4-H youth takes a chicken to a nursing home
Engaging in community service, an Oregon 4-H youth takes a chicken to visit a senior center

“The impact of 4-H on young people in America and Oregon is profound,” said OSU Extension 4-H Program Leader Pamela Rose. “4-H faculty and volunteers serve almost 95,000 Oregon children in elementary through high school.”

4-H is the youth development program of the Cooperative Extension Systems of America’s land-grant universities. Begun more than 100 years ago in rural America, 4-H is the nation’s largest youth development organization.

In fact, there are programs in all 3,007 counties of the U.S. With a presence in each of Oregon’s 36 counties, 4-H programs are no longer solely agriculturally base, though that remains a strong component of its positive youth development and mentoring programs.

A decade-long study, completed by a team of researchers at the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University, Medford, Mass., found that compared to their peers, 4-H’ers are:

  • Four times more likely to make contributions to their communities (in Grades 7-12);
  • Two times more likely to be civically active (in Grades 8-12);
  • Two times more likely to make healthier choices (in Grade 7);
  • Two times more likely to participate in Science, Engineering and Computer Technology programs during out-of-school time (in Grades 10 – 12); and
  • 4-H girls are two (in Grade 10) or three (in Grade 12) times more likely to take part in science programs compared to girls in other out-of-school time activities.

4-H Agriculture

Head, Heart, Hands, and Health are the four H’s in 4-H, and they are the four values members work on through fun and engaging programs ranging from science and engineering projects, expressive arts, civic engagement, personal development and communications to animal science, natural resources, home economics and horticulture.

4-H logoThe 4-H Pledge:

I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
My heart to greater loyalty,
My hands to larger service,
and my health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

The basic purpose of 4-H is the personal growth of its members. By using 4-H projects as important means for achievement and growth, members build skills they can use the rest of their lives. Life skills development is expanding beyond the core 4-H community club model. Now youth also participate through urban groups, afterschool, community resource development, special interest groups, school enrichment, camping and leadership learning experiences.

Ana Lu Fonseca, Ana Gomez, Octaviano Merecias-Cuevas, Mario Magana, and Cristian Curiel have recently been chosen as recipients of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic’s Bright Spots in Hispanic Education. They were recognized for the impact these programs have made on young people, particularly to help in the achievement of higher education: JUNTOS; Families Involved in Education: Sociocultural Teaching and STEM (FIESTAS); Oregon Leadership Institute (OLI); and the National Mentoring 4-H Tech Wizards.

4-H Science Project at Pool

Octaviano provides leadership for 4-H Tech Wizards, which has been one of three successful Cooperative Extension System youth mentoring programs modeled for replication as a part of the 4-H National Mentoring Program (4-H NMP).  Over 34 land-grant universities have replicated this program, which now engages more than 16,000 mentees and 4,000 mentors.

Patrick Willis provides leadership to the implementation and expansion of the 4-H Tech Wizards Program here in Oregon. This expansion not only means an increase in funding, it has had a substantial impact on Oregon youth. The replication team is currently serving over 300 youth each week in Multnomah, Lincoln and Wasco counties.

“Over the five years of this project, youth have also been served in Marion, Jefferson, and Hood River counties,” reported Pamela. “Kudos to Todd Williver (Lincoln), Lynnette Black (Wasco), and Alice Phillips, Whitman Bouton and Stacey Sowders (Multnomah County) for the high quality programming they are providing to students!”

Pamela also offers kudos to Mary Stewart for her terrific coordination of OSU Extension’s premier 4-H National Youth Science Day event that took place on Wednesday, October 7. Around 160 youth, from six different area schools gathered at Highland Park Middle School to participate in Motion Commotion experiments.

4-H National Youth Science Day on October 7th 2015. Science experiments designed by 4-H in Oregon.
4-H National Youth Science Day on October 7 2015. Science experiments designed by 4-H in Oregon.

“The Motion Commotion experiments performed nationally this year were created by the Oregon 4-H program in partnership with Vernier Software and Technology,” stated Pamela. The youth engaged in two experiments, which were facilitated by Washington County 4-H Ambassadors, Vernier Software staff and area teachers. The students then explored science-related careers and additional experiments by the eight Vernier Software staff, including owner David Vernier, CEO John Wilson, and experiment collaborator Fran Poudry.

“A special thanks to the members of the planning support team for this effort,” said Pamela, “including Patrick Willis, Washington 4-H; Kristen Harrison, Portland STEM Center; David Nieslanik, Highland Park Middle School Principal (and 4-H alumni); Dara Easley, Technical Consultant; and Christina Lenkowski, Marketing Consultant.”

At the 2015 annual conference of the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents hosted by OSU Extension Service 4-H in Portland, Ore., the week of October 26, six Oregon 4-H youth development professionals were recognized for their work and time of service:


Achievement in Service Award Jon Gandy, Jefferson County
Distinguished Service Award Roberta Lundeberg, State Office (OSU)
  Mike Knutz, Yamhill County
Meritorious Service Award Janice Cowan, Baker County
National 4-H Innovator Award Lynette Black, Wasco County
25 Year Award Doug Hart, State Office (OSU)
  Janice Cowan, Baker County

4-H InfographicJamie Davis, Lake County, and Mary Arnold, State Office, have taken on national leadership roles on the NAE4-HA Board of Trustees as Regional Director for the Western Region and Chair for the Research and Evaluation Committee, respectively.

Sources: www.4-H.org, OSU Extension 4-H Program Leader Pamela Rose

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