4-H Youth Development

Building ROVs at Hatfield Marine Science center during 4-H Marine Science Camp

Photo by 4-H staff

Exploring tide pools near Newport during 4-H Marine Science Camp

Photo by 4-H staff

4-H Livestock Judging

Photo by EESC staff
Marined Science Camp kyaking trip

Marine Science Camp Kayaking Trip

4-H Staff
4-H Family and Consumer Science - Sewing

4-H Family and Consumer Science - Sewing

EESC Staff Photo

4-H is a global network of youth organizations whose mission is "engaging youth to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development". The 4-H name represents four personal development areas of focus for the organization: head, heart, hands, and health. 4‑H is delivered by Cooperative Extension—a community of more than 100 public universities across the nation.

What is 4-H?

4-H empowers young people with hands-on learning experiences to help them grow and thrive. By creating a safe and welcoming environment, young people develop the skills needed to make a positive impact on the world around them.

With more than 6 million members, 4-H is the largest out-of-school youth program in the United States. Oregon State University 4-H Youth Program has connected thousands of local youth to engaging hands-on learning opportunities and supportive adult partnerships.

How does 4-H work?


4-H fuels sparks. Having a spark in life is essential for youth to thrive because it ignites actions, encourages goal setting, and enhances relationships with others. 4-H provides an environment for youth to identify and explore areas that interest them, which often results in youth developing and sustaining their spark.


4-H grows positive supportive relationships. A safe welcoming environment builds youth relationships with peers and adults and provides a place where youth experience respect, support, and a sense of belonging.


4-H connects youth to their community. 4-H offers learning opportunities at the state, national, and international level where youth can apply the skills they have developed and discover how their actions can make a difference in their community and the world.


4-H helps youth thrive. High quality, engaging hands on learning opportunities are a direct result of research based 4-H program planning.

The History of 4-H

4-H Symbols

4-H has grown over the years and the symbols reflect the rich traditions and the progressive spirit of 4-H.

The Four H’s

Head, Heart, Hands, Health. These four H’s represent the comprehensive areas of development youth experience in the 4-H program. Head is for thinking, planning, and learning to reason. Heart is for the concern about the welfare of others, acceptance of responsibilities, and development of positive attitudes. Hands is for the development and mastery of skills. Health is for the enjoyment of life and promotion of healthful living.

4-H Emblem

The 4-H emblem is a green four-leaf clover with a white “H” letter on each leaf. The emblem was adopted nationally in 1911 and since then Congress has passed legislation twice to protect the 4-H name and emblem. The design is attributed to O.H. Benson, an Iowa School Superintendent.

4-H Colors

The 4-H colors are green and white. Green represents springtime, life, and youth while white represents high ideals and standards.

4-H Motto

To Make the Best Better. Carrie Harrison, a botanist with the U.S. Bureau of Plant Industry proposed this motto and it was later adopted in 1927 along with the 4-H pledge

4-H Pledge

The pledge was adopted in 1927 during the first National 4-H Club Camp in Washington, D.C. Otis Hall, a State 4-H leader in Kansas, was responsible for the original wording. The pledge remained unchanged until 1973 when the words "and my world" were added.

I pledge . . .
           My HEAD to clearer thinking
           My HEART to greater loyalty
           My HANDS to larger service, and
           My HEALTH to better living
           For my club, my community,
           My country and my world.

Prometo usar...
          mi mente para pensar con más claridad
          mi corazón para ser más leal
          mis manos para ser más servicial,
          mi salud para cuidarme más,
          por mi club, mi comunidad, mi país y mi mundo.

Protection of the 4-H Name and Emblem

The 4-H Name and Emblem is protected by a Federal Statute to ensure the consistent and correct use by all Extension staff, volunteer, 4-H families and members, and authorized non-Extension entities. Oregon 4-H Youth Development Program fulfills the legal obligation to inform the public of federal protections and consequences of misuse by using the 18 U.S.C 707 protected 4-H emblem. Similar to a copyright, this protection means that the 4-H name and emblem can not be used without authorization by the national organization.

4-H Youth Development Program Resource

4-H Name and Emblem

This resource contains important guidelines for using the 4-H name and emblem. If you want to become an authorized user of the 4-H name and emblem for your 4-H club, please review this resource for application criteria and information.

4-H Youth Development Program Resource

Smith-Lever Act of 1914

The United States Smith-Lever Act of 1914 established a system of cooperative extension services connected to the land-grant universities. Cooperative Extension Services helped inform people about current developments in areas like agriculture, home economics, public policy, leadership, 4-H, economic development, and coastal issues.

Upcoming Events

Statewide 4-H Shooting Sports Leader Training

Sat, Oct 27, 2018 12:30 pm - Sun, Oct 28, 2018 5:00 pm
4-H Youth Development Event

Youth Voices in Action

Sun, Mar 24, 2019 2:00 pm - Wed, Mar 27, 2019 1:00 pm
4-H Youth Development Event

National 4-H Conference

Sat, Apr 6, 2019 - Thu, Apr 11, 2019 (All Day)
4-H Youth Development Event

PNW Tri State 4-H Professional Conference

Tue, Apr 16, 2019 - Thu, Apr 18, 2019 (All Day)
4-H Youth Development Event

4-H Summer Conference

Wed, Jun 26, 2019 - Sat, Jun 29, 2019 (All Day)
4-H Youth Development Event

Dairy Goat Day

Sat, Nov 3, 8:00 am - 4:30 pm
OSU Small Farms Event

Teamwork! A Volunteer's Toolbox for Effective Team Management

Sat, Dec 8, 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Douglas County Extension Event