Farm Horizons, Feb. 2002

A look back at 100 years of 4-H

1902

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.

1904

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.

1907

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

1911

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

1913

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

1914

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.

1918

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

1922

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

1922

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

1924

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

1927

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

1930

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."

1934

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."

1939

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

1942

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

1945

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.

1948

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

1953

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

1956

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."

1957

Minnesota 4-H Week is renamed Junior Leadership Conference.

1959

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."

1960

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

1962

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."

1965

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

1969

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

1970

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

1971

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

1972

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

1973

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

1981

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

1984

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

1994

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

1995

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

1997

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.

1999+

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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