In 1890, the second signing of the Morrill Act established 19 Land-Grant Universities (LGUs) to provide African American students with equal learning opportunities and resources through scientific research and extension programs at higher learning institutions. Over the years, these historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have produced pioneers in agriculture, education, entertainment, STEM, and many other disciplines.

Many of those alums have returned to their alma maters to serve as educators and chancellors, among other professional roles. They aspire to share their knowledge, provide resources, and pay it forward to the schools that helped to set them on their career paths. For some, that inspiration goes back as far as their childhoods, having participated in 4‑H programs (as young people) that laid the foundation for their future successes.

4‑H provides a pathway for African American youth to pursue a higher learning education through visits to the land-grant university campus, access to funds for their education through competitions and scholarship programs, and opportunities to participate in projects that develop career pathways. HBCU alums often claim the opportunities that 4‑H and Cooperative Extension offered them were turning points in their lives and careers.

To celebrate Black History Month and the 130-year history of our nation’s 1890 land-grant university system, 4‑H will feature Cooperative Extension leaders and 4‑H alumni stories throughout February. Discover their journeys into their respective fields, and how those paths and 4‑H experiences led them to where they are today.

About the Author

Jennifer Sirangelo

President & CEO - National 4‑H Council

Jennifer is a believer in young people and their capacity to change the world. As President and CEO, she leads National 4‑H Council in its mission to increase investment and participation in high-quality 4‑H positive youth development programs for millions of young people around the world.