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Stories 4-History

What is the Stories 4-History Program?

With support from Smithsonian experts, 4-H leaders, and local mentors, high school-aged youth will develop a civic engagement project that amplifies stories of democracy and local history from their hometown using a variety of media.

Program Goals

Through Stories 4-History, 4-H'ers will:

  • Understand the importance of informed citizenship and democracy in their community.
  • Gain a deeper understanding of their community and its history through intergenerational engagement and research.
  • Discover techniques to tell effective stories through a range of media.
  • Build career readiness experience through skill development, leadership, and teamwork.
  • Apply what they learned to advocate for change in their community.

Final projects will be shared on Smithsonian platforms and select projects will be featured at the Smithsonian's Annual National Education Summit in Washington, D.C.

Program Highlights

The Smithsonian's Museum on Main Street team will provide exclusive experiences to support 4-H'ers project work including:

  • Going virtually behind-the-scenes of the Smithsonian with an expert guide to explore the vast collection of objects and learn more about the different roles within a museum.
  • Receiving project-long mentorship from Ann McCleary, a Professor Emerita of History and Founding Director of the Center for Public History as the University of West Georgia. Ann will serve as a mentor and advisor for 4-H leaders and youth as they navigate through choosing a topic, conducting research, and interviewing their community.
  • Learn from EdTech professional Monica Burns, who will host a series of virtual workshops exploring design elements and best practices to create a professional final project.

Program Eligibility

The program is open to all 4-H high school-aged youth.

How Does It Work?

Our program model ensures that we can offer 4-H’ers opportunity for in-person collaboration and teamwork at a local level. Once your state commits to the program, we’ll share program details with county facilitators/educators. It’s then up to the county to decide if they can participate. Not all counties have to participate for your state to be eligible for the program. Each county would act as its own cohort and navigate through the project independently from other counties that may also be participating in the program.

If some of your counties are small, counties can combine into one cohort.

Requirements to Participate

  • States need to identify 4-H county facilitators/educators and volunteers that can guide participants through the day-to-day program.
  • 4-H participants and leaders must be able to access Google Classroom to successfully engage in the program.
  • 4-H leaders are required to participate in a virtual and/or in-person training with our team.
  • 4-H leaders are required to identify opportunities for 4-H'ers to meet in-person to collaborate, research, engage in hands-on activities and share their final projects.
  • 4-H leaders are required to document 4-H'ers progress through the program to share with the Smithsonian Institution.

Time Commitment

The suggested timeline for the project is early spring through the end of December 2024. Each state has the flexibility to adjust and adapt the program based on what works best for you and your participants.

The Role of the Smithsonian

The Smithsonian's Museum on Main Street team will provide access to hands-on resources to guide 4-H'ers and facilitators through the program

This includes:

  • Access to a youth and facilitator Google Classroom that includes step-by-step instructions, worksheets, and videos.
  • Train 4-H leaders so they are confident using the provided tools.
  • Hands-on support and guidance through regular communication and in the development of additional tools or resources that would further support participants.

The Role of the 4-H County Leader

County educators/facilitators and/or volunteers are responsible for leading 4-H’ers through each step of the project.

This includes:

  • Identifying and engaging local partners, designers, or tech experts that can mentor 4-H’ers and introduce them to new techniques and skillsets to complete their final project.
  • Facilitate day-to-day programming including meetings in-person and online, assigning tasks and assignments, and offering support and feedback.
  • Provide consistency so 4-H'ers stay invested and on-track with their project.
  • Offering incentives (if helpful) for participation in the project.

How to Participate

Space is limited. States will be selected based on their ability to commit to the program requirements. To learn more, schedule a virtual info session with Maggie Lisman, Program Coordinator via

(The Trail of Tears) was interesting to me because it’s a part of our history but not talked about. It’s not as big of a picture. Not as many people came through our area–I think they said 200–but it still has something to do with our land and how our democracy was shaped. I was like oh wow they don’t talk about that in our classes.

--Adelene, Arkansas 4-H'er

Youth Project Examples

computer keyboard


New Jersey: Full Group Project on Food Insecurity

Youth in New Jersey worked collaboratively to explore food insecurity during COVID-19, its impact on food banks, and how they can use their voice to ensure their community gets access to resources. Each 4-H'er took responsibility for a section of the work. Then, all the work was combined into one blog post.



Arkansas: The Trail of Tears

A small group of youth in Arkansas produced a video on the history of the Trail of Tears in the state through interviews. They also discussed how they can use their voices to advocate that this story be included in school curriculum.



Oklahoma: Mulhall, OK Tornado

A 4-H'er in Oklahoma worked independently to conduct interviews and do local research to create a video that tells the story of the impact of a 1999 tornado on the local economy and the farming community.



A Story of Democracy Told through the Oldest Church in Arkansas



Fort Reno, Oklahoma History


Explore the Stories 4-History Resource Center

As part of participation in the Stories 4-History Project-Based Learning Program, facilitators and participants have access to resources to extend the experience. This includes short videos that explore the storytelling process, Smithsonian Learning Lab collections, and toolkits with hands-on activities to guide you through each step of the project.

Resource Center