Hello fellow readers, Last week wrapped up the 75th annual NJ State Fair held at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta. In addition to the display gardens we were part of, there were rides, vendors, and food galore; largely not healthful but part of the fun. Best of all was the farm influence of produce and livestock for sale and to be judged. The prize – glorious ribbons many awarded by 4-H which, thanks to mom, inspired my gardening start. The anniversary leads to sharing of the History of 4-H.
4-H dates back to the early 1900s
It’s said that 1 out of 7 Americans was involved in 4-H as children, administered by the National Institute of Food & Agriculture of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and dates back to the early 1900s. It was created to help public school education become more connected to rural life. Adults in the farming community didn’t readily accept new agricultural discoveries. Educators learned students would experiment with new ideas and share them with their parents.
I loved hearing the stories of when mom went to high school in the ‘big city’ of Walden, NY, leaving behind the one-room school house. Mom would say that farm kids were made fun of – cast off as not so bright. 4-H helped bridge the gap between the farm and city communities.
From 1972 through 1981, a children’s program called Mulligan Stew, sponsored by the 4-H Council, was shown in schools and on television. It featured a multi-cultural group of kids who went on nutritional adventures around the globe. The popularity of the show propelled 4-H membership.
4-H stands for Head, Heart, Hands, and Health
The focus of 4-H is practical hands-on learning. Children take the lead on their projects and set and achieve goals that help them gain confidence. I recall weeding myself silly just in time for judgment day. Literally, I wore a path around my rectangular flower garden filled with annuals grown from seed featuring a marigold border. My garden design skills have grown since then, but my preference for planning and planting still supersedes keeping up with the weeds. Who has time to putter?
The 4-H emblem is a green four-leaf clover with a white H on each leaf standing for Head, Heart, Hands, and Health. The green stands for growing living things and the white for purity and cleanliness. While we don’t choose to grow “weeds,” they too are green :^)
Column updated 7/30/22
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