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National 4-H Recognition and Awards

Introduction

From its earliest days, 4-H evolved around projects and there were four primary areas of emphasis. The first was practice adoption, coming out of the land-grant universities - instilling in youth the importance of embracing new practices to improve the farm and home - including the use of hybrid corn, testing milk, and better canning procedures. The second and third areas of emphasis go together, basically being accountability and financial... a goal of any 4-H project was to keep good records and to show a profit. The fourth area was that of awards, incentives and recognition. Acknowledging the successes of boys and girls who achieved in their project work was important. Awards were an integral part of the boys and girls club programs.

When the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work (National 4-H Service Committee) announced the first national 4-H awards program in 1922 - Montgomery Ward providing trips to National 4-H Club Congress for girls with outstanding records in 4-H Home Economics projects - it launched one of the greatest public-private sector contributions to the 4-H program for decades to come. Not only was the National 4-H Awards Program a significant part of most 4-H programs at every level, but it involved many other areas of national service to 4-H. Awards programs - through ribbons, medals and trophies - helped launch and strengthen the National 4-H Supply Service. Through sponsored trips, awards programs became an integral part of National 4-H Congress. In the mid-1960s awards donors became involved in the support of national 4-H educational aids such as curriculum member manuals and leaders guides, prepared by Extension appointed developmental committees. Creating ways to involve more urban 4-H members and more minorities in the 4-H awards program structure helped drive the Extension agenda for supporting and strengthening both of these areas. Traditionally, national 4-H awards program donors from the private sector became some of Extension's greatest allies in supporting the 4-H program. The corporate leadership of many of these awards' donors provided much of the representation on the Service Committee's board.

The National 4-H Service Committee put much effort into the promotion and visibility of supporting awards programs. By the end of the decade of the 60s, the National 4-H Service Committee was producing 2-1/2 million copies of awards program leaflets, handbooks and report forms in support of its numerous programs. This does not include the hundreds of thousands of press releases and radio/television interviews and releases distributed annually in support of state and national 4-H awards winners.

The National 4-H Awards Programs was a large part of the services provided by the National 4-H Service Committee (and later National 4-H Council) for decades. Likewise, these 4-H Awards Programs were an important part of the 4-H program at the state and county levels in many states. For example, in 1970, the National 4-H Service Committee disbursed $1.3 million in funds contributed by donors for the advancement of 4-H programs. Nearly 220,000 members earned recognition for their accomplishments in projects, community service, citizenship and leadership. And a national judging committee of extension personnel reviewed about 1,800 records in selecting scholarship and other sectional and national winners.

The National Awards Programs chartered new territory with little guidance... it was a major test of service and support and trust for both the private sector and the public sector. This "balancing act" continued through the decades as new challenges and opportunities relating to awards for 4-H participants developed. The Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work often performed the role of catalyst between donor corporations and the Extension System. This was not an easy role and there were times when relations were somewhat strained, but over the seven decades of the national awards programs for project areas, the final results cannot be called anything short of successful. Hundreds of thousands of boys and girls received awards for their achievements - from county medals to state trips to educational scholarships. Dozens of major corporate donors of awards programs remained committed to supporting 4-H for decades. Awards winners became 4-H's strongest group of alumni in supporting the program at all levels. The general public knew more about 4-H... and felt good about 4-H... because of the strong visibility program that blanketed the country in support of 4-H awards winners and their achievements.

The following sections provide an in depth history of the National 4-H Awards Program conducted by the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work (National 4-H Service Committee, National 4-H Council) in support of the Cooperative Extension Service.

Additional information on the National 4-H Awards Program can be found is several other sections in the National 4-H History area of the history preservation website: National 4-H Service Committee, National 4-H Congress, Private Sector and 4-H Donors, National 4-H Donors Conference, National Presidential Winners, National 4-H Dress Revue, National 4-H Literature Development, and others.






History of the National 4-H Awards Program

This History of the National 4-H Awards Program was produced by National 4-H Council in 1982.

In 1982 the National 4-H Council conducted a National 4-H Awards Program Study on behalf of the Cooperative Extension Service of the State Land-Grant Universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Guidance for the project was given by Mary Kay Merwin, associate administrator, Programs, National 4-H Council. Other Council staff who helped in the design of the survey were Jean Cogburn, Patricia Farmer, John Allen and Gary Deverman. Editorial efforts of Joan Tolbert aided greatly in the final products. James T. Veeder lent invaluable assistance in documenting research materials.

Appreciation is expressed to Charlene Ellis, consultant, for her tireless efforts in researching numerous documents in order to compile a comprehensive history of the relevance of awards and incentives to the 4-H program. Her diligence in perfecting the data collection instruments and in compilation of the data gathering is unsurpassed.

Special recognition is given to the county and state Extension staff who responded to the questionnaires. Appreciation is given also to Allan Smith, program leader, 4-H Extension Service, USDA, who served as a consultant and arranged for the statistical analysis to be performed on the computer facilities of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Traditional Basis For Awards

Awards have played a vital part in the history and development of the 4-H program. The National 4-H Awards Program as we know it today did not come into existence until 1921, after the formation of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work. However, many precedents had been set for awards and their use in 4-H prior to 1921. A comprehensive history of the National 4-H Awards Program must include the total history of 4-H awards.

"The philosophy of the 4-H program has always included the use of contests, prizes, and awards in stimulating special effort and superior achievement on the part of 4-H members", according to Longfellow.

Morgan and Clark reported:

There have been few projects in the history of 4-H Club work that have been started or carried to completion in which there was not some type of tangible incentive, such as a prize or an award, as a part of the activity... In order to promote interest and get greater participation in the project, an exhibit was held where prizes and awards were given for superior achievement.

Early Contests

Long before 4-H work began, awards and prizes were used in agricultural activities for youth. As early as 1856 a state corn contest at the Watertown New York Fair offered a first prize of $50.00. The donor of that early contest was New York Tribune newspaper editor and future presidential candidate Horace Greeley. Another state-wide corn contest in 1882, sponsored by Delaware College, offered certificates and subscriptions to the American Agriculturist as prizes in addition to cash awards, adding another dimension to such contests.

The impact of 4-H work could be seen throughout the country around the turn of the century. "County superintendents of education began to introduce out-of-school programs in agriculture and `home culture,' while school fairs exhibiting corn, beets, flowers, ornamental stitches, aprons, bread and other products of the farm home became common." Only a few of these early activities will be cited here - those that have a direct bearing on the development of the National 4-H Awards Program.

In 1899 a corn contest in Macoupin County, Illinois offered 40 dollars in one dollar premiums and a two horse plow donated by a plow company. In 1901 that same contest increased from 1,500 entries to 50,000 in a two year period proving, according to Franklin Reck in The 4-H Story, "how wholeheartedly the hitherto neglected farm boy would respond to public recognition and encouragement." Two vital components of today's awards program - support by business and the emphasis on recognition as an award - were evident even in 1901.

Westrat related the importance of awards in the early corn clubs:

A corn contest (exhibit) with prizes was one of the chief extrinsic instruments used to promote interest and participation in the project. Throughout the years in 4-H club work, a project `exhibit' has always been used as a visual means of creating interest, teaching project improvement, and measuring the progress. Prizes and awards were a natural concomitant of the exhibit. The agricultural fair, to which 4-H Club work owes much of its early rapid growth, had as its expressed purpose the encouragement and recognition of superior products and performance through an intricate system of prizes and awards.

The Beginning of Record Keeping and Reports

About 1901 Albert Graham in Ohio and O. J. Kern in Illinois, both superintendents of schools, pioneered Experiment Clubs for girls and boys. These clubs incorporated demonstrations, record keeping and reports to sponsoring groups into the already established practice of exhibiting.

Awards made a significant contribution to club work in these early days. A 1904 Indiana group report states, "Exhibits and prizes were incentives that made the work thrive."

County as well as State Awards

As early as 1906 the pattern was set for an awards delivery system involving both the county and state levels. The Farmers' Institute of Kansas sponsored a state-wide corn contest that year, and required that contestants be organized into county-wide clubs. Also in 1906, the University of Georgia set up a series of corn and cotton contests with $500 in prizes provided by the State Fair Association. Boys had to win in their counties to be eligible to enter the state contest.

About 1909 L. O. Schaub, state club leader in North Carolina, added the local level to the structure of club work. He organized two clubs in each rural school throughout the state, a county association with adult advisors and student officers, and a state association.

