Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on February 6, 2018 at 3:45 PM by Emily Saveraid

Adams County is a very rural county in southwest Iowa and is recognized as the smallest population county of the state with less than 4,000 residents in 2015. 4-H remains strong at about 90 club members in 3 traditional Adams County 4-H clubs. The county also has a Clover Kids club for K-3rd graders and 3 independent 4-H members.Following the elimination of County Extension Education Director positions in the ISU Extension reorganization of 2009, Adams County extension continues. The county uses its own tax dollars to support a part-time County Extension Program Coordinator, a fulltime Office Assistant (OA), and a part-time County Youth Coordinator (CYC) to manage programs.

There have been many 4-H clubs through the years in Adams County. The current 4-H club names and their leaders are: Happy Go Lucky club, Tina Boswell, Sally Shires, and Amy Shipley as leaders; Jasper Specialists, April Maeder and Matt Maeder as leaders; Prescott 4-H Workers, Michelle Birt, Marnie Cline, and Tonya Inman are leaders; Clover Kids Club, Treena Douglas and Betsy Stormer, leaders.

Other groups and people who are highly involved in the Adams County 4-H program include the present Adams County Extension staff, Chris Nelson Program Coordinator, Misty Johnson, OA and Bonnie Chafa, CYC; the Adams County Extension Council, Don Gee, chairperson, Tyler Edwards, vice Chairperson, Cliff Mann, treasurer, Jean Smith, secretary and members Lindsey Kock, Tim Cooney, Lisa Worrall Konecne, and Kaleb Bissell; the Youth and 4-H committee, Jason Oathoudt, chairperson, Don Gee, vice chairperson, Tina Boswell, secretary, Sally Shires, treasurer, and members, Jade Wilbourne, Doug Birt, and Cody Birt; the Youth and 4-H Endowment Fund Board, Joyce James, chairperson, Chris Nelson, secretary/treasurer, and members, Jill Shuler, Karen Saltzman, Dave Mullen, Lauri Greenlee, Time Ennis, and Nancy Amdor; the Adams County 4-H Youth Council, Jade Wilbourne, president, Morgan Shuey, vice president, Jasmine Wilbourne, secretary, Kayley Myers, treasurer, Ryan Allison, Morgan Cline, Jade Petersen, Cody Birt, Payton Thomas, Emily Lauer, Bryson Rhamy, John Seyler, Amanda Seyler, Cheyenne Goodnight, members; and the Youth and 4-H/FFA Fair committee, Paul Anstey, chairman, Gary Goldsmith, vice chairman, Kathy Bozwell, secretary, Steve Sonntag, voc-ag teacher and treasurer, Chris Nelson, Extension Program Coordinator, Chuck Harderson, bookkeeper, and members, Arnold Maynes, Taylor Cobb, Patrick Hogan, Evan Maynes, Austin Brandt, Melodie Winkler, and Jonathon Reser.

Adams County volunteers receiving Iowa’s highest 4-H volunteer recognition in the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame include, Sonja Walter in 2002; Joyce Neill in 2004; Lawrence Peterson in 2005; Earl and Ruth Goldsmith in 2006; Rick and Jolene Bissell in 2007; Blake Cooper in 2008; Don Mach in 2009; Joan Haley in 2010; Joyce James in 2011; Jo Preston in 2012; Jim Curtis in 2013; Jim Stalcup in 2014; and Evelyn Lund in 2015.

That is a brief overview of the Adams County 4-H program in 2015. What follows is only a small synopsis of the history of 4-H in Adams County from its start in 1918 to its present state 97 years later.

1918 is recognized as the year the 4-H Club Program began in Adams County, although the Adams County Fair and Boys’ Club work were started prior to that time. You might say 4-H took off with a bang in Adams County. Vard Worstell was the first County Agent hired by the Iowa State University as Extension Director. According to his annual report in November 1918, he had organized three boys and girls clubs, with a total membership of 128. In 1919 four more clubs were organized with twenty-four more youth enrolled. Mr. Worstell wrote that he had trouble with the parents objecting to the youth learning new ideas. Mrs. Ellen Grace Gibson Brown said that her parents objected to her joining a club because of the expense. She later served as Farm Bureau Women’s Worker and 4-H leader when her daughters excelled in 4-H. Extension and Farm Bureau worked together in the early years of 4-H in the county. Vard Worstell, still serving the as County Agriculture Agent in 1921 reported not only Farm Bureau officers serving the County but also the following Junior Work Committee members; H.B. Hardin, Weaver Cooper, Miss Anna Lynam, Frank Beath, and Mrs. A. Windom. Mrs. George Beck was the boys’ poultry club leader and Mrs. H. B. Hardin was the girls’ club leader. The Farm Bureau report the same year included a purebred heifer club, a purebred gilt club, a sow and litter club, a baby beef club, a poultry club and a purebred lamb club.

4-H club work advanced rapidly in Adams County in the 1920’s and many outstanding awards were won by the members. Some of the awards included the 1922 Grand Champion Poultry Demonstration team at the Sioux City Interstate Fair. Team Members were Agnes Hendrickson, Laura Beath and Floyd Van Pelt. Adams County had the 1926 Iowa State Fair Champion Baby Beef Group. Marvin Hayes exhibited the Iowa State Fair Grand Champion Baby Beef in 1928 and Hugh Septer, Jr. exhibited the Reserve Grand Champion Baby Beef at both the State Fair and at AKSARBEN in 1929. 

