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About 4-H

In 4-H, you get to be you! We welcome everyone from all backgrounds, with all interests, wherever you live. We'll help you learn more about the things you like to do. We'll provide opportunities for you to meet mentors and kids who share your interests. Travel to exciting new places. Check out careers. Explore the world around you while you build up the community where you live. All that and more awaits you in Illinois 4-H.

Your adventure begins today in 4-H.

  • Create innovative projects
  • Embrace your community
  • Change the world
  • Be part of a team
  • Ignite your creativity
  • Make good choices
  • Build something today that lasts a lifetime

When you join 4-H, you are joining the largest out-of-school youth program in the country. There are 6 million kids just like you across the country in 4-H, and 200,000 of them live here in Illinois. 4-H is in every county in Illinois. Wherever you live 4-H is there. Depending on what your interests are, there’s a 4-H program where you belong and feel welcomed!

4-H offers so much for you to do. You find the path that makes sense for you! Join a club or after-school program, attend camp, sign up as a 4-H Teen Teacher, participate in a 4-H event, have fun, explore your interests, build leadership skills and make connections to new friends, mentors, and future employers.

Who We Serve

One in every 14 kids in Illinois is involved in 4-H.

The 4-H Year begins on September 1, and whatever your age is on that date determines how you join 4-H. Are you 5 to 7 years old? Then, you’ll join a Cloverbud Club which has activities that are just right for you. If you are 8 to 18 years old, your 4-H Club will include a variety of ages, and each one of you brings something important to the club experience. Some 4-H Clubs focus on a single topic, while others allow youth to choose from dozens of projects to learn about.

4-H may have gotten its start in rural America, but today, 4-H Clubs are in all cities, suburbs, towns and neighborhoods, too. Clubs are easy to start… all you need is an adult volunteer and five kids who agree to meet at least six times during the year.

The mission of Illinois 4-H is to provide an environment in which all youth feel welcomed and have an equal opportunity to learn and grow, and we remain committed to that mission. As a program of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois 4-H remains committed to provide a safe, non-discriminatory environment for all of its participants, regardless of their sexual orientation including gender identity.

What We Know About 4-H Kids

For 10 years, Tufts University studied the factors which impact youth success. They discovered that kids involved in 4-H programs are:

  • nearly 4 times more likely to make contributions to their communities. 
  • about 2 times more likely to be civically active. 
  • nearly 2 times more likely to participate in science programs during out-of-school time. 
  • 2 times more likely to make healthier choices. 

Why 4-H Works

4-H produces youth leaders because it follows the principles of positive youth development in all the program we offer. What are those principles?

  • 4-H Clubs create a safe sense of BELONGING for members. Youth know they are part of a club where they are physically and emotionally safe, where adults care about their wellbeing, and where other kids have their back and support their efforts.
  • 4-H Clubs allow members to develop their INDEPENDENCE and helps them see their future, a future where they determine the path and are actively making choices to see it become real.
  • 4-H Clubs inspire members to help others by demonstrating GENEROSITY and providing opportunity to work as a team to improve their community.
  • 4-H Clubs provide the tools for youth to MASTER SKILLS needed for successful personal and career growth.

Just like all living things, young people need nourishing, supportive and protective environments in which they can grow into healthy and contributing members of the community. Youth need to know others care about them. They also need to believe they are capable of being successful and be confident they are impacting their world. In addition, they need opportunities to practice helping others. 4-H fills in these gaps for youth who lack these essential elements for growth. That’s why 4-H works. That’s why 4-H is making a difference in communities.

The 4-H Way

4-H began more than 100 years ago. The secret to our success? … As kids change, we change. We’ve ADDED MORE PROJECTS to the foundation of agriculture-related projects… things like robotics, environment, aerospace. We’ve EXPANDED THE ROLES teens may explore … things such as teaching, mentoring, and advocating for causes they support. We’ve EXPANDED into metro areas and adjusted 4-H to fit the lifestyle of active metro audiences. We’ve ENGAGED kids in more hands-on learning and stayed true to our belief of “Learn By Doing.”

The 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 4-H Motto

To Make the Best Better

The Illinois 4-H Vision

All Illinois Youth are empowered and prepared for success. In ten years, Illinois 4-H will reflect the population demographics, diverse needs and social conditions of the state.

Our Promise to You... it's our mission!

  • Illinois 4-H will foster belonging, independence, generosity and mastery in all youth it reaches.
  • Illinois 4-H will create opportunities for youth to use their skills to influence and impact others
  • Illinois 4-H will equip youth with skills and experiences for success
  • Illinois 4-H will target its youth education programs to address Illinois issues