It happens to me all the time…the stranger standing next to me in line at the post office or grocery store sees the 4-H emblem on my shirt or name tag, and say “I’ve always wondered what the four “H’s” in 4-H stand for.” Many people would be surprised to find out that originally, there were only three “H’s.” O. H. Benson designed the first emblem in 1907 as a three-leaf clover with three “H’s” signifying head, heart, and hands. A four-leaf clover design with H’s appeared informally around 1908 with the fourth “H” standing for “Hustle.” In 1911, during a club leader meeting in Washington, DC, leaders voted to adopt the fourth “H,” Health. This emblem was patented in 1924, and in 1939 Congress passed a law protecting the use of the 4-H name and emblem. This emblem continues to be highly valued and recognized on our country today, and because of that it became a federally protected mark, more valuable than a trademark or copyright. Similarly valued emblems include the Olympic and Presidential Seals. The “18 USC 707” that is written below the stem of the emblem outlines the United States Code that protects the emblem.
The best way to remember what the “H’s” stand for is by learning our pledge:
My Head to clearer thinking (life skill development through informal education)
My Heart to greater loyalty (emotional development and positive relationships with screened, trained and caring adults)
My Hands to larger service (growing compassion and civic responsibility through service to others)
And my Health to better living (learning how to make better choices)
For my club, my community, my country and my world.
Watch celebrity Aubrey Plaza explain what the four “H’s” mean by reciting the 4-H Pledge on national television.
Nostalgic about 4-H and want to introduce the next generation of youth to the program? Consider becoming a 4-H volunteer! Florida 4-H offers a wide variety of roles to fit both your interests and schedule. Contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org for more information.
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- Overview of 4-H Positive Youth Development - February 2, 2023