THE BLOG
08/04/2014 12:13 pm ET Updated Oct 04, 2014

Building Tomorrow's Leaders

Question: Which of the following statements are true?

  1. A woman founded the 4-H and a woman founded Girl Scouts of the USA.
  2. Both 4-H and Girl Scouts are leadership development organizations for young people.
  3. 4-H and Girl Scouts were both founded before women had the right to vote.
  4. The original symbol of both 4-H and Girl Scouts had three leaves.
  5. All of the above.

The answer is number five!

Let's learn more about the founders: Jessie Field Shambaugh for 4-H and Juliette Gordon Low for Girl Scouts.

Jessie Field Shambaugh is credited as being the "Mother of 4-H." As a teacher in Iowa, she organized Boys Corn Clubs and Girls Home Clubs starting in 1901. During her tenure as superintendent of the Page County (Iowa) schools (beginning in 1906), these clubs were started at every school. Shambaugh designed a three-clover pin that was used as an award. The three leaves represented Head, Heart and Hands.

Shambaugh's work attracted national attention and the after-school clubs became 4-H clubs (with four clovers) by 1912. The National 4-H organization (the fourth H originally stood for home, but it now stands for health) was established in 1914. Shambaugh has been inducted into the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame, the National 4-H Hall of Fame and the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame.

Today, the 4-H reaches more than seven million students across the country. As the largest youth development organization in the country, 4-H teaches students across urban, suburban and rural settings about science, health, and food.

About the same time that 4-H was getting its fourth H, Juliette Gordon Low became interested in the youth leadership movement started by Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides. Having met Sir Baden-Powell in England, she brought the idea back to the U.S. and on March 12, 1912, made a telephone call to a distant relative and namesake (Low's nickname was Daisy) saying "I've got something for the girls of Savannah [Georgia], and all of America, and all the world, and we're going to start it tonight." From the beginning, at a time when women did not yet have the right to vote, girls learned self-reliance and resourcefulness and began preparing to pursue professional careers.

From the original troop of 18 girls, today Girl Scouts has 3.7 million girl participants and over 59 million alumni. Low ensured that the organization survived; at one point selling her pearls when the finances were precarious. And, she was adamant that Girl Scouts was inclusive of girls of all abilities from the beginning. She never let deafness, back problems, or cancer stop her from pursuing her passion. Low has been designated a Georgia Woman of Achievement and has inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

Learn about more she-roes and celebrate amazing women. Jessie Field Shambaugh and Juliette Gordon Low are among the more than 850 women profiled in the book Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America. The legacies of these women benefit all of us today and I am proud to stand on their shoulders.

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