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National 4-H Week

It is believed that the first official "Club Week" was proclaimed by Governor Christianson in Minnesota in 1926 when he established April 18-24 as "Club Week" to promote the work of the Boys and Girls Clubs in that state, as reported in the April-May, 1926 issue of National Boys and Girls Club News.

What is now know as National 4-H Week began as an outgrowth of World War II. Following Pearl Harbor, it was decided to postpone holding the National 4-H Camp in Washington, D.C., until the cessation of hostilities. W. H. Palmer, State 4-H Leader in Ohio, soon after announced plans for a State 4-H Mobilization Week for Ohio as a means of focusing the attention of 4-H members on what they might do for national defense. This idea met with favorable response by State leaders throughout the country. As a result, the Federal Extension Service initiated National 4-H Mobilization Week which was observed annually in 1942, 1943 and 1944. The following year and each year since, it has been observed as National 4-H Week.

The focus during National 4-H Mobilization Week was on encouraging 4-H members to produce foods needed by rural men and women in the armed services; enlist as many young people eligible for membership as possible in all rural areas, particularly those living on farms, in some phase of the 4-H Club war program; to report on 4-H Club work which had already been started in terms of how it would contribute to family production and conservation goals and how it would contribute toward the total amount needed by rural men and women now in the armed services.

During this same period, the mid-1940's, a National 4-H Achievement Week was celebrated in November. This was a time to promote 4-H by emphasizing the accomplishments of that year and to recruit new members and leaders and plan for the next year.

After the war, when the National 4-H Mobilization Week became National 4-H Week, the purpose of the Week centered on (1) acquainting the public with the new, enlarged 4-H program, and the many ways young people may take part, (2) encourage more youth to join 4-H, (3) urge more men and women to volunteer as 4-H leaders, (4) recognize parents' contribution to 4-H and strengthen their cooperation, and (5) report the year's 4-H accomplishments and plan for the year ahead.

Results of this first National 4-H Week in 1945 indicated it had been a very effective means on the part of leaders and members alike, of reviewing the year's work, setting goals for the ensuing year, and focusing the attention of the public on 4-H and its values in the development of young people and to general community and national welfare.

In the early years, National 4-H Week was held in the spring. Beginning in 1968, National 4-H Week is now observed the first full week of October, beginning with the first Sunday of October. It may have been at the time of this change over of dates that the National 4-H Achievement Week became a part of National 4-H Week.

National 4-H Week Theme

Each year a national theme was designated around which the Week's observation was focused. Along with the named theme... and usually a short paragraph giving the theme interpretation, there was also a national 4-H poster based on the theme, and often other supportive mementoes produced and distributed by the National 4-H Supply Service.

See the section on National 4-H Themes on this website:

National 4-H Week Promotion Kit

For many years a National 4-H Week Promotion Kit was assembled cooperatively by 4-H Extension USDA, National 4-H Service Committee and the National 4-H Foundation. It was distributed to state 4-H staffs, extension editors and to every county extension office nationwide. The kits usually contained a wide assortment of promotional items including media related materials, a letter from the President of the United States, national 4-H statistics, clip art, exhibit plans and usually an "idea exchange" of how to gain more publicity for your local 4-H program.

National 4-H Week Posters

4-H posters produced at the national level were a traditional part of 4-H going back to the 1920's. The very first item ever offered by the National 4-H Supply Service in 1924 (before it even became a Supply Service the following year) was a 4-H poster. Graphic 4-H posters were distributed during the war years in the 1940's to support National 4-H Mobilization Week. Then in the late 1940's, annual 4-H posters were produced in time for National 4-H Week each year, a practice which lasted for decades.

For more information on the National 4-H Poster Program, check out the section on National 4-H Posters on the 4-H History website in the National 4-H History area.

Radio and Television Public Service Announcements

Recorded radio spots were produced for release just before National 4-H Week starting in 1965 and through the 1970's; and, later in the 1970's television public service announcements began to be offered, as well. These were produced by National 4-H Service Committee (later National 4-H Council) in cooperation with 4-H, Extension, USDA. The spots were often offered as 10-seconds, 20-seconds, 30-seconds and 60-seconds in length. The radio spots were distributed on reel-to-reel tape and on vinyl records.

Most of these spots were voiced by VIP's from various walks of life including sports stars, movie stars and celebrities from major television shows of the era, astronauts, political figures and others. A partial listing of participants includes:


James Lovell Alan Shepard Ellison Onizuka

Sports Stars

Ernie Banks, Chicago CubsTed Williams, Boston Red Sox
Don Meredith, Quarterback, Dallas CowboysJohnny Unitas, Quarterback, Baltimore Colts
Bart Starr, Quarterback, Green Bay PackersParnelli Jones, auto racing
Richard Petty, auto racingGayle Sayers, Chicago Bears
Sugar Ray Leonard, boxing


Mike DouglasJimmy StewartBob HopeJohnny Carson
Anita BryantDiahann CarrollBill CosbyJim Nabors
Donna ReedMarilyn Van DerburArthur GodfreyEddie Albert
Kathryn CrosbyAnn LandersErnie FordGlenn Campbell
Charley PrideJohn UpdikeRoy RogersPat Boone
Mac DavisTelly SavalasTanya TuckerReba McEntire
Rita MorenoErik EstradaThe Captain & TenilleThe Fifth Dimension


Clifford Hardin, Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz, Secretary of Agriculture
Vice President Hubert HumphreySenator Birch Bayh
President Ronald Reagan

Many of those who voiced the spots had been in 4-H, or had 4-H connections. Others just knew about 4-H as a good organization for young people and were happy to voice their messages to promote a worthy cause. Here are some samples of these spots from 40 or so years ago:

Ernie Ford
“This is Ernie Ford saluting 4-H members and leaders everywhere for their fine accomplishments. As a father of 4-H members, I certainly want to commend these two and three-quarter million young people who live up to the 4-H motto, “Learning by Doing.” Nowadays, boys and girls wherever they live can enjoy belonging to 4-H. They learn new skills and experiences, and leadership responsibilities. So, if you’re between the ages of nine and 19 – or are a parent of a boy or girl between nine and 19 – take it from Ernie Ford – enroll them in 4-H, an opportunity well worthwhile.”

