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.
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 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.
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).