The history of the National 4-H Congress goes back one-hundred years. In 1920, an educational tour to Chicago was the forerunner to what would eventually become known as National 4-H Congress. This annual tour was held in the Union Stock Yards during the International Livestock Exposition. There, over 100 young men and women met to exchange ideas and receive recognition for individual accomplishments and community service.

The number of participants steadily grew, and by 1922 this annual event was designated the National Boys and Girls Club Exposition. This meeting is officially considered the first National 4-H Youth Congress. The 4-H members who attended in the early years of National 4-H Congress were state, regional, and national winners in educational 4-H programs conducted by the Cooperative Extension Service. The record books of their 4-H program were carefully judged on the basis of the members personal development and the use of improved methods. To the 4-H members who won with their record book, the winning of an all-expense trip to National 4-H Congress represented a real achievement, usually after years of hard-earned progress and work.

Exhibits, demonstrations and a popular parade became the annual program for 4-H during the International Livestock Exposition. For 73 years, National 4-H Congress gave over 100,000 delegates, Extension staff, volunteers, partner representatives, exhibitors and other friends of 4-H the opportunity to participate in a special event. There was no National 4-H Congress in 1995, but two invitational events were hosted by the Southern Region and Western Region states. 1996 saw the rebirth of National 4-H Congress in Memphis under the leadership of the Extension Service – USDA. Memphis was the home of National 4-H Congress until the event moved to Atlanta in 1998.

From the 2006 Congressional Record, University of Tennessee and the 1968 4-H Club Congress Program.


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