Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on April 19, 2012 at 4:51 PM by Global Reach

4-H in Buena Vista County as in other counties has always involved the four ‘H’s’, the head, the heart, health and hands for the local club, the community, the country and the world.  Many people involved in 4-H, either as a 4-H member, a 4-H volunteer, a 4-H parent, or 4-H donor, know what a difference 4-H can make in an individual’s life.

So where did 4-H begin for Buena Vista County?

The Farm Improvement Association, a group of farmers who organized in January 1917, marked the beginning of Extension work in Buena Vista County.    The first county agent was Professor Heron of Buena Vista College.  The Chamber of Commerce cooperated in promoting the farmer’s organization, according to the Iowa Annual Narrative Report: Home Project Work, 1939.

By the spring of 1918, counties were so desperately in need of food that the U.S. Department of Agriculture agreed to provide money for the summer hiring of a home   economist in each Iowa County.  In Buena Vista County, Bertha Knight was appointed as the Home Demonstration Agent.  Knight presented demonstrations in saving wheat, meat, fat and sugar. She also gave demonstrations in canning and drying of fruits and vegetables as well as saving of fuel and clothing.  Under Knight’s direction four girls’ canning clubs were organized, which collectively canned 210 quarts of fruits and vegetables. [i](75 Years of   Service)

4-H as an Organization

In the 1920 Extension Narrative Report by Bertha Knight, Home Demonstration Agent, “Two girls clubs have been organized.[ii]  One with a membership of 21, another with a membership of 15.  These girls carry out health programs and Home Economics work. They have joined the Camp Fire Organization.”    In that same document Knight reports, “Organized one garden club with a membership of 15.  Each member had a garden which was visited and judged three times during the growing season.  One little boy made about $20.00 from selling his garden produce.”  Some 49 youth participated in the first Purebred “Pig Club” representing 12 townships.  The contest resulted in members feeding out the pigs and showing them at the Buena Vista County Fair held in Alta.[iii]

In 1931, records show 145 girls enrolled in canning clubs with 18 leaders.   In 1936, 9 clubs were functioning with 116 girls enrolled. 

A  1937- 1940  narrative reports 10 Girls clubs:  Brooke Okimi of Peterson, Lee A.Q.A. of Sioux Rapids/Webb, Fairfield & Lincoln of  Albert City, Rembrandt of Rembrandt, Truesdale 4-Leaf Clovers of Storm Lake,   Providence Happy Hour of Newell; Providence Jolly of Storm Lake and Hayes, and Happy Bees of Storm Lake.  Poland Ever Energetic Club was added in 1939.  No-Wa-Ma and Lincoln clubs from Marathon, Alta and Storm Lake communities respectively added new clubs.  A special note that clubs were being made ready for new 4-H members in Coon and Newell townships in 1940-41.[iv]

In addition to the clubs that began as township 4-H clubs, specialty clubs were developed.

The 4-H Dog project showed an increase in participation since its early conception in the mid 1970’s.  The 4-H dog project has remained a strong area of interest for youth.  A number of adult volunteer leaders have given hours of time to help 4-H’ers and their dogs prepare not only for the county fair dog show, but also for daily dog obedience and competition at the Clay County Fair’s district show.

The 4-H Horse project found its way to have a club of its own. The club holds monthly meetings and, 2 months before the county fair. holds weekly practice riding sessions at the fairgrounds. Those involved in the horse project club have participated in local, district and state 4-H competitions as well as local parades.

January 1, 2000, the Iowa State 4-H Office initiated the 4-H equestrian helmet guideline.  Buena Vista County Extension followed that ruling for the equestrian project in the county 4-H program.

In 2005, as a way to attract new audiences to 4-H, 4-H Safety Education and Shooting Sports began in Buena Vista County with a 4-H Shooting Sports Club.  The club has both males and females as club members.   Preston Jacobs (Newell) was trained as the first ever 4-H Safety Education and Shooting Sports Coordinator.

Students at the Tornado Learning Club at the Storm Lake Middle School formed a 4-H club in 2008.  The new club consisted of 12 members and called themselves the “Wonder Pets” because of their interest in animal projects.  The club leader was Debbie Erpelding, County Youth Coordinator.

