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(6-27-18) A Mercer County youth will be traveling to Japan this summer as part of the 4-H/Japanese Exchange Program. Sidney Stewart, 15 years old, daughter of Steve and Emily Stewart, will join 4-H’ers from all around the United States for the exchange from July 11 to August 9, 2018.
While in Japan, Ohio youth will be learning the local culture by living with Japanese host families and participating in community life. Many of them will be staying with the families of Japanese youth who have previously visited them in Ohio on this reciprocal exchange.
Sidney is among 30 4-H’ers from the USA who will be visiting Japan. She will begin her tour with orientation sessions on the west coast of the US and in Tokyo. Later during the visit, Sidney will attend Labo Camp with Japanese and American youth (
Sidney attends Celina High School, and is active in Mercer County Marksmen 4-H shooting sports, band, the high school plays and musicals, and the Purple Door Church Youth Group.
The exchange program in Japan is coordinated by the Labo Foundation, an organization dedicated to teaching foreign languages and cultures to Japanese youth. Japanese young people learn about a country’s culture and do songs and stories in the language they are studying.

In 1972, Labo established the first exchange with 4-H clubs in the United States. The first year for Ohioans to make the journey to Japan was 1981. Since then, a group of Ohio 4-H’ers has visited Japan nearly every summer, with a total of 244 youth and adult chaperones making the trip so far.
Youth interested in traveling overseas or families interested in hosting someone from another country should contact the Mercer County extension office at 419-586-2179 or you can also visit
Ohio 4-H is currently seeking families to host young people from Japan from July 23 – August 17 this summer. Youth and families do not need to be current 4-H members to apply. Join the fun and learn about your world!