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University of Minnesota Extension

Youth development program report: Fall/winter 2021

A three-section infographic. At the top is spark, youth choose projects based on their interests. The middle is learn by doing, youth practice experiential learning -- do, reflect, apply. The bottom is developmental relationships, youth and adults collaborate to accomplish goals.

4-H youth thrive

A new 4-H year kicked off with exciting opportunities for youth. No matter the topic or delivery mode, 4-H youth have explored their sparks, learned by doing and developed relationships.

Science and engineering programs have challenged youth to develop problem-solving skills. Youth leaders have been trained to lead 4-H activities at the club, county and state level. Our youngest 4-H’ers have explored animal science projects with career experts.

In Minnesota 4-H, youth thrive.

170 4-H fall events in 2021.
26,000 4-H'ers in fall/winter 2021.
1 strong Minnesota.

4-H youth thrive

4-H youth and volunteers step into roles that have them leading, tinkering, caring and sparking new interests.

A team of 4-H'ers representing diverse racial backgrounds wearing masks while working on a leadership project.

Training new leaders

Minnesota 4-H relies on youth leaders to convene 800 chartered 4-H clubs throughout the state of Minnesota. To get ready for their leadership, youth annually take part in leadership training to serve as presidents, vice presidents, secretaries and more in their 4-H club. Hundreds of youth have participated in virtual and in-person trainings around the state. 

Another local leadership opportunity is our 4-H Ambassador program. In 2021, over 800 youth in 56 counties participated in local Ambassador programs. They designed learning experiences for peers, led service projects addressing community needs and held fun social events to build and maintain connections among young people.

As an Ambassador, we encounter a wide diversity of youth and its important we understand our similarities and differences. I want to make experiences more inclusive for Everybody.” ~4-H Ambassador

4-H'ers being hands on during a STEM Bayer Crop science field trip.

Launching the next top scientists

In our 4-H Engineering in Motion series, 80 middle-school-age youth completed at-home-based learning activities and gathered online to meet and share their learning with University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering graduate students and professors. Youth learned about science and engineering solutions to transportation issues and about higher education opportunities and careers.

96% of participants built a greater understanding of engineering, and 93% learned new problem-solving skills.

My child wants to be an engineer now. As a family, we’ve been exploring further engineering projects and creating more things together.” ~4-H Parent 


Growing the next animal experts

Our third crop of kindergarten to third-grade youth have learned more about animals in the hugely popular Down on the Farm program. Over 73 youth learned more about care, nutrition and housing for 7 animal species from goats to horses to rabbits. 

The kids liked learning about the animals. They enjoyed the interactive experience when they were able to answer questions about the material.” ~4-H Parent

The Wild about Wildlife — Life Below Freezing program engaged 46 participants to learn about winter weather, natural disasters and wildlife. Youth also learned from experts in the field of wildlife. 100% of participants learned more about wildlife, like “Snowshoe hares can run fast.” ~4-H youth 

4-H'ers crop staging with a mentor.

Creating volunteer spark champions

High-quality 4-H programs provide youth a place to belong, matter and explore their personal spark. The 4-H annual volunteer training equipped volunteers with skills to build youth sparks. Sparks can shine brightly or dimly, depending on whether they have spark champions — individuals who support and encourage them to discover and pursue their spark. 

Nearly 700 volunteers have participated in training. Virtual statewide training options have been a huge hit this year with over 300 volunteers participating in the three virtual offerings. As school closures related to COVID-19 moved teaching and learning online, volunteers expressed a need for training and development around online program delivery.

Did you know?

Youth can explore 67 project areas in 4-H. Virtual and in-person programs allow youth to explore their sparks.

Two 4-H youth proudly showing off their paper-made bee insects and bakery food projects.
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