4-H Participants and Youth

4-H Participants and Youth

The ACE Virtual Center is an online resource designed to help prepare the next generation for careers in agriculture.

Explore the resources provided below to understand the importance of agricultural systems across Maryland. Learn more about the STEM related opportunities offered to help youth become more involved in experiential learning activities surrounding agricultural careers.

Maryland 4-H Youth Development Program

Maryland 4-H focuses on several interesting program areas that can each tie into careers in agriculture and related fields; they include: animal sciences, engineering and technology, environmental sciences, healthy living, and youth civic engagement and leadership. 

More information about 4-H Agriculture and STEM programs and why youth should get involved can be found on the National 4-H website

The Maryland 4-H Youth Development Program provides a supportive and inclusive setting for all youth to reach their fullest potential in a diverse society. Youth learn beneficial and cognitive life skills through community focused, research-based experiential education programs."

MD 4-H Mission Statement

Fact Sheet: The Importance of Agricultural Systems in MD

Agriculture is a large part of Maryland's economy and many industries have a connection to both agriculture and the environment in MD. This infographic breaks down some of the ways agriculture has an impact on Maryland's economy as a whole.

Why Should Youth Get Involved?

"It is important for both children and adults to be knowledgeable about agriculture for making informed decisions as consumers, citizens, voters, and leaders." - Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation

Why should youth participate in 4-H programs?

Beginning in 2002, 4-H and Tufts University began a research study on positive youth development in 4-H. After eight years of research, their final report demonstrated that 4-H youth participants excel in community contributions and civic engagement, academic achievement, and healthy living. 

The study also showed that 4-H's specific hand-on activities help kids develop an interest for STEM related careers and leadership. 

How Can Youth Get Involved?

University of Maryland Extension (UME): the University of Maryland Extension 4-H Youth Development team works to help Maryland youth become more involved in agriculture through 4-H programs such as 4H club and 4-H project engagement, AGsploration, and Kids Growing with Grains. 

  • 4-H Membership, Clubs, and Project Work: Learn more about how to join Maryland 4-H by visiting the Maryland 4-H website. Contact your local Extension office to find out about 4-H groups and opportunities near you. 
  • AGsploration: A curriculum for middle school students to help improve agriculture literacy and STEM skills. Learn the rationale behind why agriculture literacy is important for the success of communities. 
  • Kids Growing with Grains: An all-day field trip at the Western Maryland Research Education Center in Washington County to learn about grain production, consumption, and nutritional benefits. 

National FFA:

  • FFA strives to prepare the younger generation for leadership positions and career opportunities in the science, business, and technology fields of agriculture. 
  • Learn more about the chapters in the Maryland FFA. The Maryland FFA aims to provide students opportunities in leadership development, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education. 50 chapters make up the MD FFA. 

Maryland Agriculture Education Foundation's (MAEF) Ag Literacy:

  • Goal: “This Ag in the Classroom program seeks to instill in Maryland students the importance of agriculture in their daily lives.” 
  • The Ag Literacy book for 2020 is “PB&J Hooray!” which helps students learn how ingredients make it from the plant to their plates.
  • MAEF's Annual Calendar Contest: Calling all K-12 artists. Every year the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation holds a calendar contest "to create a positive learning experience about agriculture in Maryland that furthers the understanding of agriculture's impact on our daily lives". 
    • Deadline is May 1, 2020 

Maryland State Fair:

  • The Maryland State Fair is affectionately called thee "11 Best Days of Summer". It is held annually from the end of August through Labor Day. The State Fair provides a great opportunity to get outside and learn more about agriculture in the state of Maryland. The State Fair provides a venue for 4-H and FFA participants to display their project work and demonstrate what they have learned to their family, friends, and the public. 

4-H STEM Challenge:

  • 4-H's annual initiative to get children more involved in hands-on STEM activities. The 2020 challenge is called, "Mars Base Camp" and is intended to teach children ages 8-14 skills in mechanical engineering, agriculture, physics, and computer science. Explore past STEM challenges.

