The 4-H Pledge
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.
One of my first memories as a Cloverbud is attending monthly club meetings with my older brother and learning to recite the 4-H pledge. After eleven years of being a 4-H member, I had the opportunity to learn valuable leadership skills and participate in numerous educational activities that have helped me become the adult I am today.
4-H started well over 100 years ago. In the late 1800’s it was discovered that adults engaged in farming did not want to accept and learn about new agricultural developments on university campuses. However, younger students were open to new thinking and would experiment with new ideas and share their experiences with adults. The idea of practical “hands-on” learning came from the desire to connect public school education to country life.
In 1902, A. B. Graham started a youth program in Clark County, Ohio. This was considered the birth of 4‑H in the U.S. The first clubs were called, “The Tomato Club” and the “Corn Growing Club”. After school clubs were started that same year by T.A. Erickson of Douglas County, Minnesota. A few years later in 1910 Jessie Field Shambaugh developed the clover pin with an H on each leaf, and by 1912 these groups were officially called 4‑H clubs.
In 1914, the Smith-Lever Act was passed, and it created the Cooperative Extension System at USDA and nationalized 4‑H. By 1924, 4‑H clubs were formed, and the clover emblem was adopted. The Cooperative Extension System is a partnership of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), with more than 100 land-grant universities and more than 3,000 county offices across the nation.
Even though 4-H began with ties to agriculture. Today, 4-H is more than just a club for “farm kids”. It is for both rural and urban students and reaches kids across the entire country – from urban neighborhoods to suburban schoolyards to rural farming communities. With over 500,000 volunteers and 3,500 professionals, 4-H provides supportive mentoring to 6 million members. This organization provides opportunities and skills that help members grow into future leaders that will serve in our local communities.
October 7 – 13 is National 4-H Week. Local clubs throughout the country will be planning a variety of events and activities to help promote 4-H and its programs. We have a strong 4-H program in Green Lake County with nine clubs located through the county. To find out more about the Green Lake County 4-H program check out their website at: https://greenlake.uwex.edu/4-h-youth-development/
It has been over twenty years since I graduated from 4-H. However, I still attend monthly meetings. Now I serve as one our club’s general leaders. I attend with my daughters and I enjoy watching them learn to recite the same pledge I learned many years ago, and I know this organization will provide unique and wonderful leadership opportunities for them. It’s rewarding to see the tradition and legacy of 4-H continue for years to come.
Becky Hibicki serves as the District 5 Coordinator for Wisconsin Farm Bureau. Becky is active in the Green Lake County 4-H program and serves as the general leader for the Three Hilltoppers 4-H Club and is a large animal livestock project leader. In addition to working full-time for WFBF, Becky also home schools her children.