How much do you know about…4-H and Positive Youth Development?

  • 4-H provides opportunities for youth development and for youth to develop skills, practical knowledge, and wisdom through observing, doing, and living through experiences.
  • The 4 H's are Head, Heart, Hands, and Health.
  • 4-H emphasizes the practical application of knowledge or "learning by doing" to develop skills and acquire a sense of responsibility, initiative, and self-worth.
  • For more than a century, 4-H has made a tremendous impact on many lives and has continued to expand programming while transferring the latest research of the land grant system to young people.
  • The educational foundation for the 4-H Youth Development Program lies in three areas that are tied to the land grant universities and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 4-H curriculum and activities engage youth in processes of discovery and exploration through hands-on learning. Within the three mandates below are numerous project areas individuals choose to pursue - from astronomy to financial literacy, market beef to safety, health to agronomy, and everything in between.
    1. 4-H Science is one of the three mandated areas of the program essential to the success of today's youth, tomorrow's leaders.
    2. One Million New Scientists. One Million New Ideas.™
      • The 4-H Youth Development Program is directly connected to the research and resources of the 106 land grant universities and colleges of the Cooperative Extension System. This connection strategically positions 4-H to strengthen US global competitiveness and leadership.
      • For more than a century, 4-H has engaged our country's youth in the building blocks of economic success. This has meant a solid focus on agricultural science, electricity, mechanics, entrepreneurship, and natural sciences. Today, 4-H out-of-school opportunities also exist in subjects like rocketry, robotics, bio-fuels, renewable energy, and computer science. 4-H Science, Engineering and Technology programs reach more than 5 million youth with hands-on learning experiences to encourage young minds and to fill the pipeline of young leaders proficient in science. These experiences are supported by more than a half million dedicated adult volunteers who are placing 4-H youth on a path towards successful careers.
    3. The other two mission mandates are Healthy Living and Citizenship.
      • Since its inception, 4-H has placed emphasis on the importance of young people being engaged, well-informed citizens. By connecting to their communities and leaders, youth understand their role in civic affairs and are able to expand their role in decision-making processes. It's clear that civic engagement provides the foundation that helps youth understand the big picture of life and learn the skill sets that will allow them to become wise leaders for the 21st century.
      • A core belief of 4-H is Health, as evidenced by the four H's in the 4-H clover: Head, Heart, Hands, and Health. 4-H is committed to the physical, mental and emotional health of our nation's youth so they may lead healthy and productive lives into adulthood. 4-H has become a national leader in health-related educational issues including chemical health, mental and emotional health, foods and nutrition, physical health and safety
      • In fiscal year 2007, there were 6 million 4-H participants, 413,000 adult volunteers, and 105,000 youth volunteers.4-H youth participants may be found in rural and urban settings.
  • In fiscal year 2007, 47% of 4-H participants lived on farms or rural non-farm and in towns with populations under 10,000; 53% live in towns, cities, or suburbs with populations of 10,000 and greater.
  • 4-H National Headquarters defines curriculum as the sum total of all intentional learning experiences. Curriculum includes: activities, events, workshops, trainings, field trips; contexts such as club, school enrichment and special interest camps, and after-school; and print and on-line learning materials that is intentional for youth and adults.
  • Would you like to get involved in 4-H? Are you between the ages of 8-18, or are you an adult hoping to volunteer your talents? Go to: for your nearest cooperative extension office. They can help you find a local club or apply to become a volunteer.
  • For more information about 4-H, see
  • The 4-H Youth Development Program is housed in the federal government at 4-H National Headquarters, Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension, USDA. 4-H operates through the land-grant system in the States and Territories, and in military installations, worldwide, representing the Army, Air Force and Navy. The mission of the land grant universities is to serve society by providing access to knowledge to everyone who desires it and can benefit from the experience. The 4-H program serves as a programmatic outreach of the land-grant universities to our youngest citizens, in their communities. Each state and local 4-H program is tailored to meet the individual needs of the youth residing in that area while striving to educate them about global issues.