Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on November 4, 2014 at 4:36 PM by Global Reach

As our world evolves, so does the 4-H program in Humboldt County. The Cooperative Farm Bureau and Iowa State University Extension Program was organized in September 1916. Club work for boys and girls did not become a major program in Humboldt County until 1926. However, some townships developed clubs as early as 1924. Vernon Township had a clothing club, and records show through the Corinth Red Stars, who are still an active club today.

Two county committees were formed to lead the boys and girls clubs. Clubs were not confined to township lines. These committees determined the policies and projects for the county. The number of organized clubs has changed from year to year dictated by the availability of leaders and the interest and support of the parents. In 1962 the two committees merged into one county 4-H committee. It provided support to the office personnel in the Extension office and continued to give guidance to the 4-H program. This committee still exists and is known as the 4-H Youth Committee.

The early boys clubs were organized around interests such as the baby beef club, market pig club, sheep club, etc.  The early 1900’s emphasized learning new methods for farming.  In 1931, the corn club worked on comparing hybrid and open pollinated corn and the use of fertilizer.  In 1937 conservation was introduced as a new activity, but interested only a few boys at that time.  Another boys club opportunity came along in 1940 when basketball and softball tournaments were started, giving them the ability to participate in organized athletics.

Clothing, canning and bread making clubs were organized for the girls to help prepare them for homemaking. Health and Nutrition also were emphasized to improve the quality of living. Some activities they would participate in were posture contests, bra and girdle fitting classes, choosing proper shoes, and music and art classes.

In 1936 the first 4-H banquet was held in Humboldt. Since then banquets for 4-H members, leaders and volunteers have been an important part of the 4-H yearly programming.  This event gives the opportunity to give awards for record keeping and county awards for Citizenship, Agriculture, Leadership, Communication and Merit.  Humboldt County also presents awards such as the Chicago Trip, the I Dare You Danforth Award, and the Chris Frohling President Award. The Frohling Award was presented by the family of Chris Frohling, in her memory after a tragic auto accident in 1971. The award is presented to a senior 4-H club president based on community, school and 4-H involvement. A plaque, displayed in the Humboldt County Extension office, names recipients each year since 1971.

Home Demonstration Agent, Myrtle Hewitt, was added to the Farm Bureau and Extension program in 1938.  Her focus was working with girls to make homes more livable and enjoyable. Myrtle played a very positive role in the lives of Humboldt County families. In 1959, Elmer Lindhart, a prominent local businessman, wrote in the county newspaper, “4-H is a wonderful organization worthy of all the support the rest of us can give them. I was fortunate enough to be present at the 4-H Rally Day, and it was a treat to see the results of their efforts--the marvelous achievement of the girls and their leaders…A special tribute should go to Myrtle Hewitt, who has worked so hard and accomplished so much.” The 4-H exhibition building at the Humboldt County Fairgrounds was named Hewitt Hall in memory of Myrtle Hewitt.

During World War II the Humboldt County Fair was discontinued for two years, but achievement shows were conducted. Demonstrations were encouraged to develop poise and the ability to present subject matter before an audience to develop communication skills. Financial programs also were offered to help families learn strategies for saving money.

The year 1941 brought major changes to the world.  4-H programs began to emphasize national defense and citizenship and promoted a broader knowledge of the meaning of democracy. There were victory gardens and drives to buy war bonds and stamps, and collections of scrap metal and rubber. The goal of the boys clubs was to maximize food production by using new technology. It was at the 1940 Humboldt County fair that a demonstration using a pressure canner for food preservation gave courage to the homemakers to use them. In 1949 freezing foods was introduced. By 1952 boys clubs were including electricity, tractor safety and maintenance, and soil and wildlife conservation. They explored careers and mechanical training.  The privilege of living in a democracy was the emphasis of the girls 4-H program and their responsibility to make it possible to enjoy the American way of life. Citizenship and leadership still are emphasized in 4-H today.

