Mark MainsWelcome

As Assistant Director of Cooperative Extension for 4-H Youth Development, I want to welcome you to the Kentucky 4-H program and Cooperative Extension.  The 4-H Youth development program provides over 250,000 youth high quality positive youth development experiences on an annual basis.  Through the work of our dedicated cadre of 4-H agents, 4-H assistants, support staff, and other extension professionals we are able to provide programs in all 120 counties of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. 

4-H Agents are the lifeblood of our program in Kentucky.  As a new agent with 4-H responsibilities, you join over 140 professionals who are dedicated to providing growth and development opportunities for youth and volunteers of all ages. 

Kentucky 4-H believes that high quality 4-H programs should encourage experiences that allow youth to explore mastery, independence, generosity, and belonging. 

These four concepts provide a structure for the 8 Essential Elements of positive youth development. 


  • A positive relationship with a caring adult.
  • An inclusive environment.
  • A safe environment.


  • Engagement in learning.
  • Opportunity for mastery.


  • Opportunity to see oneself as an active participant in the future.
  • Opportunity for self-determination. 


  • Opportunity to value and practice service for others. 

As a 4-H professional, I encourage you to commit these 8 Essential Elements to memory and evaluate how they are developed in all that you do.  I also encourage you to develop strong relationships with your fellow 4-H agents.  They are an invaluable resource to help navigage the challenging decisions and situations that agents face.  Please contact the State 4-H Staff when you need assistance.  We are here to help you!  Your District Director and I are fully invested in your success and will do all that we can to ensure you succeed as an agent.  

My best to you as you join me and others in "making the best better" in Kentucky 4-H!

Mark Mains, Ph.D.

Updated 2/8/17 by MAM