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The 4-H Thriving Model

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The 4-H Thriving Model is one of many theories used to back up the positive youth development practices used in 4-H. This model uses the illustration of a flower with stem, leaves, and roots to show how 4-H programs promote 4-H members to thrive now and in the future.

The first stage used in the Thriving Model is Development Context, this is described as a place where youth can belong and grow. This stage includes things like youths sparks (or things that really excite them, like rocketry, photography, or cooking), belonging, building relationships, and engagement. Without this stage, there is no foundation for model to move forward.

The next stage, called Youth Thriving, takes 4-H work and intentionally promotes social, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral habits of mind. Within this stage there are seven key indicators to look for to know if youth are meeting this stage.

Those indicators are:

1. Growth mindset

2. Openness to challenge and discovery

3. Hopeful purpose

4. Pro-social orientation (they can interact with their peers and adults)

5. Transcendent awareness (youth are aware of others around them and make decisions with others in mind.)

6. Positive emotions

7. Goal setting and management.

The third stage, titled Developmental Outcomes, continues the use of high-quality positive youth development in all areas of 4-H. When a youth has mastered this stage they show positive academic motivation, have social competence (can interact with those outside their peer group), have high personal standards, are able to make connections with others, have personal responsibility, contribute to others through leadership and civic engagement.

Youth who reach the final stage, named Long-Term Outcomes, show signs of academic and career success, give back to their communities through civic engagement, are employable and financially stable, and are generally happy and have positive well-being.