The Tenth Decade

Volunteer Administration Academy

The University of Kentucky began offering graduate level courses in Volunteer Administration in 2001. The primary goal was to give agents the knowledge and skills needed to shift the agent’s role from being an activity coordinator and teacher of youth to being an educational program manager with primary responsibility for volunteer coordination and volunteer program management. More...

Centennial of 4-H is Celebrated across the United States

Cooperative Extension has long been recognized for its ability to bring a variety of stakeholders to the table to work through community issues. In celebration of the 100th anniversary in 2002, 4-H across the United States gave a unique gift to the country by putting that ability into action. At meetings in almost every Kentucky county, people (some involved in 4-H and some who were not) came together to talk about ways to improve the future of youth in their communities. In January 2002, two youth and two adults from each county were invited to the state “Conversation” in Lexington. The results of Conversations held in Kentucky were presented to Governor Paul Patton in February. In April 2002, the results of the Conversations held across the country were presented to President George Bush and members of Congress during National 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C.

Here are the results of the Kentucky Statewide Conversation:

  • Youth need to be involved in the planning and decision-making processes of school boards and of state and local governments.
  • Create youth centers (with homework help and hotlines available) and safe havens for vulnerable youth.
  • Businesses in both public and private sectors should offer volunteer time off during business hours to their employees.
  • Educate youth about the responsibilities, duties, and rights of citizens in a community.
  • Establish a cabinet level position for youth development.
  • Make community service a component of public high school curricula.
  • Parenting and child development classes should be offered to parents to help them build skills conducive to positive youth development and parental involvement.

More… Extension Today, Fall/Winter 2002: “4-H Celebrates Its 100 Years with Gift to Nation by Martha Jackson

More… Kentucky Living, April 2002: “4-H Seizing the Century”

Miss Kentucky Talks 4-H

Monica Hardin, Miss Kentucky 2002, taped four 4-H radio spots to be aired across Kentucky during the centennial year. Hardin was also a member of the Kentucky delegation at the National Conversation in Washington, DC.

Garfield Joins 4-H in Celebration

Jim Davis, creator of Garfield, grew up in 4-H in a farming community near Muncie, IN. Davis created a comic strip to commemorate the 100th anniversary. Lithographs of the original were sold on Ebay as a fund-raiser for each state. Other 4-H Garfield items were available for purchase for a limited time.

Kentucky 4-H Bear

Century, a limited edition Kentucky 4-H bear, was available for purchase during 2002. (Add photo of bear)

Largest Single Contribution to Date Made to Kentucky 4-H

The Kentucky Agriculture Development Board awarded $2 million to Friends of Kentucky 4-H to establish the 4-H Venture Grant Endowment in 2002. To that date, it was the largest single contribution ever given to the Kentucky 4-H program. Income from the investment was to fund innovative projects that would take 4-H into areas never ventured before. In doing so, 4-H would help youth from tobacco producing families transition into other careers. Funding allows 4-H to test ideas in a few counties and then replicate the results in other counties across the state.

Shifts in State 4-H Leaders

Dr. Bill Umscheid retired as assistant director of Extension for 4-H youth development in 2002. Dean Scott Smith appointed Dr. George Duncan, Extension agriculture engineering specialist, to serve during the interim.

After a national search, Dr. Joe Kurth was named assistant director in July 2003. Kurth served in equivalent 4-H positions in three other states and came to Kentucky from Iowa.

When talking about 4-H, Kurth focuses on the four developmental needs which all people have—the need to belong, opportunities for mastery, growth toward independence, and a spirit of generosity. The child is at the center of all that we do in 4-H. It is the right of every Kentucky child to live a good life. When we talk about 4-H, we talk about youth development and children first, then about programs, delivery methods, events and activities.

The Slash Removed

The research in youth development of the 1990s impacted 4-H at the turn of the century. While the title “County Extension Agent for 4-H/Youth Development” recognized the importance of youth development to 4-H, the slash was a source of exasperation for some Extension professionals. In 2003, the slash between 4-H and Youth Development was officially removed. With that act came recognition that 4-H is youth development; 4-H and youth development are not two separate concepts.

4-H Projects and Core Curriculum

Ask a young person to describe 4-H and the response will probably be, “It’s fun!”

