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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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Publications

News

Green Frog.
Filed Under: Wildlife Youth Education, Wildlife, Urban and Backyard Wildlife July 26, 2021

Is it a frog or a toad? If you stumbled on this amphibian, would you be able to call it by its correct name? Many people believe that frogs and toads are two different types of amphibians. Technically, a toad is a type of frog! At first glance, they may appear very similar but there are a few differences that will help distinguish one from the other. 

Bucket full of trash.
Filed Under: Health and Wellness, Animal Health, Health, Environment July 16, 2021

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The amount of trash along Mississippi’s roadways and waterways is distressing. Beer bottles, soda cans, soiled diapers, cardboard boxes and fast-food wrappers are routine. Tires, gas cans and household appliances are not uncommon.

Every day, people discard millions of tons of trash in recycling containers or garbage cans. Unfortunately, people also leave trash in other places where it can harm wildlife, pets and even other people.

Blue Jay with nut in mouth.
Filed Under: Wildlife Youth Education, Wildlife, Urban and Backyard Wildlife July 8, 2021

Birdwatching is a favorite pastime of many Mississippians. My grandmother had a bird book she wore out over the years. I fondly remember sitting on the porch swing with her as a child trying to identify the different birds that frequented her house. Sometimes we were successful in finding the bird, other times not so much. 

Filed Under: 4-H, 4-H Safety Programs, 4-H SAFETY July 7, 2021

Qualifying senior 4-H members will compete in the Mississippi 4-H S.A.F.E.T.Y. State Invitational July 16 and 17 at the Jimmy Bryan 4-H Youth Complex in West Point and at the Starkville Gun Club.

A hand holds a brown snake.
Filed Under: Wildlife Youth Education June 18, 2021

Young people with an interest in the outdoors have a chance to engage with nature in Mississippi State University’s 2021 Conservation Camp hosted July 19-23. The weeklong day camp is for rising sixth- through ninth-graders. It is based on the MSU campus, and features wildlife science and outdoor exploration. A $100 fee includes lunch each day and all activity costs. The camp extends from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

Success Stories

Three smiling women.
Health and Wellness, Family, Children and Parenting, Food and Health, Nutrition and Wellness
Volume 7 Number 1

Head Start staff completes training to ensure safe, healthy foods

Washington County Opportunities Inc. Head Start/Early Head Start was forced to stop in-person services for much of 2020 because of the pandemic, but that did not stop its staff from feeding the children who are registered in the program.

A woman, wearing all black clothes and a red, white, and blue scarf, smiling in front of flower bushes with her arms crossed.
4-H, Community
Volume 7 Number 1

State senator credits 4-H background for commitment to service

Helping Mississippi’s economy survive a pandemic and supporting historic legislation to change the state flag are just a few of the votes that have made Nicole Boyd’s rookie legislative session an unprecedented one.

A woman walking on a sidewalk curved around a tall tree.
4-H, Health and Wellness, Family, Nutrition
Volume 7 Number 1

Extension continues educational efforts despite pandemic

Serra Beth Greenlee takes a lot of classes at her local Mississippi State University Extension Service office in Alcorn County. When she saw the Walk-a-Weigh program would be offered virtually, she signed up.

Four women and two men stand spaced out in green grass.
4-H, Leadership, Volunteers, Community
Volume 7 Number 1

Noxubee County volunteers make a difference through service

Everybody who knows Landis and Katherine Mickens, who’ve lived in Noxubee County all their lives, knows they care about service. The Mickens’s ties to their Macon neighbors are strong and run deep, just like their 38-year marriage.

A man with his arm around a smiling woman standing on a sidewalk in front of a lake.
4-H, Agriculture, Agricultural Economics
Volume 7 Number 1

A Reward for Hard Work

Doss Family Endows Scholarship for Future Extension Agents

In the Doss family, a strong work ethic is the hallmark of success. That is why, as a tribute to his parents, Roy and Helen, Derrell Doss arranged for their trust to fund a scholarship for Mississippi State University students who want to pursue careers related to agriculture, home economics, and the Extension Service.

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