Maryland 4-H Grows True Leaders


In 4‑H, we believe in the power of young people. We see that every child has valuable strengths and real influence to improve the world around us.

4‑H is delivered by Cooperative Extension—a community of more than 100 public universities across the nation that provides experiences where young people learn by doing. For more than 100 years, 4‑H has welcomed young people of all beliefs and backgrounds, giving kids a voice to express who they are and how they make their lives and communities better.

We Believe In:

  • all young people’s potential;
  • developing young people who are empowered, confident, hard-working, determined, responsible and compassionate—seeing a world beyond themselves so that they have the life-long skills to succeed in college and career,
  • ensuring access and equity for all,
  • the power of America’s leading public universities,
  • the practice of positive youth development (PYD)* by creating positive learning experiences,
  • caring and trusted adult mentors who cultivate positive relationships with youth,
  • creating safe, diverse and inclusive environments, and
  • meeting young people wherever they are.


PYD programs have three major components

  • Positive and sustained relationships between youth and adults.

  • Activities that build important life skills.

  • Creating opportunities for youth to apply what they are learning to improve their communities, both as participants and as leaders.

The 5 C's of Positive Youth Development

A positive view of one’s actions in specific areas, including social and academic skills. 

An internal sense of overall positive self-worth and self-efficacy. 

Positive bonds with people and institutions are reflected in exchanges between the individual and their peers, family, school, and community and in which both parties contribute to the relationship. 

Respect for societal and cultural norms, possession of standards for correct behaviors, a sense of right and wrong (morality), and integrity. 

A sense of sympathy and empathy for others. 

Contributions to self, family, community, and the institutions of civil society. 


Learning in 4-H is an active, intentional and reflective process where young people develop understanding, skills, and new habits. The nature of the experiences can be vastly different in 4-H, but the underlying process and educational philosophy should reflect the same core principles. These principles include: 

Learning in 4-H is designed to be progressive, with experiences building on each other over time. 

4-H learning is social and connected to a larger, real-world context that encourages and provides opportunities for youth to use what they have learned to improve their own lives and their communities. 

4-H recognizes that learning involves the entire person and is inclusive of how the young person feels, how they see themselves, what they are doing, and who they are with. 

Learning in 4-H is an integrated process where the learner and the educator and the learning space are all changed by each other. 

Young people and adults learn together in 4-H. Learning in 4-H should be a collaborative partnership where the youth learner and the adult decide on the goals and the path together and adapting as necessary as the process unfolds. 

4-H Learning Experiences are carried out in a variety of delivery modes, teaching methods, project and topic areas, and local adaptations. 


4-H Youth Development is part of the University of Maryland Extension. UMD research shows that Maryland youth credit their 4-H clubs with making them better citizens, leaders, and communicators. Research from Tufts University shows that 4-H youth are competent, confident, caring, and connected and exhibit strong character. The Tufts study shows that 4-H’ers contribute more to their families and communities, achieve higher grades in school and are more likely to go to college than youth who are not in 4-H or even youth who participate in other out-of-school programs. In addition, youth involved in 4-H lead healthier, more productive lives, are less likely to suffer from depression and are less likely to participate in risky behaviors like drinking and smoking.