself and your heritage, and having the same respect for other people and their heritages.

The citizenship project is made up of a series of seven units. The citizenship project consists of the following units:

Unit 1: Me, My Family and My Friends

Unit 2: My Neighborhood

Unit 3: My Clubs and Groups

Unit 4: My Heritage

Unit 5: My Community

Unit 6: My Government

Unit 7: My World

Footnotes

1.

This document is 4HCIM13, one of a series of the 4-H Youth Development Program, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1986. Revised September 2019. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu for the currently supported version of this publication.

2.

Principal Contact: Stacey Ellison, northeast regional specialized agent, UF/IFAS Extension 4-H Youth Development Program, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

John Rutledge, professor emeritus; Joy C. Jordan, associate professor; and Dale Pracht, assistant professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; in collaboration with the 2009 Life Skills Citizenship Action Team: Henry, K.; Pointer, G.; Mullins, V.; Brown, K. UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

This material was initially prepared by the Southern Regional 4-H Citizenship Literature Committee through a grant from the Coca-Cola Company, then printed and distributed by the National 4-H Council. The committee was Norma Roberts, Louisiana (Chairman); Treva Sawatski, Arkansas; Ruth Milton, Florida; Maurice Spencer, Georgia; Robert Soileau, Louisiana; and Ben Powell, Tennessee. The text for this project was developed by Norma O. Roberts, 4-H Specialist, Louisiana State University Cooperative Extension Service. Originally printed and distributed by National 4-H Council, 7100 Connecticut Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD 20815.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.