Dr. Seaman Knapp, the pioneer of 4-H work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, encouraged competition within clubs and counties by sanction of local, county and state prizes. The prizes in these contests included pigs, cows, chickens, harrows, cultivators, plows, wagons, a ton of fertilizer, a can of lime, suit of clothes, gold watch, scholarships, and anything else public-spirited grown-ups could think of. These early contests were not judged on yield alone. Participants were required to keep accurate records and judge their corn to select the best 10-ear exhibit. Judging was based on yield, profit showing, exhibit, and written records.

Trips as Awards

In 1911 Dr. Knapp instigated out-of-state trips as prizes. He offered a trip to Washington, D.C. to the Mississippi club boy who held the best record with his corn crop. At this time club work had been established sufficiently so that Knapp's offer was matched by club leaders in South Carolina and Virginia, and by bankers in Arkansas.

In 1919 a meeting of club leaders, representing 33 northern and western states, resulted in the conclusions that educational trips were favored as prizes rather than large sums of cash and that prizes should not be out of proportion to the achievement. They also concluded that contests must be judged fairly and that contestants do their own work.

An interesting award, quite separate from the usual project accomplishments, was offered by the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work in 1925 - "Eight educational trips to Washington, D.C. to the state showing the greatest ratio of completed projects in 1925 compared with the previous year." However, this concept did not evolve within the National 4-H Awards Program.

First National 4-H Awards Program. In 1922 the first National 4-H Awards Program was established. Montgomery Ward, as the first donor to present educational awards on a national level, provided trips to National 4-H Club Congress for outstanding records in 4-H Home Economics projects.

Sectional Contests. Atlas Glass Company sponsored five sectional canning contests in 1922. The two top teams from each section competed in Chicago. From these 10 teams two national winning teams were awarded a trip to France. The precedent for sectional awards was established.

The National Boys and Girls Club News. The first issue of "The National Boys and Girls Club News," predecessor of "National 4-H News," was published in 1923. In 1926 this publication announced $35,000 in "prizes" to provide educational trips, scholarships and other incentives. Only trips were listed in the article, and most of them were to Club Congress. Railroads were the dominant industry group offering the prizes, and trips were offered on a quota system by states rather than by project.

Some trips were made available to participants in particular projects, such as livestock and crops, but most were advertised for "champion farm boys and girls," or "outstanding club members." Recipients were to be selected by "Agricultural College Extension authorities," and prizes were offered on an equal basis for boys and girls, following the pattern set by the pre-4-H contests.

Precursor of The National Report Form. Qualifications for trips to the 1936 National 4-H Club Congress awarded by Cudahy Meat Packing Co. required "a properly filled in standard report form, a story of the contestant's club work and a clear photo, preferably of the entry with a prize animal." This was the precursor of similar requirements which are specified in The National 4-H Report Form developed by the Cooperative Extension Service of the State Land-Grant Universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Scholarships as Awards

The use of scholarships as awards for excellence was pioneered in South Carolina. Records indicate that in 1910 Katie Gunter was awarded a scholarship to Winthrop College by the South Carolina State Legislature for her state-winning 512 cans of tomatoes. The state corn champion that year also received a scholarship.

By 1926 the concept of presenting awards for achievement had been established. Apparently scholarships were included as well as other incentives. However, the matter of when scholarships actually were awarded is unclear. While reference is made in 1926, a second reference indicates that 1930 was the first year for such awards at the national level.

In 1936 "The 4-H Handy Book" listed eight major contests in which scholarships were offered. The use of scholarships as awards seems to have been well established, and continues to be the award most frequently presented for excellence at the national level.

In 1936 "The 4-H Handy Book" listed eight major contests in which scholarships were offered. The use of scholarships as awards seems to have been well established, and continues to be the award most frequently presented for excellence at the national level. In 1938 scholarships began to be awarded regularly to national winners in awards programs.

In 1970 scholarships awarded in all programs amounted to more than $180,000, and in 1981 total scholarships offered in 4-H programs amounted to more than $265,000.

The table below indicates progressive increases over the years in the monetary value of scholarships.

1910Two college scholarships awarded in SCUnknown
1926Scholarships and other incentives$35,000
1930-1938Scholarships in varying amounts$100-500
1942Average scholarship$200
1949Average scholarship$300
1957Standardized to$400
1963Increased to$500
1968Increased to (except Safety - $1,000)$600
1971Increased to$700
1975Increased to$800
1977Increased to$1,000
1982All major programs offered from four to nine scholarships, the majority being six$1,000

Evolution of the Awards Handbook

The "4-H Handy Book," predecessor of the "Awards Handbook," was published from 1924 to 1936. The 1936 edition listed eight major contests, offering gold medals, educational trips, merchandise and college scholarships as prizes.

The first Awards Handbook was published in 1938 as a supplement to the National 4-H News. By this time the list of contests had been expanded to include Dairy Demonstration, Handicraft, Home Beautification, Dairy Demonstration (a team contest) and Social Progress (a club contest).

The word prize had been used extensively in publicity. Beginning with the publication of the Awards Handbook, the word prize was replaced by the word award, and prize did not appear in the awards literature thereafter.

Also in 1938 recognition was provided for 4-H members at county and state levels in addition to the national awards. "Efforts were being made to broaden the system of awards and encourage 4-H members at all levels of achievement."

Early Allocation of Awards

The Danish system of awards was incorporated in several areas of the country in the 1939 National Awards Program. Under this system, entries were judged against a standard and grouped depending on how nearly they approached the standard. Usually three award groups were recognized - blue, red, and white, and no placings were made within a group.

The 1940 Awards Handbook stated that medals were to be awarded to one representative of the blue award group, in keeping with the Danish system. Scholarships and trips to National 4-H Congress were, as far as possible, to be distributed among the Extension sections.

Significant Developments

From 1938 to 1943 regulations were listed separately for each program in the Awards Handbook. Most required that to be eligible for an award a youth must be a bona fide 4-H Club member, working under the supervision of the Extension Service and enrolled in the project during the current year with up-to-date records. An additional requirement for state winners or participants for sectional and national honors was the stipulation that a youth must be between 15 and 21 years of age and have completed at least three years of 4-H work, including the current year. In 1941 the lower age limit was changed from 15 to 14.

Regulations pertaining to "participants in all national 4-H achievement and record contests" were listed in the 1944 Awards Handbook. The following statement was included: "It shall be the responsibility of the county Extension agent to arrange for determining county winners." These regulations remained unchanged until 1965 when the upper age limit was lowered from 21 to 19, and it was recommended that a youth only submit a minimum three-year record in the project or activity.

In 1973 a significant change was made. State winners now were required to have completed a minimum of one year of 4-H membership including the current year, as opposed to a three year requirement. A minimum three years in the project or activity was listed as "preferable," but this statement was dropped in 1977.

Medals. In 1942 five county medals were offered in the Victory Garden contest, the first time a specific number of unrestricted medals was made available. However, in 1943 it was decided to offer four medals, setting the precedent for offering four medals per county in many programs.

In 1944 medals were made available at the county level with no restrictions as to recipients. Prior to 1942, Dress Revue offered silver medals for blue award winners, restricted to no more than 15% of the participants. By 1951 there were 10 contests that offered a maximum of four medals in each county.

Move to Standardize Awards

In 1953 the Report of Committee to Study Ways to Strengthen the National 4-H Awards Program was a major move toward standardization and simplification of awards. The committee agreed that the greatest need was to "simplify and standardize the awards and to simplify the procedures and the reports."

The following is a summary of their recommendations for the National Awards Program:

1 - Types of Awards
A - National Awards

Educational trips and scholarships are preferred to cash and/or bonds.

B - County Awards

A maximum of four county medals be given to members in the blue award group in each award program. In keeping with this recommendation to standardize awards, county plaques be discontinued.

C - Local Club Awards

Cash awards be made to each of the 10 top clubs per state in those areas which lend themselves to group action such as citizenship, farm and home safety, health and recreation and rural arts, etc.

2 - Trips to National 4-H Club Congress

The committee recommends that an effort be made to secure one trip to National 4-H Club Congress for the state winner in each program with the following exception: Achievement, Citizenship and Leadership in which there would be two trips per state. To qualify for a state trip in any national 4-H awards program the state must have a minimum of 15 percent of the counties or 15 counties naming winners in this award program, whichever the state chooses.

It is recommended that an effort be made to secure additional trips to National 4-H Club Congress for outstanding 4-H members (all-around record rather than emphasis on any one project or activity).

A substantial move toward the Committee's goals of simplification and standardization of the programs occurred in 1954. Four county award medals were offered in 13 areas, two medals in four areas, medals to the blue group in Dress Revue, and one medal in five areas.

