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4-H Promotion Compendium: 4-H Films That Inspire

A National Compendium of 4-H Promotion and Visibility over the Past Century

4-H Films That Inspire

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4-H has a tremendous list of films to its credit; well over 100 that were distributed nationwide, starting back before 1920. Many were produced by corporate donors of National 4-H Council and its two predecessor organizations, while others were made by independent film companies... and some even came from Hollywood!

The primary purpose of many of these films was to inform the viewers about some aspect of 4-H – coverage of a 4-H event, program or success story. But others followed inspirational scripts with the intent of making the audience feel good... "tear jerkers" so to speak. Some of these include:

"The Green Promise," distributed by R-K-O Radio Pictures was produced in 1949 and featured child stars Natalie Wood and Bobby Ellis, along with Marguerite Chapman, Walter Brennan, Robert Paige, Milburn Stone, and Jeanne LuDuke (a 10-year-old 4-H girl from Mount Vernon, Indiana). A local 4-H Club gets involved in helping a widowed father and his four motherless children save his farm that he was about to lose. "The Green Promise" had its initial premiere at the final banquet of the 1948 National 4-H Congress.

Robert Paige inducts child star Natalie Wood as a member of 4-H in "The Green Promise," a Glenn McCarthy production for R-K-O release in which Marguerite Chapman and Walter Brennan co-star.

"Tom Boy and the Champ," 1961 Universal Pictures, with Candy Moore, Ben Johnson, Jesse White and Rex Allen. A Texas ranch girl wins a calf at the county fair and calls him "Champy." While training the animal, she gets caught in a storm and contracts polio. She learns to walk again and wins awards with "Champy" going all the way to the International Live Stock Exposition in Chicago. The film shows the 4-H parade in the Arena. Advertised through National 4-H News, "the intriguing 'feel good' entertainment was produced in honor of 4-H Clubs across the country."

"So Dear To My Heart," a 1948 film by Walt Disney Productions starring Bobbie Driscoll, Beulah Bondik and Burl Ives. While the story takes place in the early 1900s prior to the use of the term "4-H," it tells the story of young rural boys and girls, their projects and the county fair. Also the film was advertised heavily in National 4-H News and had its premiere in Chicago during the time of National 4-H Congress.

"Where the Road Turns Right," produced in 1946 by Venard Films and the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work, and funded by Sears-Roebuck Foundation, the "feel-good" movie is a tribute to local 4-H volunteer leadership and designed to stimulate interest among rural youth to help reach the goal of 3 million club members by 1950. The film was based on a national 4-H movie promotion through National 4-H News. 4-H volunteer leaders were encouraged to submit their ideas for filming a real story of 4-H club work and 4-H members were asked to enter the contest to make up the talent for the film. A total of 809 club leaders and 1,346 members entered the contest. Clarence Snetsinger of Barrington, Illinois was the winning leader whose story was told. The movie premiered at the 25th National 4-H Club Congress in 1946.


"Young America," a Twentieth Century-Fox film, is dedicated to "the thousands of 4-H club leaders throughout the country." Starring Jane Withers, Jane Darwell, William Tracy and Ben Carter, the film is about a "spoiled-brat" urban girl who is shipped off by her exasperated parents to visit her aunt and uncle who live on a farm and ends up, through 4-H, raising a champion steer. The film premiered at the December 1941 National 4-H Congress and was released in early 1942.

One of the most recent 4-H-related productions, made by Paramount Pictures in 2006, is "Charlotte's Web" which features the 4-H emblem multiple times. The themes portrayed speak directly to the great work that 4-H does in developing youth, building friendships, commitment to goals and having fun! A movie ticket purchase campaign was conducted through National 4-H Council.

The National 4-H History Preservation team is attempting to document all known 4-H films distributed nationwide and to digitize as many of them as we can find. To review current information on the films go to the National 4-H Film Archive:

Compiled by National 4-H History Preservation Team.

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