What's it all about

July 2023

By Carrie Ann Olson, Extension Educator, Associate Extension Professor

U of MN Extension graphic

It's summer time! The days are longer and many youth are not in school. 4-H programs offer a non-formal environment to engage young people in learning and growing, but it's more that a club or a camp experience. 4-H is about helping youth thrive - now and in the future.

Positive Youth Development is the science behind 4-H.  The goal is to help young people feel empowered by supporting learning and leading opportunities that will help develop critical life skills that allow youth to reach their fullest potential.  Our programs have positive, measurable impacts on not only social and emotional growth, but also on the behavioral and cognitive development of our youth.

Staff and volunteers help youth thrive:

  • Sparks: Providing a place where youth can find and explore what sparks their interest.
  • Belonging: Creating spaces of belonging – where all youth feel welcome and physically and emotionally safe.
  • Relationships: Nurturing positive, supportive and empowering relationships between youth and adults and youth and their peers.
  • Engagement: Challenging and encouraging youth to pursue their own learning and growth. Promoting active engagement where youth have a voice.

These key components help youth develop critical life skills; an openness to challenge and discovery, positive emotions, a healthy growth mindset and goal setting skills.  Long-term positive outcomes have included high personal standards, connection with others, vocational and academic success and a sense of happiness and well-being.

Youth are our greatest resource. Our 4-H mission is to help them succeed-wherever their imagination takes them.  Contact your local 4-H office if you’d like more information or to volunteer.

Source: “What is PYD? The Science of Success