In 1959 23 of the 24 "regular" programs offered four or more medals. By 1961 there were 26 full programs offering awards at the county, state and national levels, and in 1966 five new programs were added.

Current Awards Programs (1982)

Additions and some deletions have brought the awards programs made available in 1982 through National 4-H Council to 44. Of these 39 provide recognition at National 4-H Congress. The Commodity Marketing Symposium is held each spring in Chicago and four scholarship programs are offered to selected states. A complete listing of private support for specific 4-H Programs of the Cooperative Extension Service is published in Handbook of Programs and Services, published each year by National 4-H Council.

Listed below chronologically are highlights of past and present National 4-H Awards Programs beginning in 1938 with the core program and additions that followed over the years.

1938Canning, Dairy Production, Farm Records, Food Preservation, Girls Record, Handicraft, Home Grounds Beautification, Livestock Records, Rural Electrification, Social Progress, Style Dress Revue
1940Achievement, Leadership (partial program)
1942Victory Garden, Victory Achievement
1944Food for Victory, Soil Conservation
1945Poultry, Frozen Foods
1947Health, Home Improvement, Tractor Maintenance, Scholarship Fund
1948Forestry, Recreation-Rural Arts
1952Bread Demonstration, Entomology
1955Boys' Agricultural Program
1959Swine
1960Automotive, Beef (partial program)
1961Dog Care and Training, Leadership (added in 1940) became full national program
1964Photography, Conservation of Natural Resources
1966Community Beautification, Home Management, Horse, Horticultural, Sheep
1968Veterinary Science, Grain Marketing, Consumer Education
1969Bicycle
1970Public Speaking (previously offered in 26 states) became full national program
1972Beef (added in 1960) became full national program
1976Gardening
1977Food Conservation, Safety, Wood Science
1982A total of 44 programs

From Corn Contests to National 4-H Congress

The Cooperative Extension Service was created with the passage of the Smith-Lever Act in 1914, and Club work was officially recognized. About this time business support was expanded to include loan funds. This practice was pioneered by E. N. Hopkins, editor of the Arkansas Fruit and Farm. These loans were personally secured by Hopkins at a 6% interest rate. In addition to loans, Hopkins provided prizes, trips and publicity, comprising a program very similar to the one later inaugurated by the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work.

The significance of awards in those early days was explained by W. C. Abbot, former state agent for Louisiana. "Club work was done with little or no organization in the communities. Boys and girls were informed of the different projects and they went to work. Sometimes parish-wide meetings were held, but the principal incentives were prizes offered at fairs for club exhibits."

National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work. In 1919 formal leadership was given toward the founding of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work. Since the very beginning, railroads, banks, meat packing companies, mail order houses and other business interests had supported club work with prizes, all expense trips and cash support to the county program. Indeed, local business support had been contemplated in the Smith-Lever Act itself. Yet state and national leaders felt that many contests were without sufficient state and national supervision.

George E. Farrell, USDA staff member, noting this tendency, yet wishing to gain the full advantages of contests and business support, felt that some coordinating machinery was needed. Two representatives of business took the lead in resolving the problem, satisfying business and Extension Service.

These two business leaders were Guy L. Noble from Armour's Bureau of Agricultural Economics and E. N. Hopkins, editor in charge of youth activities for the Meredith Publishing Company. Noble decided that Armour, to demonstrate its goodwill to the farming community, would offer prize trips to the International Livestock Exposition (held annually in Chicago) to boy and girl club winners. He appropriated $5,000 for 40 all-expense trips to Chicago for the 1919 Exposition, and wrote state club leaders inviting them to cooperate in selecting winners.

In addition to the Armour delegation, over 100 delegates attended the Exposition, representing local communities as well as industry. This was the first time a group entity had been formed, and this event ("tour") is recognized as the forerunner of National 4-H Club Congress, so designated in 1922.

In May 1921, Noble took a leave of absence from Armour in order to spend full time organizing the committee. In September the first official meeting convened to consider the formation of a National Committee of Boys and Girls Club Work. The stated objectives of the Committee were to "secure educational trips to college short courses and fairs and to coordinate all contributions and efforts of industries now contributing to club work." While precedent for Committee coordination of awards had been established much earlier, this meeting gave official sanction to the coordination and promotion of 4-H Club work.

In 1923 the official program read Second National Boys and Girls Club Congress and Fifth Annual Tour. However, the event was commonly referred to as Club Congress. Over 1,600 youth attended Club Congress in Chicago in 1923, due to the growing support of business. These early Club Congresses capitalized on the publicity value of contests and awards.

First Congress Style Show and The Parade of Club Members. In 1924 The Parade of Club Members (held at the International Live Stock Exposition) and the First Congress Style Show served to acquaint the public with the value of 4-H, as well as focus attention on deserving members. In the early years of the Committee, there was no established procedure for developing contests and awards. In some instances, such as the Style Show, state club leaders suggested the activity and asked Noble to find a commercial sponsor. In other instances, business concerns came to the National Committee with an idea for an award.

In 1926 Club Congress included competition among state champions for national honors in livestock judging, livestock feeding, health, home economics judging and the popular Style Show. Competition also was held for exhibits of corn, Irish potatoes, cotton, home canning, clothing and home improvement.

Philosophical Shift

A significant philosophical shift in the sponsorship of the awards program occurred in 1929, as stated by Noble in his report to the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work:

Your secretary has turned away from the policy of soliciting contributions... and has instituted a plan of constructing programs offering educational trips, equipment or scholarships from business concerns. The Committee provides publicity and managerial services for which the organization receives a service fee.

Under this policy the Committee could play a major role in the development of the programs. The Land-Grant College Association and U. S. Department of Agriculture initiated a study of awards in 4-H in 1936. Their report was strikingly similar to that of the 1919 meeting, but showed an increased concern with the philosophy of awards and the possible effect on youth who do not win.

The dangers of awards were pointed out - that victory might develop overconfidence in a member, and conversely, losing might destroy self-confidence. These dangers could be minimized if many awards rather than a single award were offered in any program, and if boys and girls would be reminded that they learn more from their losses than from their victories. This would be the result if the work itself, instead of the awards, were stressed.

Early Articles Affecting 4-H

Another indication of the growing concern over the proper use of awards was the including of an article entitled "How Can You Best Use These Awards Offers?" which was published in the 1939 Awards Handbook. Leaders were cautioned against letting awards become an end in themselves.

Awards in 4-H Club work should be used as incentives for rural young people to enroll in 4-H Clubs, to continue their membership, to become interested in new activities, and to reach worthwhile goals in keeping with their own ability.

In 1945 an article concerning the philosophical basis for the use of awards and procedures for establishing contests was published in the Awards Handbook. Authored by R. A. Turner, former chairman of the Committee on National 4-H Contests and Awards, it was titled "Why and How National 4-H Contests are Established."

An article by T. T. Martin, State Club agent in Missouri entitled "Contests —Their Educational Function in Project Work" was first published in the 1947 Awards Handbook. It was reprinted 13 times over a period of 18 years. Based on material by Dr. Paul J. Kruse, Cornell University, who was instrumental in shaping the approach 4-H has taken concerning awards, the article presented discussion of conditions necessary for a true educational contest, abuses of contests, and what happens after the contests. A second article "How to Use Awards" by Dr. C. B. Smith, former head of Cooperative Extension, also appeared in the 1947 Awards Handbook.

In the title of the introductory article of the 1951 Awards Handbook, award programs was used rather than contents, reflecting a shift in the attitude toward awards. And a major move toward standardization and simplification of awards occurred in 1953 with the publication of Report of Committee to Study Ways to Strengthen the National 4-H Awards Program.

As a result of the Committee report an article entitled "Criteria for Appraising a 4-H Awards Program" appeared in the 1953 Awards Handbook. This article was reprinted in the 1977 Awards Handbook. The material had been approved by ECOP in June of 1952, and was to be used by State and County Extension Agents to apprise the acceptability and value of all 4-H programs.

(Many of these articles, plus others relating to awards can be found in their entirety later in this section on National 4-H History.)

Evaluating the National 4-H Awards Program

A summary of studies evaluating the 4-H Awards Program appeared in the 1960 Awards Handbook. Research by George Boehnke in Iowa and Ben Westrate in Michigan concerning the purposes of awards and the roles they can effectively play was presented, with emphasis on the importance of information and training for local leaders.

"Effective Use of Awards in 4-H" appeared in the Awards Handbook from 1965 to 1970, combining the Kruse material, the summary of studies of the awards program, and material by Wilbur F. Pease, State 4-H Club Leader in New York.

