4-H Fair4-H had its national beginnings around the turn of the century, and Illinois was there from the start! The groundwork that led to 4-H, as we know it today, was laid by pioneers in educational work and leaders of farm org a nizations who realized the value of leisure-time group activities for young people and their families. Roots can be traced back to 1899 in Macoupin County, Illinois and W.B. Otwell.
But 4-H as we know it today came in 1914 when the Smith-Lever Act was passed by Congress. This legislation authorized the creation of a Cooperative Extension Service in each state's land-grant college of agriculture. Extension soon found that one effective way to reach rural men and women was by working with their children. Thus, Boys and Girls Club Work became an integral part of Extension's programming. Dr. James H. Greene was the first state leader for club work. The first 4-H club in Illinois was the Union Pig Club organized by C.C. Coots in Macoupin County in the spring of 1915. By 1917 over fifteen thousand members were enrolled in Illinois. Not only were there corn and pig clubs, but the work now included canning, sewing, garden, strawberry, and calf clubs.
4-H continues to evolve as lives change. We are continually working to provide opportunities for youth and their families in any setting.
4-H is not Just for Farm kids Anymore!