To you and your family, 4-H may be all about showing livestock at county and state fairs. However, the program is much broader than that, serving both rural and urban youth across Indiana.
Shelly Bingle-Coffman is executive director of the Indiana 4-H Foundation. While many 4-H'ers and their families may not even know it exists, it's the arm of 4-H that provides many scholarships and underwrites all or part of many other successful 4-H leadership training programs, including 4-H Roundup and 4-H Congress. Indiana 4-H Roundup is held at Purdue University each summer. The 4-H Congress for Indiana is held in the fall, most recently at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
The Indiana 4-H Foundation was incorporated to support Indiana 4-H in 1961. It was the same year that the Indiana FFA Foundation was established. The Indiana FFA Foundation is the organization that collects money to support the Indiana FFA Association, which is a separate body from the Foundation.
The biggest difference between the two foundations currently is that Indiana 4-H Foundation does not have a physical building or camp that it must support. Bingle-Coffman is housed out of Purdue University, and reports directly to Chuck Hibberd, Director of Extension. She's considered part of the Purdue Extension Management team.
There was a state 4-H camp at one time- Ross Camp, located about 10 miles west of West Lafayette, with ties to Purdue. However, that relationship was severed many years ago, so that the Indiana 4-H Foundation does not have to keep up a facility.
Some other states have built buildings for the 4-H Foundation for various purposes, the 4-H director says. However, she says they soon find themselves facing several challenges, including how to pay fro maintenance and upkeep of those facilities.
The 4-H program actually has a longer history than FFA, started in 1928. National 4-H was founded in 1902, over a century ago. The first 4-H program in Indiana is said to be one in Hamilton County, started in 1904.
Currently, nearly half of Indiana's 210,000 4-H members live in small towns with populations under 50,000 people. About a fourth live in cities, and just over a fifth, the smallest of the three groups, still live on farms or in rural areas.
Watch for details about organized celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Indiana 4-H Foundation next year, Bingle-Coffman says. The goal is to also launch a program for planned giving next year. To learn more, visit: www.IN.4H.org or www.four-h.purdue.edu