4-H interstate exchanges are popular with teens

Youth interstate exchanges provide cultural experience.

Youth Interstate exchanges provide cultural experiences for youth within their own country and are popular with teens! There are many opportunities for travel in 4-H, including interstate exchange programs, which are one of the most common exchange programs. Interstate exchanges are where youth and chaperones arrange to exchange with those of another state. According to Michigan State University Extension, the two-way exchange usually takes place over two consecutive summers. When youth travel to other states, they learn about the way of life in their host state including agriculture, historical sites and other unique things about the local community. When youth host, they “show off” their culture and their state. A week in the summer is the typical length, and season, of exchange experiences. Many host county programs plan for group experiences, but they also leave time for the families to make plans as a host family to make the teen feel included in their visitors family.

A Guide to 4-H Youth County Exchange Programs lists interstate exchange program objectives as:

  • Develop knowledge of other people and their way of life.
  • Gain a deeper insight into one’s own values.
  • Create and foster a spirit of understanding and appreciation of others’ heritage, customs and other cultural factors.         
  • Foster the development of initiative and independence.
  • Learn about other areas of our state and nation.
  • Create new, and perhaps, lasting friendships.
  • Gain new insight, leadership experiences and abilities.
  • Expand 4-H understanding beyond local community or county.
  • Gain 4-H ideas to strengthen local 4-H clubs and activities.
  • Enrich individual’s lives.            
  • Share information learned with other members and families upon return home.
  • Become involved in another community.

A helpful resource for planning a youth exchange with another state is the 4-H Exchange website which includes a list of all U.S. counties interested in participating the exchange program. The site is operated by North Carolina Cooperative Extension and updates provided by University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development.

For more information on youth interstate exchanges, contact the local Cooperative Extension Service in your state or the your local MSU Extension office for more information on 4-H Exchanges.

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