Posted on August 11, 2012 at 8:24 AM by Global Reach
County 4-H clubs were first recorded in 1918 as a beef club in Meriden. Another early recording of a baby beef club was in 1920 in Grand Meadow Township. These first clubs were project-driven and separated between boys and girls. Project clubs became common with garment clubs and bread clubs for girls. For boys, beef, pig and poultry clubs were common. In 1925 baby beef clubs existed for boys and girls. By the mid-twenties the objective of both the boys and girls clubs were “to develop rural leadership and a keener appreciation of rural life.”
As we moved through the twenties and thirties the clubs spread throughout the county, but were still project specific with canning clubs, home furnishing, poultry and bread clubs. The clubs gave girls in townships with no clothing clubs an opportunity to do club work.
1931 was a peak year for clubs with 18 clubs and approximately 200 members. As we rolled into the 40’s, Rally Day became an annual tradition. These all-day sessions included all clubs throughout the county along with their leaders. What a remarkable sight to see 100-200 young ladies demonstrating their finest skills of communication and leadership, 4-H service work and skits portraying songs to close the day. The mid thirties had other opportunities for girls to compete in the “healthiest girl” in the county/state after being judged on appearance from top to bottom.
The boys clubs during the 40s were not to be outdone. Steady growth of membership from 69 in 1940 to 204 in 1947 was recorded. During the thirties and forties the boys clubs included the north half of the county and the south half. Eventually more clubs were added, and membership was predicted as high as 300 by the end of the 1940’s. Cherokee County had 11 Boy’s Clubs during the 1950s. The girl’s enrollment increased but not the number of clubs. The boys and girls clubs raised more than $3,000 building the current 4-H building on the fairgrounds.
This was hard work by the 4-H’ers with bake sales, selling 4-H pencils, chicken dinners, breakfasts, coffees, circulating food baskets and free will donations. Because this wasn’t enough money to pay off the building, the 4-H’ers continued to work toward paying down the debt that remained. 4-H continued to be very active throughout the 1950s as the girls clubs continued to have their Achievement Days and Rally Days. Cherokee County “exchanged” with Custer County of western Nebraska in the fifties. For about six years, two girls and two boys from Cherokee County visited Custer County for one week, allowing the 4-H’ers to share a different way of rural life, even within the Midwest!
Cherokee County has always had a love for horses. The Cavaliers 4-H Horse Club was organized in 1961 and is still extremely active. Each year a horse show was held at the County Achievement Show. Members were very active in Horse Judging, Horse Classic and Hippology Contests. They continue to be active and receive many honors.
Beginning in the early 70s a Citizenship Short Course trip to Washington, D.C. was available to 4-H’ers in the Sioux City area. Eligible 4-H’ers applied, interviewed and were selected to represent Cherokee County. 4-H State Conference also was part of the summer fun held in Ames. By the mid-70’s Cherokee County boasted 11 Boys Clubs, 18 Girls Clubs, three co-ed Clubs for youth that included a horse club, kennel club and tropical fish club. 4-H’ers during the 70s had opportunities to attend the 4-H Conference, Leadership Camp, Conservation Camp and the Minnesota “exchange” program.
4-H throughout the 80s continued with concentration of specifics in projects. A big push was on child care and development. County Council continued to share successes and concerns with all 4-H Clubs.
One proud fact for Cherokee County is that we have had four Iowa State Fair Queens since its inception. No other County has that to boast! Our fair queens were: Amy Bryant Hawthorne-1990, Lindzy Jones Bjork-1994, Abby Menke-1999 and Celeste Ogren-2001.
The Clover Kids program was started in 1997 in the school districts in Cherokee County. Clover Kids is an after school program and/or Saturday program for children in Kindergarten through third grades. It meets once a week for four weeks in each school district. Since 1997, we have reached 1,085 youth in the county with this hands-on educational program.
Cherokee County 4-H sponsors two annual field trips for local youth. All fifth graders in the county are invited to attend the fifth grade Farm Tour. The Farm Tour is done during school hours. The youth visit a beef cattle farm, a hog farm, a dairy farm, an apple orchard, a local seed dealer and the Iowa State University Northwest Iowa Research Farm in Calumet. All sixth graders in the county can attend the Silver Sioux Science Field Days in the spring. Youth and teachers can learn about value- added agriculture, Iowa pre-history, conservation, Iowa wildlife, water conservation and soils and take a tour of the Silver Sioux County Park.
4-H through the century has broadened youths’ ideas of the county, state and world. The focus has always remained constant, to better our youth. The mission is still “To make the best better.”
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