MOBERLY, Mo.– Parental involvement is key to the success of 4-H members, said Moberly Area Community College sophomore Jeff Durbin, a former Missouri State 4-H Council officer and Mizzou Collegiate 4-H member. And 4-H membership is key to success in life for anyone, he said, as National 4-H Month is being observed.
Durbin’s entire family has been involved in his 4-H career. His parents have been active in the Marion County 4-H council and have served as leaders. His grandparents have always been available, whether to find supplies for a woodworking project or cheer him on as he made a speech. His sister, Jennifer, is president of the Pleasant Day 4-H Club now.
But Durbin says single parents will find 4-H a good option for their children too as 4-H exposes them to positive interaction with peers who are leaders. “Positive peer interaction can help with your child’s development,” he said. Additionally, single parents will benefit from a strong support group of other parents who want to instill leadership values in their children.
Durbin’s support of the 4-H program mirrors newly released studies by researchers at Tufts University that show 4-H members are 76 percent more likely to make better grades than their peers and three times less likely to engage in risky or problem behaviors. The study shows that 4-H’ers are twice as likely to attend college and three times more likely to contribute to their communities by serving as leaders and volunteers.
Durbin has seen the positive results of longtime 4-H membership in his own life.
He has set his sights on being a Missouri State Highway Patrol officer. The goal is one of many the 20-year-old has set for himself throughout his lifetime as a result of learning leadership skills through 4-H since he joined the Pleasant Day 4-H Club in Marion County when he was 8 years old.
He retired as state 4-H vice president in June because he had reached age 20, but continues to be active as a collegiate member of Mizzou 4-H.
Durbin doesn’t let any grass grow under his feet. To keep busy, he helps with events, including security detail, conferences and traffic control. As a psychology major, he carries 18 hours of class, and works 30-35 hours a week at Orscheln Farm & Home in Moberly.
His work ethic comes in large part due to the self-discipline and leadership skills learned through 4-H membership. “I like being prepared,” he said. “4-H taught me that.”
As early as 8 years of age, Durbin learned through 4-H that deadlines and goals were important, he said. His parents also taught him that it was vital to stick with a project. He said in the beginning, parents will require their children to attend 4-H meetings, but as time goes along it will be the children urging their parents to go to meetings because they find them so informative and valuable. “Stick with it once you get in,” he said, “and if you’re not in 4-H, get in and take every opportunity.”
As a member of the state 4-H congress and a camp counselor, Durbin learned that the art of compromise was important. He said Marion County youth specialist Don Nicholson taught him to always remain calm, and be firm and fair when making decisions. He has made friends and professional acquaintances in nearly every state since being involved in 4-H activities. The social interaction among members has given him the ability to walk into any room and strike up a conversation with someone to find a commonality, he said.
Additionally, 4-H instilled a love of community in Durbin. “I love helping people,” he said.
Durbin will find out in June if he will be accepted into the highway patrol’s program. He believes the integrity and professionalism of the patrol mirrors the core values he learned in 4-H. “It’s a great program,” he said.
Durbin is the son of Debbie and Jerry Durbin of Monroe City, and grandson of Joe Ralph and Betty Buckman, also of Monroe City, and Bill and Alta Durbin of Paris.