Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on October 18, 2012 at 11:37 AM by Global Reach

Guthrie County has a very strong tradition of 4-H. Livestock and agriculture history in Guthrie County started in 1858 when a group of local farmers started showing livestock at the first Guthrie County Fair.  Local farmers and their families would come to Guthrie Center to attend the county fair on Labor Day weekend each year.  Local Legion members would set up a bingo stand and tickets for tractor and airplane shows were sold from a gazebo.  Over the years, things have changed.  The Guthrie County Fair is still held on Labor Day weekend and the county Legion members still provide a bingo stand.   

In the early 1920’s, over fifty years after our first county fair, a group of local farmers, families and school staff saw a need to get the youth involved and started 24 4-H clubs in Guthrie County.  Clubs were separated by gender and projects were separated as well.  While gentlemen would show livestock, young ladies rotated home economic projects every four years.  Over the years clubs began to merge and so did the projects.

In the 1950’s club members from across the county came together to help rebuild the livestock building at the fairgrounds.  After a record flood all of the buildings were destroyed.  This is not the only tragedy that has affected the 4-H members of our county.  At the 1980 Guthrie County Fair, several local 4-H members sold their livestock to a business that closed its doors and went bankrupt shortly after the 4-H livestock sale.  Members of 4-H and community partners worked on several fundraisers and donations to pay the 4-H members for the livestock bought by this business. Community partners were able to raise over twelve thousand dollars to cover the losses to many of our 4-H livestock project members.  

The Clover Kids program for the kindergarten- 3rd grade started in 2003.  Clover kids have a strong program which includes a pet show at the county fair, where even a stuffed animal can be shown.  There are currently 3 Clover Kids groups with nearly 50 members.  

There are 11 4-H clubs organized by volunteer leaders, many who were 4-H’ers themselves. These clubs provide services to 4-H members from 4th to 12th grade. The countywide youth activities are organized and overseen by the Guthrie County Youth Committee.  This committee is made up of a combination of youth and adult members.  The youth and adult members of the Youth Committee partner the responsibilities and share in the work of a program of this size.  The strength of this committee has been a key factor in the success of the 4-H program.  The Guthrie County Youth Committee originally got is start as the Guthrie County Youth Foundation.  Started by a group of 4-H volunteers, the Youth Foundation still serves the community members of Guthrie County, but in a different way.  The 4-H Foundations now focuses on providing scholarships and help to the youth of Guthrie County.  The Foundation raises money through the annual pie auction at the county fair.

Youth Committee has taken over the focus of the 4-H program and in recent years has expanded to provide youth programming to all youth in Guthrie County.  The 4-H food stand was expanded in 2012, where all the clubs are expected to work, with the funds helping to provide money towards camps, trips and other 4-H activities. 

Guthrie County Extension has had several memorials established for individuals who have been excellent volunteers to our county 4-H program.  In 1975 during our County Awards Day program, the first Bob Elgin award for outstanding Intermediate 4-H member was given.  The first Schubel Owen Communication award was given to a Senior 4-H member in 1987 and recently we were able to provide the James Leo Community Service award to its first recipient in 1996.  We also have been awarding a JR Hodges award for over 25 years to a 4-H member who shows outstanding showmanship skills during the county fair.  The JR Hodges award is awarded during the fair by the livestock superintendents while the other awards are provided during our County Awards Day and 4-H members must go through and application and selection process. 

Over the years our 4-H members have participated in exchange trips, Washington D.C. Focus trip, Kansas City Delegation trip, State Conference and various activities for the area and state councils.  Guthrie County 4-H members are active in their communities as well.  Clubs have held can drives, made benches for the fairgrounds, repaired fences, made May Day baskets for elderly, worked at local auctions or sales, built city benches, repaired park equipment, participated in numerous adopt-a–family programs and held youth events for their communities.  A shooting sports club was started in 2010, giving a new dimension to Guthrie County 4-H.

Guthrie County 4-H is a big part of our county and a very successful resource to our community members.  For close to 100 years youth have been sharing knowledge and information in Guthrie County through 4-H programs and clubs.  For the last 150 years Guthrie County has been working together for the benefit of our youth. We plan to continue to provide our communities with excellent programs and county based clubs to share extension information and our 4-H programs in Guthrie County.  Guthrie County 4-H is dedicated to make the best better and continuing the growth of our head, hands, hearts and health for many years to come. 

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