MSU Extension Lake County

4-H Program


Mission and Purpose

The mission of Montana 4-H is to educate youth and adults for living in a global and ever-changing world by using the resources of Land-Grant Universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Montana 4-H uses educational, learning-by-doing projects, club meetings, community service projects, events, and activities for young people and adults as they work toward attaining these five LIFE SKILLS:

Fostering positive self-concept
Learning decision-making and responsibility for choices
Developing an inquiring mind
Relating to self and others
Acquiring a concern for communities — local and global

The emblem of the 4-H program is a green four-leaf clover with a white “H” in each leaf.  The four “H’s”  stand for Head, Heart, Hands, and Health and represent the ways 4-H develops the five life skills.

HEAD:  Learning to think, make decisions, understand the “whys”, gain new and valuable insights and knowledge.

HEART:  Being concerned with the welfare of others, accepting the responsibilities of citizenship in our local and global communities, determining values and attitudes by which to live, and learning how to work with others.

HANDS:  Learning new skills, improving skills already developed, instilling pride in work, and respect for work accomplished.

HEALTH:  Practicing healthful living, protecting the well-being of self and others, making constructive use of leisure time.

4-H Values

4-H is grounded in the following values:

Democratic Participation—youth are recognized as contributing members in their communities and in organizations like 4-H.  Democracy is a social condition that leads to equity, respect and tolerance for the individual and his/her views.  4-H encourages youth to join or share with others while promoting equity, respect and tolerance.

Informal Education—learning occurs in many different settings.  Informal education occurs in casual conversations, hands-on projects, and a myriad of other settings that help youth gain the knowledge, skills and competence for living their lives.  Meeting youth in their own settings is critical to 4-H youth development.

Relationship Building—4-H youth work is about building positive relationships of trust, confidence, respect, equity and feelings of well-being.  Relationship building is a cornerstone to youth work.  It’s not so much about the activities or the content of the activities as much as it is about the connections made between people.

Empowerment—4-H youth development is about empowering individuals to have control over the decisions that influence their lives and well-being.  A goal of 4-H youth development is to give youth a voice, to give them the opportunity to have influence in the affairs related to their lives.  Empowering youth often involves assisting them in developing a sense of ownership as well as giving credence to their ideas, values, opinions and interests.

Learning and Engagement—Activities are not seen as ends in themselves, but as vehicles for building skills and competencies (learning) and solidifying relationships and commitments (engagement).  The creation of safe, non-threatening, nurturing environments is essential to learning and engagement.

Participation and Choice—In 4-H, youth need opportunities to be active participants in the design, management, implementation, and assessment of the activities, structure, institutions, and environments that affect their lives.  Youth need opportunities to choose how, when, in what and with whom to be engaged.  4-H youth development is grounded in voluntary participation.