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4-H: who we are

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webmaster | 10/10/13

By Madera County 4-H
For The Madera Tribune

Members of 4-H across the nation are responding to challenges every day in their communities and their world.

With a rich history and an expansive network reaching every corner of the country, 4-H is the nation’s largest youth development organization. More than 6 million 4-H youth in urban neighborhoods, suburban schoolyards and rural farming communities stand out among their peers: building revolutionary opportunities and implementing community-wide change at an early age.

4-H was formed in the early part of the 20th century to extend knowledge and information from the state land-grant universities to local communities. An organization rooted in the rich tradition of American agriculture, 4-H today serves youth from urban centers as well as those living in suburbs and the rural heartland.

4-H is a program of the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) with collaboration between federal, state, and county governments, and community residents. Each county maintains a Cooperative Extension office with academic advisors who conduct research and extend knowledge in their areas of expertise.

Madera County 4-H

Madera County’s 4-H spirit continues to flourish since the year 1915 to the present. With the exception of a few years suspension due to the World War I and World War II all out war efforts, club efforts continued to inspire formation of new clubs. In the 1920s livestock project clubs were creating quite an interest among Madera County youth. Calf clubs, pig clubs, heifer clubs began springing up and some of the animals were exhibited at the County Fair.

4-H clubs also took part in Farm Bureau meetings by giving talks and demonstrations to its members. In the early days, clubs had project tours and walked from one to another following the Saturday meetings. As time went on cars became more prevalent and parents helped transport members and the tours increased in size and mileage.

At the end of 1927, all ag club members who completed their project and turned in a record book were presented a California Achievement Pin. Since this time, awards and incentives have played an important role in recognizing Madera’s youth for a job well done. 1928 was the beginning of the community club concept, combining agriculture and clothing groups with one set of club officers. In 1927, the first summer camp was held at Whitaker Forest in Tulare County, where club members from Fresno, Kern, Tulare, Kings and Madera held their combined camp.

In 1929, a model 4-H club meeting was presented by Dixieland 4-H Club and the new 4-H community club concept was born and spread throughout Madera County. By 1937-40s, club members were transported to the Madera Theater by grammar school bus for the countywide Achievement Day where achievement pins and awards were presented along with a free show by the management.

In the ’40s the Madera County All Star Award was initiated for outstanding boys or girls in the 4-H work within the county. By the early ’40s 13 4-H clubs were in place: Alamo, Ripperdan, Alpha, Dairyland, Eastin, Ashview, Arcola, Dixieland, LaVina, Record Breakers, Berenda, Fairmead, and Sharen.

Since the 1940s, 4-H clubs have increased in size, projects and activities for Madera County youth to participate. The 4-H projects of 2013 are diverse and challenging to youth and their adult volunteers in order to meet demands of today’s society. The 4-H program continues to be family based with emphasis on adult leaders to help make the 4-H program a reality for some youth looking for a second home and family. Madera County’s 4-H program is a team effort between youth and adults working together to make better citizens and community.

Proven results

“The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development,” a longitudinal study conducted by the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University, shows youth engaged with 4-H are:

  • Nearly two times more likely to get better grades in school;
  • Nearly two times more likely to plan to go to college;
  • 41 percent less likely to engage in risky behaviors; and
  • 25 percent more likely to positively contribute to their families and communities.

Unparalleled reach and scope

With 540,000 volunteers, 3,500 professionals, and more than 60 million alumni, the 4-H movement supports young people from elementary school through high school with programs designed to shape future leaders and innovators. Fueled by research-driven programming, 4-Hers engage in hands-on learning activities in the areas of science, citizenship and healthy living.

Leading by example

The caring support of adult volunteers and mentors inspires young people in 4-H to work collaboratively, take the lead on their own projects and set and achieve goals with confidence. 4-Hers chart their own course, explore important issues and define their place in the world. 4-Hers stand up for themselves and their communities.

These pivotal experiences build a foundation of leadership and skills for success in their future careers. Learn more about 4-H programs or find out how you can get involved.


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