Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) programs provide practical, research-based education, which will empower individuals, families, and communities to increase their knowledge and make informed decisions in the 3 FCS pillar areas of:

  • Promotes Healthy Habits
  • Healthy Eating
  • Physical Activity
  • Diet Related Disease Prevention
  • Food Preparation Skills
  • Experiential Learning
  • Family Resources

This educational program targets elementary, middle and high school youth.

Some of the most requested and impactful curriculums and programs in the city of Portsmouth:

  • Healthy Weights for Healthy Kids (HWHK) Youth Obesity Prevention Program
  • Walk A Weigh Healthy Lifestyle Program –WAW (adapted from University of Georgia Extension)
  • Master Food Volunteer Training (MFV)
  • Youth Reality Store Financial Management Simulation
  • Project LIFT- (Learning In Families Together) Parenting Education Program
  • Hampton Roads Child Care Provider Trainings
  • Nutrition and Wellness Displays at Community Field Days and Health Fairs
  • National Nutrition Month City Hall Wellness Display
  • FIT Extension and Living Well with Diabetes

Family Nutrition Programs and Nutrition Outreach Train-the Trainer Programs are also available for limited resource persons only. These are given by Ms. DeAnna Heggen, Portsmouth Family Nutrition Program Assistant , 757-393-8839.

  • Virginia teachers found that 78% currently use or would like to use horticulture as a tool to increase hands-on learning across the curriculum
  • Provides youth with a sense of accomplishment and responsibility while teaching the SOLs: science, math and writing
  • The 4-H Urban Garden program is a container gardening program
  • A collaborative partnership with Richmond Public Schools, Local Churches, Parks and Recreation and other educational organizations
  • Horticulture as an interdisciplinary teaching tool

This educational program promotes project development, life skills, and experiential learning.  Significantly, it  provides creative learning opportunities for youth while supporting the Standards of Learning.  

“Character Counts!” is a framework designed to meet and address the challenges that our youth face  today with their character development.  “Character Counts!” is an approach that translates six pillars of  character:

  • Trustworthiness
  •  Respect
  •  Responsibility
  • Fairness
  • Caring 
  • Citizenship

Surveys of school administrators have shown decrease in problematic behaviors during school hours after implementing the program. 

  • Fun
  • Exciting 
  • Inclusive 
  • Diverse
  • Engages Youth in Positive Relationship
  • Promotes Volunteerism
  • Promotes Interdependence 
  • Teaches Responsibility 
  • Provides Opportunity to Engage in Decision Making and Making Choices 
  • Enhance Social  and Leadership Skills 
  • Promotes Self Efficacy and Self Respect

4-H camp emphasizes experiential, hands-on learning (“learn by doing”). Instructors are trained to actively engage and empower youth in their learning experiences. 4-H camping exposes youth to new people, new places, and new ideas. At 4-H camp, youth  involved in unique educational experiences with other youth from different parts of Virginia. Through 4-H camping, youth are able to discover talents and strengths that give them encouragement and hope for future success.

2017 Portsmouth Junior 4-H Camp

When: July 17 - 21, 2017

Where: Airfield 4-H Educational Center, Wakefield, VA.

2017 Portsmouth Junior 4-H Summer Camp Brochure (PDF | 2MB)

To apply for a CIT position you must be 13 years old as of January 1, 2017

To apply for a counselor position you must be 14 years old as of January 1, 2017

Counselor/CIT applications will be mailed out in December during Christmas break. Email for more information on how your teen can be involved. Interviews will take place in mid February and training will begin in March.

picture of Campfire

4-H is a voluntary, informal education program for boys and girls who are age 9-19 by September 30 of the current year. 4-H is open to everyone regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital, or family status. Additionally, 4-H Cloverbuds is a program for youth ages 5-8 by September of the current year.

Isn’t 4-H just for children who live on a farm?

No way! 4-H is for all youth regardless of where they live. 4-H serves youth from all backgrounds and interests. Today in Virginia, 4-H members are from urban and rural areas. They participate in projects addressing life skills and other important issues, as well as agriculture-related areas.

What do the H’s stand for?

