Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on April 11, 2017 at 8:03 AM by Emily Saveraid

In July, 1946, Ruth Streicher of Wapello County was elected state president of the Iowa Girls 4-H club at the convention in Ames.  Ruth is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Tom Streicher of Cass Township who operate a 560 acre farm along the Des Moines River near Chillicothe. In the summer of 1947, Ruth was one of two girls chosen to represent Iowa 4-Her’s at Camp Minnewanca, leadership camp near Shelby, Michigan.

Ruth has completed five years of 4-H club work, including taking part in home furnishing, nutrition and home efficiency projects. She is a student at Ottumwa High School where she is ranked near the top of her class. The first year, she traveled the 12 miles from her home on the milk truck that made daily pick-ups in the community. The next year she stayed in Ottumwa with an aunt. The third year she and a younger sister lived together. Both years she got up mornings and cleaned a small shop before school started. In her senior year, with the end of gas rationing and with a greater number of young people from her home community attending high school, a car pool was worked out and the girls lived at home. She was initiated into the National Honor Society and took part in various activities. She has been Wapello County 4-H club president, and also has served as president, secretary-treasurer and reporter of her local club.

In her own club she’s been somewhat of a sparkplug. She did her project work well and now finds the lessons of practical value to her. What keeps an active 4-H club girl busy is shown in her club record. She made nine articles in the home furnishings project, preserved 369 quarts of food, made nine articles in home efficiency projects and did more than 40 baking in oven products activities. Ruth also made 24 garments for herself. That insured that she would be will dressed on the campus and at various college social events.

She has been an active member of demonstration teams, won a number of honors in music contests and is a leader in junior Red Cross activities. For her work in the latter field, she was awarded a trip to Washington D.C. During the war when 4-H clubs were seeking ways to serve their communities and their counties, Ruth guided her club in conducting a Red Cross fund-raising drive in the home township. Collections amounted to $200 – a tidy sum for the rural community.

In 1948, Ruth participated in a radio contest sponsored by RFD America. She was an Iowa State University home economics freshman. She was matching her knowledge of farm life against that of three other 4-H contestants drawn from Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. On the farm on which she was born, and her father before her, she learned the arts of housekeeping and of doing farm chores.

Radio was a very important part of the Wapello County 4-H history. In December, the Columbia Gems 4-H Club had the pleasure of presenting a fifteen minute program over radio station KBIZ during the Wapello County Extension hour.

The girls were introduced by Mrs. Bertha Kelly after which the following program was presented: talk by president, Barbara Fredericks; song “O Come All Ye Faithful” by the entire group; Story of the Carols read by Linda Venator; song “O Little Town of Bethlehem” by the group; reading “Have you any family traditions” by Carole Newquist.  There was a vocal duet – “There’s a Song in the Air” by Phyllis Rodgers and Dorothy Brinegar. Reading “Going Home for Christmas”, and the group singing of “It Came Upon a Morning Clear”, “Silent Night” and “Star of the East” concluded the program.

After Ruth Streicher completed her term as state president, Wapello County continued to send large numbers of delegates to the girl’s state convention. On one occasion, the county sent nineteen delegates. Among those who attended was Judt Craft, the county 4-H president. She attended a pre-convention workshop at the state 4-H camp. This workshop was for all county presidents and was designed to help them learn to be discussion leaders as they acted as such at the convention program. The workshop generated enthusiasm and gave a better understanding of the workshop theme.

Nineteen 4-H girls attended the state 4-H convention. The convention theme was “Preparation for Living in a Changing World.” Girls attending were: Faerie Jones, Happy Highlanders; Marilyn Smith, Columbia Gems; Carole Verhulst, Cloverettes; Evelyn Plate, Happy Go-Lucky and Patty Chapman, Sunshine Maids. Also attending: Kathey Dalbey, Keokuk Klippers; Barbara Renfrew, Greenleaf Go-Getters; Loretta Steen, Merry Maids; Sharon Johnson, Bluegrass Belles; Sharon Shafer, Centerettes; and Charlotte Savage, Dahlonega Do-R-Best. Also: Sharon Decker, Highland Homemakers; Betty Holzhauser, Competine Peppy Pals; Marjorie Beasley, Polk X-L; Diane Roath, Agency Tip-Toppers; Marsha Graham, Four Corners; Sandra Streeby, Washington Margrettes; Judy Huff, Adams Aim-Hi; and Judy Craft, County President.

