4-H Youth Development

4-H is the comprehensive youth development program of Virginia Cooperative Extension. Youth between the ages of 5 and 18 engage in hands-on learning experiences under the guidance of adult or teen 4-H volunteers trained by 4-H agents. 4-H programs use experiential learning opportunities to teach the latest research-based subject matter knowledge and to foster skill development in effective citizenship, leadership, and other life skills. 

Areas of Focus

The 10 areas of 4-H curriculum focus are: 

  • Animal Sciences
  • Communications and Expressive Arts
  • Environmental Education and Natural Resources
  • Family and Consumer Sciences
  • Health, Nutrition and Wellness
  • Jobs, Careers and Economics
  • Leadership and Personal Development
  • Plant and Soil Sciences; Citizenship
  • Science and Technology

Educational Experiences

Youth also participate in educational experiences at six 4-H educational centers. 4-H has both a school-based and a community-based delivery model, so maximum access to Virginia’s youth is provided. The specific learning experiences a 4-H member participates in are shaped locally and supported at the state and national levels.

4-H members learn how to: 

  • Make decisions
  • Manage resources
  • Utilize effective communication skills
  • Work with others

 4-H serves as an effective prevention educational program. Involvement in 4-H reduces the potential for dysfunctional involvement in the community by youth. 


The mission of 4-H is to develop youth and adults working with those youth to realize their full potential-becoming effective, contributing citizens through participation in research-based, informal, hands-on educational experiences.