4-H Youth Summit on Agri-Science: 

  • This summit was created for high school students to learn from experts in the agricultural community. Specifically, participants advance their knowledge of agriculture, food security, and sustainability challenges. The summit takes place each January at the National 4-H Conference Center in Chevy Chase, MD. 

Interactive Resources

  • Play My Little AG Me to test your knowledge and learn more about agriculture career options. My American Farm has created several games to help kids learn more about different STEM areas. "My Little AG Me" was created for children to step into the world of agriculture careers. 
  • Watch these short videos to learn about 40 different careers in the agriculture field. Made by Utah State University Extension learn about jobs that range from an Algae Farmer, to an Environmental Science Technician, to a GIS specialist, and more. 
  • Take a virtual tour of 11 different types of farms using FarmFood 360. This website offers a range of virtual tours from apple orchard to sheep farm. 
  • 4-H STEM Lab provides fun STEM activities for children to complete at home. All of the activities are hands-on, include a learning component, and the instructions are free. 
  • Check out NASA's Climate Kids website which answers kid's questions regarding climate change. It also provides information on topics such as weather & climate, atmosphere, water, energy, plants, and animals. 
  • Want to learn more about Earth Science? They EveryDay Earth Corps team has created an interactive Earth Science website for kids. Designed for students in 4th-6th grade. 
  • SwitchZoo offers fun interactive games involving animal puzzles, building biomes, animal facts, and more. 

Career Readiness: Tips and Advice

ACE Webinar Series:

  • Watch this virtual workshop focused on Students K-12: Agriculture Careers Exploration Through 4-H, presented by Chris Anderson, 4-H Young Development Specialist and Sheryl Bennett, 4-H Youth Development Educator. As you watch, follow along the the workshop's powerpoint slides
    • Webinar description: Students K-12 may explore Agriculture Careers through involvement in a variety of 4-H activities. This session explains how 4-H helps Maryland youth become more involved in agriculture and explore careers through activities such as 4-H club and 4-H project engagement; specialized curriculum like AGsploration, AGsperience, Healthy Animals | Healthy YOUth, and Kids Growing with Grains; skills building events and experiences at the local, state, national, and international levels; and more.
    • Resource Recommendation: Check out the "Career Connections" Series on the AGsploration Youtube Channel to learn more about agriculture career exploration. 

UMD Extension Advice:

Test your agriculture knowledge:

  • Take one of Ag Smart's beginning, intermediate, or advanced knowledge tests.

Experiential Learning Highlights

Market to Mealtime

A Food Supplement Nutrition Education (FSNE) program designed to teach children about the local food system. 

Check out the article on Market to Mealtime in AGNR's MomentUM Magazine, pages 6-7. 

4-H Forum

A teen-leadership experience that fosters civil discourse and community action. The 4-H forum engages a group of Maryland Youth to deliberate about important issues/community needs. 

Watch this video to see the 4-H Issue Forum in action. 

4-H Robotics Camp

Robotics has become a special part of the 4-H program with several opportunities to get involved. This robotics camp was dedicated to children in military families. There is also an organized, statewide robotics challenge, with the finalists competing against each other at the Maryland State Fair. 

Learn more about Maryland 4-H Robotics programs.

Healthy Animals, Healthy YOUth

Zoonoses Education Project for Youth in Agriculture which focuses on introducing people to safe animal handling, proper hygiene, and how to limit the transfer of pathogens between humans and animals. 

Read the full article on this UME Education Project. 

Special Look at the MD 4-H Congress

2019 Maryland 4-H Congress provides leadership and networking opportunities to MD youth.

Interested? More information on this year's Maryland 4-H Congress can be found on the MD 4-H website

Next Steps

To learn more about and how to join Maryland 4-H visit the Maryland 4-H website. Contact your local Extension office to find out about 4-H groups and opportunities near you. 

Loved your time in 4-H? Want to help the next generation get more involved in agriculture and STEM? Consider applying for a National 4-H Council Internship

Want to purchase 4-H curricula? Check out the National 4-H website for parents and educators containing science, healthy living, and civic engagement curricula. 

Contact us: acecenter@umd.edu