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What is 4-H?

“4-H is a community of young people across America who are learning
citizenship and life skills.”

Girl at the 4-H Fair

What is the mission of 4-H?
The mission of 4-H is to prepare youth to become competent, contributing and responsible adults. This process is accomplished by involving youth in project work, community service projects and leadership activities with trained caring adult volunteers. As a result, 4-H alumni become adults who are capable, caring and competent and who are able to meet the needs of a diverse and changing society.

What does 4-H offer?
In 4-H, youth are involved in fun, informal, hands-on learning experiences which fosters skill and character development.

4-H allows all youth to:
· have fun;
· gain public speaking skills; life skills; and leadership skills;
· gain proficiency in various subject matters of their choosing;
· learn civic responsibility by doing community service projects
set goals, develop strategies to reach those goals, and evaluate progress

In addition, for teens, 4-H offers opportunities to:
¨ take leadership for sharing their skills, knowledge and talents to make their communities stronger
¨ expand their horizons by participating in state, national and international events.

For adults:
· 4-H offers research-based support and training in age-appropriate learning methods and materials to help plan activities and projects for young people in safe, nurturing environments.

Who operates 4-H?
4-H is the youth development component of the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System. Cooperative Extension is located at the land-grant University of every state in the United States. 4-H Youth Development is delivered locally and operated at the state and national levels through a partnership among the land grant colleges and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This partnership ensures that 4-H programming is backed by the research and knowledge base of the nation’s premier land-grant universities and the support of state and federal governments.

How much does it cost?
There is no state or national dues structure for 4-H involvement. Individual groups may charge dues to cover expenses, and some project areas may require extra financial investments for supplies, equipment and travel.

Who is involved in 4-H?
4-H Youth Development programs are located in all 8 counties in Connecticut.(link to map of Ct with FC highlited) Each year, 29,000 youth and 8,000 adult and older teen volunteers from major cities, suburbs, towns and rural communities participate in 4-H. Nationally, 4-H youth programs involve more than 7 million young people from all 50 states and many U.S. territories.

How old do you have to be to join?
4-H programs are open to youth aged 5 to 19. Adults aged 19 and older are encouraged to join 4-H as volunteers.

Where do 4-Hers meet?
4-H groups can meet in volunteer leader’s or member’s homes, after school programs, community centers, school-aged child care centers, schools, camps, and other public buildings. Youth can join 4-H in a variety of ways.

Do 4-Hers live on farms?
4-H programs have branched out into urban areas. In Fairfield County, 90 percent of all 4-Hers live in a city or town over 10,000.

How did 4-H originate?
4-H clubs were preceded by corn clubs for boys and canning clubs for girls, organized early in the 1900’s by public school educators who wanted to broaden the knowledge and experience of their students. 4-H became an official part of the Cooperative Extension System, along with agriculture and home economics, at about the time Cooperative Extension was officially established by the U.S. Congress in 1914. The term “4H club” first appeared in a federal document in 1918 and by the mid- 1920’s, 4-H was well on its way to becoming a significant national program for youth.

4-H is an American idea that has spread around the world. 4-H, throughout its long history, has constantly adapted to the every-changing needs and interests of youth. From its inception until now, 4-H has maintained and sustained the effective model of adults and youth working together to provide guidance, experience and opportunities for youth to develop to their full potential.

How are 4-Hers recognized?
The National 4-H Recognition Model provides the recognition, support and encouragement for learning in the following areas of recognition:

  • participation of members in an educational activity
  • cooperation in learning and working together
  • peer competition – recognition for the best team or individual at a specific time and place
  • standards of excellence – measuring a member’s accomplishment against a set of standards- commonly called the Danish System. In this system, members receive colored ribbons based on a score determined according to established standard. In the Danish system, more than one blue, red, white or green ribbon can be awarded.
  • progress towards self-set goals – personal goals set by the individual youth allow for the unique worth of that individual. Setting realistic and reasonable goals, planning ways to achieve those goals, evaluating progress and then celebrating accomplishments are part of this process

What about volunteers?
Volunteers are an essential part of the overall 4-H program. Approximately 8,000 youth and adult volunteers participate in the Connecticut 4-H program. Adult and teen volunteers work at the local and state level to support experiential learning activities for youth. 4-H volunteers have the opportunity to contribute their time, energies, talents, and knowledge to help develop 4-H youth in a positive, educational way. They can be
club, group or resource leaders, middle management volunteers or committee members.

The strength of a successful 4-H program is a setting where volunteers and youth work together over a period of time. That provides the best opportunity for positive youth development.

What is the official 4-H MOTTO?
"To Make the Best Better" is the aim of each member in improving their project work and in building better clubs and communities.

