History of 4-H

Youth working in a field of crops

4-H began in 1902 as an educational program for the nation's rural youth.

4-H work began around 1900 as a means of reaching parents with improved farm and home practices. 4-H was based upon the assumption that if new ideas were instilled in the minds of youngsters, those ideas would in turn convince parents to try new innovations.

4-H was also developed because schools were not always meeting the needs and interests of rural youth. The first organized 4-H Clubs were small groups covering a single topic such as corn production and canning of tomatoes.

The original objectives were to teach improved practices to farmers and homemakers through their children. Then came World War I and the "food for victory" theme. Following the war, the "keep the people on the farm" objective was foremost in people’s minds. Again during World War II, food production was emphasized. Today, 4-H meets the needs of and engages young people in positive youth development experiences. These experiences are based on the idea that young people should be regarded as resources to be developed. 2002 marked the centennial of 4-H and a renewed commitment to helping shape youth and communities. In looking to the next century, 4-H further develops its programs and continues its motto of "Making the Best Better."