What Is 4-H?


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4-H Symbol

What Is 4-H?
     4-H is a volunteer-based, informal educational program - the largest youth serving organization in the country. It focuses on "learning by doing" and reaches boys and girls through a variety of programs in borh rural and urban settings. 4-H provides fun, educational opportunities at the local, state, national, and international levels. Programs are hands-on, age-appropriate, and university-based and provides help for youth to improve their self-confidence, learn subject matter, and develop important skills including leadership, citizenship, communication, and decision-making that can be applied over a lifetime. For older teens, 4-H also offers opportunities to develop and test their leadership skills as 4-H volunteers and working with youth.



Isn't 4-H just for farm kids?
     Absolutely Not! 4-H is for all young people, regardless of where they live, what interests them, or their background Approximately half of the 4-H members live in urban areas. There are all kinds of projects and activities - not just raising pigs or cows. That's just a small part of it. There's something for everyone in 4-H !!


Who can join 4-H?
4-H is for boys and girls who are in the 3rd through 12th grades.

How do I join 4-H?
Contact your county Extension Office for an enrollment form and Program Book.  Enrollment starts in the fall and is completed as of January 15th of the current year.

Why do young people like 4-H?
According to past 4-H'ers, they like 4-H most of all for the FRIENDS they meet, the FUN they have, and the SKILLS they learn. They have fun with friends at meetings, social activities, community service activities, tours, trips, camps, and fairs. They learn to do interesting things such as take pictures, practice cooking, decorate cakes, build model rockets, take care of plants and animals, wrap gifts, create a scrapbook, shoot a bow and arrow, or drive a lawn tractor through an obstacle course. And they develop leadership skills by helping others learn about their projects.


How much does it cost to be in 4-H?
There may be a minimal fee to join 4-H (according to county), and there may be a minimal fee for club dues which support local club activities. Additional costs depend upon the projects taken. The handbook and project manuals are supplied at no cost to the 4-H'er. The 4-H member is responsible for the materials for the projects they enroll in, so that cost is controlled by the 4-H member.


How much time does 4-H take?
The amount of time you spend in 4-H will vary depending upon your involvement. Most 4-H clubs meet once a month. The type of project you choose determines how much time it will take to complete.


What do the H's stand for?

Head, Heart, Hands, & Health

These together are a fourfold development. Each leaf, each H is vital to every individual. You need to make sure all four H's become equally important to you.


What is the 4-H Pledge?
"I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger
service, my health to better living for my Club, my Community, my Country, and my World."


What are the 4-H Symbols?
4-H Emblem: A green four-leaf clover with a white "H" on each clover leaf.

4-H Colors: It is most appropriate that green and white are the colors of 4-H.
The green in the 4-H clover represents life, springtime, and youth. The white represents purity.

4-H Slogan: The slogan to "Learn by Doing" is a constant incentive to motivate 4-H'ers
to strive toward acquiring new skills and knowledge. The results can mean a very
 productive and interesting life.
4-H Motto: "To Make the Best Better" is the goal of each member. The motto gives
a special motivation not to be content with the present but always strive to make things better.

How Did 4-H Begin in Hamilton County, Indiana?

How It All Began .........

4-H Club work started in Hamilton County February 20, 1904 when County Superintendent of Schools, J.F. Haines sent letters to the schools in Hamilton Co. about organizing a boy's Corn Club. Ninety three boys met in April of 1904 and each was given 1,200 kernels of corn for his corn club project. From this beginning with 93 boys and one project in 1904, the interest and growth has increased to over 1700 boys and girls enrolled in 66 different projects now in 2003.

Cooperative Extension work was first organized in Hamilton County in December, 1918 for the purpose of improving agriculture and home life. H.B. Randolph was the first person to fill the office of the County Extension Agricultural Agent in 1919. From an Annual Farm Bureau Report in 1923, it was stated that "the County Agent has been found to be almost a necessity for the accomplishment of our work. The time is at hand when the blending of interests of the house and farm, the young and old, should become apparent, and then we shall see the rural life made more inviting and the farmer will take his social stand with his city brothers." Prior to the organization of Extension there were other associations active in the county prior to 1930: the Dairy Herd Improvement Assoc., Dairy Calf Club, Gold Medal Colt Club, Ten Ton Tomato Club, Hamilton Co. Poultry Assoc., Hamilton Co. Farmers Institute Assoc., Hamilton Co. Horse Breeders Assoc., Hamilton Co. Shorthorn Assoc., and the Hamilton Co. Beekeepers Assoc.

4-H Club work began with six girl's clothing clubs, representing every township in the county and with a total enrollment of 80 girls, in 1928. Up until this time, 4-H Club work had been done through the schools and had centered around the boys with workshops, fieldtrips, and projects dealing with poultry, wheat, corn, swine, potato, horse, and dairy. Earliest records of educational activities for youth date back to 1921.

