How to Start a 4-H Collection

Starting a collection of any type – no matter whether we are talking about pottery, dolls, books, autographs, vintage automobiles or sea shells – is a tremendously personal thing. Even with coins and stamps, where we can get directories that show us exactly what the government produced, most of these collectors choose to specialize in one or more stamp or coin areas. Your decision remains personal.

The main reason people collect is the enjoyment. You collect in a category that you like. Perhaps your collection brings back pleasant memories of your childhood – in this case, maybe that first 4-H ribbon or the first pie you baked. You remember the nostalgia involved – going to the 4-H fair; the smell of the cotton candy, the midway, the livestock arena… fun with friends and family. Your 4-H club meetings were special events on your calendar – perhaps the very first group you belonged to at this young age. 4-H camp may well have been the first experience away from home. Accurately maintaining a 4-H record book, while perhaps not the most pleasant task at the time, was probably a new experience of accountability. All of these things are memories and one of the best ways to preserve and relive memories is to collect the artifacts associated with those memories.

In fact thousands of past 4-H members already are collectors… they just may not know it! Many 4-H participants, when through with their 4-H years, packed away their ribbons and buttons and other 4-H items in a shoe box or manila envelope and it ended up in the closet, in a trunk in the attic or basement, or some other place where you put this sort of thing. This is a collection of memories.

Even if you didn’t keep your 4-H ribbons, trophies and record books, but have warm feelings for your 4-H experiences, it continues to be a good candidate for a collection. If you like going to yard or estate sales, flea markets, auctions and antique shows, just keep an eye out for 4-H memorabilia.

Your main decision will be what type of collection you would enjoy most. You may simply want to collect 4-H items relating to your county – a ribbon with the county name on it, a 4-H calendar displaying a local advertiser… there are many examples. Or, perhaps a particular kind of 4-H collectible – check out the collecting categories section of the website – – there is a long listing of various kinds of collectibles suggested and the list probably could be even longer.

Bottom line, in starting a 4-H collection, as we said in the beginning, it is totally personal – it is your collection. You can collect whatever you want to. You can display it in your home or office… or not display it. Collecting is a great leisure time activity. There really isn’t any more pleasant feeling on a nice Saturday morning or afternoon than to casually stroll through a flea market. And, if you still have some of your own personal 4-H artifacts tucked away in that box or envelope, better yet. It gives your collection that personal touch. Happy collecting!

Visit the website for additional information or to join the 4-H Collectors Club… its free! Contact information is on the website.

(from National 4-H History Preservation Program –

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