This year marks a milestone in Extension--it is the Florida 4-H Centennial! The 4-H program, which began in 1909 in north Florida with boys in corn clubs and girls in tomato clubs, has now expanded to the 4-H program it is today. Today Pinellas County 4-H Youth Development programs reach over 8500 4-H members ages 5-19, with 6-hours or more of education annually in dozens of project areas and develop leadership, citizenship, and other important life skills.
In the early 1900’s separate programs were conducted for boys and girls. The clubs met in the schools with the Agricultural Agents teaching agricultural projects to boys and Homes Economic Agents teaching home and family topics to girls. The school programs were supplemented with county and regional fairs, which gave 4-H members opportunities to show off their completed projects and compete for awards. 4-H members were able to participate in agricultural judging teams, and went to regional, state and national contests. Today 4-H members have the opportunity to participate in Marine Ecology, Forest Ecology, Consumer Choices, and many more teams, which give youth a chance to travel and meet people outside of their communities while they are learning.
In 1963 the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) at the University of Florida was established and changes came to the 4-H program. The program moved from being school based to being replaced by volunteer led community or project clubs. The 4-H leader was empowered to take on a more active mentoring and teaching role with young people.
For a time line of 4-H in Florida, visit http://florida4h.org/news/Promotional%20Kits/files/History_Timeline.pdf
If you would like to read the full history of Florida 4-H visit http://florida4h.org/ and visit the “Countdown to the Florida 4-H Centennial.” There are pictures from various eras, as well as much more on the history.
Counties and Districts across the state are planning a number of Centennial events. Here is a sampling of the events:
- The official start of the celebration starts at the Florida State Fair. Come see the 4-H exhibits and play 4-H putt-putt golf at the Ag Hall of Fame building. The Florida State Fair runs from February 5-16.
- District IX Council is hosting a Florida 4-H Centennial Celebration on January 31st from 10:30 A.M. to 2:00 P.M., at Selby Public Library in Sarasota County. This event will have an open house format, featuring interactive booths and displays designed to highlight a variety of 4-H program areas. There will also be hands-on activities, crafts, games, face painting, a marine science touch tank, and more. At this event, attendees can take part in our Centennial Community Service Initiative by making cards to be sent to deployed military personnel. The goal to make at least 100 cards!
- The Pinellas County 4-H Foundation is planning a Centennial Banquet Friday, March 13, 2009. The banquet will take place at Banquet Masters in Pinellas Park. Tickets for adults will be $50.00 and will include dinner, entertainment, and a guest speaker. Please contact the 4-H office at 582-2215 for more information.
- Across the state, 4-H members are planning tree-planting activities with the goal of planting 100 trees per county. Local clubs will be working with their families, schools, and municipalities to achieve this goal.