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This site will be updated regularly with guidance and tips on for 4-H clubs, activities and projects both in-person and virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Please note that guidance is subject to change. Please check back regularly for the latest updates.

Please see our other sites for more information:

The need to connect and feel a sense of belonging during these uncertain times is essential.

To encourage this developmental context and support the 4-H Thriving Model in 4-H club and project activities, this site shares guidance to enhance relationship building and connection with youth members.

Opportunities to share power is inherent in this guide. The structure and activities are easily facilitated by junior and teen leaders.


4-H Plays an Important Role for Young People

The continuing research on positive youth development has documented the important role that youth development programs like 4-H play in the lives of young people.

Our 4-H program embraces the concepts of

  • Developing Sparks,
  • Focus on quality with an emphasis on belonging, and
  • Foster strong developmental relationships.

These are all part of the 4-H Thriving Model of Positive Youth Development. This model predicts that youth who participate in 4-H programs that provide a high-quality developmental context will thrive. Thriving youth achieve key developmental outcomes.


4-H Thriving Model of Positive Youth Development


Sparks are an essential ingredient of thriving.

Having at least one spark gives youth a sense of direction and purpose and encourages goal development skills.

Sparks are not just something that makes you happy—they create the internal fuel for a young person’s growth in knowledge and skill.

Sparks help young people create a network of supportive others, especially adults with expertise who can help them grow their Spark.

Importantly, in order for something to be a Spark, youth should be empowered to use them to make a positive difference in the world.



Youth need to know they are cared about by others and feel a sense of connection to others in the group.

It is important to provide youth the opportunity to feel physically and emotionally safe while actively participating in a group. Create a safe and inclusive environment and foster a positive relationship with youth learners. Use discussion questions that encourage youth to learn from each other, synthesize and use ideas collaboratively.


Developmental Relationships

According to the Search Institute, adults can best nurture developmental relationships in five key areas: 

  • Expressing Care through listening, warmth and dependability
  • Challenging Growth by expecting youth to do their best and reflect on failures
  • Providing Support by empowering and advocating for youth and setting appropriate boundaries
  • Sharing Power by including youth in leadership, respect and collaboration
  • Expanding Possibilities by exposing youth to new ideas and opportunities



One of the guiding principles of the University of California 4-H Youth Development Program is that all participants have the right to equal access to information and activities. As a result of COVID-19 and current shelter in place orders for California, many 4-H program activities are continuing to engage youth audiences through a variety of communication methods.

In creating virtual learning opportunities for youth in every county, 4-H Staff and adult volunteers will also consider the digital accessibility needs of 4-H youth, and work to identify alternative approaches to engage youth through non-digital means to the extent possible.