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4-H Center for Youth Development

Ina Metzger Linville, PhD, director

photo: 4-H activity

Averee Hooper, 9, rethreads the needle while hemming a pillowcase. After her grandmother passed away from cancer at age 57, Averee decided to begin making pillowcases for children with cancer and other severe illnesses.

For more than a century, 4-H programs have helped young Missourians learn leadership, citizenship and life skills, meet key developmental needs and pursue educational goals.

During the year Missouri 4-H reached young people in every county of the state. Youth development specialists and other MU Extension team members worked with volunteers and community leaders to reach more than 282,000 Missourians ages 5 to 18. These young people - more than one-in-four Missourians from their age group - participated in a 4-H educational program, the 4-H year-long club program, a 4-H short-term school enrichment experience, special interest activities, camps or child care programs.

Every year the Missouri 4-H program links thousands of young people, parents, volunteers and professionals to MU. In 2012, Missouri 4-H enrolled 10,035 volunteers. The large volunteer force enables Missouri 4-H members to engage with more adult mentors than their non-4-H peers. Positive and sustained relationships between young people and adults are a predictor of the program's effectiveness in helping youth gain confidence, achieve competency and learn generosity. Last year, more than 8,600 youths connected to the campus and MU faculty for 4-H educational events and camps.

photo: 4-H robotics

At the MU Lego Robotics Challenge, Zack Murphy watches teammate Kenneth Khor set up their robot while Jared Shopper, MU biomedical engineering student, makes sure the course rules are followed. The challenge is open to home-schoolers, public and private schools, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and 4-H clubs. Satish Nair, MU professor of electrical and computer engineering and biological engineering, started the program to help foster an early eagerness for engineering.

The 4-H Youth Futures program helps make college an achievable goal for underserved youth. Campus experiences, coupled with a caring adult mentor, motivate young people and help them navigate the steps of attending and remaining in college. Recent data on Missouri 4-H members show 76 percent of eligible seniors pursue higher education. Another 14 percent enter the workforce.

Missouri 4-H helps address America's critical need of high-tech workers by participating in a national initiative to engage more young people in 4-H science, engineering and technology programs. 4-H members report an increased interest in science at a rate three times higher than their non-4-H peers. Interest in science is a predictor for young people to choose science-related careers.

4-H provides a great return on investment. For every $1 of public resources invested in Missouri 4-H, the program leverages $6.20 to serve young people and families statewide. According to a Carnegie report, the value of youth development programming provided by MU Extension 4-H faculty and staff exceeds $36.8 million.