Massachusetts 4-H is a youth development program open to all young people ages 5 through 18 throughout the Commonwealth. It is part of a nationwide system connected to each land-grant institution of higher education and as such, has access to a wealth of resources and curriculum. In Massachusetts, 4-H is based at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and has offices in seven regions of the state.
Based on the Eight Essential Elements of Positive Youth Development, 4-H helps young people learn life skills under the guidance of trained, screened volunteers in non-formal educational settings such as clubs, camps and afterschool programs. These Essential Elements can also be viewed as the Five “C’s” – Competence, Confidence, Connection, Character and Caring. When young people work on these characteristics they demonstrate a Sixth “C”: Contribution to self, family, community and the institutions of a civil society.
The Eight Essential Elements are:
- A positive relationship with a caring adult.
- A safe environment.
- An inclusive environment.
- Engagement in learning.
- Opportunity for mastery.
- Opportunity to see oneself as an active participant in the future.
- Opportunity for self-determination.
- Opportunity to value and practice service for others.
For over 100 years, Massachusetts 4-H has been providing young people the opportunity to do that work, to work on their personal growth and development in a positive environment. Research shows that 4-H members are likely to excel in school, lead their peers and give to their communities. Massachusetts 4-H is a great place to be!