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4-H helps turn skills into entrepreneurial ventures

The Federal School to Work Opportunities Act and other education policies suggest that students learn more and perform to their highest ability when tasks and skills demonstrate relevance to their current and future lives.

These skills are becoming more critical because the American economy is fluctuating. Not only will the traditional skill sets of reading and writing, but also Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) will be needed to thrive. Developing self-direction and critical thinking will become more important as well.

Bell-Rose, Payzant 2008 research has indicated with the pace of innovation, many of the jobs our children will pursue don’t even exist yet.


4-H and entrepreneurship have been interchanging since the beginning of the 4-H program in 1902. From livestock to statics exhibits, collecting insects to learning about healthy lifestyles, youth who are involved in 4-H can turn those skills into entrepreneurial ventures.

Entrepreneurship combines business models and creativity, allowing youth to discover their passion as a career when each one becomes an adult. 4-H entrepreneurship programs can assist young people by taking an existing 4-H project to new levels. They are able to assist in developing a project into a business idea, leading to a successful outcome.  

Entrepreneurship can come in many forms, including making improvements or finding new uses for existing products.

Entrepreneurs find solutions to current or future problems. Youth entrepreneurs identify opportunities at a young age such as setting up a lemonade stand on a hot summer day.


Entrepreneurship can be a an avenue to a successful financial future and being involved in 4-H entrepreneurship programs today, youth can discover their skill sets, inspiring future generations within their club, community, country and their world.

Every year at county and state fairs, youth exhibit various 4-H projects that relate to a field or passion they enjoy through their own experiences. These projects can expand youth’s knowledge and may continue as a career path when they become an adult.

"I loved growing up in the 4-H program. I started at eight-years-old. I became an instructor for the program. Today I am the Shelter Manager for the Heartland Pet Connection. I also own Penrose Pet Services which is a grooming business. I love animals and my time in 4-H taught me about breeds, breed characteristics, how to properly care for pets and train them. I use all of these today in my job. I still love working with, and caring for, animals today and now as part of my job I get to educate the public on proper care of animals."

- Jennie (Penrose) Theesen

"I made many lifetime friends and professional connections through 4-H.  I was involved in many projects from foods, animals, rocketry, entomology and my favorite project was always clothing! I loved making and wearing my clothes as an exhibitor in both construction and fashion show. After high school and my decade in 4-H I was confident that I wanted to go to UNL and study fashion merchandising. After college I spent 10 years in retail and I owe a lot of my success in life to the skills I learned through the 4-H program!"

- Kim Stein Borrell

About the Author

Steve Landon
Asst. Extension Director, UNL Extension Adams County

Steve has a Master of Science degree in Leadership Education. He was born in Greenwood. He is a 4-H alumni of the Lancaster County 4-H program.


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