Professional Development Opportunities through 4-H

prof. development

Summertime provides wonderful opportunities to enjoy a relaxing break, family vacations, barbecues with friends, and long lazy days.  Summertime is also a time when many teachers, school staff and school volunteers take advantage of professional development opportunities to prepare them for the upcoming school year.

Whether you are searching for professional development classes to fulfill requirements for maintaining your teaching license, your administration is providing incentives for additional staff training, or you simply want to increase your skills and gain new knowledge, there are lots of wonderful professional learning opportunities right in your own county.

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4-H: A long history in Foods, Nutrition and Healthy Living

Many professional development opportunities exist through your local 4-H Youth Extension program.  4-H has been delivering hands-on professional development opportunities for over 100 years.  Training teachers and volunteers using the latest research-based curriculum in nutrition, food preparation, cooking and gardening is still as relevant today as it was when 4-H first began.

4-H Healthy Living Projects Today

Today Healthy living is one of the national initiatives of the 4-H program. Through our healthy living programs, 4-H youth learn how to lead lives that balance physical, emotional, and social health. They learn to make smart and healthy decisions for themselves and to give back to their communities so their friends and families can do the same. 4-H youth programs address issues that matter the most to young people today: nutrition, childhood obesity, drug awareness, bullying, safe driving, suicide prevention, decision-making, and stress management. The food and nutrition project helps participants learn to make healthy food choices, improve energy and alertness, reduce disease and illness risks, and gain knowledge of nutrients. Major learning experiences are centered on nutrition, menu planning, food buying, preparation and food safety, careers, and cultural influences.

Research-based Curriculum and Education Opportunities

Within each state, 4-H is the youth education program of the state land grant university.  Therefore, many of the classes taught by Extension 4-H Faculty will qualify for teacher continuing education requirements.  These professional development opportunities will vary widely from state to state and county to county.  The curriculum may also vary considerably.  However, in every county and every state, each of these professional development opportunities and curriculum is based on the latest research of the state land-grant university.  In many cases, 4-H faculty work in partnership with family and consumer sciences faculty to deliver these education opportunities. 

How to Contact Your Local 4-H office

To find out what professional opportunities exist in your own area this summer or early fall, contact your local county extension office first.  In some cases, if they are not offering any classes, a neighboring county office may have classes.  There are also many online training opportunities.   Your local 4-H Extension office can also provide you with links and resources for curriculum.  Often 4-H curriculum can be found online and it is free to download.

To find your local 4-H office, visit the national 4-H website at


Maureen Hosty, Oregon State University Extension 

Photo by ufv / CC BY