Bart Starr
“This is Bart Starr, quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, and I’d like to salute all the 4-H members, leaders and parents in America for the fine job they are doing. 4-H is no longer just rural. You boys and girls who live in th city can also belong to 4-H. There’s over 100 projects to choose from - projects like photography, sewing, dog care and training and automotive - and by following the motto, “Learning by Doing,” I’m sure you’ll find that 4-H is fun.”

Ernie Banks
“If you’re between the ages of nine through nineteen, take if from Ernie Banks - hit a home run with 4-H by contacting your county Extension office today.”

Bob Hope
“Hi, this is Bob Hope saluting America’s three million 4-H boys and girls who are setting examples for 4-H organizations in 80 other countries around the world. There’s even an active 4-H program in war-torn Vietnam, where the government has issued a postage stamp in honor of 4-H as being one of the few hopes of the future that lives and grows each day in their country. 4-H has something to offer every boy or girl between the ages of nine through 19, or if you’re over 19, become a 4-H leader, an opportunity to help today’s youth.”

Jim Nabors
“This is Jim Nabors saluting 4-H members everywhere for the fine job they are doing in helping to build a stronger America. Through their modern educational programs, 4-H has something to offer all youth wherever you may live. Such a strong program has kindled the way to 4-H-like organizations around the world. I had the opportunity to meet sixteen hundred of these young people at National 4-H Congress in Chicago and felt comforted to see these young Americans gathered and to know that our nation will continue to thrive in capable leadership for many, many more years. If you’re between nine and 19 and would like to join 4-H - take if from Jim Nabors - join today - you’ll be glad you did.”

Jimmy Stewart
“My name is Jimmy Stewart, and I live in Hollywood, California, and I like 4-H Clubs. I admire 4-H’ers more every time I see these alert young people applying head, heart, hands and health to better living for themselves and others. Now days when we are all disturbed about the rise in juvenile delinquency, we see the need for more boys and girls to share wholesome character and citizenship building activities. Here 4-H has a special contribution to make. Through 4-H, young people wherever they live learn by doing. They do things - make things - and grow things. They grow themselves. So lets help more young people in town, country, city and suburbia develop through their 4-H learning for living program. Ask your county extension agent how you can join 4-H or be a 4-H leader.”

Don Meredith
“Hello, I’m Don Meredith, quarterback of the Dallas Cowboy football team. If you young people 9 through 19 want to be on the action team, join 4-H. I was a 4-H member here in Texas and I found out that 4-H is fun! Why don’t you check signals with your county Extension agent today about your future in 4-H?”

Ann Landers
“This is Ann Landers, and I would like to talk to you young people between the ages of nine through 19. I’ve become acquainted with a youth organization that seems to have something to offer everyone regardless of where you live and from what type of background you come, something of real value and that is 4-H. I met with over 1,600 of these young men and women at their annual Congress in Chicago during the past year and learned about the type of activities in which they are participating. Hundreds of projects are available to young people through 4-H - projects where you learn by doing - such as photography - sewing - woodworking - automotive - cooking - and money management. But beyond all this, these three million 4-H members are learning a sense of belonging to a society - and are accepting the duties and sharing the privileges that go along with it. I think 4-H would be a good thing for any boy or girl - why not call your local 4-H office and join today.”

Ted Williams
“This is Ted Williams saluting 4-H members everywhere. I’m all for 4-H because it encourages boys and girls to keep themselves in good physical condition. In fact, 4-H is a lot like major league baseball because it also teaches teamwork and fine sportsmanship. That’s good for everybody!”

Richard Petty
4-H and the Petty family have a lot in common. Richard Petty, Champion Race Car Driver and 4-H Volunteer Leader. “I leaned all I know about car racing from my dad. He taught me the importance of safety, preparation and competition. While I didn’t win anything in the first couple of years racing cars, Dad didn’t say anything about it. He just let me find my own way. 4-H is like that... adults helping young people learn it from the top.” Be a Volunteer.

Through direct distribution and/or distribution by state Extension radio-television staff, nearly every radio station in the country received the spots in most years. Surveys showed that they were well liked by the radio stations and used mostly on radio disc jockey programs. They were well used during National 4-H Week... and, some stations continued using them year round.

National 4-H Report-to-the-Nation Team

The National 4-H Report-to-the-Nation team originally began in 1950 to assist in the public relations efforts of 4-H. The team of outstanding young people were carefully selected by a screening team during National 4-H Congress in December... to become the official reporting team the following year. Usually the team consisted of eight to 12 young men and women, but team visits usually included anywhere from two to four team members. While the team was used for various presentation throughout the year, they were always the busiest during National 4-H Week, often including presenting the annual 4-H report to the President of the United States.

The teams proved so popular that many states organized their own reporters to make similar tours on the local level.

For a history of the National 4-H Report-to-the-Nation Team visit the following section on this website:

National 4-H Week Recap

National 4-H continues to be a major promotion and visibility time for 4-H... a time for "shouting out" the successes of the previous year, plans for the future, recruiting new members and new leaders and honoring the achievements of the current members and volunteers. There may not be as many promotion tools provided at the national level as several decades before, but it is most certainly a time for special events and visibility in other ways.

Principal author: Larry L. Krug

Compiled by National 4-H History Preservation Team.

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