The 4-H clover: The correct use of the 4-H emblem

The what, how and why of the 4-H clover.

The green 4-H clover with a large H on each of the four clover parts.
The current 4-H emblem.

As the Michigan 4-H Youth Development Program begins another program year, it is a good opportunity to review the importance of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) charter granted to 4-H clubs and councils. The 4-H charter is the authorization for that specific group to use the 4-H name and emblem. The 4-H emblem and name belong to the 4-H Youth Development Program, under the authority of the USDA. Anyone wishing to use the 4-H emblem or clover must obtain permission from their local Michigan State University Extension office.

Some other important facts about the 4-H name and emblem:

  • The 4-H clover and name is intended to represent the ideals of 4-H with the focus on head, heart, hands and health. Staff, volunteers and members play a role in maintaining the good reputation that 4-H has.
  • The emblem is a highly-valued mark within American history. It was granted a unique and special status. Celebrate the uniqueness of the clover emblem.
  • The 4-H name and emblem are in a class similar to the presidential seal and the Olympic emblem.
  • The 4-H emblem’s federal protection makes it a mark with protection that surpasses the limited authorities of both a trademark and a copyright.
  • Accountability and stewardship for the 4-H emblem was given to a high level within the federal government—a member of the Cabinet, the Secretary of Agriculture.
  • The charters that MSU Extension grants to clubs, councils and committees are not just another piece of paper. Rather, the charter is an authorization to use the 4-H name and emblem. There are federal and state policies that control how money is raised and used when using the 4-H name and clover. 

The 4-H Name and Emblem Use Handbook contains the official rules and details about using the 4-H emblem and name. If there are questions on usage of the 4-H name or emblem, please contact your local MSU Extension office.

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