4H thinking was initially brought to Finland by individuals who had paid visits to the birthplace of 4H, the United States, and seen for themselves how useful such activities could also be in Finland. Launching 4H activities was contributed to by several major organisations and NGOs, particularly the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare and the Martha Organisation.
The first local 4H associations were established in the mid-1920s as young people’s agricultural clubs. The national central federation was established in 1928. The funding for the first years of operation came from abroad: the biggest donator was the Rockefeller Foundation. State funding increased gradually, but on the condition that there should also be local, independent fundraising. Business and industry have been important supporters of 4H activities from the very beginning.
Nordic collaboration and interaction has formed a strong part of Finnish 4H activities from the very beginning. That is when the first Nordic 4H camps were organised. A major co-operation partner on the European level is the European Committee for Young Farmers and 4H Clubs, established in 1956 with Finland becoming a member in 1960. Finland joined in the international exchange programmes in 1948, when the first 4H members visited the United States and the UK. The 1970s saw development co-operation activities grow in importance.
The focus of 4H activities has over the years expanded from its original agricultural activities to include youth work carried out in urban centres and large cities, and its content is currently equally suitable for all adolescents living in both rural and urban areas. In 1968, the organisation adopted its current name, the Finnish 4H Federation, which was more in line with the organisation’s international name. 4H activities have always remained politically and religiously non-aligned and it has always enjoyed wide-reaching support from various sectors of society.