More Collaboration Profiles


  1. Collaboration Profiles
  2. USDA and the Military: Positive Youth Development
  3. USDA and the Military Support Youth through Positive Youth Development

USDA and the Military Support Youth through Positive Youth Development

Collaboration Structure

Key aspects of the collaboration structure include the following elements:

Partnerships with the Department of Defense (DoD), Army, Navy, and Air Force

The multiple programs facilitated by the collaboration represent successful partnerships with DoD and military service branches. The collaboration includes the following partners:

  • The USDA and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
  • 4-H Youth Development Program
  • The Land-Grant University System
  • The DoD and the Office of Military Community & Family Policy
  • Army Child, Youth, and School Services
  • Navy Family Readiness
  • Air Force Airman and Family Services

The programs supported through these partnerships differ in focus, from 4-H Clubs to internship programs, but each infuses positive youth development practices within its work and contributes to military mission-readiness. Funding for the collaboration’s multiple programs comes from the DoD and the individual military services. NIFA, DoD, and service branches work collaboratively through a cooperative agreement to ensure project success at the land-grant universities.

See the about section to learn more about the partners and programs supporting youth, and promising practices to learn more about how involving various experts from the field strengthens the research base of programming.

A memorandum of understanding established between USDA and DoD

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) laying out a common mission was established in 1986 between the USDA and DoD. This was revised and renewed in 2010. This MOU continues to support the work of the partnership.

Learn more about the purpose of the collaboration and the partners and programs supported by the MOU.

Grants and cooperative agreements that establish the scope of work with land-grant universities

Under the comprehensive framework outlined in the MOU, interagency agreements are created and updated to establish the scope of work and goals for the period of the partnership. Land-grant universities provide the expertise to run the multiple programs supported by the collaboration.

A Lead University Group meets regularly with DoD and NIFA to review grants and programs. The group is comprised of staff from universities that were awarded funding to manage the collaboration’s family and youth programs. At these meetings, the Lead University Group shares promising practices, updates program goals, and discusses how to expand and improve its programs based on the needs of its populations of focus.

See promising practices to learn more about how the common mission has helped the collaboration to sustain itself and grow.

4-H Military Liaisons at land-grant universities

Faculty at land-grant institutions have been selected to serve as 4-H Military Liaisons and oversee the collaboration’s programs on the ground. There are 4-H Military Liaisons in every U.S. state and territory. These individuals serve as contacts for state and overseas installation programs available for military-connected families, children, and youth. 4-H Military Liaisons can also serve as principal investigators for grants for military children and youth programs.

4-H Military Liaisons help shape the direction of programs by providing feedback and insight from their state programs. The 4-H Military Liaisons meet annually to share their successes and challenges and learn from each other and from military partners. During the meeting, they share ideas, set goals, and plan for future work. The meetings also includes training on information and resources, such as new curricula or emerging youth development research, that can be taken back to inform their work with military families in their home states. 

A subset of the 4-H Military Liaisons from each region serve on a working group and meet monthly to collaborate with each other and with other partners.  

See promising practices to learn more about the benefit of collecting and sharing data among partners.

Multiple mechanisms that facilitate ongoing communication

To ensure that the public and the partners involved in the collaborative work of the USDA and the military are always informed of new developments, the collaboration uses multiple forms of communication and resource dissemination.

The 4-H Military Partnership supports two websites, for the Military 4-H Military Partnership and Operation: Military Kids, and manages an email inbox to disseminate information and answer questions from both program partners and the general public. The email inbox accepts requests for information or assistance from individuals managing programs on the ground. This enables partners to reach out with issues and receive a personalized answer. The public also has the opportunity to submit questions to this inbox to learn more about programs and services.

For communication within the partnership, role-specific listservs are used to ensure ongoing communication between USDA, NIFA, and program staff. These listservs provide a place where questions, challenges, and promising practices can be shared. An annual meeting is held with each branch of the service—Army, Navy, and Air Force—and NIFA to review grants and programs.

See promising practices to learn more about how open communication can help break down cultural barriers.