Maine 4-H Community Central

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. 

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.

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 & CEO, National 4-H Council.

Building on Past Success

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

Teen 4-H clubs meet twice per month to participate in 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

Teen Leader Orientation/Training

"I'm working in a professor's lab this summer. We are researching bacteria that usually live in 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 pursues science further and I'm so grateful." -- Past Community Central Teen Leader

Training segments for teens and staff.

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volunteer and participant using topographic map

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 online.

For further information about this CYFAR-funded project contact:

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

Program Staff

Please note, the Community Central Staff is currently working partially remotely and may not physically be in the office each day. Staff is available via email and will return voicemails as soon as possible.

Dana Dotson

Portland 4-H Youth Development Professional

Laura Personette

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

Mitch Mason

Co-Principal Investigator

Kristy Ouellette

Principal Investigator