4h Wildlife Stewards Logo

4H Wildlife Stewards
Bringing Science and Nature Together...one school at a time.

4-H LogoWHAT IS 4-H?

4-H is an informal, practical, learning-by-doing educational program for youth. The purpose of 4-H is to assist youth in acquiring knowledge, developing life skills, and forming attitudes that will enable them to become self-directing, productive members of society.

Professionals and volunteers working together provide educational projects and activities related to animal science, horticulture, home economics, engineering, natural science, expressive arts, leadership and citizenship.

4-H is America's largest out-of-school educational program for youth. More than 6 million youth now participate in 4-H, under the guidance of 600,000 Extension -trained adult volunteer leaders. It is estimated that nearly 49 million American adults are former 4-H members.


4-H is the youth program of Oregon State University Extension.


The mission of Oregon 4-H is to develop youth and adult potential through: learning to live, learning to make a living, strengthening families and communities, becoming life-long learners, and developing leadership through the research-based knowledge and the land grant university system.


National leadership for 4-H is in the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. State headquarters are in the land-grant university of each state. Every state has a team of county and state 4-H faculty and staff who are part of the university's Extension Service. They provide leadership and direction for the 4-H Youth Development program. Volunteer 4-H leaders provide direct leadership and educational support in local communities.


What is now 4-H began at the start of the 20th century, when boys' and girls' agriculture clubs seemed to appear in many different places at the same time. These early efforts were organized in rural schools through "Farmers' Institutes" organized by agriculture colleges to bring the latest scientific information to farmers and their families. The first states to become involved were New York, Ohio, Texas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and Oregon.

In Oregon in 1905, L.R. Alderman, then Yamhill county school superintendent and later Oregon Superintendent of public instruction, established a children's fair with programs in gardening, cooking, woodworking, raising farm animals, and other activities. Alderman and H.C. Seymour, the Polk County school superintendent, expanded the idea., the Polk County school superintendent. By 1910, both counties had organized boys' and girls' "industrial clubs." In 1913, the Oregon legislature appropriated funds for introducing "boys' and girls' industrial clubs" statewide under the state Superintendent of public instruction.

In 1914, the U.S. Congress passed the Smith-Lever Act, formally establishing Extension work on a cooperative basis among the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the state land-grant colleges, and counties in each state. Funds were included for youth programs, which in 1924 became knows as 4-H.

Unlike most states, 4-H in Oregon was available to city as well as rural youth from the early days. In fact, Portland is widely regarded as the first major city in the nation to have 4-H clubs under an agreement between the OSU Extension Service and the Portland School District.

Through the 1930's, Oregon's 4-H program was closely allied with the schools. As late as 1948, many superintendents were actively involved in organization of 4-H clubs, with teachers providing the primary adult leadership. With school consolidation and larger schools and districts, 4-H shifted to more community-oriented 4-H clubs under the leadership of parents and other adult volunteers.

A dynamic, growing organization, 4-H has expanded steadily over the years. Since 1914 more than 40 million youth from the U.S., Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and Guam have participated in 4-H.


The 4-H program is supported by a unique combination of federal, state, and local tax funds, and private gifts and donations. In Oregon, state and federal tax funds are used to pay Extension staff salaries and to provide educational materials. County money supports the operation of local Extension offices. Private funds support 4-H activities such as camps, field days, 4-H Summer Conference at OSU, awards, international exchanges, leader training and special program efforts.


I pledge my HEAD to clearer thinking
My HEART to greater loyalty
My HANDS to greater service
My HEALTH to better living
For my club, my community, my country and my world


Green and White


"To make the best better."


4-H Wildlife Stewards, Sunnyside Environmental School, 3421 SE Salmon 1209,
Portland, OR 97214 - 503-916-6074, e-mail: wildifestewards@oregonstate.edu
Copyright 2002-2009. All Rights Reserved.