Maine 4-H Community Central

Building on Past Success

Teen girls standing with 4-H president
Teen teachers Nimo (left) and Marwo (right) at the 2019 True Leaders in Equity Summit with Jennifer Sirangelo (center), President and CEO, National 4-H Council.

From 2014 – 2019, Community Central engaged over 3000 elementary students from Lewiston and Portland in experiential STEM-based learning at public housing, school, and community partner sites. During this time, over 200 teen leaders built leadership and workforce skills as mentors and teachers for their younger peers.

Workforce skill development with teens became the primary focus of the project fall of 2019. Youth remain engaged through teen-led STEM activities and a teacher preparation internship.

Program Design

Each week, teens participate in skill development workshops with 4-H staff. Teens earn an honorarium by participating in hands-on workplace explorations for six weeks, based on their sparks of interest, one to four times per year.

Focus Areas

  • Teacher Preparation
  • Maine Food Systems
  • Community and Civic Engagement – including Legal
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), including Medical
volunteer and young man reviewing graph
4-H volunteer exploring annual snowfall with youth participants.

Teen Leader Orientation/Training

“I’m working in a professor’s lab this summer. We are researching bacteria that usually live in the soil and trying to develop antibiotics for those bacteria! If there is anything I could do for 4-H from school, I would be happy to help. Participating in 4-H is really what inspired me to pursue science further and I’m so grateful.”

— Past Community Central Teen Leader

Click to visit the 4-H Community Central Teen Leaders page for training segments for teens and staff (opens in a new window)

Engaging Teens in College Readiness and Workforce Development

Community Central builds workforce and life skills for high school students in Lewiston and Portland, Maine. Teens demonstrate knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behavior necessary for leading fulfilling contributing lives because they participate in Community Central. This project is an initiative to connect schools, families, and communities.

Young man on right demonstrating activity to young woman sitting on left.
Click the link to visit the 2020 Virtual Summer of Science page (opens in new window) to see activities taught by the Lewiston and Portland teen teachers.

Teens work with 4-H staff and community partners while engaging with younger neighbors as mentors and teachers. Teens partner with 4-H staff to design program opportunities based on what sparks their interest.

Program Staff

Laura Personette (Bio)

Program Coordinator, 4-H Youth Development Professional | 207.783.8539 (Lewiston Housing Authority)

Mitch Mason

Co-Principal Investigator, 4-H Youth and Family Development Extension Educator | 207.781.6099

Kristy Ouellette (Bio)

Principal Investigator | 207.353.5550

This material is based upon the work of 4-H Community Central Maine, a project supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, United States (U.S.) Department of Agriculture, through a cooperative agreement with The University of Maine under award number 2014-41520-22235.

General information about the CYFAR grant program can be accessed on the Children, Youth, and Families at Risk page,(NIFA/USDA).

For further information about this CYFAR-funded project contact:

CYFAR Project Name: 4-H Community Central Maine
Principal Investigator: Kristy L Ouellette
Email Address: