4-H provides opportunities for youth to develop skills they can use now and throughout their lives. 4-H is a community of young people across America who are learning leadership, citizenship, and life skills as they work in partnership with caring adults. In 4-H youth learn by doing projects that are designed to fit their needs at different ages. 4H teaches about a variety of projects from food to forestry, rockets and rabbits. 4-H gives kids all kinds of opportunities to experience life skills, to practice them, and to be able to use them throughout their lifetime. 4-H teaches young people how to meet their needs in positive ways. 4-H works with young people in a variety of settings including schools, day camps, overnight camps and trips, clubs and other learning environments.
4-H encourages youth to gain knowledge and learn practical life skills and apply both in their project areas. Members learn to work together as a team and to develop a sense of fair play. 4-H members learn decision making skills as well as communication, leadership, and citizenship skills through project work, experiential learning, community service learning, competitive events and other 4-H educational experiences. Members improve their communication skills through club interaction, record keeping and presentations. They acquire educational and vocational experiences and learn how to set realistic goals for themselves. They also develop life skills such as basic health and safety financial practices.
Research from Tufts University show that 4-H youth are competent, confident, caring, and connected, and that they exhibit strong character. The Tufts study shows that 4-Hers contribute more to their families and communities, achieve higher grades in school and are more likely to go to college than youth who are not in 4-H, or even youth who participated in other out of school programs. In addition youth involved in 4-H lead healthier, more productive lives, are less likely to suffer from depression and are less likely to participate in risky behaviors like drinking and smoking.
New Iowa State University Extension research shows that Iowa youth credit their 4-H experiences with making them better citizens, leaders and communicators. It’s one thing to learn a skill; its another to put that skill into practice and change behavior. 4-H offers a higher degree of learning and this study showed to offer such an impact. This study showed significant statistic increases in citizenship, leadership and communication for those youth who participated in 4H.
4-H is the largest youth organization in the world. It is a part of every county in Iowa. 4-H can be found in over 80 countries around the world. Here in Des Moines County we have over 350 members in the numerous community clubs.
The 4-H Pledge
"I Pledge my Head to clearer thinking,
my Heart to greater loyalty,
my Hands to larger service,
and my Health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country,
and my world."
The pledge tells what 4-H is all about. 4-H has as its goal the four-fold development of youth: Head, Heart, Hands and Health. The pledge was adopted by the delegates to the 1927 National 4-H Club Camp in Washington, DC. State club leaders voted for and adopted the pledge for universal use. The phrase "and my world" was added in 1973. The saying of the pledge has prominent place in 4-H activities at regular 4-H meetings, achievement days, and other club events.
4-H empowers youth to reach their full potential, working and learning in partnership with caring adults.
A world in which youth and adults learn, grow and work together as catalysts for positive change.
The 4-H Emblem, Colors, and the four H's
The original symbol of the Boys and Girls Clubs was a three leaf clover with the words Head, Heart, and Hands. Nebraska clubs used the words as part of their statement of purpose: "to educate the youth of the county, town and city to a knowledge of their dependence upon nature's resources, and to the value of the fullest development of hand, head and heart...."
Here are two examples of the pins designed by O.H. Benson, Superintendent of Schools, Wright County, Iowa. He used the design on placards, posters and badges in 1907 or 1908. On September 16, 1909, he placed the first order on record with the Union Emblem Company for the pins. Benson and others are said to have had a four-leaf H design around 1908, but no record of it has been found.
Early in 1911, a meeting of club leaders in Washington adopted a committee recommendation approving the present 4-H emblem design. O.B. Martin, who was directing club work in the South, is credited with suggesting that the 4-H's stand for Head, Heart, Hands and Health. (Benson originally referred to a fourth H as Hustle.)
The 4-H emblem is federally protected under Section 18 US Code 707 and belongs to the Congress of the United States. The official emblem is green with white H's - the 4-H colors. The white symbolizes purity. The green represents nature's most common color and is emblematic of youth, life, and growth.
Motto: "To Make The Best Better"
The motto was adopted at about the same time as the 4-H Club Pledge. Its intent is to inspire young people to continue to learn and grow, to make their best efforts better through participating in educational experiences.