Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on October 31, 2011 at 3:11 PM by Global Reach

The Howard County 4-H program dates back to 1922 with a group of 11 young ladies involved in a girls club.

By 1925 five girls clubs were established by townships. 4-H Clubs began in the townships of Vernon Springs (two clubs) Albian (one club), Saratoga (one club) and Forest City Township (one club). A total of 72 girls were enrolled. Clubs began with the following names, Better Homes Club, Good Luck Club, Forest City Hustlers, Wide-A-Wake Club and Clover Club.

Howard Better Home ClubEach young lady was to work on the following for the 4-H experience:
• 4 – garment construction
• Parliamentary Procedure
• Health
• Music Appreciation
• Recreation

A Dairy Calf Club was also formed with 11 members. This club, mostly made up of boys, did have three young ladies as dairy participants.

Three poultry clubs were also formed consisting of 25 youth members.


By 1930 six boys clubs were organized with 73 members. They included the Golden Ridge Booster Club with 12 members and Charles Monthy serving as leader; Oak Dale Wide Awake Club with Alva Knode as leader and 12 members; Lourdes Livestock Club with 10 members and Charles Chihak of Elma as leader; Raphael Carroll of Cresco was leader for the New Oregon Livestock Club with 12 members; the Howard Center Livestock Club was led by Ronald Kapka of Lime Springs with nine members; and Omer Roberson of Elma was leader to the South Paris Livestock Club with five members.

Four outstanding livestock members were chosen in 1930 to attend the Boy’s Club Short Course in Ames. The trip was financed by the Farm Bureau. Those attending from Howard County were Ed Kubik, Norton Johnson, Harry Kitchen and Steffen DeGreve. The group was chaperoned by Charles Chihak, 4-H leader.

Seven girls clubs were also organized in 1930. Clubs included:
Golden Ridge Sunshine Club led by Mr. J.J. Johnson with 12 members, Chester Progressive Clover Leaf Club with 13 members led by Miss Mayme Molloy of Chester, Iowa; Ruth Woodard of Cresco led the Better Homes Club with11 members; the Howard Center Stars Club was led by Mrs. William Shea of Lime Springs with eight members; Mrs. Peter J. Kelly led the Howard Joymakers Club with 10 members; the Oak Dale Chums were led by Mrs. R.W. Greenleaf with five members; and Miss Lauraine Miles of Riceville, Iowa, led the Jamestown 4-H Club with five members.

Rally Days began with 4-H members participating in music member contest.
Achievement Days were scheduled for members to compete in demonstration teams for a trip to the Iowa State Fair.


Rally Days rolled into the 1940s for the purpose of music competitions, fellowship with picnic lunches, and awards. One hundred thirty-three girls were enrolled in 4-H clubs. Twenty new 4-H uniforms were also created by 4-H members.
The Afton Aces 4-H Club was developed and led by Mrs. Herman Lammers and Miss Ava Beth Mealy with 26 members. This club was divided into the “Kings” and “Queens.” The “Kings” were girls ages 12 – 15 and the “Queens” were girls older than 15. The leaders divided their time between two groups to educate them according to age.

The B-Square Club was led by Mrs. Fred Lukes and Miss Gladys Lukes with seven members. Mrs. Paul Goodman led the Chester Progressive Clover Leaf Club with five members; and the Forest City Hustlers had 14 members and was led by Mrs. Chester Reeves and Mrs. Wendell Vanderbie. Mrs. Lloyd Solomon led the 20-member club of the Jamestown Jolly Juniors. Mrs. Lloyd Solomon said this in a 4-H review, “4-H is a broad field and there is no limit to its possibilities when a girl gives herself and her leader a chance. It is one who goes into every phase with a will who reaps a reward.”

The Lourdes Parochial Club was led by Miss Vincentia Goetz and Mrs. Frances Shimek with 28 members. The Protivin Peppy Pals had 18 members with leaders Mrs. Orville Byram and Mrs. Frank Hruska.

The Vernon Springs Toilers Club had 15 members with Mrs. H.J. Salisbury and Mrs. R.L. Atkinson serving as leaders. The Howard Happy Chappies were led by Mrs. Charles Boyle and Mrs. Thomas Burke.

Howard County Rally Day1950’s

County 4-H mixers started in the 1950’s providing the opportunity for boys and girls clubs to come together for an evening of education and fun. Twelve girls clubs were meeting and 11 boys clubs were also operating with 26 leaders and 219 members.

Girls clubs included the Aftonettes, Chester Clover Leaves, Cloverleaf Neighbors, Diligent Daughters, Howard Center Stars, Howard Happy Hustlers,
Jamestown Jolly Juniors, Oakdale Aces, Oakdale Get Togethers, Paris Pals,
Saratoga Sunbeams and the New Oregon Cloverettes.

