Illinois 4-H produces the youth leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs, stewards, and builders we need to solve world problems. Many programs can be tailored to meet the needs of youth in school classrooms, after-school programs, partner sites, military installations, community groups, and more. Contact your local Extension Office to find out what is available in your area.
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The world population will surpass 9 billion people by 2050, creating higher demand for food, water, productive land, and environmentally-safe practices. Producers are faced with many challenges, such as food safety, regulations, consumer attitudes, sustainability, and profitability. Illinois 4-H members are dedicated to feeding a nation. Illinois 4-H is providing first-time agricultural experiences to youth who are far removed from the source of the food they eat.
Employers say many new employees lack basic skills to be productive in the workforce. Lack of available workers challenge the economic viability of families, businesses, and communities across Illinois. Some youth lack knowledge of preparing a personal budget and managing personal income to pay monthly bills. Others may not understand how career and educational choices affect salaries. 4-H programs build awareness of careers and skills needed to excel. 4-H youth gained an understanding of the financial processes which help them better manage their funds. 4-H youth now understand the role education plays in potential career goals.
The world’s growing population is putting increased demands on our limited natural resources changing the earth’s climate and future environmental health. Illinois 4-H programs help youth learn about the environment through fun activities involving solar and wind energy; water quality and sport fishing; and how carbon sequestration can be related to healthy living actions. Measurable levels of caring about environmental issues can be made after hands-on 4-H programs which spark interests in why natural resources are important.
Ensuring that our communities have access to nutritious and culturally relevant foods is a challenge that has motivated young 4-H leaders to get more involved in growing, distributing, and sharing food across the state of Illinois. In 2022-23 alone, 250 Illinois 4-H youth leaders reached over 5,000 Illinois families with gardening and food access service projects. Through small and large-scale food production, coupled with effective advocacy and engagement in their communities' civic life, Illinois 4-H youth are rising to the occasion and helping to create resilient and inclusive food systems.
"I learned that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. People are willing to help! They just need someone to organize the community around something that matters to them." 4-H Youth Leader, White County, IL
Illinois 4-H's Healthy Living programs encompass physical health, nutrition, and social-emotional well-being, empowering youth to make positive choices for themselves, their families, and their communities. Addressing substance abuse prevention and mental health issues, 4-H builds a foundation for confident, compassionate young leaders with strong decision-making and interpersonal skills. Emphasizing social-emotional health and proper nutrition, the programs promote self-care and healthy habits, fostering holistic well-being and resilience in youth. This holistic approach equips them to lead meaningful lives and positively impact their communities and beyond.
A vital STEM workforce is needed to drive innovation in today’s global world. Workers lack skills in problem solving, design, programming, scientific inquiry, investigation, independent thinking, and teamwork. 4-H programs help youth use science and technology to solve problems and incorporate what they learn in their everyday life. Youth work cooperatively to innovate, build, solve problems, and imagine new possibilities for the world.