Defining Michigan 4-H Youth Development


March 19, 2024 -

What We Believe

Vision –What we aspire to.

Michigan 4-H Youth Development mobilizes volunteers and communities to meet the needs of youth.

Mission –Our purpose.

Our mission is to create nonformal, educational opportunities to help youth thrive in a complex and changing world.

Programming philosophy–How we think about our work.

Michigan 4-H Youth Development will involve volunteers in providing positive, experiential, educational opportunities for and with youth aged 5 to19. Programming will be primarily delivered through 4-H clubs and in-and out-of-school, community-based networks.

Michigan 4-H Youth Development will provide educational opportunities that:

  • Target age-appropriate life skill development.
  • Emphasize research-based experiential learning.
  • Involve volunteers.
  • Engage a variety of partners.
  • Include families.
  • Reach both diverse and underserved audiences.
  • Are accessible.
  • Promote a multicultural perspective and appreciation.
  • Are fun.

What We Do

Programming methods – How we do our work.

The vision, mission and guiding principles are accomplished through the following ways:

  • Clubs and groups
    • Community clubs
    • SPIN clubs
  • Camping programs
    • Day camps
    • Overnight camps
  • In-school and after-school programs
  • Mentoring
  • Individual study

Programs – The work we do.

The work of Michigan 4-H Youth Development must be meaningful and fun to attract young people! 4-H provides learning materials and educational opportunities in these and other areas:

  • Animal Science
  • Arts
  • Career & Entrepreneurship
  • Environment & Outdoor Education
  • Global & Cultural Education
  • Healthy Youth
  • Leadership, Citizenship & Service
  • Science & Engineering
  • Volunteer Development

Who We Are

4-H Youth Development is the youth program of Michigan State University Extension. 4-H staff work at Michigan State University and in every Michigan county with local volunteers to bring the knowledge of the state’s land-grant university to the citizens of Michigan. This work is done in partnership with and uses funding provided by local county boards of commissioners, the state of Michigan and the federal government through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Additional intellectual and programming support and funding is provided by a variety of public and private partners – both at local and state levels – to increase our impact on youth in Michigan communities.

4-H volunteers

Adult and teen volunteers work at the local and state level to support experiential learning activities for youth. 4-H volunteers are club, group or resource leaders, advisory council members and Michigan 4-H Foundation trustees.

State and county 4-H staff and specialists

4-H staff lead and support the work of 4-H volunteers and members in each county. They cooperate with other MSU Extension campus and county staff, with local, regional and state partners, and are oriented toward a multidisciplinary approach to program design, implementation and evaluation.

4-H Pledge

I pledge...

My HEAD to clearer thinking,

My HEART to greater loyalty, 

My HANDS to larger service,

My HEALTH to better living, for my club, my community, my county and my world.

Guiding Principles

Michigan 4-H Youth Development has committed itself to seven guiding principles that provide the foundation for the educational methods, activities and events that positively affect the lives of Michigan’s youth.

These are:

  • Youth develop positive relationships with adults and peers.
  • Youth are physically and emotionally safe.
  • Youth are actively engaged in their own development.
  • Youth are considered participants rather than recipients in their own learning processes.
  • Youth develop skills that help them succeed.
  • Youth recognize, understand and appreciate diversity and multiculturalism.
  • Youth grow and contribute as active citizens through service and leadership.

To learn more about our guiding principles, visit


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