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UT Extension 4-H Base Programs

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The 4-H Mission

The mission of Tennessee 4-H is to provide research-based Extension educational experiences that will stimulate young people to gain knowledge, develop life skills and form positive attitudes to prepare them to become capable, responsible and compassionate adults.

The 4-H Vision

 4-H is the youth development program of The University of Tennessee's Agricultural Extension Service. Preparing young people to become responsible, capable and involved leaders and citizens of Tennessee and the nation is the goal of the 4-H program. This goal is accomplished by providing educational experiences for young people to gain knowledge, develop life skills, live healthy lives, make intelligent career choices and form positive attitudes - values young people will rely on throughout their lives.

To reach this goal, 4-H relies on partnerships. These partnerships include the support of federal, state and county governments, the dedication and generosity of private donors and the devotion and commitment of volunteers. These groups work together in harmony. Their united vision and combined efforts ensure 4-H will remain a premier youth development program in Tennessee. Tennessee 4-H, a component of the Cooperative Extension system, is a leader in youth development education that:

  • works with all eligible youth to provide effective, enjoyable learning experiences
  • develops unity in all types of family structures
  • utilizes a quality applied curriculum in classroom and community-based settings
  • reflects and values cultural and human diversity
  • employs competent, educated, self-motivated staff who are valued assets of the Land Grant University system and are recognized as youth development experts
  • utilizes creative staffing patterns and contemporary working environments
  • delivers programs through cooperative efforts of The University of Tennessee, Tennessee State University and public and private sector volunteers.

Health / Physical

4HHealth.jpg (222620 bytes) Through an emphasis on exercise and proper nutrition, 4-H'ers are encouraged to develop habits that lead to a healthy lifestyle that they will take with them into adulthood.

Personal / Social

4HPersonal.jpg (234255 bytes) Being comfortable with yourself, cooperating with others, forming friendships, assuming responsibility and having self-discipline are important components of social development. The Tennessee 4-H program provides its members with opportunities to develop and enhance these skills through participation in club work, conferences and service activities.

Cognitive / Creative

4-HCognitive.jpg (206268 bytes) Learning is an on-going part of life. Participation in 4-H projects allows members to choose specific areas of interest and increase their knowledge of these areas through activities. Project work also involves setting goals, evaluating progress, record keeping and communicating knowledge to others.


4HVocat.jpg (213153 bytes) The 4-H club aims to provide its members with opportunities to gain an awareness of and explore a wide variety of career and vocational options. The life skills developed through 4-H participation help prepare young people for successful professional careers. Emphasis is also placed on vocational options and use of leisure time.

Citizenship / Ethics

4HCitizen.jpg (238189 bytes) Knowledge and understanding of the history and values of a community or nation contribute to good citizenship. Involvement in the 4-H program not only teaches young people to appreciate others and learn about their surroundings, but also encourages them to become involved and find ways to make positive contributions to society.

I pledge my HEAD to clearer thinking

wpe8.jpg (23284 bytes)wpe7.jpg (25009 bytes)     Young people today have numerous career options to choose from, many more than their parents or grandparents did. But today's youth also must be better prepared. Advances in technology have mandated the need for specific skills and critical competencies in the workforce. 

    The future will belong to those who can think clearly and are prepared to meet the challenge of a changing society and workforce. Programs in 4-H prepare young people to think clearly.

    An entrepreneurship program, used to enrich project activities, encourages 4-H'ers to use their imagination and creativity to turn their projects into business ventures. Workforce preparation programs expose young people to different career choices and prepare them to enter the workforce with confidence. A variety of camps and conferences provides young people with hands-on learning experiences in fun, interactive settings. Judging contests test a young competitor's knowledge, speaking skills and decision-making abilities.

    The world is changing rapidly. But 4-H'ers will be ready to meet the challenge. They have been preparing their heads for clearer thinking to enable them to succeed.

I pledge my HEART to greater loyalty

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    Pledging your heart to greater loyalty requires commitment, faithfulness, understanding and caring. These are the building blocks of a productive, rewarding life.  They are also at the center of 4-H programs and activities.

    In 4-H, young people learn the value of helping others. They learn to become concerned, productive citizens by understanding the history and character of their communities and donating their time to community service protects. They learn to nurture relationships, both human and animal, based on trust, responsibility, respect and understanding. They discover the importance of cooperating with others, sharing experiences, appreciating diversity and setting goals.

    In all these lessons, 4-H'ers develop the social skills necessary to become capable, compassionate adults.

I pledge my HANDS to larger service

Hands.gif (43265 bytes)     Learning how to serve goes right to the heart of valuable life lessons. Whether it's teaching younger children to care for the environment, creating a wildlife habitat for the community, restoring and beautifying a city park that has succumbed to neglect, caring for a prized animal or packing food baskets for a local food bank - 4-H'ers'  hands are involved in doing.

    By pledging their hands to greater service, 4-H members learn marketable skills, responsibility, commitment, teamwork and leadership. They experience the satisfaction of a job well done, the self esteem that comes from knowing they made a difference, the flush of pride in reviewing a finished project and the warm feeling of camaraderie that comes from working as a team. These are positive experiences and lessons for life.

I pledge my HEALTH to better living

Health.gif (39695 bytes)    It's difficult growing up today. The health issues youth face today go well beyond geographic and social boundaries. Drug and alcohol use/abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, poor nutrition and teen pregnancy are among the major health issues. Young people are also struggling with problems involving stress, gangs, violence and managing money.

    4-H health programs take a proactive approach to these issues and focus on prevention education rather than treatment and intervention. Programs teach teens how to make healthy choices about eating and exercising, provide cooperative programs that offer real life simulation, one-on-one coaching in large and small group meetings with guest speakers and health fairs that focus on teen wellness.

    In addition to these programs, 4-H provides teens with opportunities to become effective peer leaders, mentors and positive role models. In 4-H, being healthy means feeling good both inside and out, and being in harmony with friends, family, school and community.