Although some people wouldn’t put the terms “fun” and “learning” together, that’s exactly what 4-H Youth Development is all about. Youth don’t just learn about trees, sheep, snacks, or meetings, they learn to identify trees, feed and show a lamb, make a nutritious snack, or lead a meeting. They get their minds and hands involved in “learning by doing.” The academic term for this type of learning is “experiential education.”

From the very beginning, 4-H has offered kids the opportunity to learn about subjects that they didn’t always learn in school. Early on, projects mostly dealt with farming or homemaking. Today, there are all kinds of projects—kids can learn to handle money wisely, start a babysitting business, grow vegetables in the backyard, give a demonstration, hatch an egg, chat on a computer, make bread, shadow an adult at work, choose to eat healthy foods, give a speech, cure a ham, conquer an obstacle course on a bicycle, and more.

In 2004, Kentucky 4-H introduced the “core curriculum.” Teams of agents and specialists looked at the curriculum available and identified specific pieces to use in Kentucky 4-H. Since 4-H is interested in making a positive difference in the lives of youth, it is important to be able to ensure quality programming and evaluate what kids are learning. When all 120 counties use the same curriculum, these goals can be achieved. More… (Link to pdf of brochure on core curriculum.)

During the 10th Decade, 4-H introduced a variety of projects related to science, engineering and technology. The buzz word became “SET.” Kids began learning to use global positioning systems (GPS) in both fun and practical ways. They made robots and rockets. Television crime shows took on new meaning as they learned that sciences such as biotechnology are behind investigation. They learned that making a lamp is fun but that is small in comparison to the vast opportunities in electronics and electricity today.

Technology Changes the Way We Communicate

2004 Technology has expanded the dimensions of communications. For many years, agents have primarily communicated with members and volunteers through printed newsletters and mass communications via newspapers, radio, and occasionally television. Those forms of communication continue but email, instant messaging, social networks, texting on cell phones, pod casts, conference calls, and interactive computer conferencing have revolutionized the way members, volunteers, agents, and specialists communicate.

In 2004, the Kentucky 4-H website underwent a major redesign. 4-H youth and volunteers can easily locate the website at

Volunteers Certified in Livestock

To ensure that 4-H members have a full and well-rounded educational experience in livestock projects, Kentucky 4-H began requiring that livestock volunteers be certified in 2005. Volunteers had indicated that they wanted to provide a more in-depth educational experience for 4-H members but lacked either the educational resources or the background to develop or access the teaching and learning activities.

Initially, the curriculum included beef, sheep, swine and market goat projects, as well as ethics and quality assurance, livestock judging, meats judging, and skill-a-thon. Country ham and dairy were added in 2006. More . . . (Link to pdf on Livestock Cerification)

4-H Health Core Curriculum

Health has become a major concern for Kentucky’s citizens. In fact, instances of health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes which are normally associated with adulthood are increasing among even Kentucky’s youngest citizens. Cooperative Extension has stepped up efforts to teach health and nutrition to a wider audience.

Since the fourth “H” in 4-H stands for “health,” an additional specialist was added to the state 4-H staff to give leadership to the health initiative in 2005. Formation of a partnership with Health Education through Extension Leadership (HEEL) provided not only a focus but a new avenue of untapped resources and ideas for programming for youth health and wellness issues.

Health Rocks!, an increasingly popular 4-H project, encourages youth to make healthy choices. Teen members are involved in teaching the curriculum to groups of younger youth. 4-H Health Days were added to Kentucky State Fair activities to introduce youth and parents to healthy living choices and simple ways to add physical fitness to a family’s daily routine.

Capital Experience

Knowing elected officials, how the government works, and the process of creating political change are all important skills necessary for youth to become active members of society. Capital Experience became an integral part of Kentucky 4-H during the 10th decade. It is an opportunity for youth from across the Commonwealth to visit Frankfort during a Congressional session, visit their legislators, and view a committee meeting or meet representatives from government agencies. Some county delegations also make arrangements to tour the Governor’s Mansion or the Kentucky History Museum. Barren County Agent Paula Tarry has served as coordinator for this event since its beginning in 2005. Attendance has ranged from 726 to almost 1,500. By the end of the day, 4-H members have visited the offices of every legislator.

First Executive Director Hired

For many years, a member of the Kentucky state staff worked with the Friends of Kentucky 4-H, Inc. Board of Directors while shouldering other responsibilities for the 4-H program. In 2004, with assets over $3 million, the board made the decision to hire its first full time executive director. Chris Clabes was hired in April 2005.

