4-H Four Leaf Clover

A foundation that formerly raised money for 4-H in South Dakota is transferring about $500,000 to the South Dakota State University Foundation, and ties between the former 4-H foundation and SDSU are being severed pursuant to the resolution of a nearly three-year-old lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed in 2016 by three plaintiffs: the South Dakota Board of Regents, the SDSU Foundation and the state of South Dakota. They sued South Dakota Youth Heritage Inc. (formerly known as South Dakota 4-H Foundation), along with two of its associated entities, South Dakota Youth Foundation LLC and South Dakota Youth Foundation Inc.

The plaintiffs alleged that the 4-H foundation had violated laws, regulations and the foundation’s own mission by funding and delivering programs independent of 4-H officials. 4-H is an educational and leadership program, and federal laws place South Dakota 4-H under the authority of the SDSU Extension System.

The plaintiffs alleged that the former 4-H foundation's actions had “put SDSU and SDSU Extension at serious risk of losing federal funding and/or the South Dakota 4-H program in its entirety.”

The lawsuit was resolved by means of a partial settlement agreement, a judge's opinion in the form of a letter, and a judge's order, the last of which was filed in July. Pursuant to those documents, money raised under the 4-H name by the defendant organizations is being transferred to the SDSU Foundation. 

The successor organization to the 4-H foundation, known as South Dakota Youth Heritage, will dissolve. An associated organization, South Dakota Youth Foundation, may continue to exist without a connection to 4-H. The former 4-H foundation had been raising money for 4-H since 1963.

The settlement agreement in the lawsuit’s public court file says the parties agreed to “not in any way comment” on the situation, other than to acknowledge the terms of the agreement and dismissal of the litigation.

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Contact Seth Tupper at seth.tupper@rapidcityjournal.com

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