4-H Club work continued to grow rapidly. In 1927 enrollment totaled 65 members. It jumped in 1928 to 284 members and to 465 members in 1929.

1929 is the first time that there is any mention of Extension Programs (home economics programs designed specifically for women. Although there are records of women attending the different poultry tours and calf shows, it was not until March, 1929 that the Nutrition Project was first started. And in December of that same year, it is noted that there were between 300 and 500 women in attendance at the "Short Course" held in Noblesville. Home Management and Home furnishings lectures were given by Miss Lelia Gaddis from Purdue and were very popular because of the practicability of the work. In 1930, Mrs. Olive Brunner of Cicero was appointed the Girl's Club Leaders in Hamilton County. It wasn't until 1937 that the first Home Demonstration Agent started in the County. The 4-H Club pledge, motto, insignia, and colors were adopted when Cooperative Extension began nationally in 1914.

As early as 1937, the need for permanent exhibit facilities was realized and a program was started to secure funding for the construction of buildings for a County Fair and 4-H Club Exhibit. After a year and a half, only one quarter of the money had been raised, so the project was dropped. In 1938 the 4-H Club Exhibit was held in tents at Joseph Field (which later became the site of Conner School) in Noblesville. The following year the Exhibit was held in tents in Forest Park and in 1940 it was held in Noblesville with Home Economics housed in the Armory and livestock housed in the old Highway Garage. 1941 was the beginning of the 4-H Advisory Council and Westfield hosted the annual 4-H Club Exhibit. Moving to Sheridan in 1941, Walnut Grove School in 1943, Carmel in 1944, Arcadia in 1945, the now annual Exhibit returned to Noblesville and then Westfield respectively in 1946 and 1947. By 1948, with the Exhibit in Sheridan, there was a county-wide growing interest and demand for a permanent location and buildings in which to hold the annual Exhibit and meetings. Thus the Hamilton Co. 4-H Council was incorporated with each of the nine townships represented by one man and one woman - all serving without pay and all interested in the proper development of the youth in helping them to become better citizens through "learning by doing".

Through the efforts of the Hamilton Co. 4-H Council, donations were secured from individuals, organizations, business and industry, and their goal to raise $15,000.00 was realized in the spring of 1950. Total donations from 783 different individuals (the largest single donation being $506.00) were $15,695.76. Work was started April 1, 1950 and completed just in time for the summer Exhibit. The County Highway Dept. had purchased four acres from Onte Jessup where an airport had been in operation and Mr. Jessup agreed to give the 4-H Council two acres adjacent to the Highway ground. County Commissioners agreed to permit the use of their property during the Exhibit.

The first year to hold the 4-H Club Exhibit in a permanent location, 1950, two 48' x 180' building housed the Agricultural projects. Home Economic projects were exhibited in the Highway Garage. In 1951 plans were started immediately to raise funds for the construction of a Home Economics building. The building was to be 48' x 126' with a kitchen, two rest rooms, septic tank, and well. Total cost, $12,887.56.

1952 and 1953 saw many improvements and more land was purchased at $255.00 an acre in 1954 making the total area about 17 acres. The first building to be built from tax money was a new Cattle Barn, 60' x 210'. This pole type building cost $8,850.00 complete. A second building, a Judging Arena, 60' 120' was built from tax money in 1957. This was the first year for the 4-H Steer and Barrow Sale. The Grand Champion steer sold for $75.00 per 100 lbs. The next year, 1958, the Annex (40' x 72') was built for the cost of $2,700.00. To square off the 4-H ground better and to give the 4-H Council control of the Outside Arena, a lease was signed in 1960 with the County Commissioners for 99 years to exchange the west end of the 4-H grounds for the arena grounds. This same year the Home Economics Kitchen was built along the north end of the grounds. The following year, 1961, the Dining Room for the Home Economics Food Stand and the Jr. Leader's Stand was built. The first 4-H Queen pageant was held with Cathy Hosier being judged the 1961 Hamilton County 4-H Queen. Improvements continued the following years and a new Demonstration Building was completed in 1964. A new Horst Barn and Arena were constructed in 1971 and a second Restroom facility in 1972. The Concession Stand on the east side, the Arena Stage and Dressing Rooms were constructed in 1973. Continuing to meet the needs of the annual Exhibit, the Extension Office and Swine Barn were added in 1974. As a result of long planning, a 1985 survey of facilities and a Ball State Study in 1987, the master plan for the Exposition Center was rendered. Fourteen additional acres were purchased in 1990 and 1992 saw the schematic design of Phase I of the Master Plan.

Llama    Message

Some people dream of success ....                                       
                           while others wake up and work hard at it!"

                                                                                                ~Author Unknown 

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