What is a 4-H Project?

— Written By Sarah Kocher
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Project work is an important part of 4-H. A 4-H project is simply a topic that the member chooses to explore during the year.

Some youth may take an entire year to work on a project record. Others may complete a project record within a few months.

Project work is self-paced and individual. The project the child chooses should reflect his/her/their interests.

Keep in mind that the topic a child chooses isn’t the most important part of project work. It is the process of completing a project – goal setting, project experiences and reflection – that helps youth develop skills in:

  • Setting and completing goals
  • Keeping records
  • Creative writing
  • Organization
  • Leadership
  • Citizenship
  • Community service

The Project Process

Project work is a process with several parts including: project selection, setting goals, accomplishing goals, keeping records, and then summarizing the accomplishments into the final, written project record. There are different project record forms for each of the following age groups: 5-7*, 8-10, 11-12, 13-15, 16-18 (age determined as of January 1 of the current year). County staff has copies of these forms, or you can find them online.

For the 4-H Awards Handbook and project record forms for ages 8-18 visit the 4-H Awards and Incentives webpage.

*For the Cloverbud project record form (ages 5-7) visit the “Member Resources” tab.

Project Selection 

The process begins when youth select one or more projects based upon their interests and age level. Youth should receive guidance from their parents or guardians when they select projects.

Caldwell County 4-H has many curriculum books available, or youth can choose their own topic. There is a list of potential project areas at the end of this article.

It is recommended that new members select only one project; as a general guideline members should not select more than three projects each year. When enrolling in 4-H Online, the projects selected reflect a member’s aspirations.

Setting Goals

Youth should try to develop their goals early in the year (or soon after they join 4-H) to serve as a guide for their involvement. 

They should think about overall 4-H goals, such as 100% club meeting attendance or attending the countywide achievement celebration, and project-specific goals, such as learning to make five new recipes for a cooking project. An adult may need to assist younger members with goal setting.

Curriculm books will have suggested activities and age-appropriate learning experiences for the member. These are suggestions to help guide youth project involvement – not requirements. 

When youth make specific goals, they can easily see their accomplishments!

Below, 4-H member Wilson shares about setting project, personal and club goals.

Accomplishing Goals

Requesting a copy of the Caldwell County 4-H Calendar and a copy of a project-based 4-H Club’s calendar from your leader to know what opportunities are available can help youth plan how they will accomplish their goals. 

In some project areas, district and state events offer youth unique learning experiences.

Having an appropriate number of goals for the age of a child helps them complete the goals they have decided on. For younger youth, it is common to see three to five goals for each project. Older youth often have more goals and, as they gain more experience in their project area, more challenging goals.

(Photo by Eli Wingler of Caldwell County): Photography is a hobby and 4-H project that can be done outdoors. Eli Wingler, 8th grade student in Caldwell County, participated in a 4-H photography workshop, “Focus on Photography,” this spring and is pictured jumping on a trampoline outside in his photograph.

Project List

  • Aerospace
  • Animals
  • Aquatic Science
  • Astronomy
  • Automotive
  • Beef Cattle
  • Bicycle
  • Biological Sciences
  • Birds and Poultry
  • Career Exploration
  • Cats
  • Cavies (Guinea Pigs)
  • Chemistry
  • Civic Engagement
  • Clothing and Textiles
  • Communications & Expressive Arts 
  • Community / Volunteer Service
  • Computer Technology
  • Consumer and Family Science
  • Cultural Education
  • Dairy Cattle
  • Dogs
  • Electric
  • Electronics
  • Engines, Tractors, Field
  • Entomology and Bees
  • Environmental Ed./ Earth Sciences
  • Flower Garden/House Plant 
  • Foods and Nutrition
  • Food Science
  • Gardens- Fruit/Vegetable
  • Goats
  • Health
  • Horse/Pony 
  • Incubation/Embryology
  • Leadership & Personal Development 
  • Llamas
  • Marine Science
  • Mathematics
  • Ornamental Horticulture
  • Performing Arts
  • Personal Safety
  • Physical Sciences 
  • Physics 
  • Plant Science
  • Rabbits
  • Science/Technology Literacy
  • Sheep
  • Small Animals/Pets
  • Swine
  • Technology and Engineering
  • Veterinary Science
  • Visual Arts
  • Wood Science and Industrial Arts