Article by Ede Valiquette Contact Ede Valiquette, Extension Educator, Fairfield County Extension Center edith.valiquette@uconn. edu 203-207-3264 Margaret Grillo, Associate Extension Educator, New Haven County Extension Center 203-407-3158 ”I never miss 4-H, my mentor thinks I’m special” says a mentee from the Connecticut 4-H Mentoring project. A parent says, “my child is never sick on 4-H day.” The Connecticut 4-H Mentoring Project is a prevention program designed to assist youth in acquiring knowledge, building character, and developing life skills in a fun learning environment that will help them become self-directing, productive members of society. Waterbury and Bridgeport have partici- pated in the Connecticut 4-H Mentoring Project for 7 years, and are presently serving 120 youth, ages 10-14. The National 4-H Council, through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, funds this program. Mentoring is a proven strategy for helping at-risk youth achieve a better future. Youth are more likely to succeed in life when they have the additional support of a caring, consistent adult mentor. Sharon Stoyer, Bridgeport site coordinator says, “Mentoring can have a profound impact on a youth. Having a mentor can enhance a young person’s learning skills and help build resiliency and self-control.” Youth with mentors are less likely to engage in risky behavior with drugs and alcohol. They are more likely to develop positive relationships with peers and adults; hold a leadership position in a club, school council, sports team or other group; enroll in college; volunteer regularly in their communities and grow up to become productive members of society. Mentors provide the spark that encourages youth to dream and achieve. “Be a Mentor-Change Two Lives” is a popular slogan in mentoring programs. Why? Mentoring does in fact improve the mentor’s life. How? Research shows that mentoring can: • provide a sense of health and well-being; • improve one’s self-image and self-worth; • provide a sense of feeling valued, needed, appreci- ated, competent, and accomplished; and • provide a sense of satisfaction from giving back to the community, and earning the respect of others by contributing to society in a very important way. How does the Connecticut 4-H Mentoring Project 4-H Mentoring Project 20 2016 HIGHLIGHTS OF EXTENSION