On Monday, April 19th, you may have driven through downtown Crawfordsville and saw a group of youth that you thought were taking in the sights. However, this exemplary group of youth is part of the Montgomery County 4-H Junior Leader program and they were doing more than taking in the sights of Crawfordsville.
As part of their Earth Day celebration, the Junior Leaders spent that Monday evening picking up trash throughout downtown Crawfordsville. This has become an annual tradition, which also involves youth trying to find the oddest piece of trash (this year it was a deflated basketball in a local business’s landscaping). Not only were youth picking up trash but they were also hiding decorated rocks of encouragement as part of the social media #MoCo Rocks! campaign. These decorated rocks are hidden throughout town and are intended to bring some joy and encouragement to those who find them, then be re-hidden for someone else to find.
One of pillars of the 4-H program is civic engagement. “4-H civic engagement programs empower young people to be well-informed citizens who are actively engaged in their communities and the world” (https://4-h.org/parents/civic-engagement/). Through a variety of educational programs and opportunities, such as picking up trash in our community, youth gain skills to be positive, contributing members of their community starting from their time in the 4-H program to when they are an adult and having families of their own. Through a simple act of service such as picking up trash, the Junior Leaders often are astonished at what trash people have left or thrown out their vehicle. They realize it is everyone’s responsibility to keep our local communities clean and welcoming.
Junior Leaders is a great opportunity within the 4-H program for youth that are currently in grades 7-12 to enhance their leadership and other important life skills. Junior Leaders also teaches youth the importance of giving back to the community through a variety of community service projects that are completed throughout the year
Those interested in having their youth be a part of our Junior Leader program are invited to contact the Montgomery County Extension Office at (765)364-6363 or e-mail Abby Morgan at asweet@purdue.edu.

Abby Morgan is the 4-H Youth Development Educator at the Montgomery County Purdue Extension Office. She can be reached at asweet@purdue.edu or 765-364-6363.