What is 4-H?
4-H is a community of young people across Kansas engaged in learning leadership, citizenship, and life skills. Caring adults who support our programs are essential for youth to achieve their potential. Adults can share guidance, knowledge, and wisdom, as well as model respect and provide skills training.
4-H is a nationwide program. Each of the four H's of the clover represents ways youth can grow and develop.
ead, critical thinking, problem solving;
eart, self-discipline, integrity, communication;
ands, serving others; and
ealth, choosing healthy lifestyles.
The learning community in 4-H has at its core positive youth development, experiential learning opportunities, in partnership with caring adults, that assist young people in achieving youth development objectives.
Creating a culture of learning where youth and adults are involved in a collective effort of understanding is a foundational component of learning communities. Youth are free to participate in as many 4-H delivery modes or activities as they are able. They are required to designate a primary club (or independent membership) that they affiliate with within 4-H Online
4-H Delivery Models
4-H Community Clubs are a form of learning community. While 4-H had its beginnings in rural America, but it now serves youth in urban and suburban as well as rural communities. Kansas 4-H is open to any youth between the ages of 7 and 19. The new 4-H year starts in October, so many prefer to join 4-H at the start of the school year. 4-H enrollment, however, is open year round, so youth can join any time.
Cloverbuds is our youth program for children ages 5 to 6. Cloverbuds offers a non-competitive cooperative learning environment.
Summer camping opportunities is another 4-H learning opportunity.
After-school, in-school activities, SPIN (Special Interest) clubs are additional ways youth can partipicate in 4-H.
Each year over 1,000 Atchison County youth enjoy the fun hands-on learning opportunities offered by 4-H. 4-H is a year-round program. While county fair offers a snapshot of 4-H, 4-H extends beyond this one week of activities. Youth gain life skills during the year as they participate in 4-H events, activities, learning experiences and project work.
Positive youth development generally refers to a focus on the developmental characteristics which lead to positive behaviors and outcomes among young people. Positive youth development is a cornerstone of the 4-H program.
Positive youth development occurs through an intentional process that provides opportunities, choices, relationships, and the support necessary for youth to fully reach their potential.
4-H's unique role in youth development is based upon scientifically valid research. We analyze and document our efforts to demonstrate an impact on youth and then disseminate our findings to further the field of youth development. We use this scientific base to anticipate problems and develop practical solutions in the communities we serve.
A primary element of the 4-H mission is advancing the field of youth development. Youth development as a field of scientific inquiry is fairly new; the research is constantly and quickly growing. The program practices of 4-H are based on past and current research which includes Targeting Life Skills, Assets, Essential Elements, The Five C’s, and Community Action Framework. These frameworks of youth development are fully described in Heck & Subramaniam, “Youth Development Frameworks” (see Thrive resources).
Why 4-H Thrive Concepts Are Important
About the 4-H Thriving Model
The 4-H Thriving Model illustrates the process of positive youth development in 4-H programs by connecting high quality program settings to the promotion of youth thriving.
High quality 4-H program settings provide youth a place to belong, matter and explore their personal spark. High quality settings foster developmental relationships with youth, relationships that express care, challenge growth, and share power. These components help ensure that 4-H programs provide a nourishing developmental context – a place where youth can belong and grow.
High quality 4-H programs contribute to PYD through the intentional promotion of social, emotional, cognitive and behavioral habits of mind. In the 4-H Thriving Model this process of PYD is described by seven indicators of thriving: Openness to challenge and discover, growth mindset, hopeful purpose, pro-social orientation, transcendent awareness, positive emotionality and self-regulation though goal setting and management.
Youth who experience high quality developmental settings in 4-H with an emphasis on these key social-emotional skills achieve key positive youth development outcomes, including academic motivation and success, social competence, high personal standards, connection with others, personal responsibility, and contribution to others through leadership and civic engagement.
Youth who achieve positive developmental outcomes are more likely to also achieve long-term outcomes marked by vocational or academic success, civic engagement, employability and economic stability and happiness and well being.