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Our Illinois 4-H Story

What does the 4-H pledge mean? A youth leader's perspective

girl holding hand to head reciting 4-H pledge

Did you know the University of Illinois Extension 4-H program reaches nearly 100,000 youth between the ages of 5-18? 4-H empowers young people and creates a pathway of experiences for youth to explore topics that spark their interest whether that be in agriculture, STEM, community service, or leadership development. 4-H continues to expand our reach and serve new audiences in all 102 counties. 

Have you ever wondered what it means when 4’Her’s pledge to the four H’s? Maybe you've heard these words, or maybe it's your first time hearing them: "I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living for my club, my community, my country and my world." 

Through 4-H, we pledge our Heads to clearer thinking as we explore various subject areas, critically think to implement solutions for local issues, and advocate for change. Our local and state 4-H Leadership and Ambassador teams allow us to collaborate with peers to provide education, solutions, and opportunities for youth. 

Our Hearts go to greater loyalty as we dedicate ourselves to our family, community, and passions. The people we meet and the work we do with 4-H carry us from our youth to our college years to our future careers and beyond. We hold what we do near and dear to our hearts and anyone affiliated with 4-H can agree on the lasting impacts it has.

Our Hands are used for larger service; implementing service projects, always offering help, and being willing to provide our individual skill sets to aid others. From donating food to pantries to planting a tree, 4-Hers learn and see firsthand how even the smallest of acts make the largest impact.

Our Health to better living allows us to improve upon ourselves so that we can lead happy, healthy lives while learning ways to help improve the lives of those around us. We learn how healthy mindsets, relationships, bodies, and diets fuel us as individuals, allowing us to be our best selves.

Together, the four H’s develop our youth of today to become the talented, thoughtful, and resourceful leaders of tomorrow here to serve their clubs, community, country, and world.

Head, Hearts, Hands and Health, represent the four H’s in 4-H. Each are essential elements in both the 4-H program and our lives. I encourage each of you today to live by the lessons in the 4-H pledge by incorporating these values into your daily life. Together we can work to improve our communities, our country, and our world. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Naomi Dolan is an 11 year 4-H member from Vermilion County. Naomi is the chair of the Illinois 4-H Youth Leadership Team and serves as an Illinois 4-H Healthy Living Ambassador. She is currently attending Danville area community college and will be transferring to the University of Illinois this fall to study Geology.