50 Active Guests
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:
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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
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."
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.
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
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:
Any State Extension Service may accept, or may decline to accept, any given National 4-H Contest.
R. A. Turner
Contests - Their Educational Function in Project WorkAuthored 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.
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.
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.
The 4-H Name and Emblem are protected by 18 USC 707