Bring youth into the promotion of 4-H’s guiding principles

Creating ways for youth to learn and practice the Michigan 4-H Guiding Principles will lead to greater growth and success in their 4-H involvements.

Michigan 4-H has seven guiding principles for positive youth development that help us plan better and safer programs for Michigan’s youth. The principles support volunteer leaders and parents in understanding how Michigan 4-H programs are developed.

Michigan 4-H Guiding Principles:

  1. Youth develop positive relationships with adults and peers.
  2. Youth are physically and emotionally safe.
  3. Youth are actively engaged in their own development.
  4. Youth are considered participants rather than recipients in the learning process.
  5. Youth develop skills that help them succeed.
  6. Youth recognize, understand and appreciate multiculturalism.
  7. Youth grow and contribute as active citizens through service and leadership.

    Young people will be more interested and active learners if they plan and develop activities around the guiding principles. The first step for a club to incorporate the guiding principles in their meetings is to become comfortable with the words and to discuss as a group what each principle means. A large sign can be made of each principle. Then give the members the opportunity to write a single descriptive word on the principle sign. One principle would be discussed at each club meeting.

    As a review, write the guiding principle with one word per page. Mix the words up and have 4-H’ers draw out a word and place them in the correct order. Each of the seven principles could be in a different color. This can be done as a relay. Points could be given for correct placement of each word plus extra points for the team finishing first. Laminating the word cards would help to preserve the principle puzzles.

    After all the principles are reviewed and discussed, suggested activities can be used to highlight how each principle is relevant to 4-H. Subsequent articles will explore making the seven guiding principles part of a 4-H Club’ s essence. The guiding principles can be transferred to youth and adults in a variety of ways, many of which can be fun and active.

    When young people are actively involved in saying and doing, they will retain 90 percent of the material. Remember 4-H is “learning by doing."

    For ideas on how to incorporate principles one and two in programming, see "Engage youth in activities that support club exploration of 4-H guiding principles one and two."

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