Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Original Homestead Revival: 4H

No, this blog isn't the first homestead revival. I would say that the 4H movement might get the award for being first. Anyone remember participating in 4H as a youth? 

I would love to read a detailed paper on why 4H was started because it seems like it was a bit of a back door approach to win farmers over to advanced technology. According to their own website, university researchers met resistance with adult farmers who were not accepting some of their new ideas (or rather agricultural discoveries) they were trying to promote. So they started clubs to work with the younger generation, who were more open to the "new ways", hoping they would convince the adults to give them a try.  

However, another website, that has a more extensive history published, worded it a bit differently...

"4-H programs began throughout the country in response to young people and their need for a better agricultural education... A.B. Graham, a school principal in Ohio, began to promote vocational agriculture in rural schools in out-of-school "clubs." In 1902, Graham formed a club of boys and girls with officers, projects, meetings, and record requirements. He sought assistance of the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station and Ohio State University.

That's a big difference if you ask me. One would be like Monsanto saying farmers aren't accepting our new recommendations for going to genetically modified seeds, so let's get the next generation on board by starting some agriculture clubs. The second statement is more like a well intentioned effort to encourage children of farmers from leaving the family business while giving them needed skills to be good businessmen. 

Which is the correct view?

I have no idea. 

But I do know this. Our experience has been excellent. Because groups are run locally by volunteers, every group will most likely take on the culture and standards of the area where it exists. And if you're a concerned parent who wants to promote the basic philosophy of 4H, you can get involved as a project leader. 

The 4-H Pledge

I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
my heart to greater loyalty,
my hands to larger service
and my health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country, and my world

Why do I bring this up? Because my goal is to encourage you in your homesteading journey. And if you have children, 4H just might be one of those avenues that encourages your child toward a homesteading mindset through "learning by doing". Caring for livestock, gardening, homemaking, leadership training, and a host of other skills are waiting to be discovered by your child! 

(To find a 4H chapter in your area, click HERE.)

Photo Credit: jimmywayne

Please feel free to share if you or your children were in 4H and any thoughts on your experience! 


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