BCE Publishing, Inc.
Since its inception over 100 years ago, 4-H has grown into the largest youth development organization in the country. The idea of 4-H is simple: to help young people and their families acquire the skills to be proactive forces in their communities and develop ideas for a more innovative community. The aim of the program is to extend agricultural education to rural youth by organizing clubs and “learning by doing”.
The roots of 4-H began around the turn of the century, when progressive educators began to focus on the needs of young people and introduce the study of nature as the basis for better agricultural education. In the late 1800s, researchers discovered that adults in the farming community did not readily accept new agricultural developments on college campuses, but found that young people were open to new ideas and experimented with new ideas and shared their experiences with adults. The rural youth programs then introduced new agricultural technologies to the communities. The idea of hands-on, hands-on learning arose out of the desire to link public education with country life. Establishing community clubs to help solve agricultural problems was a first step for young people to learn more about industries in their community.
In 1902, AB Graham started a youth program in Clark County, Ohio, which is believed to be the birth of 4-H in the United States. TA Erickson started local after-school farm clubs and fairs in Douglas County, Minnesota, the same year. 4-H style programs were first established in North Florida, including Suwannee, Columbia, Madison, and Gadsden counties. The boys participated in corn clubs, while the girls were active in tomato clubs. In 1910 Jessie Field Shambaugh developed the trefoil pin with an H on each leaf. In 1912, they received their now known name, 4-H clubs.
The Cooperative Extension System was established in 1914. The Cooperative Extension System is a partnership of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), more from 100 land grant universities and over 3,000 county offices across the nation. Cooperative Extension combines the expertise of federal, state and local governments and is designed to meet the needs of research, knowledge and education programs.
Today, 4-H serves youth in rural, urban and suburban communities in every state across the country. Members of 4-H are tackling major issues in the country, from global food security, climate change and sustainable energy to childhood obesity and food security. 4-H after-school programs, enrichment programs in schools, clubs and camps offer a wide variety of opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). These opportunities range from agricultural and animal science to rockets, robotics, environmental protection and computing.