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Montana 4-H is the youth development program of Montana State University Extension. 4-H is the largest, out-of-school youth development program in the state, reaching nearly 20,000 youth in all 56 counties each year. In 4-H, if you can dream it, you can do it! 4-H offers more than 200 different projects and learning experiences that actively engage youth while having fun. 4-H projects rely on trained adult volunteers who work with youth as partners and a resource for hands-on learning. From learning how to cook or sew, to raising an animal, conservation and robotics. 4-H offers youth a wide range of choices and opportunities for them to learn and grow. 

 

girl with chicken

4-H IS DEVELOPING EMPLOYABLE LIFE SKILLS
THROUGH PROJECT BASED LEARNING.

17,917 Montana youth enrolled in animal and vet science projects, from lizards to llamas and snakes to steers, learning responsibility, goal setting, record keeping and resiliency. Youth enrolled in animal project master skills such as self-motivation and discipline. These are transferable skills as they reach higher education and a career.

6,504 Montana youth enrolled in environment educational and earth science projects have gained an understanding and appreciation for Montana’s natural resources.

he 4,977 youth enrolled in food and nutrition projects, 3,544 youth enrolled in plant science and weeds projects, and 1,607 youth enrolled in technology and engineering 4-H projects are exploring rewarding career opportunities and finding passion in employable fields at early ages.

The knowledge and skills gained mastering 4-H projects like crop science, robotics and food science, prepares youth for meaningful employment later in life.

4-H IS BUILDING COMMUNICATION SKILLS AND CONFIDENCE THAT CAN BE APPLIED INTO ALL PARTS OF THEIR FUTURE.

Communication is a cornerstone of all 4-H programming. 4-H members practice skills like public speaking, presentation and expressing a point of view as club members, in their project work and a variety of other 4-H activities like demonstrations. 

 "because of 4-H I am a more confident prsenter" a quote from a 15 year old 4-Her.

Results of the Montana 4-H Communication Survey included responses from 203
4-H members who ranged in age from 8 years old to 19.  Respondents indicated their self-assessed ability on eight statements.  A majority of respondents indicated an increased ability after participating in 4-H in each of the statements.

  • Of the respondents, 70.44% indicated improvement in knowing how to prepare a presentation from beginning to end after participating in 4-H.
  • After participation in 4-H, 66.01% assessed themselves as more willing to speak in front of groups while 65.02% reported they were better at answering questions about their topic or ideas.
  • Over 53.69% felt they were better at making sure to listen to what the other person is saying before they talk.
  • Over half (50.74%) indicated being more comfortable expressing their ideas in writing.
  • Those who reported improvement in maintaining eye contact when communicating numbered 60.1% of the respondents.
  • Over half (54.19%) felt 4-H helped them in better expressing themselves to others.
  • When speaking with adults, 64.04% of the 4-Hers indicated feeling more comfortable. 

teen member standing in front of montana state University podium speaking

An average 4-H member has multiple opportunities to present to a group and interview one on one with an adult throughout the 4-H year. These unique opportunities add up and allow 4-H members to develop above average confidence and skills communicating with both peers and adults in both prepared and spontaneous settings.

Photo Credit: Tom Aldrich

 

What 4-H’ers and their parents say about communication skills gained in 4-H:

“4-H has helped me grow up and be a person who can be confident and well-spoken in a group setting. I can relate to younger 4-H members to help them grow in their projects by using the experience I have had with my own projects. [Because of 4-H] I have also had several successful job interviews.”

  • Hill County 4-H’erage 17

“I have participated in multiple presentations, from one person in the audience to hundreds. If I had not done 4-H I would not have [had] these opportunities to develop my speaking and listening skills.”

  • Gallatin County 4-H’er age 13

 “The communication skills my children have gained in 4-H is one of the great benefits that they received from their participation. As they attend college classes, they are amazed at how easy it is for them to complete public speaking assignments and what a difficult time other students have had.”

  • Parent of Carbon County 4-H Alumni

 “Because of 4-H my children have gained the confidence and experiences from the structured and non-threatening environment to excel in most speaking situations.”

  • Parent of Richland County 4-H members

4-H IS LEARNING TO LEAD IN THEIR OWN COMMUNITIES.

3,785 Montana youth enrolled in the leadership project developing character, a focus on personal growth and practicing goal setting.

4-H members are able to identify needs in their communities and are encouraged to mobilize and mentor members to meet those needs through community-based projects. 4-H members are able to execute a project to make a difference in their community, reflecting on what they have accomplished and what they can do differently next time to increase impact.

4-H IS A CONNECTION TO COMMUNITY

4-H brings youth together with caring adults and peers, both face to face and virtually, to ensure belonging and a connection to their community. Youth that are connected to their community are less likely to suffer from severe depression or attempt suicide.

4-H offers a network of caring peers for young people to reach out to during challenging times. 4-H is a community that allows for building trust and relationship that is not always replicated in other areas of a member’s life. These relationships are built on common interests and are strengthened by the bond of belonging and inclusion.

A recent study indicated that participation in 4-H programming during the COVID-19 Pandemic contributed to keeping communities connected during times of isolation. This might have been a virtual club meeting, 4-H project work to keep kids engaged, a call from a 4-H volunteer, or an organized service project done at home. 4-H’ers helped themselves, their friends and their community during challenging times.

4-H IS BEING A GOOD CITIZEN

4‑H programs empower young people to be well-informed citizens who are actively engaged in their communities and the world. Youth learn about being involved in their community, build decision-making skills and develop a sense of understanding and confidence in relating and connecting to other people.

4‑H members contribute hundreds of thousands of hours back to their community every year. Over half of 3rd through 6th grade 4-H members indicated they had more opportunity to help plan a community service project since joining 4-H, while 24% reported having led a community service project as a member of 4-H.

Citizenship and community connection are especially impactful in underserved communities like Montana’s reservations. 14% of 4-H youth served in 2019-2020 identify as native American and which is double the state average.

Over a third of 7th through 12th grade 4-H youth surveyed report being more likely to talk to their friends about issues affecting their community, state, or world and 42% are more aware of important needs in them community compared to before joining 4-H

Survey Data from Montana 4-H Citizenship Impact Survey 2019

 

4‑H Programs Attract Youth to STEM

4‑H STEM programs are proven to get kids excited about science by offering fun, hands-on activities which builds confidence and fosters interest in STEM-related careers.

STEM infographic 44-H Research and Statistics