Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on December 22, 2017 at 8:55 AM by Emily Saveraid

History of Cedar County 4-H

4-H officially started in Cedar County in the year 1918 with 2 boys and girls clubs organized and 25 youth involved.  Of the 25 youth, there were 14 boys interested in the baby beef contest with only four boys completing the year.  Part of this project was to keep records on feed cost and cost per # of gain. 

Early records of 4-H focused mostly on boys groups/clubs and very little on girls clubs.  Over the years specialty groups/clubs started and several youth were involved.  Sometimes these specialty clubs only lasted for a couple of years and then dropped because of lack of interest and completion of the projects.

Examples of specialty groups:  In the 1920’s a calf club started with 43 members involved and they purchased calves for $158 each.  Twenty –nine members exhibited at the county fair and their animals sold for $234 each.  In 1921, the purebred heifer club purchased 27 calves.  Youth drew numbers for the calves and a note to the bank paid for them at 7% interest.  The top two winners received a trip to the International Livestock show thru the courtesy of the Rock Island and Northwestern Railroads.  A poultry club formed with 47 members and 14 showing at the county fair. Members of the Poultry club could not be members of any other livestock club. Purebred gilt club with dropped in favor of a sow and litter club.  (This club later dropped because of lack of interest).  They then formed a market pig club.  Low interest caused the discontinuation of the purebred heifer club. A purebred cattle club lasted four years but dropped because of the lack of backing given to the boys at the sales.  The county agents time would focus on the baby beef club.  At one time, there were two organized garden clubs, with the Clarence club and their gardens representing at least $300 worth of products and the Tipton club and their gardens representing $400.  Dairy Calf Club organized with an enrollment of 22 calves by 16 members.

In 1920, the Cedar County Farm Bureau in cooperation with the Cedar County Fair Association succeeded in getting a modern hollow tile show and sale pavilion erected on the fairgrounds.  Cost of the building was $13,000 and financed by the fair association.  The intent of this constructing this modern building was that it would last as long as the fair. 

Girls’ clothing clubs started in 1922 with six clubs forming with an average of 20 members each.  The girl’s averaged three completed garments and all made under the approved ruling.  Each girl served as a leader of the club (under the adult leader supervision) and gave one demonstration a year.  Approved shoes were leading factors with every exhibit the girls put on.

In 1923, there were 10 boys and girls clubs with 22 boys and 150 girls involved.  Seven of these were recognized community clubs.  (A community club is a club in which the classified clubs – such as corn-pig-canning-poultry, etc. federated into one large community club.)  A decision was made that Community clubs would be organized and regular meetings held monthly to go over problems and hold demonstrations. 

In 1928 was the first reference to club booths for the fair.  The object of this was to make it possible for clubs to have a display typifying some particular line of educational work being carried on.  Each club was to provide an attendant to explain the exhibit during hours the building was open.  All 4-H entries for the fair were made through Secretary of the Cedar County Fair in early August with the fair taking place the end of August.

During the 1930’s community clubs were named in regard to Memory contest:  Sunshine Circle Cheerio Club, Hoover 4-H Club.  November was set aside as club enrollment month.  A bread club formed and baked 2,264 loaves of bread and other product valued at $335.71.

During the 1940’s, there were 11 home economics clubs.  To recruit members, enrollment cards were mailed directly to potential member’s homes.  At the fair showmanship prizes were awarded for outstanding livestock showmen. During 1943 special emphasis were on market pig, dairy, poultry and garden clubs.  According to observations of a few farmers, Cedar county calves in the baby beef show were superior to surrounding counties. One hundred percent of girls clubs members help raise money for war efforts by purchasing stamps and war bonds.  During 1944, clubs produced $21,000 worth of meat and garden crops for the war effort.  A local 4-H club put on a demo for grub control for 250 local farmers.  In 1945, 40 members attended machinery repair school and demonstrations.  Home furnishing clubs focus was on food preservation, gardening, music, health, social courtesy and citizenship discussion.  Youth contributed $12,012 to war campaigns through stamp and bond purchase, as well as contributions to USO, Red Cross and Schick hospital.  In 1946, Cedar County Bankers Association put in place a record book contest with cash prizes awarded for both boys and girls club winners.  For the centennial celebration, 4-H clubs presented living pictures (Squatters Scene, Iowa Industries). Se Dar Mac club wore uniforms and attended initiation of WWII veterans into American Legion and the Lowden Lassies made gifts for United Service Women’s Bazaar.  4-H club girls sent thirteen packages to European families with 4-H club girls.  “The Green Promise” was presented at the Clarence Theatre to help with the membership campaign. 

