What Is A 4-H Project?

Each 4-H Member will have an opportunity to select one or more projects to learn about during the year. A project is simply a topic, or subject, the member wants to explore. The member will focus on increasing his knowledge and skills on this topic during the year. Projects are completely self-paced. A member may focus on a project over the whole year, or only spend a few months on a specific project. Similarly, a member may choose to explore the same topic for many years, gaining a real, in-depth knowledge of the project. Another member may prefer to explore a wide variety of projects during his/her years in 4-H. In most cases, the member will end up with one or more finished exhibits to enter in the fair from each project he/she selects. With nearly 150 projects available, there is something to interest every child.

There is not a limit to the number of projects a member can select; however parents and leaders should help guide members in setting realistic, but challenging goals. It is always better to complete fewer projects that reflect quality workmanship then to do a "rush job" and complete a lot of poorer quality projects.

Project work is at the heart of 4-H. As youth work to complete a 4-H project, a lot more is happening than "just" learning new skills. In fact, project work encompasses all four "H's" - head, heart, hands and health. Take for instance a young person working on a sewing project...

Project-related activities engage . . . 

Mental development: gaining deeper knowledge and reasoning abilities

  • Learning how to select a pattern that is properly sized
  • Utilizing smart consumer skills when shopping for fabric, equipment, and sewing notions
  • Calculating the correct amount of fabric to purchases for various fabric widths 

Emotional development: developing interests, appreciation and wholesome attitudes

  • Working as a team with fellow club members to select a sewing project to complete
  • Caring for others by sewing baby blankets for the hospital

Skills development: ability to do, skill in doing, and the habit of doing

  • Demonstrating the ability to properly thread a sewing machine bobbin
  • Becoming skilled in sewing straight and curved seams that follow the correct seam allowance
  • Completing sewing project utilizing correct techniques 

Physical development: understanding and appreciation of growing and changing body

  • Learning to select garments that are flattering for body shape
  • Developing poise and demonstrating good body posture when modeling the garment in 4-H Fashion Revue

How do we select a project?

In most cases, club members and leaders choose one club project they want to complete during the year. Members will work on that project together at club meetings. A club leader, parent volunteer, community resource person, or perhaps an older 4-H member will teach the club's project lesson. Additional projects can be selected by 4-H members and they will be able to work on those outside of their club meetings. They may seek guidance from their parents, leaders, community organizations, or other experts in the field to assist them in acquiring these new skills.

What is a 4-H project manual?

To help guide your learning experience, 4-H offers project manuals. These written manuals provide age-appropriate, hands-on lessons to help youth acquire new skills and knowledge. There are youth manuals and adult helper manuals. Typically there the manuals are developed in a series with three or four levels. These manuals are researched based through Universities nation wide.
Please keep in mind that you are not required to utilize a project manual to guide your child's 4-H project, but you will find it very helpful. Also, do not feel like you have to complete every learning activity listed in the project manual. Think of the project manual as a very useful resource for you, rather than a "to do" list of activities that must be completed.

How do we find out what 4-H project manuals are available?

The Nebraska 4-H Resources page has links to curriculum guides available for sale (prices vary) and download.  To help in selecting a project, you are welcome to view our stock and purchase project manuals at the Dodge County Extension Office. 

4-H Projects & Career Clusters

Each of the eight curriculum areas highlights careers that are related to those particular 4-H projects. These eight curriculum areas provide projects related to the Career Clusters that are linked to Nebraska School Standards.  

1. Animal Science –Youth interested in these 4-H projects may be interested in the following careers: Agribusiness, animal nutrition, business financial management, farm/ranch management or travel and tourism.

2. Communication & Expressive Arts –Youth interested in these 4-H projects may be interested in the following careers: Account Planning and Management, Advertising, Marketing, Interactive Media, Performing Arts or Public Relations.

3. Consumer & Family Science –Youth interested in these 4-H projects may be interested in the following careers: Banking and Related Services, Business Financial Management, Family and Community Services, Foods Product Development, Professional Sales and Marketing or Training Coordinator.

4. Environmental Education & Earth Sciences – Youth interested in these 4-H projects may be interested in the following careers: Biologist, Natural Resources Systems, Plant Systems, Seed, Fertilizer or Chemical Sales, State and Federal Regulatory Agencies or Travel and Tourism.

5. Healthy Lifestyles Education – Youth interested in these 4-H projects may be interested in the following careers: Counseling and Mental Health Services, Family and Community Services, Food Chemist, Food Safety Inspector, Restaurant and Food/Beverage Services or Therapeutic Services.

6. Leadership & Citizenship – Youth interested in these 4-H projects may be interested in the following careers: Early Childhood Development, Family and Community Services, Foreign Service, Professional Support Services, Public Management and Administration or Teaching/Training.

7. Plant Science –Youth interested in these 4-H projects may be interested in the following careers: Crop Management Consultant, Elevator and Co-op Management, Governmental Service Agencies,
Natural Resource Management, Plant and Soil Analysis, or Soil and Water Conservation.

8. Science, Engineering & Technology -Youth interested in these 4-H projects may be interested in the following careers: Environmental Consulting, Government Agencies, Information Support and Services, Printing Technology, Programming and Software Development, Security and Protective Services or Telecommunications.

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