has touched the lives of more than four million young people in our
state since its beginning nearly a hundred years ago. The reason for
this broad impact is that 4-H provides
educational experiences that help young people gain knowledge, develop
life skills, live healthy lives, make intelligent career choices and
form positive attitudes — values young people will rely on throughout
in Tennessee began in the early 1900s as an educational program to help
youth in rural areas develop skills in agriculture and home economics.
What began as a corn club for boys and a canning club for girls, soon
expanded into many areas of agriculture and farm family activities. As
the youth development program of The University of Tennessee
Agricultural Extension Service, 4-H embodies a
unique blending of county and community resources with the resources,
research and teaching of Tennessee's land-grant university.
Historically, membership in 4-H evoked images of farming activities, livestock, cooking, canning, and county fairs. Over the years, however, 4-H
has broadened its appeal and outreach to include all young people,
whether they live on a farm, in a suburban neighborhood, or a large
urban complex. 4-H today includes career
fairs as well as county fairs, service to and involvement in
communities, international cultural exchange programs, environmental
awareness, character building, and much, much more.
The story of 4-H
includes hands-on learning experiences, challenges, hard work,
leadership opportunities and commitment, but also fun, adventure,
lasting friendships and travel. The story is told in the lives of former
4-H'ers who are today's leaders, and
reflected in the healthy, hopeful faces of today's members. It is heard
in the way they communicate with confidence and knowledge, seen in what
they have accomplished in their projects, and demonstrated in their
service to others and their communities.
The 4-H story, however, could not be told without the devotion of 4-H agents, specialists and volunteers; the dedication of the 4-H Foundation; the generosity of donors; and the support of local, state and federal governments.