Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on November 6, 2014 at 2:48 PM by Global Reach

Organized clubs began in 1919 in Sioux County by George Dunlap, then county agent.  Charter members of that club called it the Sioux County Pig Club.  Soon after there were also the Baby Beef Club and the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs.

4-H in Sioux County “took off” in the 20’s and 30’s.   The clubs included:

  • 1923-1944 – Grant Willing Workers
  • 1924 – Sheridan Jolly Clovers with Mrs. Eldora Heitritter as the leader.
  • 1925 – Garfield-Plato Sunshine Club
  • 1925 – Valley Victory Volunteers
  • 1925 – Sherman Happy Go Lucky
  • 1925-1945 – Lynn Lively Stars

A Home Furnishings report of 1926-27 indicated that Garfield and Plato townships head a joint 4-H club led by Mrs. F.C. Dierks and Miss Amelia Muelenthaler.  The only club at the time with a name other than their township name was “The Faithful Few” club of Lynn Township with Mrs. Fred Kruse as chairman.

The earliest documentation found was from 1928-29 and listed ten organized clubs in Sheridan, Grant, Garfield-Plato, Lynn, Eagle, Center, Holland, Washington, Reading and Sherman townships.

In the following years several other township girls’ clubs adopted new names.

1928 – Sherman Township – Busy Bees

            Eagle Township – Eagle Hustlers with Mrs. J.B. Schiefen, Leader      

1929 – Girls’ Clubs

  • West Branch Clever Clovers was organized in December 1929 with Elida Den
  • Herder and Elizabeth Borgman leaders for three years followed by Miss Fannie
  • Schut leader for the next four years.
  •  Lincoln Township – Hull Happy Hi Haps

1929 Ag. Clubs

            Holland – Happy Hollander

By 1931 there were the following clubs:

  • Grant Township – Willing Workers, Mrs. Geo. Boerhave, leader
  • Center Township – Busy Band, Mrs. Helen Beernink, leader
  • East Orange Township – East Orange 4-H, aka Happy Helpers, Miss Viola Minten, Leader
  • North Sioux Township – Sioux 4-H, Mrs. Ed Schmidt and Mrs. O.W. Flickner, leaders, met in Rock Valley 
  • Eagle – Eagle Hustlers, Mrs. Ben Vande Waa and Mrs. J. B. Schiefen, leaders Rock Lincoln Garfield 
  • Sheridan- Jolly Clovers, Mrs. Eldora Heitritter 
  • Center – Busy Band, Miss Helen Beernink, leader 
  • West Branch – Clever Clovers Holland Floy Reading 
  • Sherman – Busy Bees, Mrs. W.J. Klessing, leader 
  • Lynn – Faithful Few


  • Garfield – Plato Sundshine 4-H, Mrs. Florence Miller, leader
  • East Orange – Happy Helpers, Miss viola Minten, leader


  • Lynn – Lively Stars, Miss Nellie Vanden Burg and Miss Magdalen Vanden Burg was organized in December 1935
  • East Orange – Happy Helpers, Mrs. M. Streff, leader
  • Lincoln – Live Wires , Mrs. Ben Nymeyer, leader
  • Holland – Nassau  - Eager Gleaners

In 1936 new names were used in several township Girls’ clubs:

  • Garfield-Plat – Sunshine 4-H club was renamed the Sunny Servants
  • North Sioux – Sioux 4-H was renamed the Merry Makers
  • South Sioux- Snappy Sisters, Mrs. E.F. Suter and Mrs. Emil Miller leaders.  This was the first year for the club.
  • Sherman – Busy Bees was the largest club in the county in 1936 with 29 members.  Mrs. Herman Rowenhorst and Mrs. Herman Juffer, leaders.

Capel Township – Chums

1938 – Welcome - Peppy Pals – existed until 1944.