Most 4-H clubs in Buena Vista County have initiated and/or became involved in a community service projects.  In 1992, the Maple Valley Agriculturists 4-H Club started the “pumpkin patch.”  Getting the patch started on a hill near the Loren and Kathy Fahr farm was Kathy Fahr and Sheryl Dermody.   In 1998 the pumpkin patch moved to the Harold and Bev Peterson farm north of Alta.  Nineteen years later the patch is still going, despite some years of drought or flooding.

The patch has provided opportunities to learn about raising a crop, given 4-H’ers leadership opportunities for planning, harvesting and marketing a product, and an opportunity to fund raise for community needs.  Over the years the pumpkin patch has netted approximately $19,000 and has provided many children and families an opportunity to ‘pick their own pumpkin.’

The number of Buena Vista County youth involved 4-H Clubs and 4-H and Youth Activities/Education between the years of 1993-2010 are listed below.

Year Club Members Total Youth Reached through 4-H Programs % of B.V. County Youth Reached
1993 241    993 26.3%
1994 234    864 22.2%
1995 237 557 14.7%


260 618 15.8%
1997 265 776 19.9%
1998 366 876 20.1%
1999 372 997 23.3%
2000 260 1683 39%
2001 181 1476 35.1%
2002 153 1248 30.7%
2003 153 1179 29.4%
2004 164 1210 30.2%
2005 160 1025 25.4%
2006 151 1032 25.7%
2007 159 1028 25.6%
2008 176 943 23.5%
2009 187 930 23.2%
2010 180 690 16.9%

*Examples of School Enrichment include: Ag-Citing for 4th graders and Safety Day for 3rd graders.  Examples of Special Interest include: Special Swine, Special Sheep, Special Goat, Babysitting class.

Education Beyond the 4-H Club

In addition to providing educational opportunities and training to 4-H’ers and Volunteer leaders, Extension staff in the county worked diligently to provide education to other youth in relevant and timely topics.   Many of the opportunities were funded through grants written by county and state Extension staff.   Some of the programs included:

•    4-H Dairy Foods Project (1987)
      Selected as a pilot county to provide dairy nutrition education, 155 fifth and sixth graders in Albert City and St. Mary’s school districts received 6 hours of      nutrition training from Extension Home Economist, Rhonda K. Christensen.  In an evaluation, 100% of the participants stated they learned at least two new concepts in dairy nutrition.

•    “Crime Camp” (1995)
      Biotechnology “camp” partnering with the Bio-Tech Department at Iowa State     University.

•    Marsville Mission(1996)
    Two-hundred fifty, fifth graders took a ‘space-traveling’ trip known as Marsville Mission through a Challenger Center program.  The program was funded through grants from the Iowa 4-H Foundation and the Eisenhower Foundation. The Challenger Center is an education organization founded by the families of the Challenger astronauts to continue the crew’s education mission, teaching students problem solving and decision making skills.

•    Girl Talk (1996-2009)
    Designed to facilitate communication between fifth grade girls and their mothers (and/or significant female mentor), the program promotes positive self-esteem, while helping mothers and daughters communicate about the future. Most of the     school districts in the county partnered with Extension to provide ‘Girl Talk’ to their students.

•    Clover Kids (1989 – 2009)
      Starting in 1989, Clover Kids was organized as a county Clover Kids Club as well as after-school enrichment in several local school districts.  Pre 4-H age youth leaned about healthy lifestyles, science and technology and personal development.

•    Safety Day (1998 – present)
    Designed to help enrich safety education on a variety of safety topics, a ‘safety day’ was held yearly for 3rd grade youth from the local school districts. Numerous safety professionals from the community helped to co-sponsor and teach at the event. This event has always been a way to introduce 4-H Clubs to potential future members.  Intermediate and Senior 4-H members helped in     several capacities during the Safety day.

•    Career Trek (1999)
      For ninth and tenth graders, this Kellogg funded grant helped students explore     designing new food products and potential careers paths in partnership with the     Iowa State University and the Kellogg’s Foundation.

•    Babysitting Clinics (1999-2010)
    Extension became known as the agency that trained babysitters.  Two times a year, a 6-hour babysitting clinic was conducted for youth who wanted to learn more about the skill of babysitting for a younger family member or for someone in their community.  Many of the youth participating in the clinics were not traditional 4-H members.