At the end of each 4-H year, the annual 4-H banquet is held. During the banquet, clubs and members are recognized for outstanding work. At one banquet held at the Morrell Cafeteria an estimated 700 people attended. The Columbia Gems club helped with the many beautifully decorated tables, using Christmas colors and ideas.

 The Columbia Gems of South Columbia Township was selected from 17 active clubs as the most outstanding girls club for the past year and was awarded a trophy. This club is under the leadership of Mrs. Bernard Smith and Mrs. James McGee. There are ten members in the club.

Other awards were given to Linda Venator for her outstanding clothing record book. Other awards went to Dorothy Brinegar, Linda Venator, Phyllis Rodgers, Carole Newquist, Sandra Bates, Barbara Fredericks, Margaret Billings, Patricia Jones, Maxine Slagle, and Donna Rouze.

In 1998, the Wapello County Fair moved their dates to June (the state fair dates were moving up and there was going to be overlap of the two fairs). The Wapello County 4-H families decided that the June dates would not work for them and they broke away from the fair. Wapello County Expo was established to showcase the 4-Her’s work. The city of Ottumwa rented the city park to the Expo Board to hold their event. All of the animals were housed under “the big top”. A horse arena was built in memory of long time horse superintendent, Bob Stewart. Families camped in the campground right next to the tents. Families came together to get all of the stalls built, sawdust put down and bleachers put into place. The static exhibits were judged and displayed at the nearby Quincy Place Mall. Shuttles were set up to transport people back and forth between the two venues. Over the nine years that the Expo was in the park, there was only one night that the weather became a concern, but fortunately, it passed over doing no damage.

While the Expo was in the park, many people were working on ideas to have a more permanent place to house the Expo. A building was designed that would be situated in the park that could be used the one week of the 4-H event and the rest of the time could be used by the community. Unfortunately, the city turned down this plan.

In January of 2007, Bridge View Events Center was opened. The purpose of the building was to hold a wide variety of events including the 4-H Expo. After a great deal of planning by the Extension staff, the Expo board and the Bridge View staff the first Wapello County 4-H Expo was held in the air conditioned comfort of Bridge View. There were many concerns that it wasn’t like a “real fair”, but the groups were careful to continue the events that had made the Expo a family event. There was still all of the livestock shows, the pancake breakfast and the sweet corn feed. Static exhibits were housed in the lobby where everyone could see them as they walked to the livestock shows. Kings and queens are crowned to reign over the events.

There was a great effort to make the Expo not only a 4-H event, but it was to be a community event. Each hour a new craft or other activity was offered for everyone to come and participate in. Many of the day cares in the area came with their children to spend the day in the air conditioning.

Families are getting used to the new concept of “fair” and they enjoy the cool temperatures to keep their animals in. An ice cream social and a stuffed animal show have become traditions, but the favorite spot in the whole building is the corn box. In 2014, there will be entertainment in the theatre.

The annual 4-H awards night was held November 13, 2004 at the Davis Street Christian Church. Over 150 members and their families attended the recognition event. The potluck mean and evening were hosted by the Wapello County 4-H Council.

The evening started with communications exhibitors from the Wapello County 4-H Expo sharing their talents. These talented youth were Chloe Ramelot, Megan Orman, Cody Emery, Melissa Reed and Katherine Lowe. The Pledge of Allegiance and the 4-H Pledge were led by the County 4-H Council. Melissa Reed, President of the Wapello County 4-H Council, gave a welcome. Reed also introduced Jennifer Hoy, County Extension Education Director and Teresa Perry, County Youth Coordinator. Erin Conrad, Secretary, gave a roll call of clubs.

Members were recognized for years of membership. Teresa Perry presented a special recognition award to Craig Handy, Cindy Donohue and Marci Carver. Handy retired as a member of the 4-H Youth Committee. Donohue and Carver both retired as 4-H Club Leaders.