"Use Awards Programs to Motivate, Educate, Recognize 4-H Accomplishment" was the title of the introductory article in the Awards Handbook from 1971 to 1976. It stressed the relationship of awards to the total 4-H program.

Highlights of Legislation and Policy

1914The Cooperative Extension Service was created by the Smith-Lever Act.
1922Club charters were first offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to local 4-H clubs as they organized.
1924National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work was incorporated in the state of Illinois as a not-for-profit organization with Thomas E. Wilson as Chairman.
1928Maryland 4-H members and a Virginia volunteer leader testified before Congress and helped gain passage of the Capper-Ketcham Act that increased Extension funding.
1929The Land-Grant College Association and U.S. Department of Agriculture set up five subcommittees to study policies needed to conduct 4-H.
1931The committees began their work.
1933The Agricultural Adjustment Act provided a national plan for adjusting farm production to the reduced demand of the depression. After vigorous debate, county Extension staffs were authorized to help put into effect the national farm relief program.
1935A statement of objectives was published as a result of the work of the five subcommittees. The subcommittee on awards recognized that scholarships, trips, cash, equipment, trophies and medals offered by many concerns throughout the country were valuable for two main reasons: first, as an incentive to arouse the interest and enthusiasm of club members; and, second, as a means of informing the public of club work, and demonstrating better methods in agriculture and homemaking.
1935Passage of the Bankhead-Jones Act provided funds for land-grant colleges, experiment stations, and the Extension Service on an annual basis with no offset required by the states. 4-H was assured a steady income for club work in spite of the loss in local and state financial support.
1938A joint committee, appointed in 1928 by the Secretary of Agriculture and the Director of the Federal Board of Vocational Education completed a memorandum of understanding in 1938, with reaffirmation in 1954, relating to programs of 4-H and vocational agriculture. The document replaced an original agreement made in 1918.
1939Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) created a 4-H Subcommittee.
1939Land-Grant College Association and ECOP clarified policies and established rules for relationships between Extension, National Committee and its private sector donors.
1945Extension Service received additional public support and 4-H was recognized as one of nine Extension responsibilities in the Bankhead-Flannagan Act passed by Congress.
1948National 4-H Club Foundation of America was organized.
1948A Joint Committee Report on Extension Programs, Policies and Goals, made important recommendations relating to overall Extension programs, including 4-H.
1948The annual 4-H Donors' Conference, bringing together representatives of private sector donors to 4-H, Extension leaders and National Committee was begun.
1952Creation of a Division of 4-H and Young Men and Women's Programs in the U.S. Department of Agriculture gave 4-H equal status with other divisions in the Extension Service.
1953The Consolidation Act of 1953, adopted by the 83rd Congress, consolidated 10 separate laws relating to the Extension Service. It also broadened the language of the original Smith-Lever Act to include all Extension Service functions such as 4-H.
19564-H was invited to participate in the first meeting of the President's Council on Youth Fitness.
1958Norman C. Mindrum was named Director of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work upon the retirement of Guy Noble. Grant A. Shrum was named Executive Director of National 4-H Club Foundation.
1958The 4-H subcommittee recommended a science emphasis in all projects.
1960The name of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work was changed to National 4-H Service Committee.
1965ECOP endorsed 4-H work in urban areas. ECOP and its 4-H subcommittee agreed on policy to encourage participation of minorities in national 4-H events.
1965National 4-H Service Committee began offering, at cost, educational aids prepared by Extension appointed developmental committees, with assistance of private sector donors.
1968ECOP approved procedures governing national 4-H program development committees. These were revised in 1974.
1969The 4-H subcommittee of ECOP established a standing committee to give greater consideration to long range planning, legislation and appropriations.
19724-H received a $7.5 million appropriation to conduct 4-H work in urban areas and in community rural development programs.
1973Secretary of Agriculture issued USDA policy statement regarding the involvement of youth in community development.
1973First meeting of the Joint Study Committee of National 4-H Foundation and National 4-H Service Committee leading to ECOP approval in 1975 and the emergence of National 4-H Council in 1976.
1976Extension published ECOP approved document, 4-H in Century III, a 4-H program guide that included 28 recommendations.
1977National 4-H Council became operational.
1978Attendance of youth delegates to National 4-H Congress reached a high of 1,747.
1980Dr. Eugene Williams, Assistant Extension Director in Oklahoma, was appointed Deputy Administrator, 4-H Youth, Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
1981A comprehensive statement, This is 4-H, describing the program and its mission, was approved by ECOP and its 4-H subcommittee.

Symbols of 4-H

Cloverleaf emblem. The cloverleaf emblem dates back to the early days, even before 4-H was formally organized. A three-leaf clover emblem was used in 1908 to denote excellence in agricultural and domestic science work by Jessie Field in Page County, Iowa and O. H. Benson in Wright County, Ohio. The H's stood for head, heart and hands.

In 1911 the fourth H, standing for health, was added to the clover emblem, and has been used since then. The four-leaf clover emblem was patented in 1924. At expiration of the patent in 1939, Congress passed a law protecting the 4-H name and emblem against misuse. Based on a 1973 Internal Revenue Service ruling on the tax exempt status of 4-H organizations authorized to use the 4-H name and emblem, Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a publication in 1975 delineating their use.

Medals. Awarding a medal as a symbol for achievement can be documented as early as 1909. Records indicate that silver and gold-plated pins, costing 15 cents each, and sterling silver pins, costing 25 cents each, were presented as prizes. Gold medals were offered through 1942. In 1943 they were gold-plated sterling and in 1944 gold-plated metal. From 1946 through 1969 they were gold-filled. Currently (1982) most medals are gold-plated with several programs awarding bronze or silver-plated medals. Each medal is appropriately designed to represent a specific 4-H program.

4-H for Boys and Girls

The opportunity has always existed for both boys and girls to participate in agricultural events such as county or state fairs and exhibits. Experiment Clubs, begun about 1901, were for girls and boys. In 1909 the state of North Carolina established two clubs in each county school - one for boys and one for girls. Societal mores dictated separate, but at least opportunities were seemingly equal.

In 1910, Katie Gunter of South Carolina won a college scholarship for her expertise in canning. And in 1912 delegates of boys and girls were sent by southern states to the Fifth National Corn Exposition in Columbia, South Carolina.

By 1919 formal leadership was being given to the founding of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work. When the first National 4-H Awards Program was established in 1922, Montgomery Ward provided trips to Club Congress for girls with outstanding records in 4-H Home Economics projects.

In 1926 The National Boys and Girls Club News announced trips available to participants in particular projects, such as livestock and crops. Most, however, were advertised for "champion farm boys and girls," or "outstanding club members," and indicated that prizes were offered on an equal basis for boys and girls.

Equality of the Sexes

In 1960 two small words were deleted in the listing of awards - boys from the Agricultural Program, and girls from the Home Economics Program. Since 4-H traditionally offered awards to both boys and girls with little discrimination, these changes were consistent with a long-standing practice.

Again in 1972 two program names were changed to maintain equality of the sexes. "Home Economics" was deleted from the title of Consumer Education, and Dress Revue was listed "for boys and girls."

4-H Today

Awards still play an important role in the 4-H program. As the largest out-of-school youth education program, the awarding of scholarships by the private sector over the past 60 years has been and is an appropriate acknowledgment for the pursuit of excellence.

However, through many scholarships are generously given, only a very few of the almost five million 4-H members can profit from the hard work and self-discipline necessary to attain a national scholarship presented at National 4-H Congress.

Grass Roots

4-H began as a grass roots organization. While its membership and influence on the lives of rural, and now urban, youth have grown rapidly each decade, it is still a grass roots program - having its base, its foundation, within the nearly 600,000 volunteer leaders who provide guidance to young people throughout our nation. Today the basic principles of 4-H are taught worldwide.

Pathways to the Future

A basic tenet of 4-H is that it be democratic; appealing to all, and offering equal opportunities. Within 4-H, each may choose his or her own pathway. Granted, opportunities must be created which allow volunteer leaders to start 4-H'ers on their individual pathways. How they choose to go, and how far, is up to them.

Each award along these pathways is equally rewarding. Whether accomplishment is recognized with a medal, a ribbon, a simple word of encouragement or a thank you, each has significant meaning.

Planning for the Future

As you have read this history of the National 4-H Awards Program, you have seen that as early as 1919 leaders were concerned that - contests be fairly judged, that contestants do their own work, and that prizes be not so large as to be out of proportion to the achievement.

