Impact Spotlight: 4-H Celebrates International Youth Day with Positive Youth Development

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August 10, 2016

Impact Spotlight: 4-H Celebrates International Youth Day with Positive Youth Development 

Group of children

August 12 is International Youth Day. NIFA is celebrating by highlighting the accomplishments of 4-H, an American program that provides positive youth development by promoting citizenship, healthy living, science education, leadership skills, and more.

As the premiere youth outreach program administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), 4-H draws upon its deep experience to help other nations create similar youth development programs. NIFA has administered 4-H for more than a century in close collaboration with the Cooperative Extension Systems of the nation’s land-grant universities.

Worldwide, there are more than seven million youth in at least 80 countries who are involved in similar, 4-H-inspired youth development programming. Some of these programs across the globe include the Finnish 4-H program, which is more than 90 years old, and the Korea 4-H program, more than 75 years old.

Building on a 40-year Partners of the Americas relationship, Kansas State University’s (K-State) Extension 4-H program is revitalizing a relationship with the Paraguay 4-H program.

“We like to see kids learning that they need to give back to the community in community service projects,” said Deryl Waldren, 4-H specialist for K-State Research and Extension’s northwest area, in Colby, Kansas. “The best way is to look at local needs and develop a plan or a project that will give back to the community what that community needs. Obviously, 4-H around the world is based on local needs, but there are certain things we hope 4-H is teaching, which is life skills through these and other projects,” he added.

Youth development can take any number of paths to grow abroad, including land-grant university staff who mentor other countries as they develop their own programs modeled after 4-H. In Senegal, youth grow vegetable seedlings and organize money-raising traditional Senegalese wrestling events in a positive youth development program modeled after Virginia Cooperative Extension's 4-H program.  

NIFA also routinely provides youth development expertise to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, the U.S. Department of State, and USAID as they conduct work in other countries.

In addition, States’ 4-H International Exchange Programs, a non-profit organization headquartered in Seattle, Washington, sponsors international exchange programs for cultural immersion and exchange programs. These exchanges create opportunities for 4-H’ers to gain global experience in leadership, service, and project work. Since 1972, these exchanges have reached nearly 50,000 youth and their families in 24 countries on 6 continents.

Visit the NIFA website for more NIFA impacts or the Land-Grant University Impacts website. Send us your NIFA-funded impacts or share them with USDA_NIFA on Twitter #NIFAimpacts.

NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education and extension and seeks to make transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges.