4-H Healthy Living Resources

The fourth H in 4-H represents Health. When reciting the 4-H pledge, members pledge their health to better living. Health as the 4th H can mean many things, including:

  • Taking a health-related project
  • Learning more about health through reading and hands-on learning
  • Adopting healthy behaviors
  • Encouraging one’s family and friends to do things to be healthier
  • Teaching others about a health-related topic
  • Making changes in the food served at club meetings and county events to reflect health recommendations
  • Learning about health-related careers
  • Talking to community leaders about health issues
  • Creating a plan to address a health-related issue in the community

Health is very important to the overall 4-H program. Whether members take a health project or not, we want involvement in 4-H to include educational experiences focused on health.

Ohio 4-H has some new healthy living resources, brought to you by the Ohio 4-H Healthy Living Design Team. These resources can help club officers and 4-H professionals add a dose of the 4th H to their meetings.

Ohio 4-H Healthy Living Officer Resource Guide

Healthy Living officers have the opportunity to lead activities that will be both fun and educational for their 4-H club. The Healthy Living Officer Resource Guide is a new 20-page resource designed to accompany the Healthy Living Officer’s Record Book. Both can be found on the Ohio 4-H Officer Resources page. The resource guide includes background information on the healthy living area, tips for planning your part in club meetings, evaluating sources of information, and a list of current healthy living projects. The remaining sections are organized by the core topics covered in the national 4-H Healthy Living mission area:

  • nutrition
  • physical activity
  • mental, emotional, and social health
  • safety and injury prevention
  • prevention of tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use

Each section includes a brief description, sample activities, and sources of additional resources to learn more about the topic. You’ll find ideas for icebreakers, roll call, displays, presentation, guest speakers, and community service projects.

Healthy Living Grab and Go Resources Page

We’ve created activities that go along with many of our blog posts, and now they are organized on the Grab and Go Resources page. On the grab and go page you’ll find lesson plans that you can download and use at your next meeting. You can use one activity, or combine several related activities to create the plan for an entire meeting. The lessons are grouped together by topics that correspond with the Healthy Officer Resource Book: nutrition; physical activity; and mental, emotional, and social health.

Additional topics include:

  • The newest section is Mindful Moments, which are short, 5-minute activities that can be used at the start of any meeting.
  • COVID-19 activities address situations brought on by the pandemic.
  • Creative Well-Being activities are fun activities that exercise creativity in different ways.

As we write new blog posts, we will continue to add resources to the grab and go page, so check back often. Click the “subscribe” button to receive an email notification about new blog content.

And don’t forget that we have Ohio 4-H Mental Health Month resources on our 4-H Healthy Living webpage.

Taking Action for Health: Create an Action Plan

by Theresa Ferrari, Extension Specialist, 4-H Youth Development

You have probably heard about the importance of setting personal health goals. Creating an action plan takes goal setting to the next level by focusing on a group-, organizational-, or community-level goal.

Action planning is a process that can be simplified into three related parts, represented in the image below.

  1. Identify
  2. Create
  3. Evaluate

I used the gear shapes to represent that these three parts are connected. As well, an action plan is a living document. The arrows represent that the process is not a straight line from Point A to Point B. At any time, you may have to return to an earlier step, for example, if you hit a barrier or if something doesn’t go the way you originally planned it.

Action Planning Process – Identify-Create-Evaluate

An important aspect of making a plan is to write it down. That way, you are able to refer back to it and can monitor how it’s going.

The Identify—Create—Evaluate process is outlined below. Each part has additional questions to think through as you create the plan.

Identify an Issue

There is no shortage of health issues needing attention in our communities. We are all living through the worst public health crisis in a century. Closer to home, you may have a personal connection – something you or a family member are dealing with. Perhaps it is something that has affected your local school, community, or state.

  1. Identify the issue or situation you want to address.
    • What is the problem?
  2. Identify and find the information you need.
    • Start with the facts.
  3. Identify others to be involved.
    • Who might share your concern about this issue?
    • Why should someone else care?

Here are some things to think about:

  • Are other people aware this is an issue? If not, what might convince them that it is important?
  • Who is affected? How many people are affected?
  • What can happen if we don’t do something about this issue or situation?
  • Are some people opposed to addressing this issue? Why? What might convince them otherwise?

Where can you get information?

  • Local and state health department
  • Health professionals in the community, such as school nurse
  • Community agency
  • Universities
  • Government agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Nonprofit and professional organizations, such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s County Health Ranking and Roadmaps
  • Internet search (be sure to consult reputable sources of information)

Create a Plan

  1. What will you do?
    • Who do you want to reach?
    • What do you want them to do?
    • How will things be accomplished?
    • What steps are involved?
  2. Where will you do it?
  3. When will it happen? What is your timeline?
  4. Who will do it?
  5. Who or what will help you? That is, what resources do you need to carry out the plan?
  6. What are the challenges you might encounter (and how can you overcome them)?