Howard County Fair 1956Boys Clubs were the Lourdes Trojans, Chester Bulldogs, Jamestown Eager Beavers, Golden Ridge Boosters, Afton Aces, Northwest Jr. Farmers, Maple Leaf Hustlers, Protivin Pioneers, New Oregon Hawkeyes and the Forest City Eagles. There were 61 members participating in the beef project area, 84 in dairy, 40 in swine, 10 in sheep, 27 in poultry, 11 in crop science and two in rabbit.

The boys began holding a 4-H softball tournament in the 1950’s.


In the 1960’s the slogan in Howard County to catch the interest of girls to join 4-H was “Today’s girls join 4-H clubs to develop into a mature personality and become an effective family member and citizen.”

4-H highway signs were purchased in 1960 to display at the county lines. The following 4-H clubs were operating in Howard County.


Afton Angels
Cresco Cloverettes
Cresco Jolliettes
Cloverleaf Neighbors
Cresco Merrymakers
Cresco Happy 4-H’ers
Cresco Emeralds
Diligent Daughters
Forest City Juniorettes (Eaglettes)       
Howard Happy Hustlers 
Jamestown Jolly Juniors
Lourdes Trojanettes
New Oregon Cloverettes
Oakdale Get-Togethers
Protivin Peppy Pals
Saratoga Sunbeams
Cresco Cloverreens


Afton Aces
Chester Cloverleaves
Elma Flyers 4-H Club
Flying Hoofs
Howard Center Comets
Oregon Hawkeyes
Protivin Pioneers
Space Age Farmers
In 1963, nine Howard County 4-H’ers attended the Iowa State 4-H Conference with Extension Director John Patterson on June 12 – 15. 4-H delegates were selected by the 4-H and Youth Committee.

The 1964 4-H and Youth Committee was made up of the following volunteers:
Selmar Larson, Mrs. Richard Moen, Orville Byram, Mrs. Harvey Roberson, Max Schmidt, Mrs. Adolph Ludwig, Paul Knode, Mrs. Rex Kleckner and Glenn Fairchild.

Mothers Teas were also started by the girls 4-H clubs in the 1960’s. The teas were usually held in the spring with a program and a lunch.


Howard County expanded education for 4-H’ers by organizing and implementing 4-H International Nights. County 4-H Council along with the 4-H staff advisor contacted area AFS students to present education on their home country. Howard County 4-H clubs also participated by researching recipes from the guest speaker’s homeland and prepared sample for all to taste. The “Parade of Flags” also began with 4-H’ers sewing flags in honor of the guest speaker’s country.

4-H Clubs continued to flourish in the 1970’s. By 1977 the following clubs were still operating successfully: Aftonettes, Cloverleaf Neighbors, Cresco Happy Hikers, Diligent Daughters, Forest City Eaglettes, Forest City Juniorettes, Howard Happy Hustlers, Lucky Lassies, Oakdale Get-Togethers, Protivin Peppy Pals, Saratoga Sunbeams, Elma Adventurers, Forest City Eagles, Golden Ridge Rockets, Howard Center Comets, Jamestown Eager Beavers, New Oregon Hawkeyes, Protivin Pioneers and the Space Age Farmers.


4-H clubs joined efforts to hold a County 4-H Carnival to bring 4-H members, leaders and parents together for an evening of fun and fundraising for the 4-H program. 4-H Clubs reserved booth space in the 4-H building located at the Howard County fairgrounds. It was expected that all 4-H members participate and help with the 4-H Carnival.
The Space Age Farmers became known for the 4-H Jail. The jail was a fun addition providing opportunities for 4-H’ers to lock each other up as well as 4-H leaders and parents.

In 1982, 13 Howard County 4-H’ers participated in a 4-H exchange with Illinois. Patti Brekke, Sheila Fitzgerald, Lonnie Huhe, Lisa Huhe, Lynette Owen, Christine Beran, Lisa Thoerson, Brian Krambeer, Brian Sowers, Scott Davis, Renee Praska, Ruth Linkenmeyer and Susan Linkenmeyer traveled with Jan Moore, 4-H Advisor, for a seven-day trip.

4-H Clubs included the Afton Aces, Cresco Merrymakers, Diligent 4-H’ers, Elma Niners, Frisky Friends, Howard Center Stars, Protivin Pals, Saratoga 4-H, Sodbusters and Sunbonnets, and the Space Age Farmers.


The Howard County 4-H Program saw many changes with the 4-H Program Assistant position in the 1990’s. The decade opened with Vanette Grover in the position, followed by Mary Steen, Joni Ludemann, Kelly Bodermann and the decade ended with Lynette Anderson.