These concerns prevail today as together we lend our vast resources in planning and improving the 4-H of the future. Together, we all - 4-H members... volunteer leaders... state Extension staff... Extension Service, USDA... private donors... and National 4-H Council - can assure that opportunities are offered equally to all for educative pursuits within the National 4-H Program.

(This History of The National 4-H Awards Program was produced by National 4-H Council in 1982.)

Highlights of the Evolution of Prizes/Awards/Donor Support in 4-H

1856In a state corn contest at the Watertown, New York Fair a first prize of $50.00 was given by Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, America's most influential newspaper of the time, and in 1872 the U.S. presidential candidate for the Liberal Republican Party.
1882A state-wide corn contest sponsored by Delaware College offered certificates, subscriptions to the "American Agriculturist" as well as cash prizes.
1899A county corn contest in Macoupin County, Illinois offered $40.00 in one dollar premiums and a 2-horse plow donated by a plow company.
1901The same contest, in Macoupin County, Illinois, increased from 1,500 entries to 50,000 in a 2-year period.
1906The University of Georgia set up a series of corn and cotton tests in which $500.00 in prizes were donated by the State Fair Association.
1906L. O. Schaub, North Carolina, organized club work at the local level with two clubs in each school. North Carolina had a county association with adult advisors and student officers, and a state association.
1908The cloverleaf emblem was used to denote excellence in agricultural and domestic science by Jessie Field, Page County, Iowa and by O. B. Benson, Wright County, Ohio.
1909Records indicate that silver and gold-plated pins (15 cents each) and sterling silver pins (25 cents each) were presented as prizes.
1910The use of scholarships was pioneered in South Carolina. Katie Gunter was awarded a scholarship to Winthrop College by the South Carolina State Legislature for her state-winning 512 cans of tomatoes. The state corn champion also received a scholarship.
1911Dr. Seaman Knapp, the pioneer of 4-H work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, offered a trip to Washington, D.C. for the best record held by a Mississippi boy with his corn crop. Knapp's offer was matched by club leaders in South Carolina and Virginia, and by bankers in Arkansas. Through the encouragement of Dr. Knapp, a number of clubs began to compete for prizes in local, county and state contests. Prizes varied from farm animals, farm tools, to a suit of clothes, a watch, or a scholarship.
1912Southern states sent delegations of boys and girls to the Fifth National Corn Exposition in Columbia, South Carolina. During this Exposition one state was declared champion and awarded a life-size bust of Dr. Knapp; a forerunner of awarding trophies and plaques.
1914Business support of 4-H was expanded to include loan funds. This concept was pioneered by E. N. Hopkins, editor of the "Arkansas Fruit and Farm." Hopkins also provided prizes, trips and publicity, thus comprising a program very similar to that later inaugurated by the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work where Hopkins served on the board for many years.
1919A meeting of club leaders, representing 33 northern and western states, resulted in the conclusion that educational trips were favored as prizes rather than large sums of cash and that prizes should not be out of proportion to the achievement. They also concluded that contests must be judged fairly and that contestants do their own work.
1919George E. Farrell, U.S. Department of Agriculture, obtained the leadership of Guy L. Noble, Bureau of Agricultural Economics, Armour & Company and E. N. Hopkins, now editor in charge of youth activities, Meredith Publishing Company. Armour Company donated 40 trips to the International Livestock Exposition in Chicago, Illinois at a cost of $5,000. Noble wrote to club leaders asking them to select winners. More than 100 delegates attended the exposition and as a group were recognized as the first annual tour, a predecessor to National 4-H Club Congress.
1921A committee led by Guy Noble convened to consider the formation of a National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work.
1922The first National 4-H Awards Program was established. Montgomery Ward, as the first donor to present educational awards on a national level, provided trips to National 4-H Club Congress for outstanding records in 4-H Home Economics projects.
1922Atlas Glass Company sponsored five sectional canning contests. The two top teams from each section competed in Chicago during the International Livestock Exposition and National 4-H Congress. From these 10 teams, two national winning teams were awarded a trip to France.
1923The term Club Congress became the common reference to National Boys and Girls Club Congress.
1924The first Parade of Club Members during the evening performance of the International Livestock Exposition and the first Congress Style Show were held at Club Congress in Chicago.
1925Eight trips to Washington, D.C. were awarded by the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work to the state having the greatest increase of completed projects over the previous year.
1926Educational trips, scholarships and other incentives were awarded in the amount of $35,000. Railroads were the predominant donor and trips were offered to states on a quota basis rather than project. Recipients were selected by "Agricultural College Extension authorities," and awarded equally to boys and girls.
1929The National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work instituted planned programs offering educational trips, equipment or scholarships.
1930The matter of when scholarships actually were awarded is unclear. Reference is made in 1926, but a second reference indicates 1930 was the first year for such awards at the national level.
1935A statement offering various guidelines for prizes and awards in 4-H Club work was issued by the National Committee of the Land-Grant Colleges and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
1936Qualification for trips to National Club Congress required "a properly filled in standard report form, a story of the contestant's club work and a clear photo, preferably of the entry with a prize animal."
1936The 4-H Handy Book, predecessor of the 4-H Awards Handbook, was published from 1924 to 1936. The 1936 edition listed eight major contests, offering gold medals, educational trips, merchandise and college scholarships.
1937A special committee appointed by ECOP on 4-H Club Work considered the place of contests and outlined several procedures relating to contests.
1938The first Awards Handbook was published as a supplement to the National 4-H News. 4-H members received county and state recognition as well as national awards.
1938Contests added: Dairy Demonstration, Handicraft, Home Beautification, Dairy Demonstration (a team contest), and Social Progress (a club contest).
1938Use of the word "prize" was replaced with the word "award."
1938A special committee was appointed by ECOP relative to the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work and Extension Service relationships. Two recommendations accepted by the National Committee relating to contest procedures included: To cooperate with ES, USDA in the review of all national contests now in existence, and To submit all new proposals for contests first to the Director of Extension of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
1939The January 1939 ECOP report carries the announcement: "A committee of Extension workers representing the four sections of the United States and the United States Department of Agriculture will judge the records submitted by the various States in accordance with the score card contained in the rules and regulations for this activity."
1939The Danish system of awards was used in some areas of the country. Entries were judged against a standard and usually three award groups were recognized — blue (1st), red (2nd) and white (3rd).
1940In accordance with the Danish system, medals were awarded to one representative of the blue award group. Scholarships and trips to Congress were distributed among the Extension sections.
1940Contests added: Achievement, Leadership (both funded by the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work).
19414-H Subcommittee of ECOP recommends that the judges passing on awards made prior to the National 4-H Congress be composed of one State 4-H staff member from each of the four Extension sections and one member-at-large from the Subcommittee on 4-H Club Work; the personnel of this group to be composed of two men and three women; and the chairman, a man from the Extension Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to act as chairman of the judging committee.
1942Regulations were listed in the Awards Handbook which stipulated eligibility for an award: age (14-21); member of a "standard" 4-H club; three years of completed project work.
1942Contests added: Victory Garden, Victory Achievement (both offering war bonds as awards).
1944County medals had no restriction as to recipients.
1944Contests added: Food for Victory, Soil Conservation.
1945An article concerning the philosophical basis for the use of awards and procedures for establishing contests (titled: "Why and How National 4-H Contests are Established") is authored by R. A. Turner, former chairman of the Committee on National 4-H Contests and Awards, and published in the Awards Handbook.
1945Contests added: Poultry, Frozen Foods.
1947Contests added: Health, Home Improvement, Tractor Maintenance, Scholarship Fund.
1947Awards continue to be a "hot" topic within the Extension system with two national articles appearing during the year: "Contests—Their Educational Function in Project Work" by T. T. Martin and "How to Use Awards" by Dr. C. B. Smith, former head of Cooperative Extension.
19474-H Subcommittee of ECOP recommends "that the present plan of having six persons, and the chairman on the judging committee for record judging be revised to include two persons (a man and a woman) from each extension section. The increase in the number of records to be judged make this revision advisable."
1948Contests added: Forestry, Recreation-Rural Arts.
1948Citizenship scholarships were made available through a trust fund established by business friends of Thomas E. Wilson.
19494-H Subcommittee, in final approval of action taken in 1947, approved the motion to approve three state leaders from each region to serve on the judging committee instead of two as at present.
1951In the Awards Handbook "award programs" was used rather than "contests."
1951The Farm and Home Electric Program offered four medals to each county, becoming the 10th contest area to offer multiple awards.
1952Contests/Awards programs added: Bread Demonstration, Entomology.
1952Extension Committee on Organization and Policy approved material to be published in the 1953 Awards Handbook as an article entitled, "Criteria for Appraising a 4-H Awards Program."
1952"Procedure to Inaugurate a National or Inter-State Award Program, Activity or Event" approved by the 4-H Subcommittee of ECOP at June meeting.
1953Publication of "Report of Committee to Study Ways to Strengthen the National 4-H Award Programs" resulted in a major move toward standardization and simplification of awards.
1954As a result of the above Committee Report, medals were awarded in 23 programs as follows: 13 programs - 4 county medals; 4 programs - 2 county medals; 5 programs - 1 county medal; with medals still being granted to the "blue group" in Dress Revue.
1955Program added: Boys' Agricultural Program
1959By 1959 standardization of awards was such that 23 programs offered four or more medals.
1959Program added: Swine
1960Programs added: Automotive, Beef
1960Results of research conduced by George Boehnke, Iowa and Ben Westrate, Michigan concerning the efficacy of awards were published in the Awards Handbook. significant was the importance of providing information/training to local leaders and that "Boys" was deleted from the Agricultural Program and "Girls" from the Home Economics Program.
1961Program added: Dog Care and Training
1961Leadership became a "full program."
1963All programs offered four or more awards at the county level.
1964Programs added: Photography, conservation of Natural Resources (replacing Soil Conservation)
1965Regulations, first stipulated in 1942, were modified from: age 14-21, to: 14-19. It was recommended that a minimum three-year project or activity record relating to a specific awards program be submitted. Three-year enrollment in 4-H was still required.
1965An article entitled "Effective Use of Awards in 4-H" was first published in the 1965 Awards Handbook and thereafter through 1970.
1966Programs added; Veterinary Science, Grain Marketing, Consumer Education
1969The Awards Handbook included a new section entitled, "Summary of Awards Programs Offered in Several States."
1969Program added: Bicycle
1969Gold medals were no longer offered.
1970Public Speaking was expanded from a special program in 26 states to a full national program.
1970Total scholarships awarded through the National 4-H Service Committee amounted to more than $180,000.
1971The Awards Handbook first published an article entitled, "Use Awards Programs to Motivate, Educate, Recognize 4-H Accomplishment," which was reprinted in the handbook through 1976.
1972Beef (added in 1960) was expanded to a national program.
1972Consumer Education-Home Economics became Consumer Education and Dress Revue was listed "for boys and girls."
1973Regulations for state, sectional and national awards were changed from requiring 3-years of completed work in a project or activity to one-year, including the year under consideration. However, a minimum 3-year project record or activity was listed as "preferable."
1975Approved by ECOP, each state has option of assigning whatever type of staff may be appropriate to the revised record judging committee. Principal criteria for committee membership is that members appointed have knowledge of the 4-H program and experience at county or state level in judging records. This motion also raises the size of the committee from 12 to 16 members.
1976Program added: Gardening
1976The Electric Program became Electric Energy.
1976The statement indicating that a minimum 3-year project record or activity was "preferable" was deleted from the regulations.
1977Programs added: Food Conservation, Safety, Wood Science.
1981ECOP 4-H Subcommittee reconfirmed approval of existing membership and rotation plan for National 4-H Judging Committee, requesting States to arrange for a substitute if it cannot supply a judge for that specific year.
1982A total of 44 awards programs were offered. Of these 34 were major programs and five scholarships were Congress related.
19844-H Subcommittee of ECOP accepted report of National 4-H Awards Task Force which included among other recommendations that each existing awards program be reviewed annually by the National 4-H Council and Extension Service 4-H, USDA starting in 1984. Criteria for Establishing/Maintaining National 4-H Awards Programs were identified.
1989By the late 1980s, national awards donors were beginning to look at other options for support, while a growing chorus of Extension staff were saying that national awards and 4-H Congress were too exclusive, not involving enough of their membership for the time and money expended. In 1989 41 awards programs were offered. Of these 31 were major programs and 10 special scholarship programs.
1992By 1991 the number of full awards programs had dropped to 29 with several of these funded by National 4-H Council and others paring back their number of trips and scholarships.
1994The 1994 National 4-H Congress in Chicago was the last Club Congress held in Chicago; the last Congress conducted by the National 4-H Council. It also was the end to the National 4-H Awards Programs conducted by Council.

