North Carolina’s 4-H Clubs Rooted in Ahoskie

Hazel Carris of Pitt County at her 4-H exhibit, “Drink Your Way to Health” during the 1940s. Image from NCSU LibrariesOn July 1, 1909, I. O. Schaub, a North Carolina State University researcher, organized the first Corn Club in Ahoskie. The club was eventually recognized as North Carolina’s first 4-H club.

The 4-H Club movement grew out of an effort from what was essentially the Cooperative Extensive Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Seaman A. Knapp, who worked for USDA, set up demonstration farms across the South during the late 1800s and early 1900s to convince farmers to diversify their operations and plant other things besides cotton.

Knapp saw the importance of getting youth involved early on his work, and he developed the Corn Club concept to teach boys the latest farming techniques on one-acre plots of land. His concept was quickly adopted by other agriculture leaders, including Schaub, Jane McKimmon and G. W. Herring.

The 4-H movement picked up more momemntum in 1914 after Congress passed the Smith-Lever Act, which more permanently established the Cooperative Extension. That in turn led to more personnel who were able to organize the clubs. The clubs also expanded to include livestock and crops other than corn.

Today, 4-H has more than 10,000 established programs across North Carolina and more than 7 million participants nationwide.

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