•    Partners in Excellence (1999- 2009)
    Partnered with a lower elementary classroom from Storm Lake School District, the Extension office shared ‘expertise’ with the students including, nutrition information, beekeeping, introduction to 4-H and a special visit from Dr. Eric Hoiberg, father of former ISU Basketball player and MBA player, Fred Hoiberg. The Partners in Excellence partnership was a great way to introduce the work of Iowa State University Extension to the many new residents in the Storm Lake Schools.

•    Ag-Citing…..Making the Ag Connection (1999- present)
    In partnership with the Iowa 4-H Foundation and local school districts, B.V County Extension holds “Ag-Citing… Making the Ag Connection,” a day of Ag Education after the Clay County Extension example. Fourth graders from the local school districts attend a 6-hour event to learn more about agriculture and food systems.  For the first 10 years, the event was held at the B.V. County Fairgrounds and the Alta Community Center.  Most recently the ISU Allee Farm in Newell has been the location for the agriculture workshops.  Several Ag Businesses and Commodity groups have provided support for the program. Intermediate and Senior 4-H members helped teach the animal workshop, providing a leadership and citizenship opportunity.

•    4-H Fishing Club (May 2000)
    With the help of a $350 grant from the Iowa DNR, the 4-H Fishing Club was coordinated through the Tornado Learning Club at the Storm Lake Middle School.  Youth involved in the club learned about different aspects of fishing and took a trip to a fish hatchery.

•    Bike Safety (2001)
    A $1,500 grant from the Department of Public Health helped with the purchase of equipment, resources and materials for teaching bike safety in the Storm Lake Community. This proved to be a highly popular program that had a large diverse     participation.

Honors Beyond The County

The first recognition to the county was in 1931 for the National Club Congress at Chicago. Bob Sedgley, Storm Lake, was named Iowa’s Forestry project winner recognized by Iowa Extension Forrester, Professor I.T. Bode. Sedgley’s work with young trees and seedlings and conducting a corn variety yield test earned him the honors.

A 1932 Iowa State Fair first place bread team honor to Virginia Edwards and Dorothy Meyer gave them a trip to National Club Congress. 

Other honors highlighted:

1938     Dorothy Christenson and Doris Diehl go to Iowa State Fair with a Demonstration

1938     Marjorie, Elvira and Darlene Wenck, sisters from the Lee A.Q.A club, sang 4-H songs on radio program over WOI.[v]

1954     Kenneth R. Krause National 4-H Conference Delegate

1977     4th National 4-H Livestock Judging Contest Team, Louisville, KY- Bill Fulcher Coach; Jane McKenna Langer, Joe McKenna (Storm Lake), Garry Movall (Alta) Dale Schumann (Newell)

1991    C.J. Bean (Albert City) National 4-H Mechanics Project Award

1993    Katilyn Bean (Albert City) National 4-H Education Project Award

1996      Christina Wiley (Albert City) National 4-H Conference Delegate

1997    Andrea M. Fulcher (Alta) and Amber Dermody (Alta) State 4-H Council Member

1998      Andrea M. Fulcher (Alta) National 4-H Conference Delegate

1999    Andrea M. Fulcher (Alta) State 4-H Citizenship Project Award Recipient

    Brianne DeMan, Jordan Nichols and Kate McKenna (all of Storm Lake) Kansas City 4-H Global Youth Conference, Kansas City Delegates

2005    Adam Glienke (Aurelia) State 4-H Dairy Project Award Recipient

    Sydni Williams (Storm Lake) National 4-H Congress Delegate

2006    Sydni Williams (Storm Lake) State 4-H Leadership Project Award Recipient
    Adam Glienke (Aurelia) State 4-H Leadership Project Award Recipient

2007    Kathleen Arnts (Alta) State 4-H Leadership Project Award Recipient

2008     Western National Denver National Livestock Judging Contest Team to Denver, Colorado:  Kent Smith, Coach; Luke Arnts, Kathleen Arnts (Alta), Austin Ehlers (Storm Lake), Chris Sievers (Albert City) and Alternate Mitch Sievers (Albert City).

