4-H Youth Development
4-H is a community of young people across Kansas engaged in learning leadership, citizenship, and life skills. Caring adults that support our programs are essential for youth to achieve their potential based on the guidance, respect, skills, knowledge and wisdom adults can share.
4-H is a nationwide program. Each of the four H's of the clover represent ways youth can grow and develop.
Head, critical thinking, problem-solving;
Heart, self-discipline, integrity, communication;
Hands, serving others; and
Health, choosing healthy lifestyles.
In 4-H, youth have fun with a purpose!
Head, Heart, Hands, Health
Words enshrined in the 4-H pledge penned by the first Kansas State 4-H Program Leader Otis E. Hall (link) in 1918. For over one hundred years, it has guided the spirit of the 4-H Youth Development Movement.
I Pledge my…
• HEAD to clearer thinking,
• HEART to greater loyalty,
• HANDS to larger service,
• HEALTH to better living,
• For my club, my community, my country, and my world.
The science of positive youth development has continued to validate and refine those pledge characteristics that embody the character and skill formation of productive youth in 4-H. But like all other Extension programs, we also utilize the latest innovation and data in science to better inform our practice and program design. So you might be asking, what could have changed in youth development in the last 100 years. Well in short, a great deal more is now known about how young people develop and grow into productive adults
In an effort to communicate to those outside of the historical context of 4-H youth development and to strengthen the connection to the science of youth development, the 4-H Formula (download here) describes and contextualizes the four “H”s from the 4-H Pledge within the science of Positive Youth Development.
At the end of the 4-H Formula, it describes FOUR impacts that are grown in 4-H positive youth development.
Each 4-H youth will be a
Learner: Youth will be invited to develop critical thinking skills, involving curiosity, investigation, testing, and experimentation. Being an active learner is a key in developing academic motivation and success and establishing personal standards. Living out “Learn by Doing” This word mirrors “HEAD to clearer thinking.”
Communicator: Youth will be invited to develop skills to speak with confidence, question, clarify, use appropriate nonverbal communication, understand and reference cultural communication, use images for effective communication, and grow in artistic expression. Communication is changing rapidly in our world. Preparing youth to be effective communicators is key to helping them be successful members of Kansas communities. This word mirrors “HEART to greater loyalty” and embodies the ancient wisdom “out of the heart the mouth speaks.”
Collaborate: Youth will be invited to work together with others, develop social competence, connect with others, enter into decision making with others, work through differing perspectives, become a team, and creating common goals together. Preparing youth to work well with others is vital for helping them thrive and be productive. This word mirrors “HANDS to larger service.”
Contribute: Youth will be invited to be producers. Youth who add value to their own life and their communities by “leaving the place better than you found it.” Contributions to others is a foundational youth development outcome that emerges from goal management, hopeful purpose and being connected to something larger than yourself. This word mirrors “HEALTH to better living.”
I hope that as a youth, a parent, a volunteer or as a youth development professional, that you would utilize the 4-H Formula to encourage the development of youth to thrive in your communities!
So whether you find yourself this summer at 4-H camp, at summer workshops, or preparing projects for the county fair, know this, TOGETHER we are preparing tomorrow’s leaders by being involved in 4-H Youth Development Programs today!
For Yesterday, For Today – 4-H Growing Tomorrow’s Leaders
Submitted by Wade M. Weber