Ohio 4-H is focused on two celebrations this month: the birthday of a legend and some of the outstanding 4-H volunteers and members that contribute to the success of Ohio 4-H.
Happy 150th Birthday, A.B. Graham!
Albert Belmont Graham, known as the founder of 4-H, was born March 13, 1868 in Miami County, Ohio, where he eventually became a superintendent of schools in neighboring Springfield.
On January 15, 1902, Graham founded the boys’ and girls’ agricultural club, which, by 1912, would be called 4-H to stand for “head, heart, hands and health.” The first clubs, called “The Tomato Club” and “Corn Growing Club,” had 83 members who planted experimental plots of corn, vegetables and flowers. Youth were encouraged to perform educational workshops, learn to keep records and work with their peers.
Graham’s work within agricultural communities went far beyond the education of school children about the scientific study of agriculture. He promoted healthy agricultural practices, encouraged schools to teach agriculture and home economics as part of their curriculum, and helped to provide educational resources to students and the public.
In 1905, The Ohio State University created the position of superintendent of agricultural extension for Graham. He served as director at Ohio State until 1914, then went to the New York State School of Agriculture to start a similar program there. In 1916, he moved to Washington, D.C., to work as chief of agricultural extension specialists for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Graham retired in 1938, returned to Columbus, and remained active in the community and 4-H until he passed away at the age of 91 on January 14, 1960.
4-H has continued to grow since its start in 1902 and now includes roughly 6 million youth in more than 50 countries. In 2017, 71,000 Ohio youth participated in 4-H clubs and 22,000 Ohio youth and adults volunteered with Ohio 4-H.
Although 4-H has grown from the traditional clubs to include 4-H camps, after-school programs, school enrichment programs and special STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities, the core goals of 4-H have remained the same: to provide hands-on learning experiences for members and to encourage teamwork, leadership and community service activities in which 4-H members have a positive impact in their communities.
Ohio 4-H Week
The impact of Ohio 4-H is celebrated during Ohio 4-H Week, this year from March 4-9. During the week, Ohio 4-H will recognize its many youth, advisors and volunteers who have contributed to the success of the program over the years.
Ohio 4-H Week ends each year with the Ohio 4-H Conference, which generally has around 1,500 participants and takes place this year on March 10.
The 2018 Ohio 4-H Conference is designed to bring 4-H teens and volunteers from across the state of Ohio together. It is the largest gathering of 4-H volunteers in the United States
“Our goal for the conference is for teens and adults to learn together and from each other in order to improve our ability to deliver Ohio 4-H,” said Allen Auck, program manager at Ohio 4-H. “We truly believe these educational sessions offer something for everyone.”
The conference equips participants with resources, information and skills to meet the ever-changing needs of youth. Attendees have the opportunity to receive training in more than 125 different topics such as career exploration, risk management, camping, leadership, cake decorating, dancing, animal sciences and much more.
“We hope that attendees will enjoy themselves, forge new relationships, and take home some new ideas to implement in their 4-H club, program, or activity,” said Auck.
In addition to the educational sessions, the day features the Ohio 4-H Volunteer Recognition Luncheon, which highlights the extraordinary accomplishments of 4-H teens and volunteers. The Ohio 4-H Hall of Fame was initiated in 1977 during the 75th anniversary of 4-H with the enshrinement of A.B. Graham and the living charter members of the first 4-H club.
The friends of 4-H who will be inducted into the 2018 Hall of Fame are Rita Allen of Van Wert County, Fred Deel of Gallia County, Ramona Stout of Delaware County, and Bobie Williams of Williams County. Inductees for the Ohio 4-H Teen Hall of Fame are Molly Bauman of Adams County, Noor Alshafie of Franklin County, Carson Fulks of Franklin County, and Kaytlyn Graver of Wyandot County.