Public Institutions Collaborate on Civic and Cultural Experiences Benefitting America’s Youth

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 30, 2023) Today, National 4-H Council and the Smithsonian Institution announced a new partnership to increase access to civic and cultural experiences for thousands of teens. Through a variety of shared resources and activations such as visits to Smithsonian museums, national 4-H events, digital storytelling projects, and online content, 4-H and the Smithsonian will provide increased opportunities for young people to learn and explore.

4-H is the country’s largest youth development organization. Delivered by the nation’s Cooperative Extension system, 4-H strives to eliminate the opportunity gap facing America’s kids through diverse programming, life skills building, and mentorship. The Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex, with 21 museums and the National Zoo. Established for the “increase and diffusion of knowledge,” the Smithsonian has always been committed to inspiring generations through knowledge and discovery, and the Institution has recently set a goal to reach every classroom in the nation.

Over the next two years, 4-H’ers from across the country will have the opportunity to participate locally and online in project-based learning. Teens can participate in a variety of programs, including Museum on Main Street (MoMS), an outreach program from the Smithsonian that brings traveling exhibitions, educational resources, and programming to small towns across the U.S. This year the program will pair 4-H teens in two to three states with subject matter experts to develop a project benefitting their communities via Cooperative Extension’s 4-H programs and the Smithsonian. In addition, 4-H youth attending National 4-H Council’s annual summits—Ignite by 4-H, True Leaders in Equity Institute, and Citizen Washington Focus—will receive guided tours and participate in learning sessions centered around themes in democracy and civics, diversity, equity, access & inclusion, STEM, and careers at five Smithsonian museums.

Digital educational resources created by 4-H and the Smithsonian will also be available on Clover by 4-H, and the Smithsonian’s Learning Lab.

“It is important that the Smithsonian’s vast educational resources are available to all Americans—from those in major cities to rural towns—not just those who visit our museums,” said Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch. “Through new technology, virtual exhibitions, and resources and now this partnership with 4-H, we are able to reach more people than ever before and inspire learning across the country.”

“Helping young people widen their perspective through cultural and historical lenses can lead them to find their spark and further develop skills that are critical to civil discourse, such as tolerance, curiosity, and leadership,” said Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO of National 4-H Council. “These opportunities inspire young people to dream big and encourage them to drive positive change in their communities.”

The partnership will kick off in June with guided Smithsonian tours during Citizenship Washington Focus, 4-H’s annual leadership and civic engagement experience that brings high school students to Washington, D.C. to gain the skills and experiences to become effective change agents.

For more information on 4-H and Smithsonian experiences, visit

4-H, the nation’s largest youth development organization, grows confident young people who are empowered for life today and prepared for career tomorrow. 4-H programs empower nearly six million young people across the U.S. through experiences that develop critical life skills. 4-H is the youth development program of our nation’s Cooperative Extension System and USDA and serves every county and parish in the U.S. through a network of 110 public universities and more than 3000 local Extension offices. Globally, 4-H collaborates with independent programs to empower one million youth in 50 countries. The research-backed 4-H experience grows young people who are four times more likely to contribute to their communities; two times more likely to make healthier choices; two times more likely to be civically active; and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs. Learn more about 4H at and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


Since its founding in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution has been committed to inspiring generations through knowledge and discovery. It is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex, consisting of 21 museums, the National Zoological Park, education centers, research facilities, cultural centers, and libraries. Two of the 21 museums—the National Museum of the American Latino and the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum—are in the early planning stages. There are more than 6,300 Smithsonian employees and 5,100 volunteers. The total number of objects, works of art, and specimens at the Smithsonian is estimated at nearly 157 million, of which nearly 148 million are scientific specimens at the National Museum of Natural History.

Media Contacts

Julia Majors
National 4-H Council
(202) 262-1782

Alex Fairchild
(202) 256-8735

I was eight years old when I first saw food insecurity in my community.

Through Bloomington/Normal's annual Diwali Food Drive, I witnessed the impacts of hunger firsthand, as I collected, organized, and delivered nonperishable food items to several local charitable organizations. That was the first time I realized that kids like me-families just like mine-struggled with something many of us take for granted: healthy, nutritious food. The issue of food insecurity particularly intrigued me because it seemed as if it was often ignored, despite the fundamental role health plays in the lives of everyday Americans. However, as I grew, 4-H provided me with an arena to address this challenge.

First through the McLean County Hunger Ambassadors, and later on through [former] Illinois Food Advocacy Team and Illinois Healthy Living Delegation, I was able to work with 4H-ers statewide to improve food security and healthy living in Illinois. Most significantly, our team rolled out $23,600 in mini-grant funding, supporting 30 youth-led food advocacy projects-varying from SPIN club community gardens to birthday backpack kits-over the span of two years.

However, never did I think that I would have the honor of representing 4-H at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health this past September. As a speaker in conversation with the Second Gentleman and Ambassador Susan Rice, I had the opportunity to share my food advocacy and healthy living story and represent 4-H on a national stage. Furthermore, as an attendee of the conference, I was amazed by the profound impact speakers from across the country had had on their communities when it came to supporting healthy living. Whether it was hearing about Boston Public Schools' innovative "My Way Cafes", or being galvanized by guest speaker José Andrés' call-to-action, my main takeaway was clear: there is no limit to the power of a passionate individual rallying behind a project.

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Of course, with the amazing resources that 4-H can provide its members, I am certain that our youth can play an essential role in leading the charge to improve healthy living across our country. And so, to those youth impassioned by the idea of eliminating food insecurity, I have a few suggestions:

1) Start out small:

Tackling a convoluted issue like food insecurity can seem impossible at first, but instead, if you can find one community to leave an impact on, you'll be amazed at the impact you can have.

2) Find a team to support you:

The great thing about this point is that you've already got one: 4-H! An organization like 4-H, can provide you with the mentors, resources, and passionate peers you need to sustain a project idea you might have. Chances are, your extension or state is already doing something to address healthy living, and you can use that as a connection point to get started on your own project.

3) Don't be afraid to fail:

This one might seem a little odd, but I mean it wholeheartedly. Don't let your fears-your age or inexperience or whatever else-put you in a box. Dream big about your impact and follow through with the work ethic to back it up! You might not always achieve your goals, but you will definitely learn from the experience.

As announced at the Conference, it is our nation's imperative to end hunger in our country by 2030. I hope you will join 4-H in achieving that mission. After all, the 4th H is indeed health.