4-H is a global network of youth organizations whose mission is “engaging youth to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development“. It’s formation goes all the way back to 1901. In the United States, the organization is administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Throughout the world, 4-H organizations exist in over 50 countries; the organization and administration varies from country to country. Each of these programs operates independently, but cooperatively through international exchanges, global education programs, and communications.
The 4-H name represents four personal development areas of focus for the organization: head, heart, hands, and health. The organization has over 6.5 million members in the United States, from ages 5 to 21, in approximately 90,000 clubs.
The goal of 4-H is to develop citizenship, leadership, responsibility and life skills of youth through experiential learning programs and a positive youth development approach. Though typically thought of as an agriculturally focused organization as a result of its history, 4-H today focuses on citizenship, healthy living, science, engineering, and technology programs.
The 4-H motto is “To make the best better“, while its slogan is “Learn by doing” (sometimes written as “Learn to do by doing”).