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4-H Research

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The 4-H Center champions the connection of needed community resources with local youth development programs, schools, business and industry, faith-based organizations, and local government to help young people successfully learn, stay in school and prepare for life.

Areas of Work

Research and Evaluation

The 4-H Center’s research agenda focuses on issues that are relevant to North Carolina’s youth, families, and communities. The Center’s research agenda includes Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), Youth Employability and Upward Mobility, Entrepreneurship, Equity, Access and Opportunity (Diversity/Multiculturalism), Health and Wellness, Civic Engagement and Leadership and Volunteerism.

4-H Center conducts basic and applied scientific research on positive youth development to strengthen and deepen the scientific foundations that increase understanding of youth development in the contexts of youth, family, and community.

Extend Knowledge

4-H Center provides opportunities for N.C. Cooperative Extension professionals and other leaders and practitioners in youth development to learn from each other. 4-H is recognized as the national leader in youth development because of our unique community-based youth development model and our belief in a positive youth development framework.

To support our mission, the 4-H Center extends knowledge by providing education on research-based knowledge of youth, families, and communities, and by publishing monographs, reports, fact sheets, and abstracts of research. The 4-H Center also provides training on applied research and community-based youth program development. Our educational programs address the contemporary needs and issues most important to our customers and their communities.

A Unique Community Model

4-H is a community-builder delivering resource for young people. We partner with young people, families, schools, and communities to create dynamic youth development programs and support structures for all young people. We utilize a committed field staff and over 21,000 volunteers to customize, develop and facilitate effective local programs. We successfully garner support from businesses, organizations, and government, social service providers, and volunteer groups. We work in partnership with public and private schools, home school groups, civic organizations, faith-based groups, other youth development programs to be efficacious, to do things that make a real difference in the life of a young person, their family, and community.

A Positive Youth Development Framework

Positive Youth Development is a concept, which recognizes that merely preventing problem behaviors is not all that is needed to prepare youth for the future. Or, in the often-quoted words of Karen Pittman “problem-free is not fully prepared.”

4-H believes that every young person deserves:

  • a one-on-one relationship with a caring adult;
  • a sense of belonging;
  • a safe place to learn and grow;
  • a healthy start and healthy future;
  • a marketable skill to use upon graduation; and<
  • a chance to give back to their peers and community through active volunteerism.


The 4-H Center provides regular communications regarding its research, education, education, training, and evaluation activities. Audiences for these communications include Cooperative Extension professionals, NC State University and NC A&T State University campus-based scientists, other youth development professionals, teachers and school administrators, youth program volunteers, youth, community agencies, stakeholders, and decision-makers.

4-H Center provides a wide range of publications and practical tools to equip youth development professionals, community and organization leaders, parents, and young people to build and sustain positive youth development programs. The resources present, interpret, and apply the center’s research and share innovations from other outstanding youth development programs.

Support – 4-H Center facilitates and serves as an innovative link between NC State University and communities across North Carolina that support ongoing research, evaluation, education, and training of leaders and practitioners in youth development.

4-H Center conducts basic and applied scientific research on positive youth development to strengthen and deepen the scientific foundations that increase understanding of youth development in the contexts of youth, family, and community.

Page Last Updated: 3 years ago
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