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Strengthening Youth, Creating Sustainable Change 

NIFA supports programs in positive youth development science that prepare youth of the nation with the 21st century skills needed to be successful, healthy, and productive members of society.


Photo of a young cowboy in a cowboy hat by Diane Diederich, courtesy Getty Images.

Photo of a young cowboy, courtesy Getty Images.

‘Making a Difference’ One Food Pantry at a Time - Mackenzie Hinson, a 13-year-old 4-H’er, took the leap from food pantry volunteer to director of her own non-profit, the Make a Difference (MAD) Food Pantry in Mount Olive, North Carolina. After Hurricane Matthew effectively cut off Mount Olive from the outside world, the town’s mayor called upon “Kenzie” to help. She and her pantry fed over 400 people the first day. To date, the MAD pantry has provided over a million meals.

Curating the Farmers of Tomorrow - Ensuring the long-term sustainability of U.S. agriculture requires introducing agricultural education to young people. West Virginia State University 4-H is establishing school gardens and leading activities in preschool settings, teaching sustainability, environmental awareness, and appreciation for outdoor spaces to youths under the age of five. The program is available at several schools in three counties, reaching more than 600 youths.

Oklahoma 4-H’ers Help with Wildfire Relief - In April 2018, wildfires scorched nearly 350,000 acres in northwest Oklahoma, claiming 1,600 head of cattle and compromising 2,100 miles of fencing. Damages exceeded $26 million. Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension provided agricultural related relief to affected areas and families by offering hands-on assistance and offering science-based information to guide recovery efforts. Between April 13 and 31, Extension crisis communication via Facebook and Twitter generated a reach of 1,860,142. Meanwhile, Oklahoma 4-H youth development members raised $55,000 for affected families and packed 1,225 sack lunches for hundreds of firefighters battling the blaze.

Photo of Mackenzie Hinson by Craig Ladd.

Photo of Mackenzie Hinson by Craig Ladd.

STEM Education Develops College and Workforce Readiness - Youth across Connecticut are being introduced to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through educational and engaging 4-H programs. 4-H youth across the state completed 12,961 STEM projects last year, helping them develop college and workforce readiness preparedness. The program’s highlight was 4-H Adventures in STEM, the annual statewide conference at University of Connecticut - Storrs.

Youth as Zoonotic Disease Detectives… What a Novella Idea! - Every year, people get sick from zoonotic diseases, afflictions spread between animals and people. A three-way partnership between 4-H National Headquarters at NIFA, USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are teaching youth to recognize and respond to zoonotic diseases, especially at local and state fairs. Georgia 4-H created a special “Be a Zoonotic Disease Detective” edition of its Friends magazine. Along with graphic novella The Junior Disease Detectives, youth are not only introduced to zoonosis but also careers related to epidemiology.


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