The Impact of 4-H

Connect with Columbia County 4-H


posted on October 25, 2016

For more than a century, Wisconsin 4-H Youth Development has worked to engage youth participants throughout the state in leadership, training, community-building experiences and experiential-learning opportunities to better their own lives and the lives of the people around them.  For many youth, 4-H is the first class they take at the UW.

 Current 4-H Youth Development Statistics

Total number of youth participants in 4-H Youth Development and other Cooperative Extension Programs – 153,290

  • 4-H Adult Volunteers – 16,749
  • 4-H Youth Volunteers – 5,242

Wisconsin 4-H Youth Development faculty and staff support a wide range of positive youth development activities in every county in Wisconsin.  According to national research conducted at Tufts University, youth participants in 4-H experience a range of benefits compared to youth in other out-of-school activities.


 4-H Grows Future Scientists

Youth explore interests from animal science to aerospace, resulting in increased interest in science at a rate three times that of non- 4-H peers.  Interest in science is a predictor for young people to choose science-related careers. This interest in science, along with 4-H members’ 70 percent greater likelihood to go to college than youth participating in other out-of-school programs, is helping grow future scientists.  Future scientists are critical to our state, national and global economy.

(4-H Study of Positive Youth Development)


Economic Stability

Youth participating in 4-H are more likely to enroll in post-high school education and explore career and entrepreneurship opportunities.  Higher educational levels result in increased wage earning that contribute to the economic stability of their communities.

(4-H Study of Positive Youth Development)


 Leadership and Service

4-H youth participate in service projects and leadership roles where they develop public speaking, leadership and decision-making skills.  These professional skills help them positively contribute to communities as responsible citizens and active public servants.

Wisconsin 4-H is preparing the next generation of leaders through experiences in decision-making and citizenship activities.  Youth in 4-H Youth Development programs become actively involved and engaged in local groups, clubs and communities.  4-H youth are 3.4 times more likely to contribute to their communities compared to youth in other out-of-school programs.  4-H youth learn to address local issues and needs and actively participate in discussions and programs that benefit others.

(4-H Study of Positive Youth Development)


Workforce Preparation

4-H youth learn the importance of teamwork, communication and critical thinking through involvement in clubs, groups and decision-making activities.  The Secretary of Commerce Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS report) identifies the importance of developing a generation of youth with these workforce competencies to prepare for our economic future.


Safe and Secure Food Systems

The diverse animal and plant science programs of Wisconsin 4-H Youth Development offer youth the opportunity to acquire the life skills of responsibility, management, decision-making and goal-setting.  They exercise independence, self-discipline and responsibility through educational programs that assure a safe, quality food supply for a growing world population.


Community Connections

Young people involved in Wisconsin 4-H Youth Development, develop competence, confidence, character and compassion for others at greater levels than their peers.  Youth have better and more sustained connections with peers and adults and are more likely to be civically active, making more community and civic contribution than their peers.


Healthy Living

Young people in 4-H are less likely than their peers to engage in smoking, drug use and driving or riding in cars with those who have been drinking alcohol.  They are 2.3 times more likely to exercise and be physically active and 3.4 times more likely to delay sexual activity by grade 12.  These positive behaviors reduce emotional and financial costs to families and communities and result in savings to publicly-supported services.

(4-H Study of Positive Youth Development)


STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Education

4-H Youth learn science, technology, engineering and math implications through a variety of projects that help prepare them for the workforce of the future.  4-H girls are three times more likely to take part in science programs than their peers.  These skill sets will enable growing Wisconsin businesses to better utilize our own population in our food, fiber and technology industries.



The capacity of 4-H Youth Development and other UW-Extension, Cooperative Extension programs to reach over 153,000 Wisconsin youth is greatly increased by the efforts of more than 16,000 volunteers.  the typical 4-H volunteer gives 8 hours a month, according to a 2008 survey of 4-H volunteers in Wisconsin – at the Independent Sector’s Wisconsin volunteer time value of $21.78 per hour.


4-H Positive Youth Development

When youth develop important life skills through positive and sustained relationships with caring adults, good things happen.  Youth develop competence, confidence and character.  They become connected to their communities and learn to care about others.  These outcomes result in reduced risky behaviors of youth and a positive contribution to their families, communities and civil society.

(4-H Study of Positive Youth Development)


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