History of 4-H: The Eighth Decade


(Editor’s note: We continue our timeline of the first 100 years of 4-H with a look at the 1970s.)

“4-H in Century III”, a document developed early in this decade, emphasized the importance of directing more effort toward publicizing 4-H. This included telling the nation about national 4-H events, provide greater opportunities for National 4-H Week activities, and generally highlighting accomplishments of 4-H before the public.

Publicizing 4-H. The Report to the Nation Team, originally begun in 1950, assisted in this public relations effort by telling important national officials about 4-H and presenting them with reports of 4-H accomplishments during the previous year.

A 1978 Gallup Poll reported that while 4-H was not as well known as some other youth groups, it was recognized by 88 percent of the people in the sample. It thus reinforced the idea that public information still needed emphasis in 4-H.

In addition, “4-H in Century III” pointed out the importance of volunteer leaders in 4-H. Their presence in the 1980s showed that volunteer leaders were as essential as in the beginning of 4-H.

“4-H in Century III” highlighted the breadth of programs that had developed in the 1970s. Instead of listing several hundred projects, which differed from state to state, the document spoke about learning experiences.

In the 1980s. 4-H in the 1980s could enrich the lives of youth through programs in economics; jobs and careers; animal, plants, and soil sciences; environmental and natural resources; health and safety; leadership; citizenship education and community development; creative and performing arts; leisure education and communications; mechanical sciences; energy conservation and development.


* Mulligan Stew, the most successful 4-H television program, premiered.


* The National 4-H Pledge changed. The first change from the original wording of the National 4-H Pledge, adopted in 1927, added “…and my world” at the end of the pledge.

* A new national 4-H history book was published titled, 4-H: An American Idea, 1900-1980, written by Thomas Wessel and Marilyn Wessel. Both the 4-H: An American Idea, 1900-1980 and The 4-H Story by Franklin Reck, were used as references for these decades and are excellent resources for those interested in additional information on 4-H.


* 4-H exceeded 7 million youth for the first time in 1974, largely as a result of the 4-H TV series, Mulligan Stew.

* Collegiate 4-H celebrates its 50-year anniversary at Ohio State University.

* National Collegiate 4-H Organization was formed.


* Ohio’s 4-H enrollment grows to 212,135 youth, led by 20,896 volunteer leaders. The most popular project introduced this year was Mrs. G. Arden’s “Green Scene.”

* Eastman Kodak Company sponsored the first National 4-H Photo Exhibition with the Poster Art Exhibit held the following year, supported by Coats and Clarks Inc.

* ECOP approved a new program development format that incorporated youth participation in program development. Implementation began in 1977.


* On the suggestion of the National Advisory Committee to the Staff Development and Training Program, several universities developed programs geared specifically for educating future Extension agents.


* Ohio 4-H’ers celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the founding of 4-H. The A.B. Graham memorial was dedicated in the Rhodes Center located at the Ohio State Fairgrounds. This portrait of A.B. Graham, the founder of 4-H, is part of a memorial display in Rhodes Hall at the Ohio State Fairgrounds.

* The “Ohio 4-H Hall of Fame” was established to honor those who have contributed to the Ohio 4-H Program.

* Popular 4-H projects included: Creative Arts, Clothing From Top to Toe, Helping at Home, Veterinary Science, Flower Garden and Woodworking.

* The National 4-H Foundation merged with the National 4-H Service Committee to form the National 4-H Council.


* 251,894 of Ohio’s youth were involved in 4-H programs. 4-H programs were conducted in all 88 counties.

* Chris Clover makes his debut in Ohio.

* More than 3,500 4-H youth participated in the Junior Division of the Ohio State Fair.

* Ohio 4-H expands its international program to include the “Ohio 4-H/LABO Japanese Month-Long Exchange.”

* A decline in organized clubs began. Special interests or short-term activities have grown in popularity.

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