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Agency - University Of Minnesota Extension 4-H Youth Development

Agency Details:

University Of Minnesota Extension 4-H Youth Development
Last updated on April 29, 2013

The mission of Minnesota 4-H Youth Development is to engage youth in partnership with adults, in quality learning opportunities that enable them to shape and reach their full potential as active citizens in a global community.

Minnesota 4-H Youth Development is recognized and respected by a broad cross-sector of audiences as a leader in the application of positive youth development through educational programs that balance research, design, and practice.

The mission is achieved by offering out of school education programs that stimulate youth to learn in subject areas they are interested in. Programs that engage youth in addressing community and youth related issues, as well as encouraging youth to reach their full potential in an ever changing, diverse world.

Since its humble beginnings more than 100 years ago, 4-H has grown to become the nation’s largest youth development organization. The 4-H idea is simple: help young people and their families gain the skills they need to be proactive forces in their communities’ and develop ideas for a more innovative economy. That idea was the catalyst to begin the 4-H movement, and those values continue today.
As one of the first youth development organizations in America, 4-H opened the door for young people to learn leadership skills and explore ways to give back. 4-H revolutionized how youth connected to practical, hands-on learning experiences while outside of the classroom. However, they found that young people were open to new thinking and would "experiment" with new ideas and share their experiences and successes with adults. In this way, rural youth programs became an innovative way to introduce new agriculture technology to their communities.
The seed of the 4-H idea of practical and "hands-on" learning came from the desire to make public school education more connected to country life. Early programs tied both public and private resources together for the purpose of helping rural youth. Building community clubs to help solve these agricultural challenges was a first step toward youth learning more about the industries in their community.
A. B. Graham started one such youth program in Clark County, Ohio, in 1902, which is considered the birth of the 4-H program in the United States. The first club was called "The Tomato Club" or the "Corn Growing Club". T.A. "Dad" Erickson of Douglas County, Minnesota, started local agricultural after-school clubs and fairs also in 1902. Jessie Field Shambaugh developed the clover pin with an H on each leaf in 1910, and by 1912 they were called 4-H clubs.
When Congress passed the Smith-Lever Act in 1914 and created the Cooperative Extension System at USDA, it included work of various boys' and girls' clubs involved with agriculture, home economics and related subjects, which effectively nationalized the 4-H organization. By 1924, these clubs became organized as 4-H clubs, and the clover emblem was adopted. As a publicly funded, non-formal collaborative national educational network, Cooperative Extension combines the expertise and resources of federal, state, and local governments. Cooperative Extension is designed to meet the need for research, knowledge and educational programs that enable people to make practical decisions.
Through the local county and state offices, Extension staff provides research-based information, non-formal educational programs and technical advice directly to individuals, families and communities that enable them to be self reliant and improve their lives. Historically, these efforts have been described in various ways - as major projects, programs, areas or core programs. Today, 4-H has an expansive reach, serving youth in rural, urban, and suburban communities in every state across the nation. Youth currently in 4-H are tackling the nation’s top issues, from global food security, climate change and sustainable energy to childhood obesity and food safety. 4-H out-of-school programming, in-school enrichment programs, clubs and camps also offer a wide variety of science, engineering, technology and applied math educational opportunities – from agricultural and animal sciences to rocketry, robotics, environmental protection and computer science – to improve the nation’s ability to compete in key scientific fields and take on the leading challenges of the 21st century.

Contact people:

 Anita Harris, Program Director, (phone), (email)
Priya Felling, Program Coordinator, (phone), (email)


 3400 1st Street North Suite 400
St. Cloud, MN 56303
(See a map)

Web Site:
Last updated on April 29, 2013

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