4-H began over one hundred years ago when clubs were started in rural communities of Ohio and Minnesota. These clubs were formed with the purpose of encouraging youth to learn new, scientific methods of agriculture that their parents were reluctant to adopt. They met with such success that they were soon formalized into 4-H clubs and partnered with the Extension Service. The Extension Service is the county based outreach of the land-grant universities of each state. Tasked with promoting research based education to encourage better, healthier lives, partnering Extension Service with the growing 4-H clubs was natural and occurred within twelve years. Today, just as the mission of County Extension Agents has expanded, so too has the work and reach of 4-H and its clubs.
Currently, 4-H serves 6 million youth nationwide. Many youth participate in short programs through schools, child-care facilities, and other venues. To engage in 4-H year-round, nearly 500 youth in Tarrant County join clubs that meet throughout the community. Members range in age from 8 to 18, with most clubs providing activities to younger siblings as well. It is in the clubs that members have hands-on learning experiences with solo and group projects and develop leadership skills by leading the club and organizing community service.
The four Hs stand for Head, Heart, Hands, and Health. The 4-H pledge sums up how these come together to direct the program and all it offers:
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.
By reciting this pledge at the start of every meeting, members are reminded:
- to think and learn for themselves.
- to help themselves and their communities.
- to commit to do their own work, enjoy their accomplishments, and share their abilities with their community.
- to take care of themselves and those around them.
While 4-H started with agricultural based programs, it has evolved to cover a wide range of interests and serves youth in both rural and urban communities. But the mission has remained the same-encouraging the promotion of scientific based learning and preparing youth for healthy and productive lives. Today’s members may still raise livestock and work in gardens, but they are just as likely to build robots, perform in a talent show, or participate in a cooking contest.
The best way to learn about 4-H is to attend a club meeting close to you. With over twenty clubs, each group has its own flavor and feel. The one thing that you will find in common at all meetings is that they are led by the youth members, have fun activities, and friendly people who will welcome you to 4-H.
If you’re ready to attend a meeting, you can follow the “Club” link above to find a list and a map of the clubs in Tarrant County. If you still want some more information-then please follow the links in the About tab to Fast Facts and the Lexicon. We also have a handy New Member Handbook on the Documents and Form page.