Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on September 12, 2014 at 3:49 PM by Global Reach

The Farm Bureau and Extension Service were organized in 1918, but 4-H Clubs did not organize until 1925.

Eight townships were organized, but there were only seven clubs, as two townships were organized together.

There were seven Home Economics leaders.

At that time the projects were 1st and 2nd year Clothing, 1st and 2nd year Home Furnishing, 1st year Canning, 1st year Baking.

In 1926, Edith Baker, assistant state leader, assisted the county in organizing a county 4-H committee.  There were still seven clubs and seven leaders, but they had reached another township, as there were nine townships included.  The project in 1926 was 2nd year Clothing.  The girls and leaders had a choice on the projects they wanted to study, so specialists from the State Extension Service came and gave the lesson to the leaders.  The leaders in turn gave the lessons to the girls.  The age limit of 4-H girls at that time was 12 to 21 years.

The club’s activities included their meetings, County Rally Day, where they elected their county officers and nominated a girl for a State Office, if the county had one that qualified.

In 1937 Wayne County was fortunate to have the State 4-H President (Frances Ellingsworth).

In clothing years a better groomed girl was chosen to represent the county at the State Convention held in Ames and to compete with other counties in a contest.  Each club also appointed a delegate to the State convention, which was held in June.

The next event during the year was the County Fair.  The girls would exhibit anything they had made under the project they were studying.  Their projects were judged and were awarded blue, red and white ribbons.  The blue ribbon class was entitled to go to the State Fair.  A demonstration team from each club gave a demonstration on some part of their project.  The highest scoring team was then awarded a trip to the State Fair.

At the State Fair they competed with other county teams studying the same project.

There was a style show during the clothing years at the County and State Fairs.  The highest scoring girls in the county competed at the State Fair with other style show girls from Clothing counties.

Each club girl was given a record book which was used to record her achievements.  These plus their accomplishments in their projects were the basis of their awards.  In the early 30’s, there ceased to be a county fair.

One of the good citizens of the county said, “We must have a fair to judge the 4-H clubs’ projects.”  Through his efforts we had a 4-H fair.  The 4-H and Farm Bureau put on the afternoon and evening programs before the grandstand.  The programs consisted of music, plays, dances, etc., with a parade of 4-H floats and a large livestock parade.

In the late 30s the County Fair was reorganized.  As the years went by the older girls dropped out of club work because of too many church and school activities.  The 4-H member age limits were lowered to 9 years and three membership groups were named Junior, Intermediate and Senior.

The county no longer had its choice of projects.  The State was divided into three sections, Upper, Middle and Lower.  Each section studied and worked on its own project which was different than the other two.  There were three projects (1) Clothing, (2) Home Furnishings and (3) Nutrition.  Each section had one year of each.

Related subjects, such as poultry, gardening and landscaping, safety, health, photography, etc., have been added recently.

The main project material was given by the State Specialist until the 40’s.  During the 40’s, we were fortunate enough to have our own Home Economist.  The first Home Economist was Anna Keppy, 11/1/41 to 5/15/44.

The clubs’ activities were their meetings and their Achievement Days, which each club held before the County Fair.  At the County Fair they were judged by a certified state judge and only the top exhibit in each class became eligible for State Fair.

In Clothing years there were style show girls competing in the county.  The highest scoring girl was eligible to go to the State Fair.

Other activities were 4-H camps and conservation and leadership camps.

A girl with the highest achievement in one certain project such as safety, on the state level, was awarded a trip to the national 4-H Club Congress in Chicago.

There are now Area as well as County Officers, a State 4-H Council and a State Conference instead of a State Convention.  The election of a County 4-H Youth Council of both boys and girls takes place in September.  This group plans the Recognition Event and helps at the County Fair.  Wayne County 4-H’ers also go on the Washington DC trip, Area Intermediate trips, to area and state camps and local day camps.

In the late 50’s every township was organized for 4-H club work.  At that time there were thirteen clubs in sixteen townships, three for the townships being combined.  There were thirteen leaders and thirteen assistant leaders.  At the present time, there are 7 clubs with 13 leaders.

The 4-H girls have uniforms that have statewide acceptance.  The first ones worn until the late 40’s were bright blue cotton middies with pleated skirts and a black tie.  After much protesting from the girls, the uniform was changed to a one-piece dress of aqua blue, with a gored skirt, short sleeves, front zipper opening, a modified sailor collar, a crisp white tie that buttoned under the collar and a belt.

In 1962 they changed to the National Uniform of green and white stripes, which was a two-piece dress with a blouse and a pleated skirt.  The 4-H insignia (the four-leaf clover with four Hs – Heart-Hand-Head-Health) was placed on the left side of the blouse.  The girls wore these six years and then changed to an A-line dress, with or without sleeves, and a jacket in a green and white striped drip-dry material, with the 4-H insignia on the left side.

Now, the girls wear a 4-H T-shirt and blue jeans for most of their 4-H activities.

It is now 2013 and 4-H has, of course, seen some changes over the years. Wayne County now has 7 traditional clubs and 1 special interest club (horses) and 19 volunteer leaders. Members no longer join the clubs within their townships, they tend to “find” their club on the premise of when and where the club meetings are held. Clubs all have a mix of boys and girls.

Membership was holding very steady until the last couple of years. Membership in 2013 is down. This seems to be due to the numerous school activities and busy families. There is no longer a County Youth Council due to the lack of interest. The state has reorganized and there is no long an Area Council. Wayne County has had a couple of members serve on the State Council. There is a Clover Kids (K-3rd) program in Seymour but most Clover Kids are welcome to attend club meetings.

Livestock is still a big part of 4-H in Wayne County. There are several members that are very active in showing beyond the county and state level.  The majority of the membership shows some type of animal. Meat goats are the newest and latest thing. Projects in the exhibit building are declining. Photography seems to be the most popular project.

Community service is still a big focus with the clubs. Many clubs have service projects they have done for years – serving community suppers, delivering Meals on Wheels, cleaning roadside ditches, helping with the upkeep of the fairgrounds, etc. The county 4-H program has the main food stand at the county fair. The money raised is used to operate the program and provide scholarships.

4-H is still a strong and respected program in Wayne County. Community, tradition and agriculture still stands solid.

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