The 4-H youth development program uses resources of the land-grant university and the time, talent, and dedication of Extension staff, screened and hardworking leaders and volunteers to teach youth life skills. Nebraska 4-H engages youth through 4-H programs and activities by building positive youth relationships between youth and adults and providing needed support for youth to develop their strengths. Through development of positive partnerships and development of strengths, 4-H programs in Nebraska are developing life skills that help youth become competent when they transition from child to adulthood. A skill is a learned ability and life skills are competencies that assist people in functioning well in the environments in which they life.
The life skills model for 4-H as developed by Hendricks (1998) is used in Nebraska. This 4-H framework incorporates the four “H’s” of the clover, head, heart, hands and health. The skills are grouped as they follow below:
HEAD. Thinking skills are as broken down as follows: Learning to learn, decision-making, problem solving, critical thinking, and service learning.
Managing skills are as follows: Goal setting, planning/organizing, wise use of resources, keeping records, and resiliency.
HEART. Relating skills are as follows: Communications, cooperation, social skills, conflict resolution, and accepting differences.
Skills that promote caring include: concern for others, empathy, sharing, nurturing, and relationships.
HANDS. Skills that enhance giving are community service/volunteering, leadership, responsibility, and contribution to a group.
Skills that promote working are: marketable/useable skills, teamwork and being self-motivated.
HEALTH. Living skills youth learn include: healthy life-style choices, stress management, disease prevention and personal safety.
Skills that teach youth a sense of being are: self-esteem, self-responsibility, character, managing feelings and self-discipline.