Kentucky Youth Summit

Teen Conference has been a popular summer experience for teens for many years. In 2005, a similar experience for younger teens was launched. It is held annually at the Kentucky Leadership Center.


It didn’t take very long after the beginning of corn and canning clubs for communication skills to become a part of 4-H. Early on, members told others about their project, learned to present oral reasons while judging, presided over club meetings, gave committee reports, and prepared club minutes. Speeches, demonstrations and oral judging reasons are still some of the ways 4-H’ers develop their oral communication skills today.

If you ask an alumnus what skill learned in 4-H has contributed to his/her success, many would likely mention communication skills. Being able to communicate well has proved a valuable skill in the workplace.

4-H members who excel in public speaking at the county and district levels are invited to compete during State Communications Day held during June or July.

4-H Afterschool

Over the years, 4-H in Kentucky has taken place both during school hours and after school hours. With more and more parents working, there has been increasing concern that youth often leave school at the end of the day and go home to unsupervised situations.

In 2006, Kentucky 4-H focused efforts on increasing 4-H opportunities between the hours of 3 pm and 6 pm. An official definition for 4-H After-school was adopted.

Results of an agent survey of currently offered after school 4-H programs showed that even though there were many high quality after school programs in place, the subject matter taught was varied and sporadic. A committee of agents and state 4-H staff members created a variety of teaching and marketing resources.

Kentucky Salutes 4-H Alumnus Coach Tubby Smith

Kentucky is known for great basketball. From 1997 to 2007, the University of Kentucky Wildcats were led by Coach Orlando “Tubby” Smith. Smith grew up in a Maryland farming community and was actively involved in 4-H. In 2006 Kentucky 4-H, recognized Smith for his commitment to youth.

4-H School Enrichment

For many years, 4-H has provided learning experiences to enhance the curriculum in Kentucky schools. To provide focus for this effort, Kentucky 4-H adopted an official definition for school enrichment programming in 2006. School enrichment is defined: “Groups of youth receiving a sequence of learning experiences in cooperation with school officials during school hours to support the school curriculum. It involves direct teaching by extension staff or trained volunteers, including the classroom teacher.”

Several resources were created for use by Extension agents and volunteers. The Kentucky 4-H School Enrichment Menu of Options lists lesson plans available using the Kentucky 4-H Core Curriculum for elementary, middle and high school audiences. The brochures are a marketing tool for agents to use with classroom teachers.

Clover Buds

Although pre-4-H age youth have accompanied older siblings to club meetings and have been involved in fun nutrition education or CHARACTER COUNTS!sm for many years, 2007 marked the time when Kentucky officially began to involve youth ages five through eight (grades K-3) as Clover Buds. Whether to offer pre-4-H programs in a particular county is a decision left up to that county. These young members are involved in simple learning activities related to animal science, communications, health, family and consumer science, leadership and natural resources. The non-competitive program is designed to help children learn more about themselves and the world around them. They are involved in hands-on learning activities, develop a relationship with a caring adult or older helper, and learn about the 4-H program. Specific curricula are identified for use with this age group.

Behind the Scenes at the State Fair

When the public enters “Cloverville” on Opening Day of the Kentucky State Fair, all of the 4-H exhibits are neatly arranged throughout the village. Lots of work takes place behind the scenes to prepare the display for public viewing.

Youth work on 4-H projects throughout the year. They strive to master the skills involved to produce a high quality product. They have the opportunity to take their best products to the county fair. All items are judged locally; the highest quality products are selected for entry in the state fair. Agents and volunteers collect the products to be exhibited in the state fair and transport them to Louisville on Monday prior to opening day. A team of about 50 agents carefully judge, then display all entries in the storefronts and fixtures throughout Cloverville.

In 2007, a tree, log cabin and stage were added to the area where 4-H exhibits are displayed. Portions of the Cloverville storefronts were discontinued.

4-H Camp

Mention camp to a 4-H member and you’re likely to see a smile that stretches from ear to ear. (For that matter, mention camp to a 4-H alumnus from any decade and you’ll probably see the same reaction!) Morning flag raising, boating/canoeing, riflery, crafts, nature, recreation, swimming, Sally Down the Alley and camp fires—it’s all still part of 4-H camp.

