Growing 4-H during National 4-H week and beyond

Emily Matzke
4-H is rooted in agriculture and connects youth to agricultural opportunities and interests far beyond.

Wisconsin 4-H will celebrate National 4-H Week during October 4 - 8 by highlighting the impact 4-H makes on the over 24,000 Wisconsin youth involved and encouraging youth to become involved. Each county and club will celebrate differently, but will ultimately showcase their 4-H spirit, building pride within members and leaders, and recruiting more families to join the program.

“Of the 24,000 Wisconsin 4-H members this past 4-H year, 25% of them were brand new members,” said Jessica Jens, Wisconsin 4-H Associate Director. “The impact of the organization is growing and we are excited to welcome first-generation 4-H families to the program. Our youth are making an impact on their communities, finding a sense of belonging and exploring their interests - building them into strong leaders of tomorrow.”

Expansive reach, local impact

The impact of 4-H is continuing to reach youth with diverse backgrounds and communities they call home. According to Jens, the roots of 4-H run deep in agriculture and is an important base for the 4-H experience, yet members can explore interests virtually any interest they have.

4-H is the largest youth organization in the nation and engages youth in activities, allowing them to explore any curiosity or “spark” they have - such as aerospace, drama, gardening and more. This unique youth program connects to local communities, counties and the University system.

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“I like to liken the expansion of 4-H to a tree,” said Jens. “Our core is and always has been agriculture - it’s the foundation of 4-H in our communities. Every year we add new “rings” to the tree and expand the opportunities 4-H provides to our youth. 4-H is truly more than you can ever imagine. The sky is the limit when it comes to experiences kids can have in 4-H.”

Beyond engaging members in activities of interest, they learn about community building, allowing youth to have a sense of belonging within their club. They gain leadership skills, and independence, which sets up youth to have a positive contribution to their community in years to come.

Open to all

Wisconsin 4-H is looking to decrease the barriers to entry to the program by re-imagining the way programs are available in counties. Each county is different based on community needs and youth interests, and families of all backgrounds are welcome to join - whether it’s a family that has been in 4-H for generations, or a first-generation 4-H family.

“4-H is truly for everyone - regardless of if you live in the city, a small town or the country,” said Jens. “We are in the process of building out additional types of 4-H clubs to expand access to the program. Every county will grow in a way that makes sense for their program and different venues we will expand to include after-school clubs, in-school clubs, community partners, and clubs based on a singular project area or summer only. We are expanding yet simplifying the ways youth can be involved.”

4-H is open to all youth from Kindergarten through Grade 13. Youth in grades 5k - 2 can join as Cloverbud members and grades 3 - 13 can enroll as general members. The first step to enrolling is by reaching out to your local County Extension Agent.

Visit to learn more and to enroll in the program.