Head, Heart, Hands and Health.

4-H members pledge:
“My head to clearer thinking
My heart to greater loyalty
My hands to larger service, and
My health to better living,

for my club, my community, my country and my world.”

What are the 4-H emblem and other symbols?

A green four-leaf clover with a white “H” on each cloverleaf is the 4-H emblem. The official emblem is copyrighted and may be used only as approved by 4-H. Green and white are the colors. The 4-H motto is “To Make the Best Better.” The 4-H slogan is “Learn by Doing”.

Who conducts 4-H?

The Virginia 4-H program is conducted by Virginia Cooperative Extension, supported by Virginia Tech and Virginia State Universities. County and State programs are directed by Extension staff who train and support volunteers to work with 4-H members.

Who funds 4-H?

Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) receives funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the State of Virginia and local governments. A variety of private donors also fund 4-H programs. Unit offices are located in every county/city of Virginia. Unit Extension Leadership Councils, comprised of local residents, serve in an advisory capacity to the Extension staff to coordinate, organize, and plan programming in the unit. There is a 4-H Leadership Council in many counties/cities that give direction/guidance to local 4-H programming.

What does it cost to join?

4-H has no state or national membership registration fee. Uniforms are not required. There may be minimal costs for project materials, project manuals, or some 4-H activities or events.

4-H Members

Why do young people like 4-H?

4-H gives kids a chance to learn NEW things, develop NEW skills, travel to NEW places, experience NEW situations, make NEW friends, and most importantly, have lots of FUN.

How do you join?

You can visit a club meeting and talk to the leaders, or call the Richmond City Extension Office at (804) 786-4150 to learn about existing clubs.

4-H Clubs

What is a club?

A club is a group of five or more young people, ages 5 to 8 or 9 to 19, led by trained adult leaders. Clubs generally have a planned program and meet at least six times a year for about an hour. Members elect officers and each member takes one or more projects. A club may explore a single subject or several project areas. 4-H members build leadership by electing officers and conducting their own business; work together on community service activities; meet new friends; and most important, have lots of fun.

How often do clubs meet?

Most clubs meet once or twice a month. This depends on the group and what they want to do. Sometimes members may have to be enrolled in a project by a certain time to be eligible for certain activities such as local and district cooking, leadership, sewing, livestock and horse shows.

Where do 4-H clubs meet?

A 4-H club may be organized on a community or neighborhood basis and use local facilities (schools/churches) or members’ homes. Also, it can be organized within a school using the school’s facilities, time and staff. Any place that is large enough and provides a safe environment and is convenient for the members of the group is a good choice.

When do clubs meet and how long do meetings last?

This depends on the group. Clubs can meet for an hour or two after school, in the evening, or on Sunday. The most important thing is to have a regular time to get together, one that members and their families can remember.

How big should a club be?

This depends on the age of the members, the place they have to meet, and the leadership available. The ideal club is big enough to have fun together, but small enough for everyone to feel a part of the group. The average 4-H club is 6 to 20 members.

Do local 4-H clubs have dues?

If a club wants money for some activities, it usually charges or conducts moneymaking activities. Members are NEVER excluded from a 4-H club because they are unable to pay.

4-H Projects

What are 4-H projects?

4-H projects are challenging, but practical planned courses of study with learning experiences centered on a specific subject that you choose. 4H members will usually work on a project (subject area) for a year. Hands-on, learn-by-doing involvement is the most important aspect of a project.

What does a 4-H project cost?

It varies. Members are responsible for the cost of supplies for their projects. Some projects might use supplies from around the house while others might invest hundreds of dollars in their projects (e.g., horse). Parents need to discuss cost with members as they select a project. Project cost should be realistic to the family situation.

Are 4-H members expected to do their own project?

Yes, with help. Members are encouraged to select at least one project and complete one or more learning experiences related to the project during the year. 4-H is a “learn-by-doing” program. Leaders, teen leaders, and parents may tell or show a member how, but members are expected to learn to do things themselves.

Are projects done individually or as a group?

Both. It varies among projects and among clubs. Some projects are more fun done as a group. Others, like making a garment or growing a plant, will be done individually. Some clubs have several project leaders and do specific project work at club meetings while others rely on parents and others to help members individually.