Dream big, but be realistic about what you can accomplish with the resources you have.

Take action! Put the plan into action and keep going.

Monitor your progress so you know if you are on track or if you have to make changes.

Be flexible; as the plan unfolds, be flexible enough to change course if you encounter a barrier or are presented with a new opportunity, and revise your plan as needed.


It’s important to know if you met your goal.

  1. Results
    • What did you do?
    • What does success look like?
    • How can you measure it?
  2. Share
    • How and with whom will you share the results of what you did?

Today’s Take-Away: Working through these questions will help you to create an action plan. You can download the Creating an Action Plan Handout here. The beauty of this process is that it can be repeated over an over, not just with Healthy Living action plans, but on any topic. Actively involving youth in addressing health issues can build skills and effect community change.


Using the Nutrition Facts Label


Theresa Ferrari, Extension Specialist, 4-H Youth Development

National Nutrition Month® is an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics focuses attention on healthful eating through National Nutrition Month®. This year’s theme, Personalize Your Plate, promotes creating nutritious meals to meet individuals’ cultural and personal food preferences.

Making informed food choices and developing healthful eating habits is a year-round endeavor. The Nutrition Facts Label is a tool that can help you make good choices. The nutrition facts label appears not only on packaged foods, but on many fruits and vegetables in the produce section of the grocery store.

Sample Nutrition Facts Label

Size Up Servings

Pay attention to the serving size and the number of serving you eat or drink to discover the total number of calories and nutrients you are consuming.

  • Keep in mind that packages can–and often do–contain more than one serving. When you don’t know the serving size, it’s easy to consume more calories and nutrients than you intended.

 Consider the Calories

Calories from food provide the energy your body needs to function and grow. When you are active, you “burn” calories. To keep your body healthy, balance the number of calories you eat and drink with the number of calories your body uses.

When checking a food’s calories, remember this guide:

  • 100 calories per serving of an individual food is considered a moderate amount of calories.
  • 400 calories or more per serving of an individual food is considered high in calories.

 Choose Nutrients Wisely

The Daily Values are reference amounts of nutrients to consume or not to exceed each day for adults and children 4 years of age and older. % Daily Value (%DV) is the percentage of the Daily Value for each nutrient in a serving of the food. It shows how much a nutrient in a serving of the food contributes to a total daily diet. Use %DV to see if a serving of the food is high or low in an individual nutrient and to compare food products. The nutrients featured on the label were chosen because they tend to be low in Americans’ diets.

  • 5% DV or less of a nutrient per serving is considered low.
  • 20% DV or more of a nutrient per serving is considered high.
  • Nutrients to get more of: dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium.
  • Nutrients to get less of: saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, and added sugars.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration oversees food and beverage labeling. Food labeling is required for most prepared foods, such as breads, cereals, canned and frozen foods, snacks, desserts, and drinks. Nutrition labeling for raw produce (fruits and vegetables) and fish is voluntary. You can find an interactive Nutrition Facts label here.

Now that you’ve increased your label IQ, here are a few tips to capitalize on that knowledge.

Measure out single serving of snacks. Read the Nutrition Facts label on your favorite snacks and measure out single servings according to the serving size listed on the label. Keep them in resealable plastic bags or containers so you can quickly grab-and-go!

Do a label audit. Read the label on food packages in your cupboards and refrigerator. Then decide if you need to swap out items for more healthful choices, and read labels in the grocery store. Add items to your family’s shopping list that are higher in nutrients to get more of and lower in nutrients to get less of.

 Swap out one item. Check out the differences in calories and nutrients between various menu choices. Compare foods that are prepared different ways, like grilled chicken vs. fried chicken, baked potatoes vs. French fries, and compare small vs. large portions. And remember, a “super-sized” item can mean doubling (or tripling) the calories and nutrients because the serving size is larger.

You can find expanded nutrient profiles in FoodData Central of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Today’s Take-Away: Choosing healthful food and beverages is one way to take care of your physical health. The Nutrition Facts Label is a tool you can use to make healthful choices. You can download a description of the label FDA-ReadtheLabel-Infographic-English.

Adapted from:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (2021). National Nutrition Month ® campaign toolkit. https://www.eatright.org/food/resources/national-nutrition-month/toolkit

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2018). Nutrition facts: Read the label: Cool tips for kids. https://www.fda.gov/food/new-nutrition-facts-label/read-label-youth-outreach-materials

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2018). Nutrition facts: Read the label leader’s guide. https://www.fda.gov/food/new-nutrition-facts-label/read-label-youth-outreach-materials