4-H / Youth
The youth development education program of Virginia Cooperative Extension, 4-H is rich with learning experiences in which young people partner with caring adults and volunteers in a fellowship unlike any other program available to youth today. Through 4-H, young people are encouraged to participate in a variety of activities that emphasize 4-H's "learning by doing" philosophy of youth development.
- 4-H Topics
- About 4-H
- Join 4-H
- Commonly Used Forms
- Partner with 4-H
- Affiliated Groups
- Virginia 4-H Blog
- 4-H Professionals News and Notes
- 4-H All Stars
- 4-H Camping
- 4-H Competitions
- 4-H State Congress
- 4-H Foundation
- 4-H Horse Program
- 4-H Military Partnership
- 4-H SPIN Clubs
- Companion Animals
- Healthy Living
- International Exchange
- Maker Education
- National 4-H Congress
- Natural Resources and Environmental Education
- Virginia Lifesmarts
- Youth Leadership Opportunities
- Youth Livestock Program
Developing Confident Leaders
Standing for head, heart, hands, and health, 4-H uses more than a century of experience in youth development programming to build strong, confident leaders.
Young people in the 4-H community learn leadership, citizenship, and a vast array of life skills that benefit them for the rest of their lives. Through school-based, after-school, and community clubs as well as camp settings, 4-H members pledge to build a better community, country, and world.
Ready for the Future
4-H participants are youth, ages 5 to 19, taking part in programs provided as the result of actions planned and initiated by Extension personnel in cooperation with volunteers. With a direct connection to research at Virginia's land-grant universities, Virginia Tech and Virginia State University, 4-H is the first experience many young people have with higher education. 4-H is characterized as being community-centered, volunteer-led, Extension-staff supervised, research-based, home- and family-oriented, publicly and privately funded, and responsive to change.
4-H provides a large variety of educational learning opportunities and experiences. Leadership, citizenship, and life skills are taught through learn-by-doing projects, local club programs, and 4-H camps, as well as at county, district, state, and national events. If you're interested in joining 4-H, contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office and ask about the 4-H program.
Opportunities in Your Community
Community 4-H clubs (9 through 18 years of age) offer a variety of 4-H projects for their members, generally meet in homes or public buildings, meet 9 to 12 months of the year, and have elected youth officers.
Project 4-H clubs (9 through 18 years of age) focus on a single 4-H project or subject matter area (i.e. horse clubs, photography clubs, etc.), generally meet in homes or public buildings, meet 9 to 12 months of the year, and have elected youth officers.
In-school 4-H clubs (9 through 18 years of age) meet during school hours, are approved by the school system, and have elected youth officers.
After-school 4-H clubs (9 through 18 years of age) meet after school hours, usually from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m., in a school or public building; use 4-H materials; and may or may not have elected youth officers (depending on its organizational setup, a short- or long-term club).
4-H School Enrichment clubs (9 through 18 years of age) meet during school hours and are designed to strengthen the members’ knowledge of school subject-matter areas, thus complimenting what the school is teaching. The club may or may not have elected youth officers (depending on its organizational setup, a short- or long-term club).
Special Interest 4-H groups (9 through 18 years of age) have short-term learning experiences designed to create interest in a subject matter area, learn about 4-H, and have no elected youth officers.
Cloverbud 4-H groups are designed for youth 5 through 8 years of age who are introduced to 4-H through special learning activities designed for their age group. There are no elected youth officers and no competitive events for Cloverbuds.
The five through 18 years of age designation includes youth who will turn five during the 4-H year (October 1 through September 30). Eligibility for 4-H membership terminates on December 31 of the year the member has his or her 19th birthday.
- 4-H Online Enrollment, Family and Leaders User's Guide
- 4-H Health History Report Form
- Club Leadership
- Club Management
- 4-H Enrollment
- 4-H Volunteer Forms
- 4-H Promotional Materials
- 4-H Curriculum and Delivery
- 4-H Risk Management Forms
- 4-H Awards and Recognition Forms
- 4-H Application Forms
- 4-H Competition and Scoring Aids
- Virginia 4-H All Stars
- Virginia Association of Adult 4-H Volunteer Leaders
- 4-H Camping
Inspire the Next Generation. Become a 4-H Volunteer!
You are more than just a volunteer in 4-H — you are instrumental in inspiring the next generation.
4-H programs look to volunteers to help our young people learn the skills they need to prepare for their futures while also having fun!
More than 14,000 volunteers worked with Virginia youth last year — helping them learn by doing. In 4-H, you can help youth have opportunities to master life challenges, cultivate independence with guidance from caring adults, gain a sense of belonging within a positive group, and share a spirit of generosity with others.
Volunteers are essential to help youth make the most of these learning opportunities. According to recent research, youth who are provided with positive adult interactions grow to become strong, confident young adults (Tufts University, 2006).
As a 4-H Volunteer, You Can...
- Lead youth within school-based, after-school, and camp settings and in community clubs
- Serve as a chaperone, board member, judge, or camp counselor
- Develop and support community service opportunities for youth to make a difference in their communities
- Teach youth using research-based university curricula
- Work with other adults to create fun, new programs for youth
Share Your Interests
If you are interested in leading a project-based club, you can share your expertise to provide young people with learning opportunities as varied as rocketry, GPS mapping, public speaking, agricultural science, photography, community service, and so much more.
Using research-based 4-H project curriculum, you will have the resources to learn as you teach. Either way, you will have the support you need from your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office.
You can also create a new project-based club and invite other youth and adults to join you in learning about that topic in your community.
Join with Your Family
Interested in joining 4-H with your children? Families involved in 4-H report that they work better together by scheduling time to focus on developing communication skills, setting goals, and experiencing family-wide learning opportunities.
A Perfect Fit
With a variety of flexible options, you can decide your level of involvement, based on your skills and time available.
Contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office for more information.
The valuable work of 4-H is enhanced by school, community, and corporate partners who have made a commitment to youth across America. Together we are developing cutting-edge opportunities and providing high-quality experiences for youth to learn leadership, citizenship, and life skills.
To learn how you can partner on a project in your community, contact your local Extension Office.
If you would like to explore a state programming partnership, please contact the State 4-H Office.
The State 4-H office is located on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.
107 Hutcheson Hall, Virginia Tech (0419)
250 Drillfield Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061
8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday
The State 4-H office is located on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Directions to Virginia Tech.
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