4-H intro image from https://nys4-h.org/

What is Positive Youth Development

4-H is positive Youth Development. 4-H Youth Development is an American idea that has spread throughout the globe – the world’s largest, dynamic, informal educational program for young people based on democratic principles. The official national definition of 4-H is “the youth development education program of the Cooperative Extension Service.” This includes a wide array of delivery modes, ways of learning, project and topic areas, and local adaptations. It also includes Extension youth development programs facilitated by Nutrition, Agriculture, Natural Resources, Community Development or any other CCE professional. By definition all Extension youth development programs facilitated by an Extension professional or volunteer are 4-H programs.

4‑H empowers young people to lead for a lifetime. Our programs in science, healthy living and citizenship are backed by a network of 100 public universities and a robust community of 4‑H volunteers and professionals. Through hands-on learning, kids build not only confidence, creativity and curiosity, but also life skills such as leadership and resiliency to help them thrive today and tomorrow.

What is the essence of the 4-H Youth Development?

  • To create opportunities which promote positive youth development
  • To teach knowledge and life skills
  • To engage young people in the work of the Land-Grant University

Professional Development for 4-H Club Leaders

ACT (Assets Coming Together) for Youth Center of Excellence connects research to practice in the areas of positive youth development and adolescent sexual health.

When we say "positive youth development" (or simply "youth development"), we are talking about an approach that communities can take to become great places for young people to grow up. These pages and resources explain the principles of positive youth development (PYD), and address practical issues that communities and programs may face.

Check out the awesome toolkit to explore how to provide positive youth development experience to our 4-hers:


Last updated July 26, 2019