Two teen 4-H members working on a project together at a table.

Glacier County 4-H Leadership Lunches develop teens' leadership and communication skills

In many small towns, students hustle from school to sports to homework, which often makes fitting in 4-H a challenge. Because of this, the 4-H Leadership Lunch was developed, where middle school and high school 4-H’ers meet during their school lunch hour to enjoy a lunch courtesy of the 4-H Council and to participate in leadership development activities.

In its first year, Leadership Lunches have helped members develop skills in parliamentary procedure, communication, responsibility, accountability, and more. Members have spent time learning about their personal leadership style and how they can develop that for use within their club and community. The Leadership Lunches have provided a platform for members to develop specific skills and increase their confidence in them. For example, members learned fundamentals of public speaking and practiced impromptu speaking at the Leadership Lunch which then tripled participation in the county Communications Contest from the previous year.

Over 90 percent of 4-H members who attend school in Cut Bank have attended a Leadership Lunch. All members who have attended Leadership Lunches agree that it has helped them improve their leadership skills, communication skills, and develop confidence in their abilities as a leader, and nearly 70 percent of members strongly agree that it has helped them better understand how other 4-H’ers look up to them.

Participating members agree that the Leadership Lunches have helped them feel more a part of 4-H and develop stronger relationships with other 4-H’ers. One middle school 4-H’er commented that because of the lunches they have a sense of camaraderie with their fellow 4-H classmates and a unique bond that they may not have otherwise.

One high school 4-H’er remarked they would recommend the Leadership Lunches for anyone who is in 4-H to help them with leadership skills. “The Leadership Lunches have helped me a lot with my communication and my leadership skills. You learn to not be the person that never does anything. Instead it has made me want to be a part of many different things involving 4-H and school activities. It has given me the confidence to speak publicly.”

The 4-H Leadership Lunches demonstrate the value of adapting to busy schedules and providing a means to connect Extension staff and 4-H members on a regular basis. “It is a fun and great time, and you learn a lot and make more friends with the same interests,” said one middle school 4-H attendee.

Read more about MSU Extension in Glacier County