4-H Youth Development Program
4-H Youth Development Program
4-H Youth Development Program
University of California
4-H Youth Development Program

4-H Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Initiative

4-H SET Iniative
The California 4-H Youth Development Program responded to the National 4-H Science Mission Mandate by launching a statewide 4-H STEM Initiative (which was previously called the 4-H SET Initiative- Science, Engineering, and Technology).

CA 4-H STEM Timeline 2007-2015

These efforts aim to develop new and strengthen existing programmatic opportunities for California 4-H that align closely with the new UC ANR Strategic Vision 2025.

The goals of the 4-H STEM Initiative are to:

  • improve youth science literacy through educational programming, grounded in youth development and educational practices as outlined in the UC 4-H Youth Development Program Framework, that uses high quality curricula and educators prepared by using research-based professional development strategies
  • support the advancement of the research-base of youth nonformal science education
  • support the implementation efforts through systematic approaches to the development of programs, professional preparation, curriculum and applied research, and fund development.


For Economic Prosperity and National Security
Scientific literacy positively impacts our nation’s economic prosperity and national security. American has a shortage of scientists and engineers to meet future demand.

For a Functioning Democracy
Young people in the United States are the future leaders and voting public who will help shape the state of public policy in the 21st century. In order to take on this role effectively, youth need scientific knowledge, skills, and opportunities to apply these in authentic participation to address important societal issues, including challenges around public health, water quality, agriculture, transportation, communication, and energy conservation.

As Preparation for Life
As the world grows ever more complex and reliant on science and technology, young people will need to be scientifically literate in preparation for the 21st century workforce and in order to be critical consumer of information (and the media).

Low Levels of Scientific Literacy in California and the U.S.

Unfortunately, scientific literacy in the U.S. is undesirably low: California ranks 49th in 8th grade science literacy and only 21% of seniors are considered proficient in science (NCES, 2011).

2012 Wild Side Session 2 023 edited

Youth Learning Outcomes

Anchor Points
The California 4-H STEM Initiative takes a focus-on-situations approach to science education with the recognition that science learning is contextualized; persons within a community have unique science knowledge bases; and that each person develops their own science learning trajectory influenced by their personal values and desires.

While the 4-H program advances a long term goal to increase the number and diversity of youth pursuing higher education and careers in science, engineering, and technology fields, it is not our intent to only prepare future scientists. 4-H science programs are designed to help youth see science as a powerful tool to make sense of and construct knowledge about the world; address and think about issues in their lives that involve science, engineering, and technology; and connect learning with real-world situations where youth can adopt and use new science methods or improved technology to solve problems.

Anchor Points of Scientific Literacy
Read the full paper: Scientific literacy: California 4-H defines it from citizens’ perspective 
Based on the UC ANR Strategic Vision 2025 and a focus-on-situations orientation, the expected learning goals for youth participation in 4-H science programming include four intertwined anchor points: science content; scientific reasoning skills; interest and attitude; and contribution through applied participation. These anchor points provide guideposts for curriculum and program development, teaching and evaluation, and are flexible enough for adaptation to local needs and situations. 


SET Checklist Header
The checklist is designed for use in the planning, development, and evaluation of new and existing 4-H science programs, curriculum materials, and professional development of staff and volunteers. 4-H STEM Checklist

Targeted outcomes include enhanced scientific literacy and improved indicators of positive youth development.
I. Youth Scientific Literacy
  • Content (based on the UC ANR Strategic Vision 2025).
  • Scientific reasoning skills.
  • Interest and attitudes towards science.
  • Contribution through applied participation.
II. Positive youth development
  • Competence: Positive view of one’s actions in specific areas, including healthy habits, life skills, love of learning, emotional competence, and social skills.
  • Confidence: An internal sense of overall positive self-worth, persistent resourcefulness and self-efficacy.
  • Connection: Positive bonds and relationships with people and institutions including faith-based communities.
  • Character: Respect for societal and cultural norms, possession of standards for correct behaviors, a sense of right and wrong (morality), and integrity.
  • Caring: A sense of sympathy and empathy for others.
  • Contribution: Giving to self, family and the institutions of a civil society.
Learning Environment
Learning experiences facilitated by trained, caring adult staff and volunteers who operate from a perspective that youth are partners in their own development.
A. Educational practices
B. Youth development practices - Book & Summary Flyer
C. Organization of learning experiences - Learning experiences are organized in a sequence (multiple contacts; extended duration) to reinforce one another; concepts build upon one another over time.
D. Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) - Learning experiences support NGSS cross-cutting concepts - NGSS website & Summary Flyer
E. Evaluation - Learning experiences include opportunities for evaluation.

4-H STEM Leadership Team

Photo of Andrea Ambrose Andrea Ambrose
Title: Acting Director, Office of Development Services
Unit: Development Services
Phone: (530) 750-1346
Email: apambrose@ucanr.edu


Photo of Kelley Brian Kelley Brian
Title: Youth, Families and Communities Advisor
Specialty: Program and curriculum development; Garden-enhanced nutrition education; Experiential learning
Unit: Placer-Nevada Counties
Phone: 530-889-7385
Email: kmbrian@ucanr.edu


Photo of Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty
Title: County Director San Benito County & 4-H Youth Development Advisor
Specialty: Youth Science and Technology
County: San Benito County
Phone: 831-637-5346 x 12
Email: lschmittmcquitty@ucanr.edu


Photo of Emily Schoenfelder Emily Schoenfelder
Title: 4-H Youth Development Advisor
County: Colusa County
Phone: (530) 458-0577
Email: easchoenfelder@ucanr.edu


Photo of Martin H Smith Martin H Smith
Title: Specialist in Cooperative Extension, Youth Scientific Literacy
Specialty: Youth science education; scientific literacy; curriculum development; educator professional development; inquiry-based learning; experiential learning
Unit: Veterinary Medicine Extension
Phone: (530) 752-6894
Email: mhsmith@ucdavis.edu


Photo of Steven M Worker Steven M Worker
Title: 4-H STEM Coordinator (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)
Specialty: Learning in out-of-school contexts; STEM education; community development
Unit: Youth, Families, and Communities Statewide Program
Phone: (530) 750-1341
Email: smworker@ucanr.edu

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Webmaster Email: ca4h@ucanr.edu