History of 4-H in Florida
Florida’s children and youth began enjoying educational activities provided in cooperation with the state’s land-grant institutions as early as 1909. 4-H type programs were first established in north Florida, including Suwannee, Columbia, Madison and Gadsden counties. The boys participated in corn clubs, and the girls were active in tomato clubs.
Leadership for the Florida 4-H program was found in three major academic institutions. State 4-H club agents were housed at the University of Florida and Florida State University (originally, Florida State College for Women). In addition, District Extension agents working with 4-H programs for black youth were housed at Florida A&M University.
Separate programs were conducted for boys and girls, as well as black and white youth. As was typical in the rest of the southern region of the United States, 4-H clubs met in the schools with agricultural agents teaching agricultural projects to boys. Girls met with home economics agents to learn about projects associated with the home and family.
The school club programs were supplemented with a number of out-of-school events and activities. County and regional fairs in Florida have a long tradition of providing opportunities for 4-Hers to publicly show their projects and compete for awards. Agricultural judging teams, organized in many counties, participated in regional, state and national contests. These teams provided a way for youth to travel and meet people from outside their communities, and learn more about the world around them.
Camping has always been a key component in the Florida 4-H program with Camp Timpoochee in northwest Florida being one of the first 4-H residential camps in the country and established in 1926.
Each of the three universities hosted a week-long summer leadership and project competitions event. The leadership programs included election of state 4-H officers for both the male and female divisions of the program. At one time, there were as many as three state 4-H council leadership programs operating in the state (today there is one State 4-H Council).
With the leadership of national 4-H specialists at the USDA, and the support of the National 4-H Service Committee and the National 4-H Foundation, Florida 4-Hers participated in a number of national events, including National 4-H Congress, National Conference and Citizenship Short Course.
When the National 4-H Center was established in the 1950s, Florida 4-Hers raised about $50,000 through the sale of chocolate bars which they contributed to the center.
Please note: we have placed links here to many photos in the UF/IFAS Historical photo database, as well as links to photos we have on our web server.
National 4-H Congress Delegation Photos see the delegations sent to National 4-H Congress from Florida over the decades.