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4-H General Events

National 4-H competitive events - no matter whether they are competitive contest events, or recognition events where obtaining the privilege to attend was competitive - have been a major part of 4-H history for well over a century. Many played an important role in keeping 4-H'ers involved in the program... having a personal goal of attending a particular event.

In thinking about traditional national events for the young people in 4-H, the National 4-H Congress, National 4-H Conference, National 4-H Camp on the D.C. Mall and Citizenship Washington Focus may be the major ones which come to mind. But there has been a score of other 4-H youth participation events which have been a successful part of the national 4-H program... many still in operation today. Some of these would include the National 4-H Dairy Conference, National 4-H Engineering Events, National 4-H Commodity Marketing Symposium, National 4-H Forestry Invitational, National 4-H Horse Roundup, National 4-H Poultry and Egg Conference, National 4-H Shooting Sports Invitational, National Wildlife Habitat Education Program (WHEP) Contest, National 4-H Meat Judging Contest, 4-H National Youth Science Day, Western National Roundup and the National 4-H Livestock Judging Contest, just to name a few. While National 4-H Congress may well be the first major national event... starting in Chicago in 1919 before it was even called 4-H Congress, there were many trips and tours offered to the boys and girls at the local levels starting even before 1900. These included trips to the various livestock exhibitions and fairs and to the Farmers' Institutes at the land-grant universities.

Still other national 4-H events in which 4-H members participated are described at the bottom of this section.

The National 4-H History Preservation Team has attempted to research and begin the writing of the histories of the events which were offered nationally. For most of them, there is little documented history. Some of these, like the National 4-H Commodity Marketing Symposium, was held at the same location with the same group of partnering sponsors for decades, while others moved locations and had numerous other changes, making the documentation more difficult. Although some of these event histories are relatively short, others have a significant history that needs to be documented. National 4-H Camp, National 4-H Congress-Chicago, National 4-H Conference, National 4-H Fashion Revue, National 4-H Week and National 4-H Sunday are six of these.

Over the years hundreds of people have helped plan and conduct these important events. We welcome your input; your recollections about the events in which you may have been involved. Write:

Other Miscellaneous 4-H Related Events

Farm-City Week

Sponsored by the National Farm-City Council... and continuing today, since 1955 the President of the United States has annually proclaimed the week leading to and including Thanksgiving Day as National Farm-City Week. The Council supports educational programming to build interdependence between rural and urban citizens, and places particular emphasis on information for young, school-age audiences, educating students and teachers about agriculture at the grassroots level.

Traditionally, over the years... but particularly in the earlier years of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, 4-H was heavily involved with Farm-City Week. For many years the National 4-H Service Committee coordinated this effort at the national level, engaging 4-H'ers to speak at many Farm-City related functions in support of the importance of farming and food production. The Farm-City Council was also a major player in the creation of the annual National Earth Day in April.

For information on current activities involving Farm-City Week, visit the website:

Hot Shots - National Photography Institute

HOT SHOTS take aim and shoot at the first National Photography Institute sponsored by National Geographic Magazine, Eastman Kodak Company and National 4-H Council in 1990. (photo by Mike Milkovich. Summer 1990 National 4-H Council Quarterly)

Fifty-seven young people from across the country gathered at the National 4-H Center for HOT SHOTS, the first National Photography Institute, August 6-12, 1990, sponsored by National Geographic Magazine, Eastman Kodak Company and National 4-H Council.

HOT SHOTS participants worked shoulder to shoulder with professional photographers while gaining an insider's view of photography and career opportunities in the field. The faculty for the institute worked with the young people in small groups, sharing their ideas on composition, seeing and capturing that special photograph, and expanding the pictorial expertise and creativity of each participant.

The faculty for HOT SHOTS, which had the theme "It's All In How You Aim and Shoot," included Arthur Meyerson, one of the foremost advertising photographers in the country; Tom Kennedy, director of photography for National Geographic Magazine; and Bob Llewellyn, photo essayist. Additional faculty members for the photography institute were professional photographers Jon Golden, whose images have appeared in foreign newspapers and magazines like Bante in Germany and Panorama in Italy; Dan Grogan, whose work has been featured in Time, The New York Times and Ebony; U.S. News and World Report magazine photographer Linda Creighton; Carole Guzy, Washington Post and first woman photographer to be selected "Photographer of the Year" by the National Association of Press Photographers; Washington Post photographer Darcy Padilla; Barbara Ries, freelance editorial and commercial photographer whose work has been published in Washingtonian; Paul Fetters, photographer U.S. News and World Report; Skip Brown, whose work has been published in Washingtonian, Sail and Fortune magazines; freelance photographer Roy Karten, a former photography editor for U.S. News and World Report and Washingtonian; sports photographer Mitchell Layton whose sports photos have been published in Sports Illustrated, USA Today and Newsweek; and Mike Milkovich, who has more than 400 concert shoots to his credit, including Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney and Elton John.

