4H: Setting Youth Up For Success

Many people are familiar with 4-H as a youth program that provides fun activities for young people. But 4-H is also a non-formal educational opportunity that can enhance your child’s formal education by providing hands-on opportunities to learn and practice new skills.

This week (October 1-7) was National 4-H Week, which celebrates over 100 years of Wisconsin 4-H programs that have emphasized “learning by doing.” Today’s 4-H, however, goes a step further. It also encourages young people to reflect and apply what they have learned to new situations. This new step recognizes that people who can react positively to change are most likely to succeed in today’s diverse society.

Too often, people think learning occurs when you tell someone how to do something. In contrast, 4-H encourages young people and adults to become actively involved in projects and activities based on their interests, then reflect on what they have learned and apply it to new situations.

4-H uses projects such as dog obedience, foods and nutrition, and the creative arts to build academic and
lifelong skills like decision-making, communication, and time management. One of the underlying themes of current youth development programs is that change is constant. Actual skills learned today may be outdated tomorrow, but 4-H Youth Development programs help young people learn how to learn, and then apply what they have learned, to new and changing situations.

For more information on 4-H opportunities in your community, contact your local Extension agent.