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Understanding the 4-H Pledge and the Hand Movements

Hardly a 4-H meeting or event goes by without reciting the 4-H pledge. The pledge portrays how 4-H helps youth develop and grow in positive ways. As the pledge is recited, hand motions add extra meaning to the head, heart, hands and health. Yet, frequently, as you glance across the room, a variation of hand movements occur. There is usually conformity with the head and heart but things go awry with hands, health and my world.

According to a vintage Ohio State University 4-H handout, the hands should be open palms… signifying, open to change, welcoming! The pledge ends with the hands to your side, not behind your back.

The 4-H pledge was worded by Otis Hall, Kansas State 4-H Leader. It was approved at the first National 4-H Club Camp in 1927 in Washington, D.C. The words “my world” were added to the pledge in 1973.

What is the 4-H pledge and proper hand movements?

I pledge….
my Head to clearer thinking, (right hand points to forehead)
my Heart to greater loyalty, (right hand over heart)
my Hands to larger service, (arms slightly bent, palms up)
my Health to better living. (arms at sides)
For my Club, my community, my country, and my world.

Here is what the pledge signifies:

  • HEAD stands for clearer thinking and decision-making. Knowledge that is useful throughout life.
  • HEART stands for greater loyalty, strong personal values, positive self-concept, concern for others.
  • HANDS stands for larger service, workforce preparedness, useful skills, science and technology literacy.
  • HEALTH stands for better living, healthy lifestyles.

A strategy for helping members to learn the pledge is for Cloverbuds to learn the pledge during their first year of 4-H membership. Perhaps, club officers could serve as mentors to all new members. Adults and club leaders are also expected to know the 4-H pledge with its proper hand movements.

Knowledge is power! When you know better, you do better. Make a concerted effort to learn the 4-H pledge!

 

Source: in Grades K-2, Ohio State University Extension. http://www.ohio4h.org