    Stacie Glienke (Aurelia) State 4-H Dairy Project Award Recipient

2009     Austin Ehlers (Storm Lake) National 4-H Congress Delegate
    Stacie Glienke (Aurelia) State 4-H Leadership Project Award Recipient

    Austin Ehlers (Storm Lake) State 4-H Beef Project Award Recipient

2010    Austin Ehlers (Storm Lake) State 4-H Communications Project Award Recipient

2011     Austin Ehlers (Storm Lake) National 4-H Conference Delegate

4-H and Social Education

In the 1922 Annual Narrative Report, it states that local leaders were trained at a June Rally Day held at Sioux Rapids with Miss Fannie Buchanan.   Miss Buchanan worked for the Victor Machine Company and spoke on “Music Appreciation.” (Buchanan later became an Iowa State Extension Music Specialist and was recognized in the Iowa Hall of Fame.)  

In 1994, the Iowa 4-H Foundation awarded Buena Vista County Extension and the Natural Resource Center a $1,500 grant for the purpose of pollution awareness in storm sewers in the City of Storm Lake.  Training was held for volunteers; students helped design the stencil design for the drains; and education programs were held for students and community groups.  The consistent message was ‘what goes down the drain goes directly to the lake.’

4-H and Community Support

Farm Bureau played a vital role in 4-H for many years.  In December 1921, the Buena Vista Farm Bureau Board of Directors, set as a “main feature” to establish 4-H Clubs.[vi]  Ten clothing clubs were organized with 135 members.  The new clubs had constructed clothing exhibits at the County Fair, and eight clubs gave demonstrations.  The Truesdale Good Luck Club represented Buena Vista County at the Iowa State Fair. 

Farm Bureau has continued to play a vital role in support of the 4-H program in Buena Vista County.  From the earlier days of sharing office space to providing financial support, citizenship and leadership opportunities and partnering with educational events, the support giving to the 4-H program has been greatly appreciated.

Other important partners in the county to the 4-H program have been Ag-Partners LLC, Farm Credit Services of America, B.V. County Cattleman, B.V. County Pork Producers and the Bankers Association.

The County Fair

The 4-H and Youth program played a significant role in the creation of an annual fair.   

The 1920 Extension Narrative Report speaks of a four-day County Fair with exhibits from six consolidated school Home Economics contests. Entries of sewing and baked goods were judged by Miss Leiby, a Clothing Specialist from Iowa State University, Ames.  The Alta School won the “Loving Cup.”

A  1921 baby beef calf club, led by volunteer Martin Manderville, had 17 youth who reported keeping and showing the calves at the Buena Vista County Fair and the Iowa State Fair. Other boys clubs were formed for Farm Management and Judging Team with exhibits and members receiving third and the judging team with fourth place of 35 teams at the state fair. [vii]

To help youth learn more about animal care, offer an opportunity for those living in town to have experience with livestock, and boost the number of livestock exhibits at the  local county fair, new fair classes were implemented.   They included: Bottle Bucket Calf (2002), Special Swine, Special Sheep and Goat (2005).   Expectations of attending  workshops on feeding and caring for the specified animals were implemented.

The 4-H Livestock sale was held for many years the day following the county fair.  Area businesses attending the sale would ‘bid’ on 4-H and FFA animals and support the 4-H program.  In the early 90’s, the livestock auction changed from selling the animal at auction to awarding the 4-H’er for the ribbon placing at the fair.  Premiums dollars were prorated and paid to 4-H’ers from generous donations of local businesses and individual donations.  

Because the swine show was a ‘terminal’ show, the swine were shipped to a packing plant for slaughter and the 4-H’ers and FFA members were paid from the packing plant.  Youth showing sheep, goat and beef had the option to take their animals home or selling them.

The “4-H Pie Baking Contest”  held annually at the Buena Vista County Fair, was started as a way to earn money for 4-H Camperships by then 4-H and Youth Leader, Dr. Chuck Morris and Extension Home Economist, Rhonda K. Christensen.  Each 4-H club partnered with another 4-H club, selected their “pie bakers,” a theme for the costumes worn during the 15-minute pie-making period, and made a two-crust fruit pie that would be auctioned off to bidders.  Money collected from the auction is used for camperships for 4-H members to attend 4-H activities beyond their club structure, (i.e. 4-H State Conference, Citizenship Washington Focus Trip, etc.)  Since the pie baking contest conception in the late 1970’s, the event has raised over $30, 000 thanks to generous donations from 4-H supporters.

