Being in the 4-H leadership zone

4-H empowers youth to step outside of their comfort zone and into their learning zone to become strong leaders.

Tech Wizard youth stepping outside his comfort zone to launch a rocket with support from his mentor.
Tech Wizard youth stepping outside his comfort zone to launch a rocket with support from his mentor.

Why is 4-H successful in growing strong leaders? No one is born a leader. Some youth demonstrate leadership skills early, but all youth can be leaders. According to the Student Organization Advising and Resource (SOAR) at the University of California Santa Cruz, everyone can develop leadership skills and everyone can benefit from them. Developing leaders is intentional in 4-H. 4-H creates a safe place for youth to move outside their comfort zone into their learning zone. During this shift, leaders are created.

In the late 1800s, 4‑H opened the door for young people to learn leadership skills and revolutionized how youth connected to practical, hands-on learning experiences outside the classroom. Youth enjoy learning new things. Today, 4‑H serves youth in rural, urban and suburban communities in every state across the nation. 4‑Hers are tackling the nation’s top issues, from global food security, climate change and sustainable energy to childhood obesity and food safety. 4‑H out-of-school programming, in-school enrichment programs, clubs and camps also offer a wide variety of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) opportunities—from agricultural and animal sciences to rocketry, robotics, environmental protection and computer science—to improve the nation’s ability to compete in key scientific fields and take on the leading challenges of the 21st century.

4-Hers can learn new skills like a proper handshake, how to show a pig, how to sew a pillow case or how to build a rocket. You may learn about other cultures through learning about global food security issues, the Michigan 4-H Backpack to Adventure curriculum, hosting an international exchange student or attending 4-H Exploration Days. 4-H will support you in finding your career path by providing so many experiences. Maybe you will be a veterinarian, natural resource officer, politician, farmer, business manager or reporter. 4-H will start you on that path. Be the leader you know you will be by walking out of your comfort zone and right into your learning zone today.

Great leaders make it a habit to step outside their comfort zone and into their learning zone. Eighty percent of people choose to live in their comfort zone, while 20 percent live in their learning zone. These 20 percent are the people who dare to change things, dare to make a difference and dare to make an impact on the world.

Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council is another great example of 4-H youth who are living in their learning zone. They are developing their leadership skills to making a difference in their community, state and world.

Here are a few other upcoming 4-H opportunities to develop leadership skills:

4-H grows strong leaders. If you would like to learn more about 4-H Youth Development, visit the Michigan 4-H or contact

Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program help to prepare youth as positive and engaged leaders and global citizens by providing educational experiences and resources for youth interested in developing knowledge and skills in these areas. To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth leadership, civic engagement, citizenship and global/cultural programs, read our 2015 Impact Report: “Developing Civically Engaged Leaders.”

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