Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on April 8, 2017 at 6:02 AM by Emily Saveraid

Change is constant, and being flexible, the 4-H program in Humboldt County has continued to have an important role in the community.  These changes, as well through the years, involve organization, projects, emphasis, leadership, age, and even uniforms.

The Cooperative Farm Bureau and Iowa State Extension Program was organized in September, 1916.  Club work for both boys and girls did not become a major program in Humboldt County until 1926.  However, there were some townships that had clubs in 1924.  Vernon Township had a clothing club and records show that in 1949 Corinth Red Stars celebrated 25 years as a club.

County committees were formed to lead the girls’ clubs and the boys’ clubs.  These committees determined the policies and projects for the county.  Clubs were not confined to township lines.  The number of organized clubs has changed from year to year, much depending upon the availability of leaders and the interest and support of the parents.  In 1962 the two committees merged into one county 4-H committee and today lends support to the office personnel in the Extension office and gives guidance to the 4-H program.

The early boys’ clubs were organized around interests such as baby beef club, market pig club, sheep club, etc.  In 1931 the Corn club worked at comparing hybrid and open pollinated corn and the use of fertilizer.  The early 1900’s emphasized the learning of new methods for farming.  In 1937 conservation was introduced as a new activity, but interested only a few boys at that time.  In the early 390’s girls were included in some of the livestock clubs and also in the conservation activities.

Clothing canning and bread making clubs were organized for the girls to help them prepare for homemaking.  Health was a big emphasis which included posture contests, proper shoes, and nutrition.  To improve quality of living, programs included the study of music and art as enjoyable parts of everyday lives.  Flower gardens and flower arranging were also an interest.

In 1936 a 4-H banquet was held.  Since that time “banquets” for leaders and volunteers, for first year members and for award recipients have been an important part of the 4-H year’s program.

A Home Demonstration Agent, Mrytle Hewitt, was added to the Farm Bureau and Extension program in Humboldt County in 1938.  She worked with the girls to make the homes more livable and enjoyable.  She was a positive role in the lives of Humboldt County families.  In 1959, Elmer Lindhart, a prominent local businessman at that time, wrote in the county newspaper, “This week’s orchids to the 4-H girls.  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 Mrytle Hewitt, who has worked so hard and accomplished so much.”

Basketball and softball tournaments were started in 1940.  It was means of promoting interest in the club system to boys in the county.  It gave almost all boys an opportunity to take part in organized athletics.  It continued through the years and 1981 turned into a free through contest, which continued for a few years.

1941 brought major changes to the world.  4-H programs began to emphasize national defense and citizenship and to give broader knowledge on the meaning of democracy.  There were victory gardens and drives to buy war bonds and stamps and collection of scrap metal and rubber.  The goal of the boys’ 4-H was for maximum food production.  The privilege of living in a democracy was the emphasis of the girls’ 4-H program and the girls’ responsibility to make it possible to enjoy the American way of life.  Citizenship and leadership are still emphasized at the close of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty first.

It was during World War II that County Fair was discontinued for two years.  During this time achievement shows were conducted.  Demonstrations were encouraged to develop poise and the ability to present subject matter before an audience.  One of the purposes outlined by the county committee was to help girls realize that the homes in foreign countries “will need our sharing of supplies for years peace comes.”  A method of saving money was promoted.

It was in 1941 that girls were considered ineligible to carry a livestock project in Humboldt County.  Livestock projects were offered to the girls again in 1964. 

New technology for food production and for homemaking began in the ‘40’s.  It was at the 1940 County Fair a demonstration using a pressure canner for food preservation gave courage to homemakers to use them.  In 1949 freezing of foods was introduced.  By 1952 boys’ club programs were including electricity, tractor safety and maintenance, and soil and wildlife conservation.  In 1988 computers were being used for making swine production techniques more profitable and efficient.

Clubs had their own special activities.  In 1956 the boys’ club in Beaver Township made a map of the township for the fire department.  To raise funds for the State 4-H Camp one club held a square dance.  Three clubs, Lake, Wacousta, and Vernon established wildlife areas. 

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

A number of 4-H youth have gained recognition beyond the county.  The State 4-H Council is one   area where Humboldt County 4-H Youth have served.  In 1968 Dick Martin was elected as vice-president of the State 4-H Council.  Gloria Soldow was the state winner in the dress revue in 1962 and therefore a representative from Iowa to the National Club Congress.  Exchange programs have garnered interest.  Lois Korsland was an International Foreign Youth Exchange to Norway in 1953.  In ’77 the Richard Naeve family visited Japan.  There exchange experiences with youth from other states as well as a Canadian Youth Exchange.

The Livestock Auction at the Fair was discontinued upon the recommendation of a committee formed to study the concerns that the price received by the 4-H member was too high for them to know realistic marketing conditions and also that is was unfair to the business men who buy.  This has been an ongoing concern but the auction was reinstated in 1987.

A plaque is displayed in the County Extension office naming the best club president voted by the leaders and 4-H committee each year.  This was presented by the family of Chris Frohling in her memory tarter a tragic auto accident in 1971.  Chris had been an active 4-H member in county as well as her club.  The award is based on community, school and 4-H activities.

A “Memory Quilt” project was introduced in 1991 as a way to build communication skills and promote understandings between 4-H’er and senior citizens.  At the time, 4-H’ers visited with long-term residents at the hospital.  “As I Was Growing UP”, was the theme for the conversations the theme for the conversations and the quilt.  The quilt was given to the Humboldt County Memorial Hospital long-term care unit for display.  In 2002 the Corinth Red Stars started their quilt project.  Each member made a quilt.  Twenty quilts were delivered to the Ronald McDonald House in Des Moines.  The next year the girls made lap quilts and donated them to the long-term care unit at the Humboldt County Memorial Hospital.  A quilt using the stack and shack method was completed in 2004 and was auctioned at the County Fair.  The proceeds were donated to the Fair Board to be used on improvements to Hewitt Hall, the 4-H building on the fair grounds.  Proceeds from the auction a 4-H t-shirt quilt made in 2004 by the Beaver Wide Awake club was used to improve the 4-H food stand.  These examples reveal the ongoing commitment of “my club, my community, my country, my world”. 

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