Reasons to join the largest out-of-school youth development program in Montana

Montana 4-H is the largest out-of-school youth development program in the state, reaching approximately 18,000 youth in all 56 counties and seven reservations each year. What makes this organization so valuable? When surveyed, 30 members from across the state explained why they are involved in 4-H and its impact on their lives.



"Because of 4-H, I can pursue my degree in animal science.”

Yellowstone County 4-H Member.

4-H offers more than 200 different projects that actively engage youth. Whether learning about conservation, robotics, nutrition, food, textile science, or how to raise animals, 4-H offers many opportunities. No matter the interest, there’s a project for everyone.

These projects prepare youth for meaningful employment:

  • 17,917 Montana youth enroll in animal and vet science projects, from lizards to llamas and snakes to steers. They learn responsibility, goal setting, record keeping, and resiliency. Youth master skills such as self-motivation and discipline.
  • 6,504 Montana youth participate in environmental education, outdoor education, and earth science projects. They gain an understanding and appreciation for Montana’s natural resources.
  • 4,977 Montana youth enroll in food and nutrition projects, 3,544 register for plant science and weed projects, and 1,607 engage in technology and engineering projects. They find passion in employable fields at early ages.


4-H Members at a conference.

Photo: E. Brush Photography


“ Because of 4-H, I can speak in public. . . and do well in professional environments.”

Lewis & Clark County 4-H Member

Communication is a cornerstone of 4-H. No matter their age, 4-H members practice skills like public speaking, presenting, and expressing a point of view as club members.

Consequently, 4-H’ers become confident communicators. Results of the Montana 4-H Communication Survey indicated the following:

  • 70.44% of 4-H youth indicated improvement in preparing a presentation.
  • 66.01% assessed themselves as more willing to speak in front of groups.
  • 65.02% reported they had improved at answering questions about their topics or ideas.
  • 53.69% felt they were better at listening to others before responding.
  • 50.74% indicated being more comfortable expressing ideas in writing.
  • 60.1% reported improvement in maintaining eye contact while communicating.
  • 54.19% felt 4-H helped them better express themselves to others.
  • 64.04% indicated feeling more comfortable while speaking with adults.


4-H members speaking at a conference.

Photo: E. Brush Photography


Because of 4-H, I can confidently be a leader and understand my authority.”

Hill County 4-H Member

Due to 4-H’s focus on service, 4-H members readily identify community needs and mobilize to meet those needs through community-based projects. Members reflect on accomplishments and what to do differently next time to increase their impact. Additionally, 3,785 Montana youth engaged in the leadership project develop character, focus on personal growth, and practice goal setting.



“ Because of 4-H, I value my community, my family, my peers, and the many volunteers that have helped me along the way.”

Park County 4-H Member

4-H brings youth together with caring people to ensure belonging and community connection. Youth who are connected to their community are less likely to suffer from severe depression or attempt suicide.

4-H forms these connections because it offers a network of caring peers for young people to reach out to regularly and during challenging times. These connections create a positive, protective factor for youth well-being.


4-H members smiling at a meeting.

Photo: Brenda Richey, MSU Extension

“4-H has impacted my life by making me a better person.”



“ Because of 4-H, I value being a part of something that focuses on helping others rather than yourself first.”

Carbon County 4-H Member

4‑H empowers young people to be well-informed citizens who engage in their communities and world.

4-H members contribute thousands of hours to their community: More than half of third through sixth grade 4-H members indicated they had more opportunity to help plan a community service project since joining 4-H, while 24% reported having led a community service project as a member of 4-H.

Meanwhile, 42% are more aware of important needs in their community after joining 4-H. Over a third of 4-H youth in grades 7-12 reported being more likely to talk to their friends about issues affecting their community, state, or world.

Citizenship and community connection are especially impactful in Montana’s reservations. 4-H youth identifying as Native American comprised 14% of 4-H youth in 2019-2020. This is double the average participation level of other statewide organizations.


Sweet Grass County 4-H Members.

Photo: E. Brush Photography


Regardless of your interests or desired role, there is a place for you in Montana 4-H. When you become a member, volunteer, or donor, 4-H will encourage personal growth and help your community thrive. As one member reported, “4-H has impacted my life by making me a better person.” We hope you’ll join us in making a difference.

Visit to join, volunteer, or give to 4-H.



Christine Hodges is the MSU Extension 4-H Curriculum & Communications Specialist.