4-H in a Pickle Over Youth Work Priorities: 4-H When and Whys

Bill Howard
March 1, 1996

4-H's four-leaf clover emblem started out in 1907 as a three-leaf clover signifying "Head, Heart and Hands."

A fourth leaf was added in 1911 to stand for "hustle" and underscored the program's stress on competition. But the fourth "H" soon was changed to mean health, yielding the present-day emblem denoting "Head, Heart, Hands and Health."

The Morrill Act, signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862, provided large tracts of land to establish — and help support — agricultural colleges and universities in every state. These land-grant institutions grew in close cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In 1914, the Smith-Lever Act established the Cooperative Extension System of USDA, land-grant colleges and universities and the counties, which in turn fostered youth development clubs that had started in the late 1800s, the fore-runners of 4-H.

There is no precise date when the first 4-H club was founded. The National 4-H Council says only: "By March 1904, several boys' and girls' clubs had already exhibited projects."


Howard, Bill. "4-H in a Pickle Over Youth Work Priorities: 4-H When and Whys."Youth Today, March/April 1996, p. 29.

©2000 Youth Today. Reprinted with permission from Youth Today. All rights reserved.

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