First National 4-H Week

It is believed that the first official “Club Week” was proclaimed by Governor Christianson in Minnesota in 1926 when he established April 18-24 as “Club Week” to promote the work of the Boys and Girls Clubs in that state, as reported in the April-May, 1926 issue of National Boys and Girls Club News.

What is now known as National 4-H Week began as an outgrowth of World War II. Following Pearl Harbor, it was decided to postpone holding the National 4-H Camp in Washington, D.C., until the cessation of hostilities. W. H. Palmer, State 4-H Leader in Ohio, soon after announced plans for a State 4-H Mobilization Week for Ohio as a means of focusing the attention of 4-H members on what they might do for national defense. This idea met with favorable response by State leaders throughout the country. As a result, the Federal Extension Service initiated National 4-H Mobilization Week which was observed annually in 1942, 1943 and 1944. The following year and each year since, it has been observed as National 4-H Week.

The focus during National 4-H Mobilization Week was on encouraging 4-H members to produce foods needed by rural men and women in the armed services; enlist as many young people eligible for membership as possible in all rural areas, particularly those living on farms, in some phase of the 4-H Club war program; to report on 4-H Club work which had already been started in terms of how it would contribute to family production and conservation goals and how it would contribute toward the total amount needed by rural men and women now in the armed services.

During this same period, the mid-1940’s, a National 4-H Achievement Week was celebrated in November. This was a time to promote 4-H by emphasizing the accomplishments of that year and to recruit new members and leaders and plan for the next year.

After the war, when the National 4-H Mobilization Week became National 4-H Week, the purpose of the Week centered on (1) acquainting the public with the new, enlarged 4-H program, and the many ways young people may take part, (2) encourage more youth to join 4-H, (3) urge more men and women to volunteer as 4-H leaders, (4) recognize parents’ contribution to 4-H and strengthen their cooperation, and (5) report the year’s 4-H accomplishments and plan for the year ahead.

Results of this first National 4-H Week in 1945 indicated it had been a very effective means on the part of leaders and members alike, of reviewing the year’s work, setting goals for the ensuing year, and focusing the attention of the public on 4-H and its values in the development of young people and to general community and national welfare.

In the early years, National 4-H Week was held in the spring. Beginning in 1968, National 4-H Week is now observed the first full week of October, beginning with the first Sunday of October. It may have been at the time of this change over of dates that the National 4-H Achievement Week became a part of National 4-H Week.

Credit: National 4-H History Preservation Program

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