4-H Youth Development

4-H Family and Consumer Science - Sewing

Photo by EESC Staff

Ritmos Latino Dance class at 4-H Summer Conference - 2014

Photo by 4-H staff

4-H Livestock Judging

Photo by EESC staff

Kayaking at 4-H Marine Science Camp

Photo by 4-H staff

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

News & Announcements

Get your State Fair tickets online to support 4-H and save too!

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.

Positive Youth Development

4-H is based on positive youth development approach that recognizes all youth have interests, abilities, and strengths that can be enhanced by participation in 4-H programs. Research from Oregon State University suggests that participating in high quality 4-H programs helps youth thrive and thriving youth achieve important developmental outcomes, like academic motivation and success, social competence, and high personal standards.

These resources show how Oregon 4-H Youth Development programs promote positive youth development and help youth grow and thrive.

Youth Sparks

4-H Youth Development Program Resource

Sparks are the individual interests and passions that a young person brings to 4-H, like an interest in animals or computers. 4-H provides an opportunity for youth to explore their sparks through programs based on their personal interests.

4-H Youth Program Quality

4-H Youth Development Program Resource

In order to be effective, 4-H must provide an environment where youth feel welcome, emotionally and physically safe, that they belong and matter, and offer opportunities for structured learning, skill building and mastery. As a young person grows so should the 4-H program. Increasing emphasis on leadership, civic engagement, and identity development as youth mature creates a safe environment for challenge and discovery.

Developmental Relationships

4-H Youth Development Program Resource

A positive, supportive relationship between youth and 4-H staff and volunteers is critical to youth development. Because the relationships grow and change with the young person, these developmental relationships challenge growth, provide support and encouragement, and empower youth.

Youth Engagement in 4-H

4-H Youth Development Program Resource

4-H has its greatest impact when youth are fully engaged in the program, especially when youth participate in 4-H for multiple years. Encouraging active and regular 4-H participation and engaging in 4-H learning opportunities at the local, state, and international level promotes youth thriving.

Challenge and Discovery

4-H Youth Development Program Resource

Thriving youth have the desire and ability to explore and try new things and challenges while also possessing a growth mindset that supports effort in learning over innate ability.

Pro-Social Orientation

4-H Youth Development Program Resource

Thriving youth see helping others as a personal responsibility and live up to the values of respect, responsibility, honesty, kindness, and generosity. Because thriving youth care, they strive to give back and engage in their community.

Hopeful Purpose

4-H Youth Development Program Resource

Thriving youth have a sense of hope and purpose and see themselves on the way to a happy and successful future.

Transcendent Awareness

4-H Youth Development Program Resource

Thriving youth develop meaning and purpose because they are aware of a reality bigger than themselves. This helps shape their everyday thoughts and actions.

Positive Emotionality

4-H Youth Development Program Resource

Thriving youth are positive, optimistic, and capable of managing emotions in ways that promote health and well-being.

Intentional Self-regulation

4-H Youth Development Program Resource

Thriving youth set goals and persevere in their journey of achieving their goals. They also make self-regulatory decisions that lead to better short and long-term success.

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 botantist 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 Name and Emblem

4-H Youth Development Program Resource

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.

Smith-Lever Act of 1914

4-H Youth Development Program Resource

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.

Oregon State 4-H Youth Development


All youth experience a positive, thriving trajectory of development that leads to an adulthood marked by health and well-being, economic stability, social success and civic engagement.


4-H provides young people with intentional, high quality learning experiences that promote positive interactions with adults and peers, sustained and active participation across time, and opportunities to make meaningful contributions to the world around them.

Core Values

  • 4-H is based on the current theory, research, and practice of positive youth development
  • 4-H promotes healthy growth and development in the context of families, schools, and communities.
  • Facilitating the development of a young person’s interests is essential to the 4-H approach.
  • Volunteers who serve as teachers and mentors to young people are essential to the success of the 4-H program. High quality volunteer training and engagement is essential to ensuring this success.
  • Youth development programs are marked by opportunities for young people to experience mastery, independence, belonging, and generosity.
  • Youth voice, youth engagement, and youth action in their communities are critical components of the 4-H program.
  • Experiential learning forms the basis of the “learn by doing” approach to 4-H programming.
  • The 4-H program values and respects all forms of human diversity.
  • Believing that thriving is possible for all young people, the 4-H program provides access and opportunity for all youth.


  • Youth will identify a personal passion or “spark” that fuels a positive trajectory for further learning and growth.
  • Youth will possess a thriving orientation, marked by indicators of a pro-social orientation, hopeful purpose, positive emotionality, openness to challenge and discovery, and spiritual development.
  • Youth will achieve identified developmental outcomes that include academic motivation, academic success, reduction in risk behaviors, positive goal setting, goal achievement, healthful choices, social competence, personal standards, and connection with and contribution to others.
  • Long term, youth will experience a successful transition to adulthood, marked by health and wellbeing, economic stability, social success, and civic engagement.

Oregon 4-H and Positive Youth Development

4-H Youth Development Program Resource

Oregon 4-H Youth Development program strives to help youth develop a thriving orientation - an outlook and approach to life that is ever growing and expanding in a positive direction.

Oregon 4-H Thriving Model

4-H Youth Development Program Resource

This booklet resource outlines the Oregon 4-H Thriving model, defines youth thriving indicators, and provides strategies for increasing thriving in youth.

Youth Thriving Indicators

4-H Youth Development Program Resource

Oregon 4-H helps youth grow and thrive. This resource provides an overview of the outcomes when youth thrive.

2016 Research Briefs

4-H Youth Development Program Resource

This resource is a collection of research articles related to youth and adolescent development.

Upcoming Events

OSF logo

Oregon State 4-H Fair

4-H Youth Development Event

Fri, Aug 24, 2018 - Mon, Sep 3, 2018 (All Day)
Don't miss the exceptional 4-H exhibits at the Oregon State Fair. You will find a diverse group of exception 4-H exhibits including: livestock, horse, small animals, sewing, cooking, art and so much more. Horse and Livestock Arrive on: 8/22; Non-Animal exhibits should be delivered on 8/21

4-H Ranch Horse Invitational

4-H Youth Development Event

Sat, Sep 8 (All Day)
This is the statewide 4-H Ranch Horse competition - the first.

4-H Center 50th Anniversary Celebration

4-H Youth Development Event

Sat, Sep 8, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
The Oregon 4-H Center has been an important part of the Oregon 4-H Youth Development Program. We are celebrating 50 years of hosting 4-H camps, outdoor schools, and a place to enjoy and learn more about the outdoors. Please join us to help celebrate and to honor the many staff, counselors, and donors who have made the last 50 years and the future of the Oregon 4-H Center possible.

PNW 4-H Horse Judges' Training

4-H Youth Development Event

Thu, Oct 11, 2018 - Sun, Oct 14, 2018 (All Day)
PNW 4-H Horse & Volunteer Training Registration Materials 2018
2019 PNW Tri-State 4-H Conference, Bend, OR

PNW Tri State 4-H Professional Conference

4-H Youth Development Event

Tue, Apr 16, 2019 - Thu, Apr 18, 2019 (All Day)
This conference serves as a premier networking and professional development opportunity for 4-H professionals in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. 

4-H Summer Conference

4-H Youth Development Event

Wed, Jun 26, 2019 - Sat, Jun 29, 2019 (All Day)
All youth in grades 7th-12th are welcome to attend this unique learning opportunity on Oregon State University Campus from June 26-29, 2019.