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What Is 4-H?

For 4-H members, 4-H is about fun! For adult volunteers, 4-H is about the excitement of seeing a young person's world expand. The basic philosophy behind 4-H is that informal education (education outside of school) can be a valued addition to a young person's learning process. 4-H programs are cooperatively developed with input coming from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Rutgers Cooperative Extension and local communities.

4-H is a leader in helping youths develop and become productive citizens who will be able to meet the needs of a diverse and changing society. It is a community of young people across America who are learning leadership, citizenship and life skills.

The 4-H's stand for Head, Heart, Hands, and Health. The 4-H program provides instruction in various subject areas as it teaches its members life skills. Among other things the program helps young people learn how to present themselves, feel comfortable with others, and make sound decisions. The life skills taught through the program are related back tothe 4-H's:

  • Head-corresponds with managing and thinking. Life skills here include resiliency, keeping records, using resources wisely, planning and organizing, goal setting, critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making.
  • Heart-corresponds with relating and caring. Life skills here include communication, cooperation, social skills, conflict resolution, accepting differences, and sharing.
  • Hands-relates to working and giving. Life skills here include leadership, responsible citizenship, teamwork, and self-motivation.
  • Health relates to living and being. Life skills here include personal safety, stress management, healthy lifestyle choices, managing feelings, and self-esteem.

4-H celebrated its 100 year anniversary in 2002 and pioneered a learn by doing approach (what many refer to now as experiential learning). This approach continues to be successful today and is used widely by many educational organizations.

Who Can Belong?

The New Jersey 4-H program is open to youth 1st through 13th grade (one year out of high school). Cloverbud clubs are available for young 4-H members (grades 1-3) with regular clubs open to 4-13 grade members.

Who Leads 4-H Activities?

Adult volunteer leaders are the key to our 4-H program here in Sussex County. Volunteers have many leadership opportunities. Primarily, adults serve as volunteer leaders for local clubs, but may also share their skills, knowledge and experience as a resource specialist.

Additionally, we invite volunteer leaders to serve on our Sussex 4-H Advisory Council. The Council is instrumental in shaping the direction of the 4-H program in Sussex County through its efforts to:

  • Oversee awards and recognition for volunteers and members
  • Recruit new leaders
  • Develop and oversee activities and events that enhance the Sussex County 4-H program

What Do 4-H Members Do?

When youths join a 4-H club they are involved in the learning activities of one or more interesting 4-H projects from a wide variety of subjects.

Regular 4-H meetings are held to conduct club business, project learning, community service and recreational activities. This setting, where leaders and members work together over a period of time, is the strength of a successful 4-H program and provides the best opportunity for positive youth development.

What Is A Project?

A 4-H project is the thought, work, and action involved in learning a specific subject. Activities such as tours, field, trips, judging, camps, contests and workshops enhance the learning.

At the beginning of the project year (September), each member chooses a project that fits his/her interest, home situation and ability. Projects vary in difficulty according to the age and experience of the member.

For more information on the benefits of 4-H, click here.