During the 1950’s, there were 13 Home Economic Clubs with 198 members.  The Cedar County Food Stand was put in place at the Cedar County Fair as a fundraising activity for the clubs.  Boy’s concession stand was adopted for the fair bringing in a net profit of $440.  A total of $9,004.45 for the State 4-H camp fund was raised, which doubled the original quota of $4,500.  Demonstration day was held in conjunction with the county fair for the first time with four teams.  Clubs made money through food stands, painting mailboxes, holding public dances, bake sales and requiring members to pay dues.  Each club raised money to fix the livestock buildings at the fairgrounds.  For the 1954 fair, it was suggested that armbands be used to correspond with tattoo numbers.  The first father-son banquet was held with 285 in attendance.  Participation in the annual basketball tournament was tied to record books being completed and turned in to club leaders.  Construction of a new swine barn took place with 70 pens available for livestock.  Boys and girls club officers painted and erected 4-H signs along the highways leading into the county.  The 4-H food stand during the fair raised $1,084 with half going to towards the 4H building fund and the remaining going to each of the boy’s and girl’s clubs county funds. In 1958 the first ever-family awards banquet was held, and was very successful.  Style Revue was held at the county fair for the first time and proved a successful event.  More young women were being included in livestock shows, and being elected to boards and associations. Clubs had a pop stand at the Farm Progress show at Clarence to help raise money for 4-H.  In the early 50’s the discipline of leaders was brought to attention:  leaders are afraid to control members for fear of losing members, this will be worked on in leader training.

During the 1960’s the awards banquet was discontinued due to continued declining attendance. Meetings were held to better educate the mothers of 4-H members on what 4-H was about.  A new camping program was put into place.  The Boys and Girls County Committee was put in charge of supervising the entire program year and it was proposed to combine boys and girls committees and form one committee.  Special emphasis for boys was on social courtesy and clothing selection and care.  There was also focus on manners at home, in public, on a date, at school, at the table and when traveling.  In 1963, Cedar County hosted a youth exchange from Belgium and 37 Canadian 4-H members and two leaders spent a week.  The first joint rally night was held in 1965 and this was the first time boys wore 4-H uniforms.  4-H helped celebrate Tipton’s centennial with 4-H info in store windows and they hosted Missouri exchange students over the centennial celebration.  Seventy members took part in a one-day camp at Coralville Reservoir, focusing on conservation and wildlife.  In 1966, International Farm Youth Exchange student from Argentina stayed for 1 week.  The first summer aid to help with fair activities was hired in 1968.  The leader organizational handbook was implemented. 

During the 1970’s babysitting clinics were offered and taught responsibility, safety, first aid, and play activities.  Awareness teams were formed to inform fourth and fifth graders about 4-H.  A five-part nuclear energy course was offered with tours of Duane Arnold Nuclear Reactor site given.  The county presentations were re-organized into one total program for boys and girls with three divisions.  In 1975 a new exhibit building was constructed and a suggestion to plant a tree as a bicentennial promotion.  National 4-H Week was put into place to promote 4-H.  Basketball tournament participation requires players must give a club presentation.  Working exhibits were added to the fair.  Cedar County took part in the exchange with Cumberland County, PA.

In the mid 1980’s 4-H club names were reviewed for political correctness.  Clubs with “sexist” names were urged to change their names.  Examples are Pork Center Don Juan’s became Pork Center Pioneers and Clarence Junior Homemakers became Clarence Junior H’s.  Clubs making changes to their names continued through the 80’s.   Individual boys and girls clubs no longer existed but combined.  An example is Lowden Lassies ad Lowden Laddies combined to become Lowden Lasers.  Members were allowed to carry any project regardless of the type of club they belonged.

Like all counties, Cedar County 4-H has experienced changes over the years.  The one thing that continues is the 4-H commitment to youth and helping youth understand the issues of the time.  Many of today’s volunteers were former 4-H members.  Cedar County is fortunate to have multiple generations of 4-H members with continued interest in the 4-H program.


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