Making the best better with 4-H Clubs

...and on the eighth day God created the horse in perfect image, to romp, graze, gallop, play and make manure wherever it darn well pleases, in divine grace.

Developed circa 1902, the 4-H Clubs of America are youth organizations administered by the USDA, or the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Institute of Food, with the goal of “engaging youth to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development.”

Several people began the 4-H effort in different regions of the US, with the focus being the idea of hands-on and practical learning, stemming from an interest in making public schools and education more connected to rural life.

The earliest programs put together private resources and public aspects to benefit rural youth.

The USDA, at the turn of the 20th century, saw that old farmers and adults did not readily accept new agricultural discoveries, practices or ideas, but teachers and educators found that youth would experiment with these new innovations.

New ideas were first introduced to youth, with the idea that they would discuss and demonstrate them with their older counterparts.

The 4 and the H in 4-H stands for the personal development areas of the organization: Health, Head, Hands and Heart.

With over 90,000 clubs, there are more that 6.5 million members in the US.

Other goals of 4-H include responsibility of self and life skills for youth, leadership and citizenship, experiential learning programs and positive youth development.

It is a non-profit organization headquartered in Washington, DC, and has grown to worldwide status.

Thought of mostly as an agriculturally-focused organization as a result of its beginnings, the modern 4-H of today focuses on healthy living, science, engineering, good citizenship and technology programs.

In 1942, vegetable canning programs were part of 4-H Clubs, teaching young people how to preserve vegetables, fruit, jellies and jams, and how to store them on shelves and in pantries.

Other 4-H Club activities, besides dairy and beef husbandry, horses, sheep, swine, chickens and rabbits, include such as quilting and sewing, flower horticulture, hay making, bee keeping and shooting sports.

They also host camping programs, with Penn State University being responsible for the state of PA.

There was a Native American controversy within the camping aspect, about a decade ago, with complaints being registered at the USDA Civil Rights Office. Native American names, dances and stereotypes came under fire for usage at the youth camps throughout America.

After the investigation was complete, the use of feathers, dress, chanting and dancing was prohibited around campfires at the youth camps. No totem poles or tepees are permitted, either.

However, groups of campers were divided up into groups or “tribes” that took Native American names of actual Indians, and this was found to be acceptable and respectful.

Later, this practice was also abandoned.

However, the state of Georgia still institutes this practice today.

Some famous 4-H’ers include such notable stars as David Letterman, Julia Roberts, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Nancy Grace, Orville Redenbacher and two famous athletes, Reggie White and Archie Manning, both of the NFL.

Nowadays, 4-H Clubs and related programs run in over 80 countries around the world.

Each program operates independently and administrations and organizations vary in each county. They do operate cooperatively through international youth exchanges, communications and pen pals, and through global education programs.

The 4-H motto is “ To make the best better,” while its slogan is “Learn by doing” or also, “Learn to do by doing.” Website is:

Congratulations to all Crawford County 4-H Clubs for performances at Round-Up 2014 and Crawford County Fair - from the Community News.

Closing out for this week with the immortal words or Roy Rogers, also a famous 4-H’er, and Dale Evans, “Happy Trails to You.”

Sources: Internet