Creation of the 4-H emblem



By Robin Young

PREVIEW Columnist

With National 4-H Week coming to an end and the new 4-H year beginning, I thought it was appropriate to talk about the creation of the 4-H clover emblem. 

In 1907 or 1908, the first emblem used nationally was designed by O.H. Benson, superintendent of Wright County (Iowa) schools, as a three-leaf clover with three “H’s” signifying head, heart and hands. A four-leaf clover design with H’s appeared informally around 1908.

As the story goes, one sunny June morning in 1906 at a one-room country school near Clarion, Iowa, 11 pupils were spending their recess outside searching for four-leaf clovers. They had plucked seven clovers when a visitor drove up, the superintendent of schools. At the teacher’s suggestion, the children surrendered their good luck charms and placed the seven clovers into the hands of the superintendent. 


He said, “I’ve been looking for an emblem for the agricultural clubs and the schools of the county and you have just given me that emblem, the four-leaf clover; it will help explain to young and old the message of a four-square education.” (In those early days, 4-H was known as “four-square education,” which was based upon education, physical, moral and fellowship development.)

Although a good story, it may not be totally accurate as in 1907 Benson had designed, along with Jessie Field Shambaugh, from Page County, Iowa, a three-leaf clover with “H’s” standing for head, heart and hands which was used as an emblem on several different items. Nonetheless, the H’s and the clover emblem — regardless of whether we’re talking three leaves or four leaves — is credited to O.H. Benson and to Clarion, Iowa.

In 1911, Benson referred to the need for four H’s — suggesting that they stand for “Head, Heart, Hands and Hustle … head trained to think, plan and reason; heart trained to be true, kind and sympathetic; hands trained to be useful, helpful and skillful; and the hustle to render ready service, to develop health and vitality …” 

In 1911, at a meeting of club leaders in Washington, D.C., they approved the present 4-H design. O.B. Martin is credited with suggesting that the H’s signify head, heart, hands and health — universally used since then.

Archuleta County 4-H open enrollment is happening now. Please come to the 4-H open house on Oct. 20 to learn more. 4-H is the largest after-school program in the nation that builds life skills through hands on learning through projects in areas of science, health, agriculture and civic engagement. 4-H helps youth grow confidence, independence, resilience and compassion. 

Upcoming events

Oct. 19, 4 to 6 p.m.: Shred it. Bring up to three boxes of paper and make a donation to support 4-H. Downtown TBK parking lot. 

Oct. 20, 4:30 to 6 p.m. 4-H open house at the Extension office. Please visit the website, Facebook or call for times to sign up. 

Oct. 26, 8:15 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Cattlewomen’s College. Please go to to register. See our Facebook page for more information.

Nov. 3: ServSafe for restaurant workers. 

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CPR and first aid certification classes are offered monthly by the CSU Extension office, generally on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6 to 10 p.m. The cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/first aid and $55 for CPR, first aid or recertification. Call the Extension office at 246-5931 to register.