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4-H and Positive Youth Development

Positive youth development programs engage youth within their communities. These programs take place in schools, organizations, peer groups, and families in a manner that is productive and constructive; recognizes, utilizes, and enhances youth's strengths; and promotes positive outcomes for young people by providing opportunities, fostering positive relationships and furnishing the support needed to build on their leadership strengths.

Positive Youth Development

Positive youth development expertise and resources are available in research and evaluation, professional development, and learning and engagement. Positive youth development tools are available for various subject matter, audiences (youth, adult, vulnerable populations – rural, at-risk, military, etc.) and all delivery methods (school-based, afterschool, clubs, camps, etc.).

4-H as the Program Model for Positive Youth Development

The 4-H Youth Development Program is the youth outreach program from the land-grant institutions’ cooperative extension services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 4-H serves as a model program for the practice of positive youth development by creating positive learning experiences; positive relationships for and between youth and adults; positive, safe environments; and opportunities for positive risk taking.

The Division of Youth and 4-H

The Division of Youth and 4-H is housed in the Institute of Youth, Family, and Community at NIFA. Additional support is provided to 4-H by National 4-H Council (a private, non-profit organization) and conducted through the land-grant university extension 4-H offices.

The Division of Youth and 4-H strengthens and promotes healthy youth development by providing the tools young people need to act as responsible citizens and agents of community change. By understanding the complex experiences that youth face and by promoting high quality youth leadership development, 4-H helps youth meet the challenges of adolescence and transition to adulthood. Through youth-adult partnerships, the 4-H program connects youth and adults to their communities, preparing them for work and life. The 4-H program is designed to engage youth and adults in intentional, experiential, and inquiry-based learning while providing emerging research to highlight positive youth development. To achieve this, the Division of Youth and 4-H focuses on three key issues:

  • Program Quality and Accountability
  • Access, Equity and Opportunity
  • Learning


Program type
Emphasis Area Program

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