Women's History Month Feature: Government and Law

Posted by Kittrina Thompson at 3/20/2014 8:51 AM

Did you know that many of the United States' top government and political leaders are former 4-H'ers? In fact, over 40 members of Congress are 4-H alumni; many of them are women. In honor of Women's History Month, we are highlighting 4-H women in the political and legislative fields.


In 1950, President Harry S. Truman was presented with the United Nations flag. There to present were two female 4-H'ers, accompanied by Eleanor Roosevelt. Their careers may not have led them to the Hill or government, but Charlotte Ingram and Mary Ann Long took part in an important moment in our nation's history. Both 4-H'ers were chosen for their exemplary work in community service and 4-H. Delaware 4-H alumna Charlotte Ingram was one of four 4-H'ers to be selected to attend the Third Regional 4-H Club for African Americans. Mary Ann, a 4-H alumna of Virginia, was one of two National 4-H Club Camp representatives from her state. The ceremony, which was organized by former 4-H leader of USDA Gertrude Warren, took place at the White House.

UN Flag Presentation large 
(From left to right: Eleanor Roosevelt, Charlotte Ingram, Mary Ann Long, and President Truman)

In 1988, the state of Pennsylvania elected the first African American woman as Justice of the Supreme Court, Juanita Kidd Stout; she was also a 4-H alumna. Not only was she the first African American woman in her state, but the first to serve on the Supreme Court in the country. Before her election as judge of Philadelphia County, she was named "Outstanding Woman Lawyer of the Year" by the National Association of Woman Lawyers in 1965. Today, the formerly named Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center is now the Justice Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice in her honor.


It is no surprise that leadership is a top priority for many 4-H youth. As they mature and grow in their careers as adults, they continue to hold leadership roles in their respective professions. Iowa 4-H alumna Nancy Jo Powell is one of those leaders in her field. Currently serving as the United States Ambassador to India, she has held many positions within the United States Foreign Service since 1977. Nancy has served as U.S. Ambassador to five countries in Africa and Asia.

Nancy Jo Powell
(Nancy Jo Powell with Council Excutive Director, Innovation and Impact, Don Mohanlal (left) and Global Clover Network Chair Donald T. Floyd, Jr.)

In Congress, the number of 4-H women who serve as congresswomen, senators and governors is astounding. Here are the amazing women who are making an impact on behalf of their states:

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has continued to show her support of 4-H, previously meeting with 4-H Citizenship Washington Focus attendees and attending local Michigan fairs.

Other 4-H alumna of the Senate are Heidi Keitkamp (D-ND), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Deb Fischer (R-NE).

Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-IN) has walked in the Elkhart County 4-H Fair Parade. Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) uses her current position to encourage local 4-H'ers to join the North Carolina 4-H Congress.

Not only is she an alumna, but Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R-SD) is also a 4-H mom, supporting her daughter's involvement in the organization. She has also served as a 4-H leader for 14 years.

Growing up in a "typical 4-H family," Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn's (R-TN) 4-H background led her to receive a scholarship from Mississippi State University. Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA) is another alumna who credits 4-H and earnings from 4-H projects for helping her pay for college.

To help University Wyoming Extension kick off their 100th anniversary, Congresswoman Cynthia M. Lummis (R-WY) spoke openly to 4-H'ers about her experience growing up in 4-H and how it has helped shape her career.

4-H alumna who currently serve as state governors are Mary Fallin of Oklahoma and Nikki Haley of South Carolina.

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This is very impressive. I hope that this information will be given to current 4-Hers to encourage them.
Posted by: Eleanor Inman Smith at 3/30/2014 1:57 AM


4-H Today is written, edited and published by National 4-H Council.