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What is PYD?

In 4-H, positive youth development (PYD) is the idea that all youth have potential for bright futures. Youth enter this path when they are personally enriched by the world around them and are making it better at the same time.  With opportunities to discover their greatest passions and positive networks of youth and adults to assist them, 4-H helps youth thrive. The 4-H Thriving Model helps us understand how positive youth development works, and the power of youth has helped 4-H to become the largest youth development organization in the world.

The thriving model of positive youth development (PYD) begins with the developmental context of a high quality PYD program. These programs are characterized by opportunities for youth to pursue their sparks, experience the assurance that they belong, and develop positive developmental relationships with peers and adults.

By engaging with the developmental context over time, with intensity, and in multiple ways, youth can attain a thriving orientation. This orientation is revealed by specific thriving indicators that include: openness to challenge and discovery, a growth mindset, a hopeful purpose, a prosocial orientation, transcendent awareness, positive emotionality, and the setting and management of individual goals.

Thriving youth are prone to attain specific developmental outcomes. These are connection with others, contribution to the world around them, high personal standards, a strong sense of personal responsibility, a positive academic attitude, and social competence. Across the lifespan these outcomes extend to include academic or vocational success, civic engagement, employability, economic stability, happiness and wellbeing.

Developmental Context

What are sparks?

Developmental Relationships




From Context to Outcomes

Youth Engagement

Thriving Indicators


Tips for Practitioners