Articles Relating to 4-H Awards

Over the years a variety of articles were written relating to 4-H awards.

How Can You Best Use These Award Offers?

This article first appeared in the 1939 Awards Handbook and was reprinted in subsequent editions of the handbook through 1943. Leaders were cautioned against letting awards become an end in themselves.

Awards in 4-H Club work should be used as incentives for rural young people to enroll in 4-H Clubs, to continue their membership, to become interested in new activities, and to reach worth while goals in keeping with their own ability. The system of awards as used in 4-H Club work provides one means of giving recognition to work well done. Club leaders aim to have the awards made in keeping with the effort expended and as beneficial as possible from an educational standpoint to the young people who win them.

Awards should never become an end in themselves. They are merely an aid in helping young people to achieve goals and become good citizens. Leaders should use awards as a carpenter uses a scaffolding to a house. The end sought is the growth of the individual. Awards are effective only insofar as they stimulate young people to carry on worth while activities on their own initiative, in accordance with their own natural interests.

All activities outlined in this book have served 4-H Clubs over a period of years. Each has been approved by the Committee on Extension Organization and Policy of the Land Grant College Association. Changes in contest regulations are effected as the experience of State and National club leaders indicate the need for such changes.

As a local leader you will want to take this supplement to your next 4-H Club meeting and discuss the regulations and awards with the members. Keep in touch with your county extension agent because he knows your local situation and may have special plans for furthering some of the award offers.

Why and How National 4-H Contests Are Established

Authored by R. A. Turner, Extension Service, USDA and chairman of the Committee on National 4-H Contests and Awards, this article first appeared in the 1945 Awards Handbook. It appeared in the Awards Handbook for several years with slight variation.

It is a characteristic of youth to desire recognition for work well done. The Cooperative Extension Service, since its earliest inception, has made it possible for rural youth, as 4-H Club members, to receive recognition for work well done. The 4-H Club motto "Make the Best Better" has provided an incentive for all 4-H members to exceed their previous achievements. An "earnest struggle for superiority" has motivated 4-H members to compare their accomplishments with the accomplishments of their fellow 4-H members.

Contests for 4-H Club members stimulate "earnest struggle" in the direction of educational objectives. 4-H contests serve as incentives to learning through activity on the part of the learner. 4-H contests, rightly conducted, have an educational function.

Several years ago the Director of Extension Work created in the Federal office of the Cooperative Extension Service a "Committee on National 4-H Contests and Awards" of which the writer was named the chairman.

With the assistance of State Club Leaders and others, that committee developed a procedure for establishing National 4-H Contests. That procedure, in the main, is now as follows:

  1. A request for any given national 4-H contest, as originated by the State Club Leaders, is first presented to all of the State Club Leaders attending the National 4-H Club Camp or the National 4-H Club Congress for their consideration.
  2. With the assistance of the subject matter specialists involved, an outline plan is then prepared by the Committee on National 4-H Contests and Awards.
  3. That plan is then submitted to the Extension Subcommittee on 4-H Club Work for approval.
  4. The National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work and the Chairman of the Committee on National 4-H Contests and Awards then reach an agreement as to details - and the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work arranges for a donor who provides the awards.
  5. The detailed plan, together with the name of the donor of awards, is then submitted to the Committee on Extension Organization and Policy for final approval.
  6. The National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work then announces the contest and submits the detailed plan to the several State Extension Services.

Any State Extension Service may accept, or may decline to accept, any given National 4-H Contest.

R. A. Turner
Extension Service, USDA

Contests - Their Educational Function in Project Work

Authored by T. T. Martin, State Club Agent, Missouri, this article first appeared in the 1947 National 4-H Awards Handbook and was reprinted 13 times over a period of 18 years in that same publication. Based on material by Dr. P. J. Kruse, Cornell University, who was instrumental in shaping the approach 4-H had taken concerning awards, the article presents discussion of conditions necessary for a true educational contest, abuses of contests, and what happens after the contests.

The contest as a motivation for learning may be used constructively by groups. A contest may be justified educationally, if it produces an earnest struggle superiority and stimulates vigorous activity by the members in the direction of the objective. Usually, a contest is conducted to determine who has reached a high standard of achievement - exhibited the prize calf, given the best demonstration, canned the largest number of jars of food, etc. It is not justifiable on this objective basis alone.

