4-H Foundations


What volunteers need to know to get started

Grow Green Training —If you are new to 4-H, the Grow Green training is the first step toward understanding and actively supporting the program. The two-hour training is offered either face-to-face in a county or via distance learning at the state level.

Youth Protection Training—It is vital for volunteers to understand our role in protecting young people from the trauma of abuse and neglect. All 4-H volunteers are required by state law to participate in Mandatory Reporter Training, which is a short, online, interactive course. This training will help you know what to look for and how to report an incident.


The building blocks of Wisconsin 4-H for volunteers

Ages & Stages—The ages and stages of youth define the typical developmental needs and characteristics of young people in different age groups. While some youth may develop at different rates, these ages and stages help us understand how we can best support most youths’ needs for learning and growth at each developmental stage.

Experiential Learning Model—The Experiential Learning Model is one of the most important building blocks of 4-H and positive youth development. Through the model, five simple steps guide youth through a process of hands-on activities, critical thinking, and learning.

Essential Elements—Another guiding concept of 4-H and positive youth development is the four Essential Elements. On the surface, Belonging, Independence, Mastery, and Generosity seem simple, and they are. By looking deeper at each one, we can also see that these elements serve as a guide for how we work with and support young people’s learning and growth.

Life Skills Model—The ultimate goal of these other foundational pieces is to build life skills in young people—the building blocks of what will make them contributing citizens in adulthood. The model aligns eight categories of skills for living with the Head, Heart, Hands, and Health of 4-H.

4-H Thriving Model—Last but not least, the 4-H Thriving Model helps all of us see and understand how the work we do with youth today impacts them long-term. This model pulls everything together to show how developmentally appropriate experiential programming focused in the essential elements leads to those life skills to lead to youth who become strong, active adult citizens.


Taking your work with youth to the next level

Youth-Adult Partnerships—When youth and adults work together around “responsible, challenging, and collective action that seeks to benefit an organization or larger community,” we see youth-adult partnerships at work. These partnerships are intentional ways to involve young people alongside adults in issues that affect them. Click on the Youth-Adult Partnerships link above to find a free downloadable guide for getting started, called Being Y-AP Savvy.

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