Centennial celebrations continue as 4-Hers look back at their history
Across Wyoming, 4-H continues to have a widespread impact. However, the history of the organization reaches back to the turn of the century.
4-H was formed as the result of dedicated, forward-looking people interested in youth education.
In 1902, A. B. Graham, an Ohio school superintendent, organized a boys’ and girls’ club with a home project based on corn. This became the first 4-H club.
By 1913, the University of Wyoming College of Agriculture had 125 boys and girls enrolled in 4-H. The initial objective of the clubs was to influence the farm and home practices of their parents.
Extension staff outlined project work.
In 1917, the first full-time boys’ and girls’ 4-H club agent was hired in Sheridan County to work with the 74 rural schools in the county. By 1919, there were 96 clubs across Wyoming with an enrollment of 1,562 members, growing to more than 3,000 youth in the 1930s.
Work was being carried out in eight project areas, including corn, potato, home gardening, canning, poultry, pig, sheep and sewing.
The University of Wyoming 4-H Youth Development Program continues to fulfill its mission, which reads, “4-H empowers youth to reach their full potential, working and learning in partnership with caring adults.”
County 4-H educators partner with 2,579 adult volunteer leaders to provide opportunities for youth to reach their full potential through UW 4-H.
As 4-H grows, the types of projects change to reflect new youth interests and support programming in science, technology, engineering and mathematics; healthy living; and citizenship.
Today, there are 621 4-H clubs where almost 7,000 youth enroll in more than 50 4-H projects. Projects with the highest number of youth enrolled include shooting sports, swine, horse, photography and sheep.
While the majority of youth enroll in the 4-H club program, many youth also participate in camping, afterschool 4-H programs and school enrichment.
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This article was contributed by University of Wyoming Extension.