4-H is a nation-wide informal youth education program. With more than 7 million youth, 4-H is the largest youth development organizatiion in the United States. Although 4-H has been around since 1902, it has adapted to many changes within our society and continues to grow both in the project areas offered and the number of youth which participate.
Research shows that by participating in 4-H, young people prepare themselves for economic and social success in adulthood. 4-H teaches young people about a wide array of subject matter. Learning through 4-H augments what is learned in the classroom and opens doors to career pathways. Life skills enable young people to function effectively in a complex world. The commitment to building life skills is articulated in the 4-H pledge.
Head represents managing and thinking skills
Heart represents relating and caring skills
Hands represent working and giving skills
Health represents living and being skills
Positive youth development does not happen by chance. It results from intentional efforts of parents, schools, youth organizations, and communities to ensure that young people have opportunities for belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity. 4-H programs intentionally include opportunities for belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity. These are known as the essential elements of 4-H programming. The essential elements set the context in which positive development occurs.