What is a 4-H Presentation?

A 4-H Presentation is an opportunity that allows the 4-H member to combine knowledge and skills of a subject area with skills in public speaking. Presentations can be given in one of two forms: 1) Demonstration - demonstrate how to make or do something; 2) Public Speaking - 4-Hers can talk about a project/subject experience that has made an impact on them. Presentations are an integral part of the 4-H program.

4-H Meetings

What do 4-H clubs do at meetings?

4-H clubs usually participate in four general kinds of activities during the meeting. They have a business meeting, special interest program, project work and recreation or social activities.

Do they do all those things at one meeting?

Sometimes. Clubs may have a little business to conduct, may work on their projects for awhile and then play a game or two. Sometimes the whole meeting is centered on one topic.

4-H Volunteer/Leaders

What are 4-H leaders?

Volunteer leaders are the backbone of the 4-H program. They are adults who work voluntarily with a group of 4-H members. Volunteers go through an application process before they are enrolled as leaders. Additionally, volunteers receive training in skills they will need to become successful 4-H volunteers.

Are there different kinds of leaders?

There are three general categories of local 4-H volunteers: organizational leaders, project leaders, and activity leaders. Organizational leaders guide the overall organization of the club, help it function smoothly and maintain communications among the member families and between the club and the Extension Office. Project leaders work with members enrolled in a specific project or project area, assisting them to plan and carry out experiences that will help them reach their learning goals in the project. Activity leaders work with members in planning and carrying out specific activities for the club as a whole.

Can the same person be a project and an organizational leader?

Sure, if they have the time and interest. Sometimes big clubs divide these jobs and have several project leaders to meet the interests that 4-H members have.

How many leaders should a 4-H club have?

That depends on the size of the club and the age of the members. At least two are required. The average club has 3 to 5 leaders.

Where would I learn how to be a 4-H leader?

The 4-H Extension Agent is your first point of contact. After completing the application process, you are enrolled as a volunteer, trained and placed on the 4-H leader mailing list. Orientation will be provided by Extension. Leaders are invited to special training meetings and provided with the materials needed to conduct a 4-H club. Be sure to ask for the name of an experienced leader near you, whom you can call if you have any questions.

4-H Parents

What is expected of parents?

Children need parental encouragement to get them started in 4-H and to keep them involved in the program in later years.

Parents can help by:

Sharing - Provide encouragement and take an interest in 4-H projects and activities. Listen, look, and offer suggestions, but avoid the temptation to “take over” and do things yourself. Children learn by their mistakes, as well as successes.

Preparing - Assist by helping children understand the value of doing projects, having duties in the club, and following through on responsibilities as expected by others.

Being there- Children gain more from 4-H by attending meetings regularly and getting involved in 4-H activities. Parents are welcome at meetings and are encouraged to stay and observe. Lend a hand whenever you can. However, remember that 4-H clubs are for kids.

Caring - Arrange to participate with your child when you can. Your presence shows that your child and what he/she is doing is very important.

4-H Camp

There are four basic types of 4-H camps:

Residential 4-H Camps—programming events for youth ages 9 to 13 in which campers stay overnight (5 days, 4 nights).

Special Interest 4-H Camps—programming events focusing mainly on a specific project or theme area. There is a large
variety of special interest 4-H camps available. Different age group requirements are offered for these camps.

Cloverbud 4-H Camps—programming events for youth 5-8 years of age. Youth must meet the minimum age of 5 between
October 1 and September 30, and must not be older than the maximum age.

  • July 2016 (PDF | 1MB)
  • September 2015 (PDF | 2MB)
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Engaging with Communities

Virginia Cooperative Extension specialists in community viability work with Extension agents, campus-based faculty, organizational partners, communities, and individuals to further opportunity and build capacity in five program areas:   

Examples of our work include training county elected officials, educating entrepreneurs, facilitating collaborative projects, supporting the growth of community food systems and local economies, enhancing agent skills and community capacity in facilitation and leadership, conducting problem-driven research, and creating publications and tools that address critical community needs.

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