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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

November 24, 2014 - 3:33pm --

Recently I attended a program where three high school 4-H members shared with an audience of about fifty people the wonderful benefits that they all gained through the Butler County 4-H program.  Each one said something that caught my attention as I listened closely.  One young man said something that stood out to me.  That young man said that without 4-H he would have never been able to speak in front of a group.  That brought back memories of being that shy kid in class and hoping each day that the teacher would not call on me to answer a question or speak in front of the class.  We have all heard that many people fear public speaking more than death.  4-H teaches countless life skills used in our everyday life.  As we celebrate National 4-H Week from October 5 – 11, 2014, I would like to remind everyone that 4-H makes a positive difference in all of our communities.  4-H is all about helping young people and their families gain beneficial skills needed to be proactive forces in their communities and to develop ideas for a more innovative economy.

4-H has a long history of making a positive difference in youth.  In the late 1800’s, researchers discovered that adults in the farming community did not readily accept new agricultural developments on university campuses, but found that young people were open to new thinking and would experiment with new ideas and share their experiences with adults.  The researchers learned that rural youth programs were a great way to introduce new agricultural technology to communities.  The idea of practical and hands-on came from the desire to connect public school education to country life.  Building community clubs to help solve agricultural challenges was a first step toward youth learning about the industries in their community. 

A.B. Graham started a youth program in Clark County, Ohio, in 1902, which is considered the birth of 4-H in the United States.  The first club was called “The Tomato Club” or the “Corn Growing Club.”  Also in 1902, T. A. Erickson of Douglas County, Minnesota, started local agricultural after-school clubs and fairs.  Boys brought in products from crops and gardens while the girls exhibited baking and sewing products.  Jessie Field Shambaugh developed the clover pin with an H on each leaf in 1910, and by 1912 they were called 4-H clubs.  The passage of the Smith-Lever Act in 1914 created the Cooperative Extension System at the USDA and nationalized 4-H.  By 1924, 4-H clubs were formed and the clover emblem was adapted.  4-H clubs in Butler County were started in 1916 in Hanover Township and Wayne Township.

I know there are many wonderful parents in Butler County in search of great things for their kids to be involved with.  I would highly encourage parents to look at the great benefits that the Butler County 4-H program has to offer for youth.  Membership eligibility for the 4-H Cloverbud program begins when a child has reached age 5 and is enrolled in kindergarten as of January 1 of the current year.  Membership into the 4-H club program begins when a child is at least age 8 and enrolled in 3rd grade as of January 1 of the current year.  Ohio 4-H membership eligibility ends December 31st of the year in which an individual attains the age of 19.

The Butler County 4-H program allows youth to learn about numerous projects and careers.  Once they have completed their 4-H careers, they have gained a wealth of knowledge, developed relationships for life, and engaged in a lot of community service activities.  The research studies have shown the following in comparison with other youth that young people involved in 4-H experience:

  • greater educational achievements
  • greater motivation and aspirations for the future education
  • more civic active
  • report better grades and higher levels of academic competence
  • greater desire to go to college

All of these attributes will help our youth to better compete in a global society.  The number one required skill in the workplace today is communication skills.  There are over 200 4-H projects available for youth to select from.  Each one of these projects will provide a wealth of opportunities to improve on workforce skills necessary to compete in a global market place.

The Butler County 4-H program currently has 61 clubs, 1236 members and over 200 volunteers.  I would like the program to grow and reach untouched areas of the county.   I would like to invite everyone  to attend the Butler County 4-H Expo and Open House from 10 am to 2 pm on Saturday, February 7, 2015 to learn more about the wonderful opportunities offered by 4-H.

For up-to-date program information, check us out on the web at:

News Release provided by Kevin Harris.