The Wapello County 4-H Committee presented the Junior Record book and Project area awards. Outstanding Junior Record awards were presented to: Sarah Beadle, Alexis Brandt, Cory Campbell, Miranda Clark, Zac Clark, Alex Collins, Tylor Collins, Brooke Courtney, Cody Emery, Kayla Emery, Chelsea Greiner, Sarah Greiner, Erin Guler, Brooke Handy, Seth Lewis, Wendy Martin, Kristen McNabb, Austin O’Brien, Emilee Peters, Justin Peters, Jaime Sterling, and Josh Sterling.

Project Area awards went to: Beef: Kyle LaPoint; Bread: Amanda Steele; Cats: Jessica Spurlock; Child Development: Stephanie Huber; Clothing: Emily Conrad; Clothing Selection: Kala Barre; Communications: Kala Barre; Dairy: Katie Martin; Dog: Jacob Lewis; Fashion Revue: Amanda Steele; Food & Nutrition: Jacob Phillips; Home Improvement: Chastity Clark; Horticulture: Nikki Huffman; Pets: Katie Martin; Photography; Sara Lane; Poultry: Katie Martin; Science & Technology: Jacob Phillips; Swine: Melissa Reed; Vet Science: Melissa Reed; Visual Arts: Sara Tanner; Woodworking: Lindsey Kinsinger.

Special Senior awards were also awarded by the Committee. AK-SAR-BEN: The purpose of the Ak-Sar-Ben award is to recognize 4-H members who are making significant progress toward maturity and leadership through their service for the advancement of the 4-H program in their county or area; showing evidence of service as local club officer, county council members, and participation in achievement show, club tours, county expo, and other county or area events. Wapello County’s Ak-Sar-Ben recipient was Marcus Durflinger, a member of the Competine Coeds. LEADERSHIP: The Leadership Award recognizes young people who have acquired and demonstrated leadership skills and abilities both in their club and at the county and state level. The Leadership Award was presented to Erin Conrad, a member of Polk XL 4-H club. CITIZENSHIP: This award recognizes young people who have learned the meaning of citizenship and have demonstrated their understanding through good citizenship practices. Marcus Durflinger, a member of the Competine Coeds was this year’s recipient. This year’s I DARE YOU winner has shown integrity, personal development and willingness to assume responsibility through varied projects and activities. They have grown in the many years that they have been in the program to become a responsible young adult with goals to strive for in the future. They have gone the extra mile for 4-H and for themselves. Erin Conrad was presented the Danforth, I Dare You award. Erin received a certificate and the I Dare You book which challenges you to stand tall, smile tall, think tall and live tall.

Over the years, the 4-H clubs of Wapello County have spent countless hours helping their community. Each club chooses a project that they will work on during the 4-H year. The projects include: cleaning the highways, helping at the animal shelter, buying presents for the needy at Christmas, helping seniors, and cleaning up and making repairs to a small cemetery. One year all of the clubs joined together to make and fill bags for children in foster care. One club had an ongoing project at the Ottumwa Public Library. They planted and cared for flowers around the library.

With the changing times, there has also been some changes in 4-H. The dog project has become the largest animal project with as many as 50 dogs and youth participating. Members and dogs learn obedience and agility. The agility show is the best attended animal show at the Expo. Recently, 4-H members who do not have a dog of their own are working with the Heartland Humane Society. They borrow a dog to work with. It is hoped that the training will make the dogs more adoptable.

A food group was formed by County Youth Coordinator, Lisa Whitmore in about 2009. This was a group that met on the early out Wednesdays from school. Basic cooking skills were taught as well as meal planning. Yeast breads were even tackled.

Shooting sports also became one of the new special clubs. Members could learn to shoot a bow and arrow or rifle. They could also learn outdoor skills such as orienteering. This group has slowly been gaining in popularity and numbers.

In 2010, Gina Martin, the County Program Assistant and Paul Cartwright, a volunteer, started the first Lego League club. Members are given a challenge and then they must solve the problem making a robotic machine from Legos. This was the beginning of the interest in science and including these activities in the 4-H program. This group participates in the Lego League competition each December.

Each summer for the last two years, the Extension staff offers day camps each week. The emphasis has been on science and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities.

The dynamics of Wapello County have changed a great deal in the last decade or so. There are no longer large numbers of children who are living on the farm. The livestock numbers have declined steadily and the number of children enrolled in the dog project have increased. The county is no longer as rural and the population is more mobile. The 4-H program in the county has been trying to change with the times by offering diverse, short term programming.

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