September 23, 2020

News Release

For Immediate Release

EDITOR'S NOTE: national 4-H week logoMembers of the media may contact Jeannette Rea Keywood, Rutgers 4‑H Youth Development by phone at 609-827-0199 or by email at

Head, Heart, Hands, and Health…Pledging to the Value of 4‑H

4‑H members and 4‑H adult volunteers involved in the New Jersey 4‑H Youth Development Program and across the nation will continue to focus on the importance of the four H's (Head, Heart, Hands, Health) of the 4‑H Pledge and the value of positive youth development as they celebrate National 4‑H Week next month, October 4–10.

The 4‑H Youth Development Program is the Cooperative Extension System's dynamic, informal, educational program for young people. 4‑H programs reach over 6 million young people in the United States. The program combines the cooperative efforts of youth, adult volunteer leaders, state land-grant universities, federal, state, local governments, and the United States Department of Agriculture.

The mission of the Cooperative Extension System in conducting 4‑H programs is to assist youth in acquiring knowledge, developing life skills and forming attitudes that will enable boys and girls to become self-directing, productive and contributing members of the world. The 4‑H program focuses on positive youth development while developing knowledge and skills, social competencies, positive values, healthy living, leadership, and civic engagement, thus helping to prepare youth for the future.

The 4‑H roots are deeply grounded. 4‑H started in 1902 and the first 4‑H emblem design was a 3-leaf clover, introduced sometime between 1907 and 1908. From the beginning, the 3‑H's signified Head, Heart and Hands. In 1911, at a meeting of club leaders in Washington, the present 4‑H design was adopted by approving the fourth H, Health.

Otis Hall, State 4‑H Leader of Kansas, was responsible for the original working of the 4‑H pledge. At the first National 4‑H Club Camp in 1927, the state 4‑H leaders officially adopted the 4‑H pledge. The pledge read:

"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."

The addition "and my world" to the last line in 1973 has been the only change to the pledge in over 80 years.

The 4‑H pledge is a symbol of the devotion generations of America's youth have given to the 4‑H program. Its words embody the goals of 4‑H. The pledge is the heart of a special union…the union between 4‑H members, who learn and grow through 4‑H programs; the staff, both volunteer and Extension, who make 4‑H a reality for young people throughout the nation; and the growing family of 4‑H supporters and partners who make it possible.

The 4‑H Youth Development Program is part of Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station Cooperative Extension, 4‑H educational programs are offered to all youth, grades K–13, on an age-appropriate basis, without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, marital status, domestic partnership status, military service, veteran status, and any other category protected by law.

For information on the 4‑H Youth Development Program call the 4‑H Office in the county you reside or visit the New Jersey 4‑H website at


Cooperating Agencies: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and County Boards of Chosen Freeholders. Rutgers Cooperative Extension, a unit of the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, is an qual opportunity program provider and employer.

Rutgers New Jersey 4-H Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station