Airplanes display at the Smithsonian.
A place to have fun learning. Photo: John French — Pixabay.

4-H and the Smithsonian offer educational opportunities for teens

Through diverse programming, they seek to develop life and mentorship skills.


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The National 4-H Council and the Smithsonian Institution recently announced a new partnership to increase access to civic and cultural experiences for thousands of teens.

By making a series of shared resources and activations available to youth across the United States, including Smithsonian Museum tours, national 4-H events, digital storytelling projects, and online content, the two organizations offer an initiative that will enable them to learn and explore.

Lonnie Bunch, Smithsonian secretary, stated in a press release:

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.

Alliance for Diversity

Recognized as the largest youth development organization in the US, 4-H, which was introduced by the Cooperative Extension system, indicates that it works to close the opportunity gap facing American children through diverse programming, developing life skills and mentoring.

Created with the goal of increasing the diffusion of knowledge, the Smithsonian, which has recently set itself the goal of reaching every classroom in the country, is focused on inspiring generations through knowledge and discovery.

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.

Currently, the world's largest museum, education, and research complex, has 19 museums open to the public and two under early planning stages (the National Museum of the American Latino and the Smithsonian Museum of American Women's History), a National Zoo, educational and cultural centers, research facilities, and libraries.


Through the alliance between the two organizations, young people will be able to access the following benefits during the next two years:

  • 4-H members 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), a Smithsonian outreach program that brings traveling exhibits, educational resources, and programming to small towns across the U.S.
  • 4-H youth who attend the 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 focused on issues of democracy and civics, diversity, equity, access and inclusion, STEM, and careers at five Smithsonian museums.

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,” highlighted Bunch.

Over the course of this year, the program will pair 4-H teens in two or three states with experts in different fields to develop a project that benefits their communities through the 4-H programs of Cooperative Extension and the Smithsonian.

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

These opportunities inspire young people to dream big and encourage them to drive positive change in their communities,” pointed out Sirangelo. 

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

About 4-H

It is the youth development program of the U.S. Cooperative Extension System and USDA that serves every county and parish in the U.S. through a network of 110 public universities and more than 3,000 local extension offices.

4-H programs empower nearly six million youth in the U.S. through experiences that develop critical life skills.


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