Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on March 29, 2011 at 11:46 AM by Global Reach

O.H. BensonOscar H. Benson became Wright County school superintendent in 1906. As a school teacher, Benson was recognized for introducing agriculture and domestic science into his teaching. While superintendent, he pushed to include agriculture and domestic science into elementary school work. He encouraged students to exhibit their work at school fairs, much as 4-H'ers do today. Benson and Jessie Field in Page County created a 3 leaf clover symbol on pins and pennants awarded to students. In 1909 the clover design included an "H" on each leaf for Head, Heart, and Hand, and an ear of corn at the center. Benson went to work at the Farmers' Cooperative Extension Work office in Washington, DC in 1911.

As Benson traveled the country for Cooperative Extension and spoke to groups, he began to speak of a fourth H - "Hustle." Boys and girls club leaders meeting in Washington adopted the 4-H symbol in spring of 1911, along with O.B. Martin's suggestion that the fourth "H" stand for Health. Benson later created 4-H clover pins for youth demonstration work. Benson moved to the Office of Farm Management in 1912 as the first federal agent employed to develop boys' and girls' club work in the North and West. He established some cooperative agreements with state youth programs, leading to the inclusion of youth work in the 1914 legislation that created the Cooperative Extension Service.

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Categories: State Recognition

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