What is 4-H?
is the youth development education program of WSU Extension,
which is conducted jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture,
the state land grant university (Washington State University),
and your county government. Today 4-H is everywhere--in cities,
suburbs, small towns, and rural communities. 4-H is the largest
youth development organization in the nation. The United States
has more than 5 million members and 600,000 leaders. Around
the world, 4-H type clubs now exist in at least 82 countries.
In the 2003 4-H serves a broad clientele with expanded program
focus using a variety of ways to deliver its effective "learn
by doing" approach.
All 4-H youth
development emphasizes three types of basic life skills: competency,
coping, and contributory. Competency skills are: learning and
using accepted practices for mental, physical, emotional, and
social health; exploring and evaluating career and job opportunities;
acquiring subject matter skills and knowledge in science or art;
and developing and practicing responsible skills related to the
environment. Examples of coping skills are: acquiring a positive
self-concept; learning to respect and get along with people;
and developing productive use of leisure time. Contributory skills
include those where youths: learn and practice leadership skills
and fulfill leadership roles; participate in community affairs;
and develop as individuals and leaders in the 4-H program. Let's
look at the major ways 4-H is delivered in Washington State.
Mt Solo Science Club Launches Rockets, click here to see slide show!
4-H groups learn about a specific subject for a designated period
of time. These groups may be short- or long-term, but their leaders
are usually enrolled on a yearly basis. Counties' ideas about
what special interest 4-H is vary. Most day camps are special
interest, i.e., horse camp, health camp, or sewing camp.
In urban areas,
special interest groups may be formed in low-income housing units
through grants. An example of a special interest project in a
rural county is teaching cooking skills and nutrition to non-English-speaking
youths while their parents attend English as a Second Language
presented to other youth groups, such as Scouts and Campfire,
are considered special interest 4-H. Horseback riding programs
for disabled riders, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education
Program (EFNEP), S.E.R.I.E.S., and 4-H Challenge are other examples.
encompasses a variety of educational activities. Youths develop
a sense of inner responsibility and trust in others by learning
goal setting, problem solving, and communication skills. Activities
of bicycling, cross-country skiing, and "ropes" courses
enhance these skills. The portable Challenge unit, which is available
in many counties, can be set up in a playground or a classroom
setting. Adult Challenge leaders are certified in experiential
education techniques and closely monitor safety and appropriate
stress levels during group activities.
activities present a group of young people with a physical challenge
which is impossible to solve alone. The youths are challenged
to develop a group plan to solve the problem. This plan is shared
with the group leader. Then the group tests the plan to achieve
the goal and master the physical challenge. For example, a group
of hikers will decide how they will ascend a 3000-foot summit.
Or a group on the ropes course may be challenged to get each
member over a 12-foot wall. After the physical challenge is completed,
the group analyzes the learning process they went through and
transfers these ideas to personal situations. For example, bicyclists,
learning the value of drafting for one another, can transfer
this learning process to a family problem that seemed unsolvable
or Resident Camps
or regions conduct resident camps where youths learn such important
life skills as problem solving, decision making, communication,
and cooperation, while experiencing a variety of activities.
Camps may have a single focus such as food and nutrition, horse,
or science, or offer a more general program. Teens or adults
serve as counselors with a paid or volunteer camp director.
educational programs utilize volunteers, teachers, or extension
personnel to share their interests and knowledge with children
in their classrooms. School enrichment programs use 4-H materials
to enhance existing school curricula. Examples are urban gardening,
Ag in the Classroom, S.E.R.I.E.S., and Talking with TJ.
programs are short-term-or a series of sessions-and participants
usually don't hold meetings or elect officers. A topic could
be experienced in a one- or two-day workshop or integrated into
the normal class routine for a week, a grading period, a semester,
or however the instructor wishes. Students may be encouraged
to display or demonstrate their projects at fairs or community
enrichment provides a way to teach life skills to a broad audience.
Programs can be adapted to fit the individual needs of the students
and schools. The 4-H "learn by doing" approach is a
natural companion to modern educational methods.
local county Extension office for more information
regarding the specific curricula available for use in the classroom.
Care and 4-H
care (SAC) is the care of school-age children (generally ages
5-12) during times when there is no school. This may include
before and after school on school days, school holidays, teacher
conference days and summer vacations. School-age care programs
have activities, environments, and equipment appropriate for
the ages and development of the children. These programs may
be conducted solely for school-age children or as part of a day
care program that enrolls other age groups. The programs may
be located in schools, churches, private buildings, or family
homes. They may be profit or nonprofit businesses.
Extension 4-H can be involved with SAC in several ways. The three
most common methods include:
Curricula. 4-H has provided appropriate curricula for school-age
youths for over 80 years. This includes project materials,
activities, and games in at least 60 specific subject matter
areas, from nutrition to plant sciences to natural resources.
The core of each quality school-age program is its well-trained
staff. WSU Extension 4-H can provide training
on the developmental stages of school-age children, SAC program
planning, appropriate group management techniques, food and
nutrition, leadership skills, and sound business management
In some counties WSU Extension provides volunteers
who can present programs on such subjects as bread baking,
gardening, games, clothing and textiles, and self-care.
care providers should check with their Extension
Office for the services their local county can provide. Each
county is unique and has specific policies for providing curricula.
in homeschooling their children are discovering 4-H curricula
as a resource. Sometimes homeschooled children participate in
4-H activities and events.
In other instances
parents and their children work as a group. Some of these programs
are called Independent 4-H, Lone Stars, or Family 4-H.
4-H is flexible,
so your county may be offering 4-H in additional creative ways.
Visit your Extension office and learn about ways to do 4-H where