Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station | [Cooperative Extension of Essex County]

4-H Youth Development

The 4-H Clover. The Power of YOUth

4‑H is the youth development component of Rutgers Cooperative Extension. 4‑H uses a learn-by-doing approach to enable youth to become competent, caring citizens of the world. Dedicated adult volunteers provide leadership to 4‑H clubs and activities alongside Rutgers faculty, staff, and most importantly our 4‑H youth members. Essex County 4‑H staff and volunteers work together to develop programs which will provide youngsters with opportunities for new experiences and a broader view of life.

Upcoming Events

Youth Community Garden Clubs - Teens are welcome to join local garden projects and challenged to complete at least 25 hours of service in the gardens, while learning topics that include horticulture, nature, and our local-food system. All garden clubs are led by adult volunteers and supported by community partner organizations. Registration for all sites (2.2m PDF) or online

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Photo: Essex County 4-H teens help prepare the garden.

Essex County 4‑H teens help prepare the garden.

Get Involved

The following is a guide to programs offered by Essex county 4‑H, NJ 4‑H, Rutgers University, and National 4‑H for youth, families, and educators.

Programs for Members

The following programs are open to 4‑H members in good standing:

Programs for All Youth

4‑H offers an array of programs opened to the public:

Local 4‑H Clubs

4‑H clubs are run by community volunteers and teach youth life skills around an array of project areas. Please visit view our current club list (589k PDF) and sign up here (291k PDF) for more information. Once youth are registered 4‑H members they are welcome to participate in county (732k PDF), state, and national 4‑H events.

Essex County Fair

4-H fairs give local youth and 4‑H members the opportunity to exhibit the knowledge and skills that they have developed, whether that is a young person showing a pet they cared for or exhibiting his or her best photographs. The 4‑H fair is for youth to showcase their work and accomplishments they are proud of and can come from home hobbies, schoolwork, or club projects. The Essex County fairs are held in partnership with the Essex County Environmental Center annual Earth Day and October Fest celebrations. Below are guidebooks for fair project entries. You can visit our state website for information on visiting 4‑H fairs in other counties.

Youth Community Garden Projects

The core of the urban agriculture movement involves providing communities with access to fresh food, a better understanding of where food comes from and providing education in communities to enable community members to grow and care for their own natural landscape. Encouraging communities to understand and utilize sustainable practices helps preserve our land, and helps to garner a greater respect for the natural environment. Teaching youth trough hands-on service learning projects helps develop more competent caring citizens of the world. Our programs empower youth to become change agents in their communities. The program model integrates researched best practices of urban gardening for community development and 4‑H Youth Development curriculum, with the expertise and resources of our County Extension Service and Rutgers University faculty and staff. All programs are managed through the cooperation of 4‑H and community partners.

Summer Camps

New Jersey 4‑H offers summer camp experiences for youth of all ages.

More Opportunities

Program for Educators

4‑H offers a variety of trainings and professional development for formal and non-formal educators. Visit opportunities at our state 4‑H website.

For educators looking specifically for animal science resources, check out the Rutgers Animal Science Blog.

Opportunities for Volunteers

Volunteer service opportunities are available in such areas as the 4‑H Association member, Expansion and Review Committee, Youth Club Leaders and Assistant Leaders, 4‑H Fair, Judges, Special Interest Projects, and many others.

As a 4‑H volunteer, you will develop leadership skills and expand your knowledge, gain satisfaction by sharing your knowledge with youth and watching them grow, become an active member of the community, and have many opportunities to meet and share ideas with other adults working to make a positive difference in the lives of youth. Essex County 4‑H faculty and staff provide training and guidance for all volunteers working with youth.

What Are the Steps to Becoming a 4‑H Club Leader?

After being contacted by the Essex County 4‑H Office:

For Information About Volunteer Opportunities and Community-based Clubs

Chrystine Gaffney, Rutgers Cooperative Extension Program Assistant
Cooperative Extension of Essex County - Roseland Office, Rm. 296D
Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station
621a Eagle Rock Ave.
Roseland, NJ 07068-150

Phone: 973-228-2210