Red and gold colors the Iowa landscape each fall, but green will dominate during the week of Oct. 7-13 when 4-H'ers across the state don the four-leaf clover to celebrate National 4-H Week.
In proclaiming the observance, Gov. Chet Culver said, "I urge my fellow citizens to observe this week by connecting with youth, friends, fellow employees and relatives and with school, community and civic groups to engage in projects benefiting their community."
"National 4-H provides young people with the research and resources from all the nation's land-grant universities and colleges," said Chuck Morris, program director for Iowa State University Extension 4-H Youth Development. "4-H builds character in youth by giving them a sense of belonging to a positive, inclusive group; opportunities to help in their community; and a way to learn new skills to meet life's challenges."
4-H is a big part of ISU Extension
"ISU Extension and 4-H connect Iowa youth to learning and service opportunities — and a lot of fun —at the community, county and regional levels; as well as at statewide and national events," said Jack Payne, vice president for ISU Extension and Outreach. "4-H is a big part of ISU Extension, but Extension is 4-H and more. We 'extend' the university to the entire state.
"Extension can help young people explore what they want to do next — what they want to become as adults. 4-H helps youth find their passion and see how that translates into educational paths and future careers," Payne said.
Today's 4-H'ers can choose from science, engineering and technology; business and workforce preparation; food safety and nutrition; animal and environmental science; and theatrical and visual arts as well as production agriculture, clothing and child development. All 4-H projects offer a leadership, citizenship and communication component.
100 years of the 4-leaf clover emblem
Also this year the 4-H program celebrates 100 years of the birth of the clover emblem, from its inception in Clarion, Iowa. Nationally, 4-H celebrated its centennial year as a youth development program in 2002.
Through their project work, 4-H'ers earn more than $100,000 in college scholarships each year, Morris said. The Iowa 4-H Foundation makes available approximately 90 scholarships through financial support from corporations, organizations and individuals.
"Our youth are the future of Iowa - we need their energy, skills and ideas to make Iowa an even better place to live, work and play," Payne said. "ISU Extension has an office in every county in Iowa - so stop on by and learn more about 4-H." Iowans also can learn about 4-H online.
More than 60 million young people across the United States have been 4-H'ers. Distinguished alumni from Iowa include NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, former Gov. Terry Branstad, Academy Award-winning actress Donna Reed, football stand-out Ed Podolak and numerous other public servants, educators and communication, entertainment and sports figures. Also, six Iowans belong to the National 4-H Hall of Fame: O. H. Benson, Fannie Buchanan, Max Exner, C. J. Gauger, Cap Miller and Jessie Field Shambaugh. See www.nae4ha.org/hof.