You’ve seen them at the County Fair with their animals on display. But, beyond that what do you know about 4-H?
The historical roots of 4-H are spread throughout the late 1800’s when there was a growing concern about educating the country’s youth and a need for advancing agricultural technology. In 1902, A. B. Graham, an Ohio school superintendent, organized a boys’ and girls’ club with a home project based on corn. This became the first “4-H” club.
Boys and Girls Crop Growing Contest became very popular and spread to farming communities across the nation. County, regional and statewide competitions evolved. The idea spread, applying the same principles, to animal care and growing, food preservation and preparation, sewing, etc.
The first 4-H emblem was a three-leaf clover, introduced sometime between 1907 and 1908. The three “H’s” represented head, heart and hands. In 1911, at a meeting of club leaders in Washington, a fourth “H” representing health was added and the current 4-H four-leaf clover emblem was approved. It is protected by the U.S. Congress.
- HEAD stands for clearer thinking and decision-making. Knowledge that is useful throughout life.
- HEART stands for greater loyalty, strong personal values, positive self concept, and concern for others.
- HANDS stand for larger service, workforce preparedness, useful skills, science and technology literacy.
- HEALTH stands for better living, healthy lifestyles.
In 1914 Congress passed the Smith-Lever Act that created Cooperative Extension Services (CES) in connection with land-grant universities – those that received federal lands for the purpose of teaching agriculture and other subjects. The CES, under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, administers funds to county extension services, which include agricultural, home demonstration, and 4-H programs.
The 4-H Youth Development program is the youth education component of the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension. 4-H is an organization for youth, ages 5-19, that promotes hands-on learning and is based on parent and volunteer participation. Nationally, the program serves more than six million young people each year. Locally the Delta-Diablo 4-H includes members from Oakley, Pittsburg and Antioch.
The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) is a cooperative venture between county, state, and federal partners. The UCCE provides $3.2 million to Contra Costa County to deliver Agriculture, Horticulture, Natural Resources, Nutrition, and Youth Development (including 4-H) programs. Contra Costa County provides $385,152 for these same programs. Although a little over 10% of the funding it’s a very important 10%. Without these matching funds from the County serving as a trigger, the $3.2 million is not provided by the UCCE.
Proposed budget cuts initially targeted the County’s matching dollars. But, through the work of Oakley Councilman Jim Frazier they have managed to keep the 4-H program funded through September 30, 2009. After that, the 4-H program must seek other funding mechanisms to continue.
For more information on 4-H check the website- http://ucanr.edu/sites/contracosta4h/