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About 4-H

The grouped 4-H icons - head, heart, hands, health

The 4-H Youth program strives to improve the quality of life for Mississippi 4-H'ers by developing the potential of young people and by providing "hands-on" (experiential) educational programs. Program priorities identified include leadership development, life skills training, developing positive self-esteem, and empowering volunteers. Programs are delivered through local county Extension offices to volunteer leaders. Learn more about how to join. 

The 4-H Symbol

4-H is best identified by its green four-leaf clover with an H on each leaf. The four Hs on this emblem stand for Head, Heart, Hands, and Health. These words emphasize the basis of the four-fold development of young people involved in 4-H.

Head: 4-H'ers focus on thinking, making decisions, and understanding and gaining knowledge.

Heart: 4-H'ers are concerned with the welfare of others and accept the responsibilities of citizenship and developing attitudes and values.

Hands: 4-H'ers use their hands to learn new skills and develop pride and respect for their own work.

Health: 4-H'ers develop and practice healthy living physically, mentally, spiritually, and socially.

The Four Essential Elements of 4-H

Mastery - By exploring 4-H projects and activities, 4-H'ers master skills to make positive career and life choices. 4-H provides a safe environment to make mistakes and receive feedback, and young people can discover their capabilities while meeting new challenges.

Generosity - By participating in 4-H community service and citizenship activities, 4-H'ers can connect to communities and learn to give back to others. These connections help young people find and fulfill their life's purpose.

Independence - By exercising independence through 4-H leadership opportunities, 4-H'ers mature in self-discipline and responsibility, learn to better understand themselves, and become independent thinkers.

Belonging - Through 4-H, young people can develop long-term consistent relationships with adults other than their parents and learn that they are cared about by and connected to others. 4-H gives young people the opportunity to feel physically and emotionally safe in a group setting.

4-H History

An image of 4-H'ers in a corn field.
This image shows young people holding a 4-H banner.
This image shows a man and child in a field.

4-H grew out of the progressive education movement in America in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Rural school principals and superintendents wanted to teach their students about the material they would need to succeed in the business world.

At the same time, agricultural colleges and experiment stations were accumulating scientific knowledge that could improve productivity and the standard of living for farmers, but farmers showed little interest in these "book farming" methods. These professors thought that teaching farmers' children improved agricultural methods might allow the information to reach the farmers.

Rural school principals and superintendents teamed with agricultural college researchers to form corn clubs in most eastern and southern states at this time.

W. H. "Corn Club" Smith was instrumental in forming Mississippi's first corn clubs. In 1907, Smith received a franking privilege and a salary of $1 per year from the United States Department of Agriculture. This was the first time the USDA had been involved in a youth program and established a three-way partnership of county, state, and federal governments working together.

While other states had corn clubs before Mississippi, none had the federal partnership Mississippi had. This is the basis of Mississippi's claim to be the birthplace of 4-H. 

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News

A teenage girl holds the halter on the face of her muscular, white steer as she and a tall man standing behind them look at the photographer.
Filed Under: 4-H Livestock Program, Youth Livestock, Volunteers, Youth Projects, Agriculture, Livestock February 8, 2019

 The Dixie National Sale of Junior Champions began in 1969 as a conversation between two Mississippi State University livestock specialists dedicated to building better youth through livestock programs.

Two middle-school-aged girls and a middle-aged male teacher look on at another girl poking a hole in the side of a black tray for a science project.
Filed Under: STEM – Science Technology Engineering and Math January 25, 2019

Growing food on Earth is challenging enough, but two Armstrong Middle School robotics teams are exploring the cultivation of leafy greens in space.

Filed Under: STEM – Science Technology Engineering and Math, Children and Parenting, Environment October 31, 2018

Mississippi State University received three grants Oct. 22 totaling almost $900,000 to enhance the advancement of scientific and environmental literacy among children and young people living near the Gulf Coast.

Black and white Hostein cows and light brown Jersey cows graze on green grass.
Filed Under: Youth Livestock, Dairy October 19, 2018

On a rainy day in early autumn, hundreds of people packed into the Mississippi State University Joe Bearden Dairy Center to learn where their milk, butter, yogurt, and ice cream come from. (File Photo by Kat Lawrence)

Filed Under: 4-H, Leadership and Citizenship October 18, 2018

Forty-three Mississippi State University Extension Service 4-H members were recognized recently during the annual Mississippi Congressional Award ceremony for their self-development accomplishments.

Success Stories

4-H, Community, Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens, Landscape Design and Management, Youth Gardening
Volume 5 Number 1

See what's new in Extension: Extension Supports University's Community Garden, Extension Appoints New 4-H Staff, Extension Landscape Symposium Honors Professor Emeritus, and Extension's Southern Gardener Opens Little Free Garden

A young boy wearing a Mississippi State t-shirt holds a butterfly-like insect out toward the camera.
4-H, Insects
Volume 5 Number 1

Bug Camp is not a place for kids who are afraid of bugs, warns Ryals Strider.

A close up shot of the gears and bottom of a fluorescent green bike parked in a parking lot.
Health and Wellness, Food and Health, Health
Volume 5 Number 1

Start small, but start today. That’s what Scott Stokes was thinking last year when he brought out his bicycle after a 12-year hiatus and started riding again. A new Mississippi State University Extension Service program encouraged him to get back on track. (Photo by Kevin Hudson)

The silhouettes of two cyclists are seen in front of a blue and yellow sunrise that reflects on a lake below.
Health and Wellness, Food and Health, Health
Volume 5 Number 1

Winston 100 Wellness on Wheels cyclists ride through the Noxubee Wildlife Refuge as the sun rises over a cool fall 2018 morning.

A couple, a man with a black and red jacket and a woman with a tan cardigan, stands next to a wooden railing located outside with trees and water in the background.
4-H, Volunteers
Volume 5 Number 1

For Mattie and Willie Williams, it’s always been about the children. They first got involved with the MSU Extension Service through 4-H when their children were young. (Photo by Kevin Hudson)

 

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Assc Dir, FCS & 4H & Ext Prof
Associate Director FCS/4H