  1. Necessary Conditions of a True Educational Contest
    1. Provide a possibility of success for all contestants by having classes for contestants in different stages of development and by setting standards appropriate to the class.
    2. Have rules of procedure that are fair, understandable, defensible; and have good judges.
    3. Be challenging to all contestants—standards high enough to insure an earnest struggle on the part of every contestant.
  2. Abuses of Contests. It is an abuse:
    1. Merely to select the superior one, the champion, without creating effort.
    2. If the emphasis is on the objective rather than on the educational result. The award should be made to the one showing progress and effort educationally rather than on absolute position.
    3. Over-development of the competitive spirit. It is better to keep the cooperative attitude uppermost.
    4. Exploitation by commercial organizations through too large rewards in terms of product rather than on progress.
    5. Exploitation by leaders, whose ambitions for the community, county or state, "build-up" a winner. How about awarding those who can profit most from an activity?
    6. Immodest parade of winners. "It's the game that counts." The tendency is to play up winning as the satisfaction rather than the game.
  3. After the Contest—What? The following procedure is suggested:
    1. Shift the emphasis from winning to satisfaction in the activity itself. In order to do this, there must be appreciation. a member who has been on a champion demonstration team should still like to train other teams.
    2. Get action. At first, winning may be the satisfying thing. Develop towards the activity as the satisfying thing. Members may compete with their own record, if the individual has enough drive. This is comparable to improving one's golf record.
    3. The contestants' objectives are not so important if participants show progress. Set up contests so that there will be no recognition without progress. Learning to lay bricks interests educators more than the number of bricks laid.

National 4-H Awards Program Donors

Sections on this website on the National 4-H Congress and National 4-H Service Committee will provide more information on 4-H awards donors, plus the annual National 4-H Awards Handbooks listed in this section fully describe each donor-sponsored program. However, to give recognition to the various awards donors over the seven decades of awards program support, the entire listing of over 200 names is shown below. Please note that since many donors remained active for decades and often went through corporate name changes and mergers, their names may show up more than once but in slightly different form. It is impossible to document the millions of dollars provided by these donors during this period, however it can accurately be stated that in addition to the monetary value of the awards, inkind support was provided in additional millions of dollars.

  • Allied Chemical & Dye Corporation
  • Allis-Chalmers
  • Alpha Gamma Rho Educational Foundation
  • Alton Railway Company
  • Amchem Products, Inc.
  • American Cynamid Company
  • American Dairy Goat Associaiton
  • American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association
  • American Forest Institute
  • American Forest Products Industries, Inc.
  • American Hampshire Sheep Association
  • American Honda Motor Company, Inc.
  • American Meat Institute
  • American Motors Corporation
  • American Oil Company
  • American Optometric Association and its Auxiliary
  • American Oxford Sheep Association
  • American Quarter Horse Association
  • American Sheep Producers Council, Inc.
  • American Viscose Corp.
  • Amoco Foundation, Inc.
  • Armour & Company
  • Associated Milk Producers, Inc.
  • Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway System
  • Beatrice Foods Company
  • Beatrice/Hunt Wesson
  • Beef Industry Council
  • Betty Crocker of General Mills
  • Blue Valley Creamery Institute
  • Bob Evans Farms, Inc.
  • Bridgestone/Firestone Trust Fund
  • Briggs & Stratton Company
  • California Spray-Chemical Corporation
  • Campbell Soup Company
  • Carnation Company
  • Case IH
  • Celanese Chemical Company, a Division of Celanese Corporation
  • Champion Valley Farms, Inc.
  • Chevron Chemical Company, Ortho Consumer Products Division
  • Chicago and Alton Railroad Company
  • Chicago Association of Commerce
  • Chicago Board of Trade
  • Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company
  • Chicago Great Western Railway Company
  • Chicago Mail Order Company
  • Chicago Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railway Co.
  • Chicago & North Western Railway System
  • Chicago Rock Island and Pacific Railway Co.
  • Chrysler Motors Corporation, Jeep Division
  • Cities Service Oil Company
  • Coats & Clark, Inc.
  • Coca-Cola Foundation
  • Colgate-Palmolive Company
  • Columbia Sheep Breeders' Association of America
  • Conrad Hilton Hotel
  • Continental Dorset Club
  • Continental Grain Company
  • Cudahy Packing Company
  • Daisy, Division of Victor Comptometer Corporation
  • Dearborn Motors Corporation
  • Deere & Company
  • Deft, Inc.
  • DeKalb AgResearch, Inc.
  • DeKalb Foundation
  • DeKalb Genetics Corporation
  • Dr. Scholl Foundation
  • Dutch Kraft Corporation
  • E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Company
  • Eastman Kodak Company
  • Edwin T. Meredith Foundation
  • Elanco Products Company, a Division of Eli Lilly and Company
  • Electrolux Refrigerator Sales Division, Servel, Inc.
  • Elgin National Watch Company
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Finsheep Breeders' Association, Inc.
  • Firestone Tire & Rubber Company
  • Firestone Trust Fund
  • Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Interior
  • Fleischmann's Yeast
  • Ford Motor Company
  • Ford Motor Company Fund
  • French Foundation for Alzheimer Research
  • General Mills, Inc.
  • Gene Autry
  • General Foods Corporation
  • General Motors Corporation
  • General Motors Foundation, Inc.
  • General Motors Corporation, GMC Truck Division
  • General Petroleum Corporation
  • Gertrude L. Warren Scholarship Fund
  • Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
  • Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc.
  • H. A. Moses
  • Hazel Atlas Glass Company
  • Heinz Vinegar
  • Heisdorf & Nelson Farms, Inc.
  • Hercules, Incorporated
  • Hercules Powder Company
  • Homelite, A Division of Textron, Inc.
  • Horace A. Moses Foundation, Inc.
  • Humble Oil & Refining Company
  • Illinois Central Railroad Company
  • International Harvester Co.
  • International Live Stock Exposition
  • International Mineral & Chemical Corporation
  • International Paper Company
  • International Paper Company Foundation
  • International Wool Secretariat
  • J. C. Penney Company, Inc.
  • John Deere
  • Kellogg Company
  • Kelvinator Division of American Motors Corporation
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken
  • Kerr Glass Manufacturing Corporation
  • King Cole Yarn Co.
  • Kraft, Inc.
  • Kraft Cheese Company
  • Kraft General Foods
  • Kraft-Phenix Cheese Corp.
  • Larro SureFeed Division of General Mills
  • Lederle Laboratories Div, American Cyanamid Co.
  • Land O'Lakes, Inc.
  • Linseed Meal Educational Committee
  • Livestock Conservation, Inc.
  • Massey-Ferguson, Inc.
  • Massey-Harris Company
  • Massey-Harris-Ferguson, Inc.
  • May Seed and Nursery Company
  • McCall Pattern Company
  • Mennen Company
  • Merck & Co., Inc.
  • Metropolitan Life Foundation
  • Mobay Corporation, Agricultural Chemicals Division
  • Montgomery Ward
  • Moorman Mfg. Co.
  • Nabisco Biscuit Company
  • Nabisco Brands
  • National Organization on Disability
  • National Pork Producers Council
  • National Suffolk Sheep Association
  • Nelson Knitting Company
  • Olin Mathieson Chemical Corporation
  • Oliver Corporation
  • Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popping Corn
  • Pan-Am Southern Corporation
  • Parker Pen Company
  • Pfizer Inc.
  • Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.
  • Pitman-Moore, Inc.
  • Poultry Industry Associates
  • President of the United States
  • Proctor Electric Company
  • Public Service Companies of Northern Illinois & Northern Indiana
  • Public Service Company
  • Purina Mills, Inc.
  • Pure Oil Company
  • Pyrofax Gas Corporation
  • Quaker Oats Company
  • Quebec Forestry Association
  • Radio Corporation of America
  • Ralston Purina Company, Purina Dog Foods Group
  • Reader's Digest Foundation
  • Rite-Way Products Company
  • RJR Nabisco, Inc.
  • S&H Foundation, Inc.
  • Samuel Insull Service Companies
  • Santa Fe Railway System
  • Santa Fe-Gulf Central Pipeline Co.
  • Sears, Roebuck and Co.
  • Sears-Roebuck Foundation
  • Servel, Inc.
  • S. L. Allen & Company
  • Simplicity Pattern Co., Inc.
  • Singer Sewing Machine Company
  • Ski-Doo Division, Bombardier Limited
  • Spinnerin Yarn Company, Inc.
  • Spool Cotton Company
  • Standard Brands Incorporated
  • Standard Oil Company (Indiana)
  • Standard Oil Company (Kentucky)
  • Standard Oil Company (Ohio)
  • Standard Oil Foundation, Inc.
  • Stanley Works
  • Stanolind Foundation, Inc.
  • Successful Farming through the Meredith Foundation
  • Sunbeam Corporation
  • Swift and Company
  • Swift Dairy and Poultry Company
  • Syntex Animal Health, Inc.
  • Toni Home Permanent Company
  • Toy Form Products Dept., Merck & Co., Inc.
  • Tractor and Implement Division, Ford Motor Company
  • True Temper Hardware
  • Tupperware Home Parties, Division of Dart Industries Inc.
  • United States Rubber Company
  • Union 76 Division, Union Oil Company of California
  • Union Pacific System
  • Universal Oil Products Company
  • Unocal Corporation
  • Upjohn Company
  • Utah Oil Refining Company
  • Victor Animatograph Corporation
  • Viking White Sewing Machine Company
  • VWS, Inc. Viking Sewing Machine Company
  • Walgreen, Mrs. Charles R.
  • Webster Industries
  • Wehr Corporation
  • Westinghouse Educational Foundation
  • Westinghouse Electric Corporation
  • Whirlpool Corporation
  • Whirlpool-Seeger Corporation
  • White Farm Equipment
  • Wilson and Company
  • Wilson Beef and Lamp Co.
  • Wilson Certified Foods, Inc.
  • Wilson-Sinclair Co.
  • Wilson, Edward Foss
  • Wilson, Thomas E.
  • Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company
  • WOOD Magazine, Meredith Corporation
  • Wrangler Jeans
  • Wrather Corporation
  • ZIPLOC Freezer Bags, DowBrands, Inc.

