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AGRICULTURE REPORT - March 19, 2002: 4-H Turns 100 - 2002-03-18

This is the VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT.

A group with strong ties to American agriculture is celebrating a major anniversary. Four-H is one-hundred years old this year.

Four-H programs began in the early Nineteen-Hundreds. The first programs were designed to give young people a better agricultural education.

Today, Four-H offers the largest unofficial education program in the United States. Almost seven-million young people take part in activities organized by the group. The national Four-H program has ties with similar organizations in more than eighty countries.

The expression “Four-H” comes from the words head, heart, hands and health. Members agree to use their head for clearer thinking, their heart for greater loyalty, their hands for larger service and their health for better living.

Four-H programs were not the result of one idea or a recognized national leader. They were the result of the work of many people in different parts of the United States.

One-hundred years ago, many young people were leaving American farms for jobs in cities. This concerned many educators, especially in farming communities. Four-H was established to teach students how to operate productive farms. Members met after normal school hours.

Four-H officials say the group has changed during the past one-hundred years. They say the group is now mainly concerned with the development of young people. The purpose of Four-H is to give boys and girls knowledge and skills that will help them become productive members of society.

Four-H members attend meetings, camps and other activities. They learn about things that interest them, such as raising animals, growing crops, cooking and caring for the environment.

In most states, young people between the ages of eight and eighteen can join Four-H. Some states have programs designed for younger children.

Money for Four-H programs comes from the United States Department of Agriculture, state universities and local governments.

Recently, hundreds of people from across the United States gathered in Washington, D-C, for a national Four-H conference. The results of the conference were given to President Bush and Congress.

This VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT was written by George Grow.