Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on October 7, 2013 at 2:37 PM by Global Reach

The 4-H Club program in Shelby County evolved from very small beginnings. Early records indicate that there were six members enrolled in “pig club” work in 1919. The Farm Bureau Board appointed a club committee in 1920 to help organize clubs and develop the 4-H program. Women were added to the club committee in 1921. 

Boy’s project work county wide included beef, sheep and poultry clubs. The first girl’s club to be organized was in Center Township, the “Stitch and Chatter Club.” Four local girls clothing clubs were formed in 1921, with members exhibiting projects at the fall county Farm Bureau picnic. Girl’s clubs continued to develop on a local club basis but it was not until 1938 that county-wide livestock clubs began to organize into local clubs. The Douglas Straight Shooters was the first boys club organized. 

Membership grew intermittently except for the World War II years, reaching an all time high of 800 members in 1960. Thirty-six clubs with 79 leaders were active that year. In the following decades club membership remained stable, seeing only slight declines. Many youth development opportunities evolved over the years. 


A strong 4-H livestock judging team fared well at area and state livestock judging contests. The livestock judging team continues still today. A tractor safety course was offered to address farm safety issues. The tractor safety course has been well attended each year it has been offered. The program continues yet today. The babysitting course has always been quite popular teaching young teenagers the basic principles of caring for young children and first aid safety. Each session is filled to capacity. Other special interest workshops offered through the years included a Milk Made Magic Contest, garden project and photography workshops, bike project meetings, a snowmobile club and a fashion revue. Some clubs hold special project day activities. 


A wide range of leadership activities have taken place through Shelby County 4-H. Numerous 4-H’ers have traveled to the Iowa State University Campus and to Washington, DC for various leadership conferences. Several Shelby County youth have served as delegates to the state and national 4-H congress. Local leadership opportunities have included local club officer’s trainings, citizenship clinics, recognition of leaders, and adult leader trainings. A county 4-H council continues to offer senior 4-H’ers leadership-building opportunities at the county level.  


Across Shelby County, dedicated young people are making a difference through community service projects. 4-H’ers have been involved in building recreational facilities, caring for and improving cemeteries, sharing time with the elderly and doing many other things for the betterment of their communities. 11 community 4-H clubs continue to help “Make the Best Better”. County-wide enrollment holds at 200 members. 


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