March 11-18 is Pennsylvania 4-H Week! 4-H Clubs take time during this week each year to draw attention to this program that is over 100 years old. Radio ads, news paper ads and posters are just some of the ways that 4-H is celebrated during the week.
The history of 4-H in Pennsylvania began in the 1900's near Gettysburg. O.H. Benson began programs in rural school when he learned that about 90% of the students indicated that they were planning on leaving their family farms.
In 1914, the Smith-Lever Act was passed. The act made federal and state money available to be used for agriculture and home economic learning done through extension by land grant colleges.
According to records, the first official state 4-H program was held in Mercer County by leader Charles G. McBride who was an extension agent.
The meeting was held in the Mercer County courthouse. Ever wonder why the four leaf clover is the official symbol of 4-H? That also began with Mr. Benson. A group of students gave him a bouquet of four leaf clovers. He wrote an H on each of the leaves. The four H's stand for: Head, Heart,Hands and Health. These are the four parts that make up the 4-H pledge recited before each 4-H meeting.
In the 1960's, 4-H was started in urban areas as an outreach program for low-income youth. U.S. Congress approved special funding in 1972 to allow for work with low-income and minority children. Penn State University is responsible for the planning, organization and supervising of 4-H work in our state.
Each club is run by screened leaders who are volunteers. Those volunteers report to county extension agents and educators. In Wayne County, our extension office is located in Honesdale. Our youth educator is Jessica Scull. If you are interested in becoming a leader or a member of 4-H, please call (570) 253-5970 ext. 4110. Celebrate 4-H and Learn By Doing!