4-H History, Pledge, Emblems & Symbols

About 4-H

4-H is more than a club.

Windows Media file Watch the Award Winning 4-H Promotional Video! (NOTE: this file is 39 MB and is very large, if you are using a dial-up modem it will take a very long time to download.)

What is 4-H?

4-H is a positive youth development organization that empowers young people to reach their full potential. A vast community of more than 6 million youth and adults working together for positive change, 4-H enables America’s youth to emerge as leaders through hands-on learning, research-based 4-H youth programs and adult mentorship, in order to give back to their local communities.

4-H prepares young people to step up to the challenges in their community and the world. Using research-based programming around positive youth development, 4-H youth get the hands-on real world experience they need to become leaders.  Young people who are a part of 4-H have the opportunity to explore all types of science, health, and citizenship programming delivered through 4-H clubs and camps, as well as afterschool.  Find out more about 4-H projects here.

In 4-H clubs, youth serve as officers and learn to conduct meetings, handle club funds, and facilitate group decision-making. In a growing number of communities, 4-H youth serve as youth representatives in municipal or county government or as members of Teen Courts. They give back to their communities through community service projects.

4-H is the youth development program of the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Cooperative Extension System of the nation’s land-grant universities. Wisconsin 4-H is a program of the University of Wisconsin-Extension in partnership with state, federal and county government in each Wisconsin county.

4-H reaches every corner of our state—from urban neighborhoods to suburban schoolyards to rural farming communities. In Wisconsin, with a network of more than 33,000 youth and 17,000 volunteers, 4-H helps shape youth to move our communities, state, country and the world forward in ways that no other youth organization can.

Check with your County Extension office for information on 4-H in your area.

4-H experiences are designed to address the four essential elements of positive youth development: Belonging, Mastery, Generosity and Independence.

Word Icon Essential Element Book Mark (2 pages, 300 KB, 2 per page, front and back of the handout) – Front and back of a handout featuring the four essential elements, with brief descriptions of the critical components of each element.

4-H clover

4-H Traditions

The 4-H Clover Emblem and Pledge Explained

The first 4-H emblem was a three-leaf clover, introduced sometime between 1907 and 1908. The three “H’s” represented head, heart and hands. In 1911, at a meeting of club leaders in Washington, a fourth “H” representing health was added and the current 4-H four-leaf clover emblem was approved. It is protected by the U.S. Congress. More information on Clover logo usage is available.

The 4-H pledge was worded by Otis Hall, Kansas state 4-H leader. It was approved at the first National 4-H Club Camp in 1927 in Washington, D.C. The words “my world” were added to the pledge in 1973. Their addition is the only change ever made to the 4-H pledge.

  • HEAD stands for clearer thinking and decision-making. Knowledge that is useful throughout life.
  • HEART stands for greater loyalty, strong personal values, positive self concept, concern for others.
  • HANDS stands for larger service, workforce preparedness, useful skills, science and technology literacy.
  • HEALTH stands for better living, healthy lifestyles.

4-H Pledge

I pledge….
my Head to clearer thinking,
my Heart to greater loyalty,
my Hands to larger service,
my Health to better living.
For my Club, my community, my country, and my world.

4-H Motto

To make the best better.


4-H clover

4-H History

4-H clover


UW-Extension 4-H Youth Development integrates research, education, and community-based  partnerships, enabling youth to learn and practice skills to be productive citizens.


4-H Youth Development: A catalyst for positive community youth development.

4-H clover

Wisconsin 4-H Youth Development State Staff

Wisconsin 4-H Youth Development State Staff

4-H clover

Wisconsin 4-H News

4-H in the News