4-H Youth Development

Helping youth learn skills for living

The 4-H youth development program of University of Illinois Extension is focused on facilitating the development of youth in positive ways. Research suggests that one of the best ways to help young people develop to their fullest potential is by providing them with opportunities to meet the four basic human needs of belonging, independence, mastery, and generosity.

Extension youth development programs meet these needs by incorporating eight critical elements of positive youth development (PYD). Research indicates that when these elements are present, outcomes for youth improve. The eight elements include:

  • Positive relationships with a caring adult
  • An environment that is welcoming and inclusive
  • A learning environment that is physically and psychologically safe
  • Opportunities to achieve competency
  • Opportunities for engaged learning
  • Opportunities for self-determination
  • Opportunities to provide service for others
  • Active participation in the future

Youth Development staff bring PYD expertise to their communities through a variety of educational programs and services:

  • 4-H community, school, after-school, and summer programs
  • Trainings for teachers and others working with youth
  • Learning enrichment curricula and resources
  • Assistance in addressing local youth issues
  • Volunteer development

You can visit the Illinois 4-H website at http://www.4-h.uiuc.edu/.