4-H Clubs included:
Afton Aces with Judy Bartels, Cindy Pietan and Kathy Shaw as leaders.
Cresco Merrymakers had Mary Ann Mettler, Pam Kruse and Maxine Humpal as leaders.
Diligent 4-H’ers had Kristie Brincks and Donna Hackmann as leaders.
Elma Niners were lead by Max Schmidt and Duane Bodermann.
Flying Hoofs were led by Audrey Nosbisch and Joan Kosters.
Freemont Frontiers with Diane Miner, Carol Lewis, Jean Peterson and Susan Elwood as leaders.
Howard Center Stars leaders were Elaine Weyers, Ellen Klingsheim and Wendy Schatz.
Protivin Pals had Pat Zajicek and Kay Pecinovsky as leaders.
Saratoga 4-H’ers was led by Ruthie Fritcher and Rosalie Christensen.
Sodbusters and Sunbonnets were led by Debbie Keller.
Space Age Farmers were led by Roger Kleve and Keith Klimesh.

By 1998 4-H club leadership had also changed to the following
Afton Aces were led by Judy Bartels and Kathy Shaw.
Cresco Merrymakers were led by Mary Ann Mettler, Karen Jones and Jenny Matt.
Diligent 4-H’ers were led by Kristie Brincks and Donna Hackmann.
Elma Niners were led by Duane Bodermann. (Disbanded in 1998)
Flying Hoofs were led by Sanna Feldman, Peggy Hovey and Darlene Vstecka.
Freemont Frontiers were led by Susan Elwood and Jean Peterson.
Howard Center Stars were led by Wendy Schatz and Dee Sovereign.
Protivin Pals were led by Kay Pecinovsky and Janetta Taylor.
Saratoga 4-H’ers were led by Rosalie Christensen.
Sodbusters and Sunbonnets were led by Debbie Keller.
Space Age Farmers were led by Keith Klimesh.

4-H communication judging was removed from the county fair and the addition of “Spring Fair” began. 4-H Spring Fair was held in April with the judging of Educational Presentations; Share the Fun, Working Exhibits, Clothing Selection and Fashion Revue. 4-H Spring Fair continues today with youth presenting communication presentations again in June at the Howard County Fair.

4-H Farm Safety Day Camps began and were sponsored by the Saratoga 4-H Club and held near Riceville, Iowa, at the Steve and Rosalie Christensen Farm. The Saratoga 4-H Club organized volunteers and speakers as well as raised the money to make this educational day camp a possibility.

4-H record keeping changes also came to Howard County with a task force being formed to simplify the process for 4-H members and 4-H record book judges. The County 4-H Council reviews all junior 4-H books, while the 4-H and Youth Committee review the intermediate and senior 4-H books.

The 4-H program held its first annual New 4-H Member night in January of 1999. More than 75 youth and parents attended. The foundations of the 4-H program were shared with families as well as the 4-H Calendar Year of activities, food, fun and games. New 4-H member nights continue to be held each year.


Howard County Clover KidsWe entered the millennium with anticipation of the 4-H Centennial. Howard County chose the theme, “4-H – A Century of Experience.” The 4-H colors of green and white were displayed with pride by our 202 4-H members in 2002. A centennial program and 4-H balloon launch were held in the grandstands at the Mighty Howard County Fair with all 4-H members and 4-H leaders participating.

The Millennium Masters 4-H Club was also started in 2000.

The 4-H program worked for one year to raise $5,000 to install new lights in the 4-H building. The lights have been a wonderful addition to highlighting the talents of our 4-H members through their 4-H projects at the fair.

Howard County has 10 active 4-H Clubs today. The most recent 4-H club to form a charter is the Timberland Targeting Club. This club is meeting the needs of new boys and girls whose interests lie in the outdoors and shooting sports area.

The 4-H Junior High Leadership League was developed in 2004. The group was formed to provide intermediate age 4-H members the opportunity to gain leadership, communication and citizenship skills through monthly workshops and a leadership project to conclude the year. This opportunity also helps build the foundation for a stronger County 4-H Council group in future years.

The Howard County 4-H Softball Tournament was reintroduced in 2005. The response from 4-H clubs was positive.  Tournaments were also held in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.
The K-3 Clovers Kids program was started in Riceville and Cresco.  Clover Kids, grades kindergarten through third, met once a month from October through April each year at the two sites.  The Clovers would then be invited to display a project at the annual county fair and meet with a caring adult for a brief interview on their project. 