Faculty members donated their time and talents to this new national program. According to nationally recognized sports photographer Mitchell Layton, "Part of our obligation in this profession is to pass on our knowledge and skills. This is the basic tenet of the 4-H program and we're glad to apply that to HOT SHOTS."

Eastman Kodak Company, as HOT SHOTS partner, provided each youth participant with 20 rolls of film. Educational field trips took participants to the National Geographic Society and the offices of U.S. News and World Report. In addition, National Geographic Society processed the participants' film.

During his presentation, "See The Light," Robert P. Fordyce, coordinator, youth services, consumer markets division at Eastman Kodak, told participants, "While you must know techniques, there are no rules in photography. You make the difference. How you view your subject, what framing you choose, what light does to a subject are choices you make as an artist. You must `see the light.'"

Participation in HOT SHOTS was open to young people 14 to 19 years old who have a serious interest in improving their photography skills and who already have a working knowledge of single or twin lens reflex cameras and of the principles of composition.

It is unknown whether additional National Photography Institutes were held in later years.

National Rural Electric Expo

A brief article in the Winter 1981 National 4-H Council COURIER announces that four California 4-H'ers participated in the National Rural Electric Expo in San Francisco, January 25-29, 1982 representing the 4-H program. The youth performed various electric demonstrations in the special 4-H exhibit. This is the third year 4-H members have participated in the exposition through the generosity of Westinghouse Electric Corporation, sponsors of the national 4-H electric energy program.

National Youth Safety Congress

In 1912 corporate leaders came together for the first Safety Congress and envisioned a national organization solely dedicated to the promotion of safety - the National Safety Council. One hundred years later, NSC is still going strong, meeting annually in the fall.

Under the direction of the NSC's Youth Division, a 4-day program, as part of the annual National Safety Congress, was designated as National Youth Safety Congress, designated to broaden safety knowledge, enhance safety techniques and skills, recognize and applaud outstanding safety programs and share program ideas and promote fellowship among the youth participants. The featured event was always the presentation of youth awards for excellence for outstanding program contribution for the prevention of accidents and the promotion of safety and health.

4-H traditionally was a major segment of this youth audience at the Safety Congress, which also included delegates from other youth-serving organizations. Often the 4-H delegation would represent over 50 youth and leaders from 20 states or more.

It was a strong 4-H participation program with the 4-H delegations learning much about safety and also providing programs, exhibits and workshops about their own 4-H safety projects. It also had the bonus of providing 4-H members the valuable opportunity of meeting and working with youth delegates from other organizations including Camp Fire, Pilot Clubs, Girl Scouts and Future Farmers of America.

The history on exactly when the National Youth Safety Congresses started, and when they ended, has not yet been researched.

Textile Symposium

4-H Textile Fellows at the 1990 Southern Region 4-H Textile Symposium held in August participated in lab experiences designed by faculty of the North Carolina State University College of Textiles. Here, fellows are gaining hands-on experience with dyes during a session on dying and printing. Other lab sessions dealt with robotics, computer-aided design, kawabata, and chemical analysis. These sessions gave Textile Fellows exposure to the concepts and processes they would see later as they toured state of the art textile companies. Guilford Mills, Inc. is the sponsor of this careers-oriented symposium. (from Summer 1990 National 4-H Council Quarterly)

An article in the Sarasota (FL) Herald-Tribune on September 1, 1990 featured Tina M. Scharff, the 16-year-old daughter of Mary and David Scharff of Port Charlotte, who attended the Southern Region 4-H Textile Symposium July 28-August 3. The symposium was conducted at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, and the University of North Carolina in Greensboro.

"The symposium participants studied fiber identification, yarn testing, design techniques, physical testing and color design. They also toured textile companies to see state-of-the-art techniques and equipment. Seminars covered the textile industry's history, economic significance, its future and career possibilities.

"The event was conducted by the North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service and sponsored by Guilford Mills Inc. and textile manufacturing associations."

Compiled by National 4-H History Preservation Team.

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