In West Virginia, more than 70,000 students participate in hands-on learning experiences provided through 4-H. From camps and STEM activities to livestock and clubs, WVU Extension Service brings unique experiences and opportunities to pique curiosity and encourage innovation through youth programming throughout West Virginia.

As part of National 4-H Week (Oct. 6-12), WVU Extension Service’s 4-H Youth Development program will be celebrating with activities and events focused on this year’s National 4-H Week theme, “Inspire Kids to Do.”

“Our 4-H programming offers an array of learning experiences that focus on leadership, civic engagement, health, science, and agriculture,” Brent Clark, director, WVU Extension Service 4-H Youth Development said. “Nationally, 4-H has always provided hands-on activities to youths, but during the past few years, those programs have really evolved to include more activities to expand growth, career readiness and educational outreach. Each year, we continue to be impressed with our 4-H’ers who are inspired to do more to help their communities and their state.”

Recently, 4-H’ers and other students from Lincoln County, West Virginia, participated in WVU’s Impact Challenge, where they worked with teams of WVU students to identify and solve problems within their communities. Clark noted that this very experience embodies the theme of this year’s National 4-H Week.

“The lessons learned and knowledge gained from the Impact Challenge is at the very core of inspiring kids to do. It encourages them to become more civically engaged and active in their communities. Our 4-H’ers are passionate about improving the lives of people in their towns, as well as others in the state, so to participate in this unique learning opportunity will only ignite that passion.” 

During the month of October, more than 200,000 4-H’ers, students and teachers across the country also are participating in the 4-H National Youth Science Day challenge, Game Changers. Led, for the second year in a row, by WVU Extension’s 4-H program, students will learn about computer science to create games, solve problems and engage with topics they are passionate about. 

West Virginia 4-H is a free youth development program that builds leadership skills, strengthens communities and emphasizes a “learn by doing” approach to education. 

In West Virginia, one in every five youths is involved in 4-H. Anyone between the ages of 9 and 21 can join 4-H with a parent or guardian’s permission. Younger kids, ages 5 to 8, who are interested in the practices of 4-H can join a pre-4-H program called Cloverbuds, which focuses more on fun and social activities that set the stage for future learning. Older members can become active in any of the seven collegiate 4-H clubs in the state.

While 4-H programs of the past have focused on agriculture and farming, today’s 4-H programs are more diverse, exposing kids to concepts in science, engineering, technology, citizenship and healthy lifestyles. Club members may also learn about higher education opportunities and even be eligible for scholarships given by the WVU Extension Service.

A national study of the “learn by doing” approach shows that on average, 4-H’ers achieve higher grades in school, are less likely to participate in risky behaviors associated with young adulthood, and are more likely to pursue careers in science, engineering or computer technology. 

To learn more about 4-H activities in your community, contact your local county office of the WVU Extension Service or visit extension.wvu.edu.