From corn to robotics, 4-H is for everyone

How’s your knowledge of 4-H trivia? Keep reading and find out how much you know – or don’t know – about the 4-H Program!

Did you know that 4-H is more than 100 years old? The 4-H Program was created in 1902. (Ohio gets the credit for hosting the country’s first 4-H club. The 4-H idea didn’t make its way to Pennsylvania until 1912.)

Did you know that 4-H was created to reach out to parents? A century ago, 4-H was intended to provide young people with positive activities, but it was also meant to create inroads with their farming parents. The staff at land grant universities around the country were conducting research and discovering new ways to breed and grow larger hogs, raise more corn on fewer acres, and improve dozens of other agricultural practices. However, farmers were traditionalists, and they were often reluctant to listen to university researchers who wanted them to adopt new practices. The secret to reaching farmers? Reach out to their children! Through the first 4-H clubs, farmers’ children learned the latest agricultural techniques information. When their parents saw the new practices working for their children, they were willing to adopt them for themselves. Eventually, programming aimed directly at the youth themselves became the focus of the 4-H Program.

Did you know that 4-H was originally “3-H”? The original symbol of the program was a three-leafed clover – green with a white H on each leaf. The original three H’s stood for Head, Heart, and Hands. Later, a fourth H was added to symbolize Hustle – the idea that 4-H members should value the importance of being industrious and working quickly. Later, “Hustle” became “Health” and the 4-H Program as we know it today was born.

Do you know the 4-H Pledge? Members start every meeting by reciting the pledge – an important reminder of the key tenets of the program. The pledge incorporates the four H’s:

“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.”

Did you know that 4-H isn’t for farm kids? Well, it’s also for kids who happen to live on farms, but it’s actually for everyone between the ages of 5 and 18. However, these days, the vast majority of 4-H youth don’t come from agricultural backgrounds. The 4-H Program is thriving in all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties – from rural counties like Clinton to suburban ones like Montgomery and Bucks, in the southeastern part of the state, and is very much alive and well in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg!

Did you know that 4-H isn’t a school program? It often gets mistaken for a similar but different organization, the Future Farmers of America. FFA, which is offered in conjunction with agriculture education programs in public and private schools, helps high school students develop leadership skills and sets them on the road to careers in agriculture. While 4-H programs or curriculum are sometimes offered in classroom settings, 4-H isn’t actually a school-affiliated program.

Do you know about the connection between 4-H and Penn State? In every state, the land grant university manages the 4-H Program. In Pennsylvania, of course, our land grant university is Penn State. Penn State Extension is the branch of the university that’s mandated to bring knowledge developed at the university to the general public – because, after all, knowledge generated by a public research university shouldn’t just be for college students. The 4-H Program is Penn State Extension’s way of sharing that knowledge with youth.

Did you know that 4-H members build robots? That’s right – robotics is a relatively new 4-H project that’s taking off around the state! Clinton County was able to partner with the Ross and Beech Creek libraries this summer to offer the first local 4-H Lego robotics program. Have a young person interested in building and programming robots? Interested in taking the training you need to serve as a Lego robotics mentor? Call Penn State Extension at 570-726-0022 for more information!

Did you know that all 4-H’ers develop life skills? Whether they’re programming robots or riding horses, 4-H members learn valuable life skills. They practice speaking in front of groups, collaborating with their peers, and leading others. They tackle community service projects, manage budgets, and learn to set and achieve goals. Four-H members learn to be responsible, learn to make decisions, and learn how to persevere even when the path is difficult.

Fall is the perfect time to consider enrolling a young person in the 4-H Program! The program is available to youth who will be between the ages of 5 and 18 on Jan. 1, 2016. It offers financial assistance to families who need help with the cost of enrollment. Clubs meet in many communities in Clinton County. For more information on 4-H in Clinton County, contact me, 4-H Educator Kirsten Dubbs, at 570-726-0022 or by e-mail at kdubbs@psu.edu.

Kirsten Dubbs is a 4-H and Youth Development Educator with Penn State Extension in Clinton County (phone 570-726-0022).