1939 – Reading – Ready Rustlers Girls Club

            Newkirk Never Fails Ag Club

1940 – Agriculture Clubs

  • Rock-Sioux -  Glenn Bensen, leader
  • Lincoln-Sheridan – Hull 4-H Club, Harold Gossard, Herman Boote, and Clarence De Boer, leaders
  • Grant – Grant 4-H Club, Alvin Linch
  • West Branch – Willing Workers, Sam P. Schut, Herman Vermeer, leaders
  • Logan-Washington – Sioux Valley 4-H Club, H.J. Shoemaker, Warren Gregg, leaders
  • Reading – Reading 4-H Club, Fred Vanerham, leader
  • Holland- Nassau – Progressive Farmers 4-H Club, Geo.Van Roekel leader
  • East Orange – Future Farmers 4-H Club, M.M. Streff, Joe Hansen, leaders

The peak years for 4-H club membership came in the 1950’s and early 1960’s with 1958 the year for record membership enrollment.  There were 445 girls enrolled and 28a boys enrolled for a total membership of 726.

Since that time, enrollment began to slip by about 1% each year.  By the 1990’s the percentage of youth reached by 4-H changed with the growth of 4-H School Enrichment programs.  Programs offered to the schools included: a before and after school safety program to 4th graders, “On My Own and Okay;” a nutrition and fitness program to 3rd graders, “Eating Healthy and Having Fun!” and “Where We Live,” an Iowa specific program about geography and agriculture in Iowa’s history.  In 1995-1995, Sioux County had 613 total members and reached 520 youth through school enrichment, reaching 17.6% of the Sioux County youth.  In 2003-2004, club membership was 443 and reached 2240 youth through school enrichment programming for a total of 42.6% of the youth in Sioux County.

4-H club membership continued to decline in the 2000’s until about 2008 when a several new opportunities were presented that focused on special interests for youth.  Safety and Shooting Sports clubs in Arrowheads Archery Club and Sweet Shooters Air Rifle Club were started in 2004-2005.  4-H FIRST Lego League teams have been learning about robotics and computer programming, along with team work since 2008-2009.  A less intense STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) club experience started with the Mad Scientists 4-H Club in 2011.

A number of these new initiatives have been supported with grant money from the Iowa 4-H Foundation, including “Funtivities (science and math kits) and a partnership with Kidzone afterschool program.  In 2012 the Governor’s Scale-Up STEM grant supported the Sioux County FIRST Lego League teams, and in 2013 Sioux County 4-H was awarded grants for the STEM programs, “A World in Motion,” Engineering is Elementary,” and “HyperStream.”  These grants made it possible to continue to add new experience for youth in kindergarten through 12th grade.  Since 2011 Sioux County 4-H has partnered with Dordt College Engineering Department to offer STEM Fest, a celebration and hands-on learning event for youth in 4th-12th grade. Other special interest clubs like a skate boarding club, a cooking club and a scrap booking club were successful for a short while during that same period.  

In 2005 the IMPACT Youth Leadership Experience was first offered to Sioux County middle school youth.  Since that time over 150 8th graders have participated and learned and practiced their leadership skills.  A partnership with Interstates Harbor Group in Sioux Center and Northwestern College Education Department has allowed this program to consistently offer a unique experience for these future leaders.

4-H has always been about science.  The motto “to make the best better” was not only about making better crops and livestock, and better homes but also better young people.  Since the introduction of these special interest clubs and the return to the emphasis on STEM,enrollment has increased at a steady pace.  Not only are families with a history of 4-H becoming active in 4-H, many of the youth joining 4-H are from non-4-H families.  4-H club enrollment increases from 346 in 2009 to 394 in 2013 reaching 18.8% of school-age youth in Sioux County.   

In addition to these special interest club, Discover 4-H, a 2nd and 3rd grade introduction to 4-H, has been reaching out to over 100 youth each year.  Focusing on hands-on science activities, this afterschool program has been a successful recruitment tool and a popular and worthwhile opportunity for younger children. Throughout the history of 4-H in Sioux County, adult volunteers have dedicated hours of their time, and their talents and passions to youth of Sioux County, growing future leaders that are prepared to be productive citizens and effective leaders.


Submitted by Cindy Cleveringa

4-H School Enrichment Coordinator

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