The 4-H Alumni Committee was formed in 2009.  Their direction was to increase awareness of 4-H and do fundraising to provide a 4-H scholarship in Howard County.  Since their inception they have given a $500 scholarship to a 4-H youth the last three years. Fundraising was done at the local Heritage Events Center by helping with catering at a fish and chicken dinner annually after the Holiday Parade in Cresco. Other events such as a Valentine Brunch at the Center have also provided opportunities.  In 2009 at the Howard County Fair, the Alumni Foundation has sponsored a Celebrity Showmanship class at the Horse Show.  Also added in 2010 was a Beef Celebrity Showmanship class during the beef show.

New Clubs have been formed such at the Heritage Homesteaders, Cresco Community Theatre Kids, Howard County Hot Rods, as well as the Food and Fitness Clubs in Cresco and Riceville. 


In 2008, the Barn Quilt project of Howard County was started in partnership with several local 4-H clubs.  To date six 4-H clubs have partnered with six families to create barn quilts. 


A Citizenship group was started for intermediate and senior members.  They studied government process at the local, state and national levels, took a tour of the local jail and hosted many guest speakers at meetings.  This two-year project group traveled and toured the State Capitol in year one, and a favorite highlight for this group was a trip to Washington, D.C. in the spring of 2011.


Howard County Barn QuiltThere was a change in the position of county youth coordinator.  Lynette Anderson moved to a regional position and Kaitlin Hanson became county youth coordinator.

Volunteers in the club leadership role have also seen changes as we enter into the 2011-2012 4-H year.  As we enter into the current 4-H year, leadership has changed to the following:
Afton Aces is led by Judy Bartels.
Cresco Community Theatre Kids is led by Jeff and Shirlee Haw.
Cresco Merrymakers is led by Lynn Weinacht.
Diligent 4-H’ers is led by Ronnie and Janice Klimesh and Kris and Emily Haskovec.
Food and Fitness Cresco is led by Deb Oberman.
Food and Fitness Riceville is led by Paula Kelly.
Flying Hoofs is led by Tess Kennon, Jana Hartzell and Cathy Meinecke.
Heritage Homesteaders is led by Sheila Lipa.
Howard Center Stars is led by Bart and Julie Wilson, Darlene Vsetecka and Jaci Anderson.
Howard County Hot Rods is led by Robert Owen.
Millennium Masters is led by Judy Bohr and Elaine Stika.
Saratoga 4-H’ers is led by Marge Dohlman and Cindi Grover.
Shooting Clovers is led by Barb Foster.
Space Age Farmers is led by Nate and Naomi Church and Keith Klimesh.
Timberland Targeting Club is led by Colleen Peckham and Barb Reicks.

2011 4-H Week was kicked off with a volleyball and bean bag tournament.  Teams were formed and competitions were held at the Prairie’s Edge Nature Center south of Cresco.  New members and families along with current members and families all participated and cheered on the teams followed by a bratwurst feed.  Response from 4-H clubs and families was positive, and another tournament will be planned for 2012.

4-H continues to thrive in Howard County today, meeting the needs of youth and adults. The addition of the Eight Essential Elements and Five 4-H Outcomes has been a platform to mold the program. Youth today have many opportunities to incorporate the Head, Heart, Hands and Health into their 4-H experiences and everyday life.

HEAD -- "I pledge my Head to clearer thinking,"
The 4-H & Youth Committee can be referred to as the Head of the Howard County 4-H Program.
This committee meets monthly to review, reflect and focus the direction of our program. They are the clear thinkers with dedication to our leaders, members, volunteers and our program.

HEART -- "My Heart to greater Loyalty"
Making connections is having the heart of 4-H, leaders with club members, club members with families and 4-H with our Community.

County 4-H Council members pledge loyalty to our program. Council members care enough about our county program to serve as role models for our younger members.  Council members also plan our yearly 4-H events such as 4-H Awards Program, New Member Night, International Night, Leader Appreciation Banquet, Spring Fair and workshops throughout the year.

HANDS – “My Hands to larger service”
Nearly 200 youth are enrolled in the Howard County 4-H Program. That’s 400 hands busy with projects, fund raising, community service, leadership and citizenship.  By using their hands, youth find out what they are good at and meet their need for mastery while pledging larger service.

HEALTH  -- “My Health to better living, for my club, my community, my country and my world.”
Our 4-H leaders are the health of our program.  The efforts of our leaders create a healthy environment, better living and generosity, which are all vital to 4-H.  

By Kaitlin Hanson
County Youth Coordinator


Visit the Howard County 4-H Website.

To make a donation to the Howard County Endowment through the Iowa 4-H Foundation, click this button. Then select Howard County in the far right column (My 4-H County) and complete the gift information.

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Continue the Howard County 4-H History and share your comments below.

Great job Kaitlin, what interesting history!! Thanks for all your hard work on this!!
Judy Bohr | 3/20/23 at 3:16 AM
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