One goal of the state's 4-H clubs this year is to recruit "youth at risk" into the organization in order to instill self-esteem and responsibility.

About 300 4-H leaders have been attending a conference at the Weber County Fairgrounds to learn how to do this. Thursday and Friday, workshops were held to teach leaders crafts so they in turn can teach their skills to the youth - skills including cake decorating, forestry, outdoor recreation, showing horses, painting and rocketry.On Saturday, 4-H members and the public were invited to view displays and demonstrations.

This year, the 4-H clubs nationwide are celebrating their 75th anniversary, and the Utah group plans to build a 75-foot hoagie sandwich on Saturday to observe the special occasion. The theme for this year's conference was "Let it Shine in 89!"

Becky Mitchell, an assistant 4-H leader, said Thursday that one goal of the group is to recruit "youth at risk" - those who live in low-income families or who are minorities - into the organization to prepare the youngsters for adulthood.

4-H, she said, can help those youngsters cope with the pressures of adolescence and the high risks of getting involved with drug abuse, suicide and sex. By gaining self-esteem, decision-making and communication skills, the children can prepare themselves to become responsible, productive and happy adults.

"If they can learn these three strengths, we've given them the strength to become competent adults."

4-H stands for "head, heart, hands and health," as expressed in the group's pledge: "I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living."

Some 67,000 young people take part in 4-H across the nation, and Mitchell said the organization is the largest out-of-school educational system in the country.

The club is part of the Extension Program at Utah State University in Logan, and boys and girls ages 9 to 19 can join.

"Our major goal is a youth development program to help young people develop self-confidence and life skills to become successful, productive citizens," Mitchell said. "They take responsibility, which prepares them for adulthood."

4-Hers spend a good part of their time working on projects that are then put on display at county fairs. The best go on to the state fair.

The young members will also keep busy this summer by attending a Expressive Arts Camp in Provo and a Family Fun day in Gunnison.