University of Illinois Extension
Urban Programs Resource Network

4-H in the Metropolitan Chicago Area

Yes, 4-H is alive and well in Chicago and the metropolitan area with more than 60,000 youngsters enrolled. As a matter of fact, more than 50 percent of all Illinois 4-Hers are in Cook, DuPage and Lake counties.

4-H is an informal educational program offered to all youth between the ages of 8 and 19. They learn about citizenship, leadership, visual arts, mechanics, and horticulture, substance abuse prevention, and many other topics. 4-Hers can decide what they want to learn about by selecting 4-H projects that interest them. A 4-H project is a practical, challenging planned group of activities centered on a specific subject. The projects involve setting goals, evaluating progress, learning new skills, and increasing knowledge. 4-Hers may select from more than 150 projects.

4-Hers meet at least six times a year, have a planned program, many elect officers, and have one or more projects. A 4-H group can explore a single suject or several subjects. Members give talks and demonstrations to their peers and may participate in judging, tours and county events. A 4-H group might be organized on a community or neighborhood basis, or might based in a school. In addition, meetings are held in members' homes or at community locations such as libraries or parks.

The main purpose of 4-H is to provide the opportunity for mental, physical, and social growth for young people. The informal education offered by the program supplements the training received in the home, at school and from other youth organizations.

4-H uses hands-on learning. This helps young people learn about many topics. Youth set goals, plan, and conduct programs that will help them accomplish their goals. This process helps the 4-H members learn how to learn.

4-H teaches young people how to express themselves and how to listen to the ideas of others. Groups discussions, activities and formal club meetings provide members with the opportunity to practive democratic group action, and to gain group process skills.

Specific programs and projects that are highly popular include:

4-H is supported through the generous efforts of volunteers, school personnel, park district professionals, the business community, and city and county government. More than 2,890 adult and youth volunteer leaders in Cook, DuPage, and Lake counties contribute their skills, talents, and experiences to strengthen the 4-H program.

For more information about the 4-H program in the metropolitan Chicago area visit our All About 4-H web site or contact your local Extension office.