WHAT 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.
HOW 4-H IS ORGANIZED
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
HOW 4-H BEGAN
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
HOW 4-H IS FINANCED
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
THE 4-H MOTTO
"To make the best better."