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About 4-H

4‑H is a Community

SDSU Extension 4‑H is a community that provides experiences where young people learn by doing. Kids complete hands-on projects in areas like health, science, agriculture and citizenship, in a positive environment where they receive guidance from adult mentors and are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles. Kids experience 4‑H through in-school and after-school programs, school and community clubs and 4‑H camps. We recognize that the youth of today are our future leaders and what they learn and experience in 4-H will help them develop into contributing citizens who will give back to their communities in the future.

South Dakota 4-H History

Members of the Minnehaha County 4-H club group photo in front of a building. May 3, 1930 Sioux Falls, SD

The 4-H program grew out of the need to help young people and their families receive better agricultural education. The Morrill Act of 1862 established the land grant college system, which lead to South Dakota State College in 1881. Land grant universities looked for ways to share research with the public and found youth to be an ideal audience. Through Tomato Clubs and Corn Clubs, youth were able to participate in hands-on activities as a way to learn about agriculture.

These clubs, referred to as 4-H clubs by 1912, led to agriculture and home management clubs for youth across America. In South Dakota, Minnehaha County resident William Mair organized the earliest South Dakota Boys Club, with the first meeting happening in 1906 or 1907.

The Smith-Lever Act in 1914 created the Cooperative Extension System, tasking the land-grant universities in each state to get the university to the people. By 1924, the name “4-H” and the clover were officially adopted. Over time, 4-H has evolved to include both urban and rural youth and has expanded beyond agriculture.

Today, 4-H in South Dakota teaches life skills and leadership to youth in the four program priorities of Agriculture, Science, Health and Wellness and Leadership.

4-H is not simply about the ribbons or other awards that you receive. It is about the relationships that you build, the challenges that you overcome, stepping outside of your comfort zone to try something new, and becoming a role model in your community.

— Becca Tullar, Brown County

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