The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service does not oversee Texas 4-H by coincidence; their histories are deeply intertwined. Initially operated as a patchwork of clubs and programs advocating for youth agricultural development across the country, the national 4-H organization was formerly established alongside the federal extension service network with the signing of the Smith-Lever Act of 1914.
With more than 550,000 youth participating each year, 4-H is currently the largest youth development program in Texas. Though it is commonly perceived as an agriculture and livestock-focused program due to its origins and ties to the extension service, director Dr. Montza Williams ’87 stresses that 4-H encompasses a much wider variety of fields, including photography, public speaking, robotics, sport shooting and performance arts.
Williams participated in 4-H as a child 45 years ago and says there is a reason the program’s project-based education model helps third graders and high school seniors alike. “It’s about learning by doing,” Williams said. “Participants choose to work on projects they care about. They may get help from their parents and advisors, but ultimately they have to do it themselves.”
Though 4-H members are encouraged to explore opportunities of interest, the program cannot supply curriculum support for every passion. Private funding would allow the program to expand resources for future participants to more deeply tackle an even wider range of subjects as they test the limits of what they can accomplish.
From educating fledgling farmers to helping young Texans discover their potential, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service programs have enriched lives across the state for decades. To learn more about supporting these programs or others within AgriLife, contact Brandy Kines ’05 at (979) 458-8150 or by using the form below.