Positive Youth Development
Positive Youth Development is the educational framework 4-H uses which leads to positive behaviors and outcomes among young people. It is the 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.
What Does 4-H Mean?
The four H's represent the cornerstones of raising productive, well-centered and happy young people. Our mission is to make that happen.
- HEAD -- Make sound decisions, set goals and stick with them until they are achieved, and have practical skills needed to lead a productive and fulfilling life.
- HEART -- Act with integrity and accountability, and help others become their best.
- HANDS -- Put the needs of the community before those of themselves, and serve others.
- HEALTH -- Actively take care of their minds and bodies.
Want to learn more about the History of 4-H?
Eight Essential Elements of the 4-H Experience
- Positive relationship with a caring adult.
- An inclusive environment.
- A safe environment.
- Opportunity to see oneself as an active participant in the future.
- Opportunity for self-determination.
- Opportunity for mastery.
- Engagement in learning.
- Opportunity to value and practice service for others.
For over 100 years, 4-H has fostered a "learn by doing" approach with proven results. The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development, a longitudinal study conducted by the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University, shows youth engaged with 4-H are:
- nearly two more likely to get better grades in school
- nearly two times more likely to plan to go to college
- 41% less likely to engage in risky behaviors
- 25 percent more likely to positively contribute to their families and communities
4-H is dedicated to learning and understanding how its programs help youth become responsible citizens leading healthy and productive lives and discovering critical science-focused innovations. Learn more about these important research findings on youth and 4-H:
- 4-H Helps Young People Excel Beyond Their Peers
- 4-H Youth Make Healthy Choices
- 4-H Science Programming Helps Students Excel
Learn more about the National 4-H Program.