Positive youth development based on eight essential elements


By Kristy Watters

4-H provides positive youth development with hands-on learning opportunities for youth. Project work is specifically designed to meet the needs and abilities of young people at different ages and stages of development. There are more than 200 projects that Adams County youth can choose from to learn skills, practice them, and build confidence in their abilities to use those skills in their future.

The 4-H program is more than project work. It was developed using the eight essentials as the basis for positive youth development.

Essential Element 1: A positive relationship with a caring adult. 4-H offers young people the opportunity to interact with adult volunteers outside of their family unit. 4-H volunteers provide guidance, set boundaries and encourage our youth to meet expectations. Adult volunteers are often mentors, guides and friends.

Essential Element 2: An inclusive environment. 4-H is a place for everyone! An inclusive environment is one where all members and families feel welcome and supported. 4-H creates a sense of belonging, encourages and supports members with positive and specific feedback, and celebrates everyone’s successes.

Essential Element 3: A safe emotional and physical environment. 4-H should be a place where our youth do not fear for their emotional or physical well-being. Programming is designed to take place in safe learning environments with trained and screened volunteers.

Essential Element 4: Mastery Opportunity. Building knowledge, skills and attitudes and demonstrating competence to use those skills is mastery. Mastery will be different for young people of different ages and abilities and is a process that happens over time.

Essential Element 5: Engagement in learning. Young people who are interested in the subject develop connections and a deeper understanding. Hands-on learning helps keep our young people engaged and attentive. 4-H encourages self-reflection, giving young people

opportunity to learn by trial and error and to self-correct if necessary. Engaged learners are more motivated, more creative and learn at a higher level.

Essential Element 6: Opportunity to see yourself as an active participant in the future. By encouraging peer-to-peer learning, mentoring from older youth, and guidance from adults, youth can connect the skills they learn in 4-H to their future. The ability to see themselves in older teens and adult mentors gives young people hope and optimism about their future.

Essential Element 7: Possibility of self-determination. Young people who participate in 4-H can choose the projects, the effort, the participation. Allowing youth to choose and autonomy demonstrates the effects of self-influence. Choosing interesting projects, putting in maximum effort and participating fully offers better results. Young people benefit from active choice and support to succeed.

Essential Element 8: Opportunity to value and practice service to others. Community service is one of the most important aspects of the 4-H program. This introduces young people to the concept of giving of oneself, whether it is time, skills or goods. Finding yourself often begins with losing yourself in the service of others.

The Adams County 4-H registration deadline is February 15. Sign up today by visiting http://oh.4honline.com. If you have any questions or need assistance, please call the extension office at 937-544-2339. Learn more about Adams County 4-H membership by visiting https://go.osu.edu/JoinAdams4H, following us on Facebook at Ohio State – Adams County 4-H, and subscribing to our blog at https ://u.osu.edu/AdamsCounty4H.

4-H, The Positive Youth Development Program at The Ohio State University, is open to all eligible youth without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or disability.

Upcoming Adams County 4-H Dates:

• February 11 – Ohio 4-H Conference Registration due to Office4-H Extension Volunteers and teens are encouraged to attend!

• February 12 – Orientation of new 4-H volunteers, 9:00 to 11:00 am, conference room annex. Newly added date!

• February 12 and 13: Winter Retreat for Teens, Canter’s Cave 4-H Camp, *new date

• February 15 – Adams County 4-H registration deadline. Sign up today at https://oh.4honline.com. Returning families, please use your existing profile and do not create a new profile. For assistance, call the extension office at 937-544-2339. Deadline, 4 p.m., extension office for:

Payment of dues

Horse production contracts

Livestock exhibitor agreements

Club book orders

Orders of chicks, poultry and ducks from the market

candy orders

Rabbit app revolution

• February 15 – Ohio 4-H Scholarship Application Deadline

• February 25 – Application Deadline for Adams and Chad Downing County 4-H Scholarships

• February 28 – Adams County Beekeeper Scholarship application deadline More information at https://adamssoilandwater.org

• March 12 – Ohio 4-H Volunteer Conference, Columbus Convention Center


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