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One Hundred Years Of Utah 4-H

Sen. Mike Lee

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Mr. President, Thomas Jefferson once wrote in a letter to George Washington: ``Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.'' Before their faces were chiseled into monuments and printed on dollar bills, many of the patriots who founded our Nation and who fought and died for the freedoms we cherish were simple farmers. Washington, Jefferson, and others like them were doing much more than just growing food to live off of; they were laying the groundwork for a culture of self-reliance that played a role in America's fight for independence and its sustained growth over the past 200 years. While technology has changed the focus of our economy from agriculture to a variety of other sectors, it is crucial that we remember the principles set forth by our Founders. For the past 100 years, the 4-H Club of Utah has provided youth with the opportunity to cultivate and continue our Nation's rich agricultural heritage while simultaneously training them in the technologies and advancements of the future. Thus, Utah 4-H's centennial theme--``Celebrating the Past, Creating the Future''--is particularly pertinent. I find it appropriate to commemorate Utah 4-H at its centennial in the halls and records of Congress.

The four H's stand for Head, Heart, Hands and Health. The head represents the quest for knowledge, the heart symbolizes love and service to others, hands signify hard work and the development of diligence, and health emphasizes the importance of healthy habits and a healthy lifestyle. While the educational arm of the program was originally centered in farm communities, the program has extended far beyond that with over a third of its members living in metropolitan and suburban areas. Roughly the same percent of members represent minority populations.

The express mission of 4-H is to ``engage youth to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development,'' and as its motto states, ``to make the best better.'' The 4-H of Utah strives to broaden horizons and connect participating youth with greater opportunities than would otherwise be available to them. Scholarships are offered to high school seniors and college students in need to allow them to take their 4-H education and skills to college and beyond.

The 4-H Club was established in Utah in 1912 but its roots run much deeper--back to the 1888 founding of the ``Agricultural College of Utah,'' which is now known as Utah State University. The purpose of the 4-H Club was to educate youth about new agricultural technology so that they might pass them to their own farm communities and improve the State's agricultural industry. By 1931, Utah's 4-H Club was declared to be the fastest growing in the Nation, and now in 2012, it serves over 75,000 youth. From holding a strict focus on agriculture, cooking, and home economics, 4-H has grown and now offers over a thousand programs ranging from robotics to skateboarding. The program has succeeded in large part due to the dedication of a group of volunteers who are passionate about the work of 4-H. I commend and express gratitude to the 9,500 current 4-H volunteers, and the tens of thousands that came before them. I owe Utah 4-H a personal debt of gratitude, as my own chief of staff, Spencer Stokes, is a program alumnus who has brought skills and principles he learned in 4-H to his leadership role in my office.

The world is no longer a simple place for the youth of our Nation. They face a cloudy economic horizon with an excess of workers competing for a dearth of jobs. 4-H gives participating youth a tremendous advantage and competitive edge from a young age--helping them build healthy relationships, cultivate fruitful habits and hobbies, and learn skills to take into their communities and industries. 4-H has played a tremendous role in making Utah a better place for our youth and making our youth better contributors to our communities around the Nation.