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Researchers discovered in the late 1800s that the youth in agricultural communities were open to learning new technologies and sharing them with others. These findings led to more “hands-on” opportunities and the introduction of workshops connecting organized education to farms. By doing these presentations, young people were experiencing new ideas and taking them home to try on their own operations. The 4-H program evolved from these concepts and after over 100 years in existence, the youth organization is still going strong. 

In 1902, the first “4-H” club was established in Clark County, Ohio and was called either the “Tomato Club” or the “Corn Growing Club.” Either way, the group’s foundation was set in agriculture and the home arts. Many of the early clubs were named after specific project areas and began to include similar vocations and interests.

Since 1912 when 4-H was officially recognized as a youth organization, there have been a variety of projects available for the members. Depending upon the decade, options included everything from canning and food preservation to robotics and more with new technologies entering into the program books. The one consistent project area has been the animals with some additions rather than variations. 

By 1914, the federal government got involved and passed the Smith-Lever Act which was instrumental in creating the Cooperative Extension Service. The act made 4-H a nation-wide youth program and designed the clover symbol for the organization. The program was developed within the USDA and created a partnership with more than 100 land-grant universities and over 3,000 county offices. The extension offers more than services for youth; they also have created divisions in the offices to assist farmers and parents along with other opportunities.

National 4-H Week will be October 6-12, 2019 with 4-H clubs and members celebrating and promoting the various activities offered through the program. The Branch County 4-H program in Coldwater, MI always has their 4-H Recognition Night during that week to recognize their members and supporters. Other programs throughout the nation will be setting up promotional booths, demonstrating at festivals and sharing their love of the 4-H program.

The theme for the annual week is “Inspire Kids to Do” and the national headquarters has developed a toolkit for leaders, volunteers and supporters to use during the celebration. The information can be found at https://4-h.org/professionals/marketing-resources/4-h-week-2019-toolkit/ and is available to anyone interested in the 4-H program. It includes various items for printing such as flyers, bookmarks and signage. They also created images to be posted on social media sites.

After over 100 years of serving youth, 4-H is still one of the most popular and familiar organizations to everyone whether they are involved in agriculture or not. Let’s support the ongoing work of the 4-H program as they provide young people with learning experiences and lifelong memories.

Read or Share this story: https://www.farmersadvance.com/story/news/2019/10/02/national-4-h-week-honors-the-century-old-group/3839254002/