Farm Horizons, Feb. 2002

A look back at 100 years of 4-H


T.A. Erickson starts the first school fair in Minnesota for students from Douglas County's Nelson School. Boys bring products from crops and gardens while girls exhibit baking and sewing projects.


Minnesota's first corn club is started when Erickson sends one pound of corn seed to any student who agrees to exhibit 10 of their best ears at their local school fair.


A clover (three leafed) is first used as a symbol for head, heart, and hands.


A fourth H, for health, is added to the clover to signify resistance to disease, enjoyment of life, and efficiency.


The Minnesota State Fair Board provides exhibit space and $200 in prizes for corn club exhibits.


Passage of the Smith-Lever Act establishes the Cooperative Extension Service, of which 4-H is a part, to provide public financial support for Extension programs.


The phrase "4-H Club" is first used in a national publication written by Gertrude L. Warren.


The 4-H Program at the Minnesota State Fair moves to the old Bee & Honey Building and stays there for 11 years.


Joe Isakson, a 4-H'er from Brown County, wins the health contest at the first National 4-H Club Congress in Chicago.


The first national 4-H Camp (now called Conference) is conducted in Washington, DC.


The national 4-H pledge and motto is approved by state leaders.


A 4-H'er from Douglas County is briefly hospitalized while at the State Fair. A nurse diagnoses his condition, "He drank too much pop."


The first 4-H Conservation Camp is conducted at Itasca State Park. Before leaving, campers clean the area to uphold their motto, "To leave it better than we found it."


The brand new, gleaming white 4-H Building is dedicated at the Minnesota State Fair.


The first 4-H Radio Speaking Contest is heard on KSTP.


The Minnesota State Fair is canceled because of World War II. To help the war effort, Minnesota 4-H'ers gather 1,650,000 pounds of milkweed pod floss for floatation material in life jackets.


The International Farm Youth Exchange (IFYE) begins by sending 17 American 4-H'ers (including one from Minnesota) to Europe.


The first State Health Camp is conducted at Itasca State Park.


In a report called "Contests: Their Educational Function in Project Work," club agent T.T. Martin of Missouri recommends rewarding progress and effort. "Learning to lay bricks," he writes, "was more important than the number of bricks laid."


Minnesota 4-H Week is renamed Junior Leadership Conference.


When President Dwight D. Eisenhower cuts the ribbon on the National 4-H Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland, he says, "I like 4-H'ers because they strive for excellence."


First National Forum for volunteer 4-H leaders is conducted at the National 4-H Center.


A concerned citizen from Elmhurst, NY, writes a letter to President John F. Kennedy saying, "Hundreds of thousands of boys in our cities are desperately in need of an urban 4-H club. The same can be said of the girls."


The age requirement for 4-H members drops from 10-21 to 9-19.


Expanded Food and Nutritional Education Program (EFNEP) starts teaching people in urban areas about good food and nutrition.


The first 4-H "Arts-In" program is held at the Minnesota State Fair.


"Youth for Natural Beauty" is started by Lady Bird Johnson's interest in community beautification. In 1973, this project became known as "Community Pride."


The Labo Foundation of Tokyo, Japan, begins an exchange program with 4-H families in the United States and Canada.


The national 4-H pledge is revised to include the phrase "and my world."


The Minnesota 4-H Foundation is incorporated to raise private funds for 4-H programs and activities.


The Minnesota 4-H Foundation begins its Small Grants Program to help youth work on projects in their community.


CYFERNet is created to link partnering institutions and merge technology resources into a "national network of expertise" to assist communities.


The first Minnesota Summit begins as an effort to involve youth in public policy discussions.


4-H'ers from 45 Minnesota counties come to East Grand Forks to run day camps for children displaced by flooding of the Red River Valley.


There are 6.4 million youth nationwide involved in 4-H. Nearly 1 out of every 4 youth in Minnesota (260,000+) are involved in 4-H.

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