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Exhibition Join In: Voluntary Assocations in America

Minnesota Sings. Cooperative Recreation Service, Inc., 1962. Cooperative Recreation Service Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress (082.00.00)
Carol Highsmith, photographer. Prize Winners in the Gourd Family Inside the 4-H Pavilion at the Annual Iowa State Fair in the Capital City of Des Moines, 2016. Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (085.00.00)


Beginning in Clark County, Ohio, in 1902, young people’s agricultural clubs developed across the Midwest, driven by concern that more should be done to integrate agricultural education into public schooling and ensure that agricultural innovation reached rural youth. In 1914, the Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension Service organized these clubs into a national network under the leadership of county agricultural agents. Joining “Head, Heart, Hands, and Health,” 4-H has flourished through clubs and camps, long since expanding to engage urban and suburban youth in hands-on learning and fellowship. Music has been an essential club activity, strengthening the bonds among the millions of 4-H members for more than a century.