In 1958 the State Legislature voted that Farm Bureau and Iowa State Extension were to be separate entities. By 1961 about 3,300 family units lived in Humboldt County. Forty percent were farm families, and about half of the farm youth received 4-H training.  4-H work was to think in terms of “why” and “how”.  At that time, a television station in Fort Dodge, KQTV, provided 4-H the means for demonstration teams to present their information to the public.

The Humboldt County 4-H youth began to receive recognition beyond the county. Around the late 1940s Gloria Soldow was declared the winner in the Dress Review at the Iowa State Fair and went on to represent Iowa in the National Club Congress. Later, Humboldt County youth began to serve on the State 4-H Council. Dick Martin was elected as the Iowa State 4-H Council vice-president in 1968. During this time, exchange programs also began gaining popularity, which lead to Lois Korsland participating in the International Foreign Youth Exchange program in Norway and the Richard Naeve family visiting Japan. Also popular were exchange experiences among youth from other states as well as the Canadian Youth Exchange.

Humboldt County has had a long-standing Livestock Auction at the fair.  However, it was discontinued upon the recommendation of a committee that was formed to study the concerns that the prices received by the 4-H member didn’t accurately represent realistic marketing conditions. This has been an ongoing concern, but the auction was reinstated in 1987 and is still running today.

Clubs have their own special activities that they became involved in and have carried on the tradition through the years. The “Memory Quilt” project was introduced in 1991 as a way to build communication skills and promote understanding between 4-H youth and senior citizens.  At the time, 4-H members visited with long-term residents at the hospital.  “As I Was Growing Up” was the theme for the conversations and the quilt. When the quilt was complete, it was given to the Humboldt County Memorial Hospital’s long-term care unit for display.  The Corinth Red Star club started their own quilting project where each member made a quilt, and 20 quilts were delivered to the Ronald McDonald House in Des Moines. Others made lap quilts and donated them to the hospital. In 2004, a club quilt was auctioned off at the county fair, and the proceeds were donated to the fair board to be used on improvements to Hewitt Hall. The Beaver Wide Awake Club made a 4-H quilt that was auctioned off and proceeds were used to improve the 4-H food stand. These special activities continue to show club commitments to “my club, my community, my country, and my world”.

Present Day, 2013

The Humboldt 4-H program continues to offer diversity for their members and youth in the community. Funtivities, Fish Iowa, Guy Talk and Girl Talk, Babysitting Clinic, and a regional youth AG Days are just a few of the many opportunities available to the county youth. Several programs are long-standing such as AG Days, which has served fifth grade students in our four county regions for almost 20 years. Humboldt County encourages participation in all of the State 4-H project areas, such as Agriculture and Natural Resources, Livestock, Creative Arts, Family and Consumer Sciences, Personal Development, Crop Production, Horticulture, Safety and Education in Shooting and more recently 4-H STEM.  As the times progresses, so do the 4-H  activities and workshops. They continue to work hard to secure community partnerships that offer knowledge and provide safe and educational research-based learning environments for youth. In recent years, Humboldt County has been able to offer welding, sewing, jewelry making and photography workshops impart skill building and knowledge as well as provide a finished static exhibit in a specific project area for the fair. 

Humboldt County currently has 11 4-H Community Clubs, two 4-H Project Clubs, and Jr. Clover & Clover Kid groups with more than 150 youth enrolled.  Our Shooting Sports Club is very active and offers rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader and archery along with a wildlife skills and survival class. The Horse Project allows youth in grades 4-12 to participate through a horseless or a horse program that offers classroom hours throughout the winter, and arena riding in the spring, summer and fall.  In 2012, Humboldt County began a livestock sharing program called Share-A-Calf.  This allows community sponsors and contributors to help 4-H youth purchase bucket/bottle calves and supplies, teach them how to raise and show them, and then market them at the fair auction. 

We will continue to find new and innovative ways to provide learning experiences for our youth.  4-H is a vital part of the Humboldt County community and continues to grow and prosper.  We will strive to “Make the Best Better” for years to come.

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