As a 4-H volunteer project leader you now have the opportunity to help young people not only learn and develop new skills, but also learn what it means to be a person of good character. Good character is not hereditary or automatic. It must be developed by example and practice. One way or another, young people pick up the values that constitute their character. Character education is primarily a parent's responsibility, but everybody interacting with youth has an important supporting role.
Both 4-H and Army Child, Youth and School Services are members of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition. The CHARACTER COUNTS! framework is built upon the Six Pillars of Character: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship. Integrating the CHARACTER COUNTS! framework helps enrich 4-H programming. Through adult role modeling and deliberate discussions on how projects relate to character, 4-H'ers consciously learn to be caring, responsible citizens, skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.
Character Connections help your 4-H participants make the "Character Connections" to their 4-H projects. Within the curriculum supplement, you will find information about teaching young people in informal settings, how young people best learn, and the Experiential Model for Education, or the 4-H motto, "Learning by Doing." Finally, you will find individual "Character Connections" activities that have been written specifically for your 4-Hers. These all include information about how each of the Six Pillars of Character relate to each 4-H project area, activity ideas that relate to the activities in the project literature, and discussion questions to help your 4-H'ers think about the activities and make the "Character Connection."
Character Conversations are designed for use in newsletters or news articles. Each conversation addresses one aspect of character – what it means to be a person of character, one of the Six Pillars, making ethical decisions or presents ethical dilemmas. They are meant to share information about character and also to stimulate family discussions or provide ideas for program topics.