Iowa 4-H International Programs

International Programs

Leadership and Civic Engagement programs work to engage youth through experiences that connect to their lives and respond to their interests. 4-H programs develop skills in leadership, service, career readiness, and cultural awareness through meaningful opportunities and relationships throughout their club, community, country, and world.

Iowa 4-H emphasizes the 4-H values of belonging, independence, generosity and mastery through international exchange programs. Through these programs, youth and adults will have the opportunity to build global citizenship as they connect with others from around the world. Iowa 4-H is proud to work with States’ 4-H Exchange and IFYE (formerly known as International 4-H Youth Exchange) to create opportunities for 4-Hers and alumni to travel abroad!

States’ 4-H Exchange (open to all youth ages 12-18)

Iowa 4-H offers international experiences for youth aged 12-18 through our States' 4-H Exchange program. We provide both outbound and inbound opportunities, open to all youth ages 12-18. In our outbound exchange experiences, youth can spend four weeks abroad during the summer. Previous destinations have included Costa Rica, Japan, South Korea, Argentina, and Taiwan, offering a diverse range of cultural experiences to broaden participants' horizons.

Our Inbound program is another option for families who prefer not to send their youth abroad. Iowan families are able to host an exchange student from another country for 3.5 weeks over the summer. This provides a unique opportunity for cultural immersion within the comfort of your own home.

For more in-depth information, please refer to the detailed content in the drop-down tabs below.

Go Abroad (outbound)

Our States’ 4-H Summer Outbound programs provide American 4-H youth with the opportunity to travel to foreign countries for a cultural immersion experience. Outbound delegates live with volunteer host families* and engage in experiential learning about a new way of life. Delegates experience aspects of daily life that allow them to more deeply understand both their host culture and their own culture. Our network of like-minded international partners recruit host families and plan enrichment activities for the delegation.

All States’ 4-H Outbound delegates participate in pre-departure orientations and post-return departure debriefings held in the US. Delegations are accompanied on the international flights by adult chaperones who remain in-country to provide support during the exchange. Delegates attend an in-country orientation upon arrival and prior to departing for their host families. Some programs include a summer camp or language learning elements as well.

Outbound Youth Exchange Information and Application

Host A Youth (inbound)

Our Summer Inbound programs bring youth to the US each summer to stay with a host family for 3.5 weeks. Based on a complete cultural immersion model, youth are matched with a volunteer American family who wants to share their life with an international visitor. This program is designed to focus on daily life in American households. Host families do not need to plan special activities or sightseeing for their foreign delegate. Many delegates report that their favorite memories are those that cost nothing or very little.

Visiting youth to Iowa travel in groups and are accompanied by an adult chaperone who stays in the same state for the duration of the program. Host families will have the opportunity to participate in welcome orientations and departure events that are organized by the state 4-H office in Iowa.

Host families who would like to host a youth for the 3.5-week summer program should have a child in the home between the ages of 11-17. They are paired with a Japanese child of the same gender and of an age within 3+ years of your child. Any family with an appropriate age child is welcome to apply!

Inbound Hosting Information and Application

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions from potential host families.  

IFYE (open to all 19 years and older)

The IFYE foreign exchange program offers you an opportunity to experience another way of life by living it; IFYE is truly a “learn by doing” experience. It's your chance to see new places, make new friends, and soak in another culture. You'll join in all aspects of family life -- sharing quiet moments, enjoying family outings, and joining community activities as well as helping with household and family chores. It is an adventure that will pay off for the rest of your life, especially in your chosen career. There is no other experience like IFYE, and it can be truly life changing. Our alumni are farmers and ranchers, other business owners, corporate leaders, elected officials, teachers and university professors, authors, scientists, publishers, and leaders in many other professions.

Host A Young Adult (19 yrs. or older)

Being a host family to an IFYE from another country is an experience that will last all your life! Each year, the IFYE Program brings young people from around the globe to experience life in the United States. As members of American families, they experience the American way of life and share their own culture in countless ways. It is truly an unforgettable experience.

It is an experience that will change your life and open a brand new world to a young person from overseas. You and your family can join in this unique adventure by becoming a host family. All it takes is a warm heart, an open house, and a zest for international family living experiences.

Host families are as diverse as America itself; they come from all nationalities and religious backgrounds. Some families have children, others do not; some are affluent, others come from modest (average) circumstances. They may be rural, suburban, or city dwellers - but they all have an interest in learning more about the world and about themselves.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions for potential host families.

Iowa 4-H Foundation financial support is available by application for Iowa 4-H alumni interested in the IFYE program. Click here for the application. Contact Emily Saveraid at for financial support application questions.

Madeleine Bretey-Smith