The “4-H Pride of Iowa” event was also introduced to 4-H’ers in the late 1970’s by then 4-H Executive Committee Member, Nancy Hall.  “Pride of Iowa” provides and opportunity for a 4-H member to prepare a recipe with “Iowa” ingredients within a certain time period.  The 4-H’er does not speak,  properly measures ingredients and assembles a recipe that has “Iowa” ingredients, (i.e. pork, beef, lamb, dairy, soy, egg etc.) in front of a judge who evaluates the 4-H’ers’ measuring techniques, food handling and small appliances skills, and the final product.    Iowa Commodity groups became a partner in the event by offering commodity gift certificates to the participants.   A winner is selected in each of the age divisions, junior, intermediate and senior. 

In 2005, the 4-H Consumer Judging Contest was debuted at the fair.  The event gives participants practical consumer skills to make wise choices in a complex marketplace.   Those ranking with the highest scores in the county event have the opportunity to move to the district level at the Clay County Fair.

Buena Vista County 4-H Hall of Fame Inductees

The Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame was established in 2002 as 4-H celebrated 100 years of a program dedicated to teaching youth life skills. During those 100 years, it became evident that one of the essential elements of the 4-H program was the caring adults who were committed to the program. Inductees into the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame represent the many people in Iowa who have contributed countless hours to the 4-H program. They work tirelessly to see that Iowa’s youth have a great learning experience in a safe and fun environment.  These adults have modeled volunteerism, community service, integrity and leadership to Iowa’s youth. Their legacy is the young people they have mentored who will in turn support the continuation of a 4-H program that builds Iowa’s leaders.
Buena Vista County Honorees include:

2002    Doris Fondroy, Albert City
2005    Myron Sievers, Albert City
2006    Kathy Fahr, Galva
2007    Cindy Glienke, Aurelia
2008    Rusty Cordeman, Newell
2009    Jane Duncan, Alta
2010    Robert and Rhonda Christensen, Alta
2011    Kent and Cindy Smith, Storm Lake

Buena Vista County 4-H Endowment

The Buena Vista County 4-H Endowment started June 6, 2006 with the following Board Members: Dawn Prosser (Storm Lake),  Extension Council Chair, Kent Smith (Storm Lake) 4-H Committee Chair,  Doris Fondroy (Albert City),  Wes Stille (Storm Lake) and Rhonda K. Christensen, County Extension Director.

Funds in the Endowment came from the annual “Pie Making Contest and Auction” held at the County Fair, the Craig Sump Memorial Fund, the Rafa Worthan Memorial Fund, the Kathy Fahr Memorial Fund, the Arlene Rohlk Memorial Fund and many personal donations.

Funds have been used to provide camperships to 4-H’ers for out-of-county events, 4-H Leader training events and 4-H Awards.

Those interested in making a donation to the Buena Vista County 4-H Endowment can contact the Buena Vista County Extension Office at 712-732-5056.

[i] 75 Years of Service: Cooperative Extension in Iowa pgs. 32, 53 , 1993 Iowa State University Press, Ames, Iowa, Dr. Dorothy Schwieder. 

[ii] Iowa Annual Narrative Report: Home Project Work: Buena Vista County 1920, Special Collections, ISU Parks Library

[iii] Annual Narrative Report, County Agricultural Agent Buena Vista County, 1920, Special Collections, ISU Parks Library

[iv] Iowa Annual Narrative Report: Home Project Work: Buena Vista County 1937-1940, “Twenty Five Year History of Extension Work in Buena Vista County” Special Collections, ISU Parks Library

[v] Annual Narrative Report: Buena Vista County Iowa 1938 Home Demonstration Agent, Iowa State College, USDA and County Farm Bureau Cooperating, Special Collections, ISU Parks Library

[vi] Iowa Annual Narrative Report: Home Project Work: Buena Vista County 1921, Special Collections, ISU Parks Library

[vii] Narrative Annual Report, 1922, Buena Vista County, Special Collections, ISU Parks Library

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