Mastering Life Skills in 4-H

If anyone has ever been involved in 4-H, they surely have vivid memories of reciting the 4-H pledge before any meeting or event. Both youth and adults alike are asked to participate so that they always remember why we are here and what we are looking to accomplish. What does the pledge mean, though?

According to McIntosh and Monroe (2014), the aim of 4-H is to allow youth to develop life skills that will prepare them to become productive and successful adults in today’s increasingly complex and interconnected world. The pledge is talking about body parts and health though, so how could it be connected to life skills? Well, if you take a closer look, each H is followed up by a phrase that eludes to a particular set of life skills. So let’s break each H down to understand which core competencies we are trying to reach:

HEAD: Knowledge, Reasoning, and Creativity Competencies

Thinking: using one’s mind to form ideas and make decisions; to imagine, to examine carefully in the mind, to consider; Managing: using resources to accomplish a purpose.

HEART: Personal/Social Competencies

Relating: establishing a mutual or reciprocal connection between two people that is wholesome and meaningful to both; Caring: showing understanding, kindness, concern, and empathy for others

HAND: Vocational/Citizenship Competencies

Giving: providing, supplying, or causing to happen (social responsibility); Working: accomplishing something or earning pay to support oneself through physical or mental effort

HEALTH: Health/Physical Competencies

Living: acting or behaving; the manner or style of daily life; Being: living one’s life; pursuing one’s basic nature; involved in personal development. (Norman and Jordan, 2006)

Then if you break it down even further, each of the competencies above is comprised of specific life skills. To best illustrate how each H connects to the above competencies and then further to each life skill, we refer to Hendricks (1998) graphic below:

Graphic depicting life skills targeted in 4-H. Adapted from “Developing Youth Curriculum Using the Targeting Life Skills Model” by P. Hendricks, 1998. Retrieved from
Targeting Life Skills Model
Mastery through Suwannee 4-H

Suwannee County 4-H offers numerous ways for youth and adults to partner towards mastering each of the life skills listed above. Whether it’s through participating in our 10 community clubs, County Youth Council, various shows and judging events, summer day camps, early release workshops, or county/district/state level events, 4-H is the premiere place to go for Suwannee’s youth development needs.

Does this model of positive youth development speak to you? Do you have or know children who could benefit from learning these life skills in a safe environment? If anything from this article sparks an interest within you, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Suwannee County 4-H Agent, Derby Sale, through either email at, calling the office at 386-362-2771, or visiting us at the Extension Office.


Posted: November 1, 2017

Category: 4-H & Youth

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