Impact of National 4-H Awards on Recipients

While the 100's of thousands of 4-H members who received county project medals over the decades were perhaps inspired to remain in 4-H and to achieve higher goals, the real impact of awards on the participating boys and girls undoubtedly rested with the state and national winners... particularly the trips to National 4-H Congress and the educational scholarships. Undoubtedly, every delegate to the National 4-H Congress, when returning home, has a story to tell. For many of them, indeed, it was a trip of a lifetime. There are also many documented stories about how the scholarships helped get winners into college, and how the projects in which they excelled helped them select their future careers. For these winners, the National 4-H Awards Programs had an impact.

While several donor companies remained in contact with their state and national project winners over the years the only major survey done at the national level covering several program areas was in 1985. A survey was designed to obtain career information for preparation of an upcoming food and nutrition advanced manual sponsored by The General Foods Fund, Inc. National 4-H Council conducted the survey. More than 4,300 state and national winners between the years of 1965 and 1975 in the areas of achievement, agriculture, bread, dairy foods, food-nutrition, food preservation, gardening/horticulture, health and leadership, were surveyed to find out how the 4-H program contributed to their family lives, to their careers, and to the degree of commitment they had towards 4-H today.

The only addresses National 4-H Council had to work with for contacting these winners was their home address at the time of their attendance at National 4-H Council... meaning all addresses were at least 10 years old and going back to 20 years old! Also, the printed narrative survey was seven pages long. In spite of these obstacles, there was a 50% response rate - over 2,000 former winners were located and took the time to fill out and return the survey.

Most of these 2,000 respondents stressed the educational value of 4-H and many paid tribute to the donors of their state/national trip awards and scholarships. Nearly 84 percent of the respondents had at least a four-year college degree and 37 percent received advanced degrees. This compares to a national average of 24.3 percent for the same age group having four years of college or more. Survey results also showed that nearly half of the respondents were currently 4-H volunteer leaders; 76 percent were married and rate family values as a strong part of the personal development acquired in 4-H; and most reflected a high correlation between programs in which they won their awards and their present careers.

A two-time winner - veterinary science in 1968 and leadership in 1971 - now a senior research associate from the University of Texas Medical School in Houston, writes, "On the most basic level, 4-H made it financially possible for me to attend college through money made in 4-H beef and dog projects and scholarships. But beyond that, it allowed opportunities not usually permitted to a child of lower middle class families. Public speaking, leadership training, record keeping - all have been invaluable in my development." The doctor is a member of the "test tube baby" team and researching the cellular and biochemical aspects of fertilization.

"4-H has been the biggest asset to my development outside of my educational training in college. Your investment in my childhood is still paying dividends," says a 1966 winner.

Community involvement among the respondents was also high. A 1967 leadership winner, now vice president for public relations for Ruston Coca-Cola Bottling Company, says "The organizational leadership skills in 4-H enable me to be active in community affairs, church activities and enjoy school involvement."

Significantly, the respondents showed a low divorce rate as a group, about five percent lower than the national average for this age group. A 1975 achievement winner, now a division engineer with Du Pont in Wilmington, Delaware, says "4-H was a useful tool in growing up to become a warmer, more caring person. It was always a family affair with us."

There was also a direct link between 4-H projects and career choices. "While in 4-H, I developed a project on the use of soybeans as a food product. I am now working with one of those products... isolated soy protein... and 4-H provided the launching pad," states a former food preservation winner, now a food chemist with the Ralston Purina Company.

A Louisiana winner states, "It was through petroleum power, Amoco, that I realized how important the petroleum industry has been [and still is] in keeping our country as a world power. This is why I decided to make the petroleum industry my career. I would like to thank Amoco for sharing with me what they have to offer, because my life would not have been as good without them."

Data collected from these surveys was used for a variety of purposes to increase 4-H visibility, program support, fund raising efforts, leadership recruitment and enhancing the 4-H program.

A year before the above survey was initiated, a survey of national public speaking winners was done. In the survey, more than 200 public speaking winners were asked to respond to how participation in the 4-H public speaking program, sponsored by Union Oil Company of California, Union 76 Division, and participation in 4-H generally, has affected career decisions, and other aspects of their lives. Those surveyed represented a period spanning 32 years - from 1952 through 1983. Indications from the survey show that 4-H's public speaking program can be felt reverberating through lecture halls, courtrooms, hospitals, churches, Congress and in a host of communications-related professions.

Out of 113 responses, a significant number said they are using the skills they acquired in the public speaking program in both their professional and personal lives. A number of respondents praised Union Oil Company for giving them this unique opportunity.

"As the housing writer for a national magazine, "Changing Times," I am in the public eye quite often and public speaking skills are quite important. My exposure to public speaking as a teenager helped me to develop the poise and assertiveness to raise questions at press conferences, and the articulateness and ability to think and speak on one's feet necessary for conducting productive one-on-one interviews," said H. Jane Lehman of Beltsville, Maryland.

"I firmly believe being in public speaking for nine years with 4-H has fostered the confidence and solid morals I need to have a fulfilling career. Please send my thanks to Union Oil for the sponsorship of such a worthwhile program and contact me if I can be of any help," Katrina A. Farrall, Silver Spring, Maryland, wrote.

Ms. Farrall, who produces videotapes for training at Bendix Field Engineering Corp., said, "4-H provided me with a broad base of practical knowledge which no formal education could ever match."

Of the 113 respondents, 31 said they had received advanced degrees or attended graduate school, 24 said they currently are enrolled in a college program. The former winners represent a diverse range of professions; an AT&T account executive, a real estate agent, interior designer, advertising director, dietician, journalist, community relations director, artist, actor-playwright, TV anchor/producer, a veterinarian, farmer, editor, speech pathologist, a banker, and a congressman. Almost all said that 4-H, and the public speaking program in particular, contributed a great deal to their growth as a person and as a professional.

"The 4-H program instilled in me a drive for excellence and a sense of self-confidence," said Donna Hensen Sivertsen, R.D., East Moline, Illinois. "4-H provided a healthy atmosphere for competitiveness. It helped one develop a county, state, and national pride as well as awareness of political procedure. Socially, 4-H helped one learn to converse easily with others and know how to have good, clean fun. Many thanks to Union Oil Company who recognized the impact a well-rounded 4-H public speaking program can have on an individual. It is a pleasure for me to be called upon to lecture to others through colleges and hospitals. Even interviewing and appraisal sessions and leading meetings were handled more effectively as a result of my early training."

William M. Redding, regional manager of public relations for Union Oil Company said the company was "very pleased" with the excellent results of the survey. "It only confirms the worthiness of the 4-H public speaking program and Union Oil's continuing support of the program," he said. Redding said Union Oil plans to incorporate the survey results into an article in a forthcoming issue of "Seventy-Six," the company magazine.






Compiled by National 4-H History Preservation Team.


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