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4-H is Celebrating the Past, Acting in the Present, Envisioning the Future

Posted: August 13, 2012

What started with growing crops and raising animals for production and meat has now evolved into a wide variety of activities and programs for youth enthusiasts. 4-H was started with projects such as corn planting and raising livestock but now 4-H has more to offer; teaching personal skills while achieving career success. The Cumberland County 4-H program offers involvement for any interest, and provides personal achievement for youth in our community.
Kerri Wickard with "Ag Science Day" campers

Kerri Wickard with "Ag Science Day" campers

Johnny Cash, Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, Faith Hill, and even a few astronauts all have something in common; a heritage in a 4-H program. In fact, one of every seven adult Americans is a former 4-Her. As one of the first youth organizations, and now today’s largest youth organization, 4-H was originally founded to sustain rural life. 4-H has evolved from animal agriculture, to science, rocketry, computer education, robotics, sustainable energy, as well as tackling our nation’s top issues with global hunger and childhood obesity. In all 50 states and expanding internationally to over 80 countries, there is a collaborative effort to build outstanding youth through 4-H. Youth ages are from 8-18, but there are even opportunities for younger members as cloverbuds and adults as alumni and volunteers.

The four leaves of the 4-H symbol, commonly known as the four-leaf clover, denote a green color for youth life and growth. The white represents purity, as the Hs signify Head, Heart, Hands, and Health of all 4-Hers. Members live “to make the best better” as the motto strives to teach continued growth and advancement. Through hands-on activities, members develop life skills in decision making, public speaking, and leadership. Over the years, the clover has spread it’s four leaves to many educational and leadership opportunities that will enhance any community.  

In the past 100 years, world events have marked history such as the sinking of the Titanic, World Wars I and II, the opening of the Empire State Building, and the first moon landing. Pennsylvania 4-H has also been marking history as the commonwealth celebrates a centennial of impacting youth this year. Founded in 1912, studies showed that ninety percent of high school students wanted to leave the family farm, at which time 4-H started revitalizing agriculture practices. Now the program has grown and developed to reach many cultural and interest differences of the world’s youth.

The 4-H slogan states: “Learn by Doing,” which teaches members to act today in order to reap a better harvest tomorrow. Each year, members must complete a project to achieve goals as well as necessary requirements. Animal production teaches great lessons of responsibility and involves a large number of members, however, it is not the only opportunity in 4-H. 4-H is not just a ‘farming’ club; it has much more to offer!

 Sewing and crafting, as well as food preparation, are well-known projects that take various approaches in the program. Not only sewing with a sewing machine, but knitting, weaving, and crocheting are additional textile programs that are available. Working with food can easily catch a lot of attention, but cake decorating and outdoor cooking are other ways to add a little spice to your culinary talents.

Rocketry requires youth to create and build model rockets that soar to the highest potential while teaching the member to achieve higher levels of personal growth as well. Outdoor activities, such as bicycling, are also offered, and hands on learning ranges from small engines and riflery to scrapbooking and gardening.  

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Create your own project in an area that interests you and take 4-H into the future.

The full 4-H experience isn’t just about the projects that are completed during the year; it is also about participating in teambuilding, public speaking, and leadership roles. These life skills prepare members for future careers and aspirations. Camps, workshops, and retreats allow for lasting friendships, as well as engagement in opportunities of a lifetime.

The Pennsylvania 4-H program has continuously evolved since 1912. It is always adapting to new areas of interest that tap into youth who have not yet been reached. All 4-H programs and projects are created to educate youth and teach useful skills that will be beneficial well into the future. 4-H strives to provide youth with wholesome activities to enrich their everyday lives and help them grow into successful young adults.

Submitted by Kerri Wickard, 4-H Summer Intern