Taking action to address climate change and sustainability with more than one million environmental projects completed.
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Issue Overview

4-H’ers address climate and sustainability through their actions: completing more than one million environmental projects, with another three million focused on animal science.

They tackle issues in their community, from food security and water access to extreme weather and natural habitats for local animals. A recent 4-H and Harris Poll survey suggests that young people are balancing their fear about the future with the need to find solutions - 77 percent of teens feel responsible to protect the future of our planet.

A woman wearing gloves while putting soil in a plant pot


Out of 1,500 teens surveyed:

  • Today, most teens spend 5 hours or less outside per week, less than 11 days a year.
  • More than 9 out of 10 teens spend time outdoors growing up with the most popular activities being biking, skating, running and outdoor sports.

77% feel responsible to protect the future of our planet.


84% believe "If we don't address climate change today, it will be too late for future generations, making some parts of the planet unlivable."


Only half of teens (54%) feel that their communities are taking an active part in preserving the environment.

How 4-H is Making an Impact

4-H educators throughout the Cooperative Extension System use the cutting-edge research of land-grant universities to provide hands-on learning experiences to help young people discover a “sense of wonderabout the natural world. Through environmental education programming, 4-H’ers have completed more than one million environment-oriented projects to increase their knowledge of issues facing the planet and help find solutions. Research shows that time spent in nature increases the perceived value of the environment leading to greater stewardship of nature. Urban 4-H youth who completed at least 6 hours of outdoor education had a positive association about the outdoors and the environment with 80 percent caring more about the environment and are more concerned about the damage pollution does to the environment. 

  • More than 13,000 youth, families and volunteers experience the wonder of nature and its ecosystems. 
  • As a result of the program, 88 percent of urban 4-Hers care more about the environment. 78 percent believe it is their responsibility to protect nature.

National 4-H Council Programs and Experiences

On the Ground Locally

STEM Challenge: Explorers of the Deep

4-H’s signature program inspires kids around the country to take an interest in STEM topics and careers. Each year, we develop engaging, hands-on activities designed to teach young people about the real-world applications of STEM concepts that reach more than 350,000 kids and teenagers per year through an engaging STEM Kit.  

Authored by Rutgers University Extension, Explorers of the Deep focuses on ocean exploration and research which help us adapt to changing ocean conditions which include changes in weather, melting glaciers and rising ocean temperatures. These impacts affect humans and organisms all around the world, regardless of their proximity to the ocean. 

4-H Ag Innovators Experience

Nearly 70,000 students nationwide have participated in the 4-H Ag Innovators Experience (AIE). The program gives youth the opportunity to learn about agriculture innovation, careers and environmental stewardship by applying critical thinking skills to address a real-world agriculture challenge. 


CLOVER Activities on Environmental Sustainability

CLOVER lets young people experience 4-H anywhere, anytime on topics that interest them. Environmental activities focus on helping young people understand the interconnected relationship that exists between humans and the environment as well as teaching youth about sustainability practices that balance the environmental concerns along with the economic development. 

To find out how you can make an impact with 4-H, please fill out this form or contact Heather Elliott, Chief Development Officer, at 301-792-1023 or helliott@4-H.org.