Posted on November 4, 2014 at 4:49 PM by Global Reach
The 4-H Program in Jackson County is very large and well known in our community. The 4-H involvement in Jackson County started in 1921 with the club Miles Baby Beef, an all boys club. By 1928, three girls clubs had formed the XL Club, Hawkeye Hustlers, and Wide Awake Club. These clubs focused more on the clothing projects as learning to make garments, conduct a meeting, and how to handle themselves before groups of people. Some of the girls were also part of the boys clubs to enable them to show cattle at the fair and learn about the project. Boys would not even think of enrolling in a girls club! The 4-H’ers who were in the livestock project clubs received experience on feeding, management, and showing the calves and pigs. Many of the 4-H’ers exhibited at the Jackson County Fair, the Miles Local Show, and the District Fair in Davenport. 4-H’ers were to attend many project meetings throughout the year to teach them new things and become experienced in that area.
As the years went on, more youth became active in 4-H and many more clubs formed by townships and towns in the county. By the 1950’s, Jackson County had 16 girls’ clubs, two leaders per club, and 237 girls enrolled. The boys had 13 clubs with two leaders per club. During this time, the Basketball Tournament had formed and teams were placed by clubs. The tournament became a popular activity for all 4-H’ers to enjoy and interact with other 4-H members from across the county. This is still an activity today and also is a fundraiser for the Jackson County 4-H program.
By 1970’s the Jackson County 4-H’ers were very involved in the Citizenship project and 4-H’ers were strongly encouraged to enroll. Each year 4-H’ers were given an opportunity to attend the Citizenship Focus trip to Des Moines. Jackson County had a large attendance each year with at least 30 participants. Jackson County would travel together with three other counties to help save cost. The Citizenship-Washington D.C. Focus trip was every two years. The 4-H’ers may attend the focus only by attending one of the Citizenship Focus trips to Des Moines within the past two years. As the Citizenship project grew, more participants were in the need of financial assistance. The cost of trips was rising and was reasons why deserving 4-H members have not been able to participate. The Youth Committee and County Council worked together to come up with the 4-H Sweetheart Ball. It still is an event held annually for this purpose, to raise money for participants. The 4-H Sweetheart Ball is held in February and each club selects an escort and a sweetheart candidate. The candidates obtain votes by collecting money in a decorated container placed around county businesses and counted at the rate $.01 per vote. The candidates receiving the largest amount become the King and Queen. Money raised is divided among participants to the Citizenship trips to Des Moines and Washington D.C. To be selected to be a delegate on either trip is considered an honor. The 4-H Sweetheart Ball is still going strong, with 4-H’ers still attending the communication trips. Today in 2005, the 4-H’ers may attend either trip or both. The Des Moines trip is now the State Conference in Ames.
The Jackson County 4-H program has many strong projects, such as the beef project. In 1985, a devoted 4-H family began the Jackson County Steer Class. This class was designed by having cow-calf producers supply a market calf as a beef project and may give nutrition, management, and other helpful information throughout the year to the youth that drew his/her calf. The youth takes care of the calf, prepare it for market, and exhibits the steer at the Jackson County Preview Show in June and the Jackson County Fair in July. The purpose of the Jackson County Steer Class was to increase the numbers of beef steers at the Jackson County Fair by using a county product and giving the cow-calf operator a chance to show and advertise his/her product increase. This did increase the enthusiasm and attendance at the beef show. The Jackson County Steer Class developed large numbers and made the beef show an exciting event to attend at the fair. In 1985, 81 4-H’ers were enrolled in the beef project and currently in 2005, 103 4-H’ers are enrolled.
Livestock Judging has had many participants and received much recognition, but one team in 1989 done much more of an outstanding job. The team worked hard practicing and participated at the State 4-H Livestock Judging Competition and won first place. As a result of winning first place, they were given the opportunity to participate at the National 4-H Livestock Competition in Louisville, Kentucky. The Jackson County Livestock Judging Team won first place and was the first team to win nationals in 30 years! The International 4-H Competition was next, taking place in Scotland. In order for the four boys and their two coaches to attend, they would have to do fundraisers. After their hard work getting there, they made it there and had lots of fun. These four boys are still involved in the 4-H program in some way and are always there to give a helping hand in the livestock area.
In 1991, the 4-H Environmental Festival was organized. The objective of the festival was to provide an environmental education to the 6th grade students of Jackson County. The 6th graders were chosen to participate because their age is the start of making purchases and choices that may affect the environment. All the schools in Jackson County were invited to attend the 4-H Environmental Festival. The amount of students who came to the 4-H Environmental Festival was a total of 470! The Jackson County Conservation Board, ISU Extension Specialists, School Counselors, County Landfill Director, Recycling Center, and Department of Natural Resources were who helped organize the event. The 4-H Environmental Festival has been a continuing project ever since reaching the 6th graders.
County Council in Jackson County has risen to 23 sophomores, juniors, and seniors. The County Council who wished to join were to give a presentation at the 4-H Rally Night and then were elected. As years passed, the interest grew small. To regain interest, the rules changed by applying for County Council and automatically joining. Currently the county has 30 County Council members. The group has enthusiasm and great attendance. They are given lots of responsibility as they are the leaders and role models to the younger 4-H members. Their responsibility covers many events such as the Sweetheart Ball, Basketball Tournament, Fair, Intermediate Fun Night, Jr. Day Camp, Recognition Banquet, and much more.
Today, 2014, Jackson County has 365 4-H’ers enrolled, 13 active co-ed 4-H clubs including a new Cooking Clovers Club and 80 plus leaders and volunteers to help 4-H’ers learn and do new things. There are 5 very active Clover Kids clubs, kindergarten through third grade, participating in many activities including being judged at fair time. 4-H exhibits are judged and displayed in the air-conditioned Pearson Center on the fairgrounds. Some of the new activities 4-H’ers have been involved with the past years include fruit and meat sales which has proven to be profitable for clubs. At fair time a new small building was built called the Dollar Barn, operated by County Council members, selling everything for a dollar, located near the livestock barns for fair goers convenience in that area. The Goat project has grown sizably and a Swine Ribbon Sale has been added taking place following the Swine Show. A Junior Adventure Camp including surrounding counties has been added plus many day camps. A group of junior high school 4-H’ers called Young Leaders Council was formed three years ago. As a group they help out in many activities. The 4-H Food Stand committee, a very dedicated group, is still very active providing a sizable amount of money each year donated to the 4-H program. Fair Week starts on Sunday with a Pancake Breakfast under the direction of our Endowment Committee plus many other volunteers with proceeds going to the Endowment fund and used to promote 4-H activities. Jackson County has a dedicated group of 4-H Club leaders and many volunteers that make the 4-H program strong in the county. Family involvement is also just as strong, all helping each other at fair time and throughout the year.