Throughout the decade, 4-H Camp continued to be a summer highlight for kids across the state. Almost 10,000 youth, junior counselors, volunteers, and agents attended camp each summer at one of the four resident 4-H camps in Kentucky.

A lot goes on behind the scenes of 4-H camp to make it the high quality experience that Extension strives to maintain.

Anytime parents entrust their kids to 4-H, Extension makes every effort to provide a safe and healthy environment. In 2005, Extension sought accreditation for 4-H camps through the American Camping Association. Each camp had to meet 300 rigorous standards to achieve accreditation. While it might not be all that important to kids, it was of great importance to 4-H. By 2006, all four camps had met the standards.

Maintaining four resident camps is an expensive undertaking, especially when camp fees are kept low so that families from all income levels can afford to send their kids to camp. Finding sources of funding is a continual effort.

To raise funds, renowned artist John Ward painted one season of the year at each of the four resident camps. Five hundred prints of each painting were produced. Each print is signed and numbered. All proceeds from the sale of the prints directly support renovations at the camps. More

In 2005, Kentucky’s rural electric cooperatives pledged $250,000 toward camp renovations through Touchstone Energy. Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives and individual rural electric cooperatives have a very long history of supporting 4-H camps.

When Dr. Jimmy Henning became associate director of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service in 2007, he scheduled listening sessions around the state. As he listened to agents and volunteers, one theme kept coming to the forefront—4-H Camp. While camp is one of the seven 4-H delivery methods and possibly the one most remembered about the 4-H experience, significant funding for maintenance had not been funneled back into the camps in many years. Dr. Henning decided to take that on as a personal commitment to 4-H. He invited Extension staff, administrators and volunteers to a “Bathhouse Blitz.” He, along with 240 others, spent a day at a camp sprucing up the appearance of all four camps, focusing primarily on the bathhouses.

During the 2008 legislative session, Kentucky 4-H Foundation board members and state 4-H officers presented the case for significant funding for major camp improvements to legislators. At the very end of the session, 4-H volunteer/former board member Senator Joey Pendleton was able to move a $2 million request through the legislative process. The appropriation is slated to become available for camp improvements in July 2009. To the extent possible, the funding will be equally divided among the four camps.

The Kentucky Leadership Center

Keith and Sue Perry, who served as director and assistant director of the Kentucky Leadership Center since its opening, retired in 2006. Their hospitality and service made the center a sought-after retreat setting.

To fill the vacancy, Joyce Belcher left the position of office manager in the State 4-H Department to become the new director of the center. She wanted to continue the hospitality which guests had come to expect. With lodging rates below that of a hotel, funds for remodeling were scarce. Belcher started an adopt-a-room program. Adopters were given some parameters but were allowed to come up with their own decorating scheme. Some selected decorative items which were meaningful to the group who adopted the room—pictures of county landmarks, UK athletics, quilts, wildlife, etc. Others chose comforters and decorative items based on a color scheme. Through the novel approach, sleeping rooms were given a fresh like-home look and every room became unique.

Horses at West Kentucky Camp

Through the hard work and persistence of volunteers and agents, the West Kentucky 4-H Camp added facilities so that horseback riding could be offered during the camp experience. An arrangement was made with Murray State University to use their horses during the summer when equine classes were not being taught. Having appropriate facilities to house horses at camp opens tremendous opportunities for kids who might never have this experience otherwise. Eventually all Kentucky 4-H camps would like to duplicate West Kentucky’s horse program.

Lake Cumberland 4-H Camp and the Kentucky Leadership Center Merge

The Kentucky Leadership Center and Lake Cumberland 4-H Camp merged in 2008. The merger allows for more efficient operation. During non-summer months, the availability of the camp cabins will increase the bed capacity for the center when large or multiple groups are interested in booking the facility.

The name of the merged facilities, Lake Cumberland 4-H Education Center, is actually not new. As administrators were trying to determine the best name, they discovered that one already existed. Back when UK signed the agreement that transferred the property for what was to become the camp and leadership center, it was called the Lake Cumberland 4-H Education Center.

Name Changed to Kentucky 4-H Foundation

During a Friends board retreat, Jay Hellmann, chairman, made the comment during a brain-storming session that “foundation” should be in the Friends name so that people could more readily understand its role related to 4-H. That became a reality in 2008 when appropriate documents were submitted to the Secretary of State. The board opted for the name “Kentucky 4-H Foundation.”