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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


4-H Youth Development: Building A Legacy in Ohio

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Did you know that Ohio is the birthplace of the 4-H program?

That's right – since 1902, 4-H youth development has been a key program that helps youth learn basic life skills, subject matter knowledge, leadership skills, how to get along with their peers and adults, and so much more!

And any youth between ages 5-18 can experience 4-H – whether they live in the city, the country, or somewhere in between! In 4-H, our members “learn by doing,” and youth can explore any subject area. That can happen in a community-based club, an in-school or after-school program, or other special interest activities. Learn more today about what 4-H has to offer! Start by visiting for more information.

Head, Heart, Hands and Health
I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living – for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

We have several free fact sheets available on Ohioline to learn more about positive youth development-related topics related to club management, how kids learn by doing projects, and maintaining active youth involvement.

Since 1902, 4-H members have been meeting in clubs, working with their peers, completing projects and learning about specific subjects, and learning leadership skills. Learn more about the philosophy and basis of 4-H in this article about the Ohio History of 4-H, which also shares more info about the 4-H emblem and other key insights about the program. Also check out this short video that describes 4-H and the Land-Grant System

There are many excellent individual and small-group learning opportunities (within a 4-H member’s club and county). Learn more about joining 4-H at

There are also numerous ways that parents and other adult volunteers can get involved with 4-H and make a positive impact on many kids' lives. Learn more in this summary about Involving Parents in 4-H. You can also learn how volunteers and parents can facilitate 4-H member growth by Implementing "Learning by Doing" Strategies.

The Ohio 4-H Family Guide outlines the entire collection of Ohio 4-H projects for the current year. If you're a 4-H member with a great project idea of your own or someone who is ready to go beyond a current project book, consider doing a self-determined project. Use the Self-Determined Project Guide to describe your project, set goals, and record your activities. You can then enroll in the self-determined project category that is the best match for what you have in mind.

4-H Project Central is an easy online way for current and prospective 4-H members to preview Ohio 4-H project books and resources. You can take a closer look at a book, find out what others have to say, and share your experience at

Contact your local Ohio State University Extension office and the 4-H professional in the county where you reside.  They will suggest a community club, in-school or after-school program, and other activities that will best meet your child’s needs and interest areas. Find a list of county Extension offices here.