What is the official 4-H SLOGAN?
“Learn by Doing” is the 4-H member’s way of acquiring new skills and learning how to get along with others. New skills come from working with the hands. The ability to get along with others comes from working and playing with the group.

Why is the clover green and white?
The green clover, nature’s most common color symbolizes life. The white H’s symbolizes purity

What is the 4-H pledge?
I pledge…
My HEAD to clearer thinking,
My HEART to greater loyalty,
My HANDS to better service,
My HEALTH to better living,
For my club, my community, my country and my world.

What are the four H’s?
Head, Heart, Hands and Health

  • Head – 4-H lets kids take the lead—with the help of adult partners—in thinking, learning and problem-solving.
  • Heart – 4-H helps kids build strong relationships with peers and adults based on caring and respect.
  • Hands – 4-H lets kids learn by doing and then use their talents and skills to make their communities better places in which to live and grow.
  • Health – 4-H helps kids make healthy choices to keep them physically and mentally able to do what they need to at school, at home and in their communities.

County 4-H Educators lead and support the work of 4-H volunteers and members in that county. They cooperate with other County 4-H Educators, other Cooperative Extension System Educators, and local, regional and state partners. This multidisciplinary approach is used often in program design, implementation and evaluation.

How do you join 4-H?
For more information about how to join or get involved as a volunteer, contact Ede Valiquette, 67 Stony Hill Road, Bethel, CT 06801, 203-207-3264, All Cooperative Extension Offices are listed in the blue (government) pages of your phone book under State of Connecticut- Higher Education- University of Connecticut.

What do 4-H members do?
4-H groups must do certain things do be a “club in good standing”, but how they accomplish these things are up to them. 4-H is “youth run and adult facilitated.” All 4-Hers are generally involved in project learning, community service, and leadership and recreational activities. Youth in clubs also conduct club business.
In addition to completing and keeping records on their own projects, members hold club offices, help younger children, and plan and participate in community service projects and county activities. County activities include 4-H festivals, project related events, public speaking, project evaluations and field trips. State activities, leadership activities, trips to Washington D.C. and conferences at UConn are some of the special activities available for teens.

What is a 4-H project?
One of the greatest strengths of 4-H is its "learning by doing" projects. A 4-H project is the thought, work, and action involved in learning a specific subject. Activities such as tours, field trips, judging, and workshops enhance the learning. Each member chooses a project that fits his/her interest/s, home situation, and ability. Projects vary in difficulty according to the age and experience of the member. Youth want projects that are fun, help them discover new information, and help them learn new skills.
Adults often see 4-H projects as ways to create more interest in daily tasks, strengthen family and community ties, develop leadership skills, and explore vocational opportunities.

What do 4-Hers learn?
Through their projects, members gain proficiency in various subject matters of their choosing, they also acquire life skills which help them now and in the future, through their personal, educational and work lives. Leadership and service to the community are emphasized. 4-H alumni say the program taught them skills such as communication, working with others, creative problem solving, work ethic, decision making, goal setting, public speaking, managing resources, management information responsibility, self management, and honesty. Hands-on activities help young people in “learning by doing”.
4-H offers learning experiences in more than 200 subject matter areas. These subject matter areas are divided into 10 emphasis areas:

  • Science and Technology
  • Plants and Animals
  • Consumer and Family Sciences
  • Leadership Education
  • Healthy Lifestyles
  • Personal Development
  • Communication and Expressive Arts
  • Environmental Education & Earth Science
  • Citizenship Education
  • Workforce Preparation

4-H projects range from aerospace to zoology! All youth, no matter their interest, can find a place.

How do they learn?
Three types of learning experiences are emphasized in 4-H youth development programs and activities: hands-on (making, producing, practicing, observing, etc.); organized activities (demonstrations, workshops, field trips, camps, etc.); and leadership/citizenship (conducting, planning, assisting, informing, organizing, etc.)

In addition to learning subject matter information in their project work, youngsters learn about leadership, community service and other life skills. 4-H groups are youth-run and adult facilitated. 4-H members hold club offices, help younger children, and participate and plan community service projects. State activities, leadership activities, trips to Washington and conferences at the University are some of the special activities for 4-H teens. 4-H alumni say that 4-H taught them life skills such as: communication, working together, creative problem solving, work ethic, decision making, public speaking and goal setting. The skills they learned in 4-H, help them today in their personal and in their work life.

4-H encourages youth to discover their potential in many areas and expand their horizons. Young people “learn by doing” through hands on activities.

Learning Materials
As part of the land grant university system, 4-H curriculum is research-based. Although curriculum is available through the National 4-H Curriculum collection, 4-hers can use any curriculum that meets their specific needs.