Behind the 4-H Clover
The 4-H clover is one of the most recognized symbols of the United States. To many, it represents our American roots investing in agriculture and youth. You may have noticed that the 4-H logo has the statement “18 USC 707.” If you search for the statement, you will find that it is the United States Code protecting the 4-H Clover from misuse. The 4-H clover is granted a special status protected federally just like the Presidential Seal and Smokey the Bear. It is protected at a higher level than trademarks and copyrights! Thus, the emblem cannot be used without authorization by the U.S. Congress. Locally, Cooperative Extension has been tasked with the responsibility of protecting and promoting the use of the 4-H name and emblem. It is with the 4-H Club Charter, that 4-H clubs are granted the use of the name and emblem.
Let’s start with a quick history of the 4-H program. The program started in the early 1900’s as Boys’ and Girls’ Club, working with schools engaging youth through hands-on learning and production contests, identification challenges, and more. The goal was to encourage youth to learn and utilize new techniques and skills to enhance the agriculture industry. Today, the program has grown to offer a variety of projects from livestock to robotics with more than 6 million youth across the nation.
The clover emblem was first introduced in 1908 by O.H. Benson in Ohio. At this time, the emblem had only 3 leaves, signifying head, heart and hand. It wasn’t until 1911 that Benson saw the need to add a fourth H” for “hustle.” He commented, “head, heart, hands, and hustle...head trained to be useful, helpful and skillful, and the hustle to render ready service to develop health and vitality..." Later that year, he took his idea to a Club Leader meeting in Washington D.C. where the group decided on changing the fourth “H” to represent “health,” establishing the emblem as we know today.
From the beginning, the goal of 4-H clubs was to help young people and their families gain the skills needed to work with their community to make a difference together. The emblem represents these ideals and achievement.
Image from https://4-hhistorypreservation.com/