4-H develops youth around the world – Part 1

4-H reaches across the globe with the goal of improving the lives of young people.

4-H is the largest youth development organization in the nation reaching 6.3 million youth. It is also one of the world’s largest youth development organizations, reaching 7 million young people in more than 70 countries in North America, South America, Central America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Each of these programs around the world operates independently, but all share the goal of improving the lives of young people.

A 4-H global map is available to see current 4-H programs and emerging 4-H programs around the world. Another way to access a list of countries with 4-H programs is through the IFYE  Association’s

4-H World Atlas list provides information on 4-H and related organizations around the world. The names of these organizations may vary, but all have similar missions and goals for young people.

  • The program in Costa Rica for example is known as “4-S." Their mission is to organize the youth and rural women in 4-S Clubs to participate in productive agricultural projects, microbusinesses, community programs and to prepare them as future citizens and managers.
  • 4-H in Cameroon started in 2005. Their mission is to make poverty history. Their program is open to ages 12-45. Cameroon is the newest addition to State's 4-H International Exchange program.
  • The Finnish 4-H program was established in 1928 with agricultural clubs for young people. Their mission includes developing entrepreneurship, employability and active citizenship for ages 6 to 28. They have 75,000 members with an average age of 13.
  • The 4-H Norge or Norway program has a mission/purpose based on the 4-H pledge we know in the United States. Though similar, the wording is a bit different: “We promise to work towards the goal of becoming a youth with a clear Head (klart hode), warm Heart (varmt hjerte), clever Hands (flinke hender) and good Health (god helse).”

4-H is now in 13 countries in Africa including Cameroon, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, South Africa and Zambia. These programs started through the 4-H Global Network , are preparing young people to meet urgent global needs, including hunger, sustainable livelihoods, and food security.

The mission of 4-H has been adapted to meet the needs of the country it is being developed in. Part two of this article will look further at the work of the 4-H Global Network's project to train youth of today to be farmers and entrepreneurs of tomorrow in rural Africa.

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