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Ohio 4-H Youth Development

Ohio State University Extension


About Ohio 4-H

Our Vision

At Ohio 4-H, we inspire curiosity, fuel adventure, and build lifelong skills to grow tomorrow's leaders today.

Our Mission

Empowering young people with the skills to lead for a lifetime.

4-H Is Positive Youth Development

thriving model4-H is a community of young people across America who are learning leadership, citizenship, and life skills as they work in partnership with caring adults.  What does that mean? In 4-H we are committed to helping young people develop skills that will help them succeed. We want to empower all youth to reach their full potential. In 4-H, youth learn by doing projects that are designed to fit their needs at different ages. Through a variety of projects—from food and forestry to rockets and rabbits—4-H gives children and teens opportunities to learn life skills, to practice them, and become confident in their ability to use them in the future. 4-H teaches young people how to meet their needs for belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity in positive ways. 

4-H programming is guided by the 4-H Thriving ModelThe 4-H Thriving Model is the theory of change for positive youth development in 4-H. The model illustrates the process of positive youth development in 4-H programs by connecting high quality program settings to the promotion of youth thriving. 


4-H Is Hands-On Learning

Ohio 4-H works with young people in a variety of settings including schools, day camps, overnight camps, afterschool care, clubs, and other learning environments. Regardless of the environment, we rely on the experiential learning model in which learning takes place when youth experience, share, process, generalize, and apply a particular practice, idea, or piece of information.


4-H Is Based on Research

4-H Youth Development is part of Ohio State University Extension. OSU Extension research shows that Ohio youth credit their 4-H clubs with making them better citizens, leaders, and communicators.  Research from Tufts University shows that 4-H youth are competent, confident, caring, and connected, and that they exhibit strong character. The Tufts study shows that 4-H’ers contribute more to their families and communities, achieve higher grades in school and are more likely to go to college than youth who are not in 4-H, or even youth who participate in other out-of-school programs. In addition, youth involved in 4-H lead healthier, more productive lives and are less likely to participate in risky behaviors like drinking and smoking.


4-H at The Ohio State University

In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act. This provided "land grants" to enable states the establishment colleges of agriculture, mechanic arts, and homemaking with all phases of instruction. Many of the states acquired land form the government, and sold the land, investing the profits to pay for buildings, staff and associated expenses.

Ohio State University is a "Land Grant University" which was the product of Hatch Act of 1887. It established the foundation for experiment stations for discovering agricultural knowledge.

On May 8, 1914, President Wilson signed the Smith Lever Act, the federal bill that provided the mechanism of obtaining mutual support between the federal, state, and local, governments to provide an educational program that was to get its ideas and inspiration from people at all levels, from the farmers of the land to Washington D.C., thus creating extension, and the home of 4-H.

There are lots of fun things you can learn in 4-H and in a variety of ways. You can participate in 4-H through clubs, camps, your school, and short-term experiences. You can learn about animals, computers, public speaking, cooking, art, gardening and environmental sciences, just to name a few projects.  

All 4-H programs focus on active involvement and quality experiences which stimulate lifelong learning of values and skills.