4-H started with a seed of an idea and has grown into one of the premier K-12 programs in Iowa and in the nation. 4-H Youth Development strives to empower the next generation, because true leaders aren’t born, they’re grown.
“4-H has made a difference in Iowa and across the United States when it comes to leadership development and positive youth development,” said John-Paul Chaisson-Cárdenas, 4-H youth development program leader for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
4-H Youth Development has been evolving and changing to better fit the needs of the youth involved. 4-H is growing youth who are confident, curious, creative and much more while providing valuable life and leadership skills. As 4-H continues to change, its reach grows.
“We are looking to reach new audiences,” said Chaisson-Cárdenas. “We want to ensure access to all youth who could really benefit from 4-H.”
About 100,000 Iowa youth are already involved with 4-H and Chaisson-Cárdenas hopes that involvement continues to grow.
“4-H is rocketry, 4-H is robotics, 4-H is working with youth from diverse backgrounds, 4-H is leadership, 4-H is anything the youth wants it to be,” Chaisson-Cárdenas said.
Iowa 4-H focuses on four domains: science, technology, engineering and math - referred to as STEM - citizenship and leadership; communications and the arts; and healthy living. Youth are encouraged to get involved in all of these domains to access a variety of areas to increase curiosity and gain valuable experiences.
As 4-H continues to grow, youth’s interests and concerns are still the heart of the program, said Chaisson-Cárdenas. “We are trying to move forward.”
By investing in all areas of 4-H, Chaisson-Cárdenas is making a more inclusive and broader reach for 4-H. “We want to make sure to parallel with the history of Iowa being one of the most welcoming states in the country,” he said.
To learn more about what 4-H Youth Development has to offer, please visit the 4-H website or contact any ISU Extension and Outreach county office.