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The 4-Hs and You(th)

The 4-H pledge is more than a few sentences with hand gestures that you repeat at meetings and events. These words were chosen with greater meaning and purpose!

Take a few minutes to rethink the pledge: the how it’s performed, the why we say it, and what it means to you.

The How

It is interesting to witness large groups of 4-Hers saying the pledge together as there are always a few different variations.  We are not doing the hokey pokey … we are taking solemn vows of respect for our 4-H way of life.

So here’s how it goes!

I pledge my head to clearer thinking: 1 hand (Right) pointed to your head, not both.
My heart to greater loyalty: Right hand over your heart
My hands to larger service: both hands outstretched, bent at your elbows
and my health to better living: hands by side or behind your back
For my club, my community, my country, and my world. There are no hand motions!

The steps to reciting the 4-H pledge correctly.

I present a new goal to club leaders and officers: Make it a point to recite and teach the pledge correctly every time. (For some, this may even make it a little easier!)

The What & Why

The pledge signifies the goals and philosophy behind 4-H. We aspire to help youth grow to be successful, knowledgeable, and confident members of society. We achieve this through countless hours from volunteers, workshops and clinics, project books, and through genuine concern of caring adults dedicated to making a difference to each youth.  Our pledge is not just a revamped version of “heads, shoulders, knees, and toes” it is a promise for generations to make the best better.

  • Head: knowledge, resiliency, goal setting, critical learning, problem-solving…everything the head gives us to solve problems and discover the world around us.
  • Heart: communication, empathy, social skills, concern for others, generosity, honesty, and genuine human kindness. Heart is having loyalty to your country and your own personal values. Do onto others and see the change for goodness.
  • Hands: Leadership, teamwork, self-motivation, giving back, working towards, citizenship, community service, science literacy, and creation. Hands provide a tool to shape the world into a better place for ourselves and others.
  • Health: Long, healthy lives, personal safety, and risk assessments are only one part of the purpose of healthy living. Health also includes self-esteem, confidence, and stress management.
Now What?

The pledge may constitute a small part of your 4-H expereince but it should represent a larger purpose for your involvement. I challenge you this holiday season to sit down and think about what 4-H means to you. What drives you to participate and volunteer? What drives you to choose 4-H as opposed to one of the many other youth opportunities available?

Use those answers to put the meaning back behind your pledge. These words should never be just routine; these words should be a source of pride.

This is one small step for you but one giant leap for the youth-kind.