About Iowa 4-H

What is 4-H?

Two teenagers using audio visual equipment.

4-H is a community of 6 million young people across the world who are learning how to live healthily, be leaders, become engaged in their communities, and use science and technology to make good decisions for their future. Head, Heart, Hands, and Health are the four H's in 4-H, representing the values members work on through fun and engaging projects.

Iowa 4-H Youth Development is the premier youth development program of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Providing research-based education to K-12 youth, Iowa 4-H builds upon more than a century of experience in positive youth development.

Our Vision: Iowa 4-H strives to be the largest youth-serving organization in Iowa by being relevant, welcoming, and inclusive as we partner with youth to help them find their passion.

Our Mission: 4-H empowers youth to reach their full potential through youth-adult partnerships and research-based experiences.

Priority Areas

4-H youth programs provide opportunities for young people to develop skills they can use throughout their life. Iowa 4-H provides educational opportunities in five program priority areas: agriculture and natural resources, leadership and civic engagement, communication and the arts, healthy living, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and through various delivery modes such as afterschool programs, camps, events, clubs, schools, and online settings. Iowa 4-H considers our clubs as our most sustainable and impactful approach to youth development.

Why is 4-H important?

Older gentlemen playing with young child.

As we grow our young people, we grow our communities, and in turn, grow a strong Iowa. We know that 4-H's unique hands-on approach gives kids the opportunity to learn by doing and build life skills. A Positive Youth Development study from Tufts University found that 4-H'ers are 4 times more likely to give back to their communities, twice as likely to participate in STEM activities, and twice as likely to make healthier choices.

Positive youth development research emphasizes the importance of meeting the four basic human needs of Belonging, Mastery, Independence, and Generosity. When these needs are met, youth are prepared to be successful, contributing members of society. Iowa 4-H ensures every youth has the opportunity to participate in experiences that strengthen these needs.



How We Achieve our Mission

4-H learning experiences are based on the principles and practices of positive youth development and these methods as outlined in the 4-H Equation.

  • Positive Youth Development
  • 4-H Thriving Model
  • Experiential Learning Model
  • Targeting Life Skills Model