The following girls’ 4-H Clubs were going strong in the 30’s – Bluebirds in Lincoln township with Mrs. Alice Lee as leader; Washingtonians in Washington township, with Miss Anna McCuen as leader; Joy Bells in Carl township with Mrs. Blanche Fickel; Harmony Workers with Miss Alice Anderson; Rainbow Girls with Mrs. Margaret Grundman; Sunny Sisters with Mrs. Artie Morley; Clover Leaf Club with Mrs. Janette Turner; and Mor-Pep Club with Miss Elizabeth Thomas. Mor-Pep Club became Peppy Pals later and was continuous along with most of the others over many years.

The Girls Project areas were on a three year rotation with Food and Nutrition, Sewing, and Home Furnishings. The first girl’s uniforms were blue two-piece outfits with a full pleated skirt and middy top with a sailor collar and had to be carefully starched and ironed. The uniforms changed several times over the years.

The first State 4-H Convention was held in Ames in 1928. In 1929, the Blue Birds were represented by Lola (Schafer) Vogel and the leader. They travelled by train.

In 1929 Helen Vogel Mossman and Lola (Schafer) Vogel represented the club and the county at the Iowa State Fair with a demonstration of Baking Bread. Forty years later the same club won a blue ribbon with a similar demonstration. In 1942, the Blue Birds changed the name of the club to the Eager Beavers, to go along with the township boys club the Busy Beavers.

Former Adams County 4-Her, Mary Fuller, searched Adams County Extension Annual reports for tidbits of Adams County 4-H history. Here is what she found decade by decade from 1930 to 2000.

The 1930s -----In 1934, there were five organized 4-H clubs in Adams County. Each of the clubs were under a local leader, also the under the direction of county club committees. Projects that club members were involved in included: oven products, baby beef, dairy calf, purebred pigs, sheep, draft colt, and corn. Ten townships had members enrolled including Lincoln, Washington, Carl, Douglas, Quincy, Prescott, Nodaway, Jasper, Mercer, and Grant.

The 1940s-----In 1941, the Adams County Extension office was moved to the new Corning Post Office building, where it remained until June 1, 1993. Adams County 4- Hers joined numerous campaigns during World War II to collect scrap iron and aluminum to conserve use of scarce items essential to the American war effort. During the War, the county fair was cancelled and a two-day 4-H Club Show was held in its place. Milton H. Henderson was hired as a youth worker for Extension in Adams County in 1949. The 4-H program in Adams County grew under his distinguished record as a youth leader.

The 1950s-----When Extension was separated from Farm Bureau on July 1, 1955 the County Extension Service was first supervised by a county Extension Council in cooperation with Iowa State University. Livestock judging teams, tractor safety programs and babysitting clubs with both girls and boys were popular in the 1950s and 60s. Awards Night for the County was held in November each year and awards for the year were given out. An outstanding club was always chosen. In 1957, Marvin Johnston, Sam Buck, and Extension Director David May erected the first county welcoming road sign north of Corning on Highway 148. 

The 1960s-----In 1968, Adams County Extension celebrated fifty years of service. A history book called “Our Golden Years” was researched and printed for the occasion. Committee members were Mrs. Austin Brown, program chairperson; Mrs Frank Davis, guest committee chairperson; Mrs. Russell Olive, open house chairperson; Harold Mosman, general and ticket chairperson; Axel Nelson, banquet chairperson; James Hoffman, master of ceremonies, and Len Beath, historian. James Kearns was hired in 1969 as the County Extension Director, and remained in that position until 1975. Adams County delegates to the Boys State 4-H Short Course in Ames in the mid 1960’s were Gordon Goldsmith, Edward Swartz, Mike Jones, Eddie Peterson, Duane Foster, and Jim Amdor.

The 1970s-----The County 4-H Council consisting of a youth representative from every club worked to plan County events. In 1970, there were nineteen club representatives with officers elected from the group: Tom Schweers was elected Chairman; Anne Thomas, Vice Chairman; John Narigon, Secretary and Mike Olive, Historian. In 1975 the first Adams County 4-H King and Queen were selected from all the 4-H members in the county. In previous years, only a queen had been crowned. The King and Queen were selected by a judging committee and ruled over the county fair. Deb Hall was hired as the Extension Director in 1978 and served until 1985.

The 1980s-----In 1982, Tracey Gridley, Kendall Roberts, Brenda Smith, Diane Cerven, and Diane Maeder attended the Citizenship Washington Focus trip to Washington D.C. with forty one other 4-Hers from the Midcrest Extension Area. Chris Nelson was hired as the County Extension Director on April 1, 1986. Also in 1986 the Share-A-Calf program was started. This program was a cooperative effort between the Adams County Youth and 4-H Committee and the Adams County Cattlemen. At the 4-H Beef Weigh-in in December, 4-Hers received a calf to feed and show at the county fair in July. The 4-Her was responsible for paying for the feed and supplies for the calf and the profits were divided 50/50 between the 4-H and the producer. The animals were slaughtered and the carcass data was made available on all the animals. The program enjoyed great success and had as many as twenty 4-Hers a year participating. In 1987 the Adams County Project Fair was started and became an annual event for the county. This event allows 4-Hers to explore new project area or expand their skills in one of their current project areas.

The 1990s----- In 1995 Adams County 4-Her Aaron Amdor was selected as the Champion Swine Showman at the AKSARBEN Livestock Exposition in Omaha, Nebraska.

The 2000s-----In 2002, a 4-H Centennial Committee was organized to plan a 4-H Alumni Celebration at the 2002 county fair. This Alumni celebration included recognition of the oldest living former 4-Hers, families with four generations of 4-H involvement, families with the greatest number of cumulative years in 4-H, and all past 4-H leaders, superintendents, and committee members. Centennial Committee members were Joyce James, Joyce Neill, Terry Etheredge, Dale Jackson, Colleen Bickford, Barb Fuller, Jo Bissell, and Chris Nelson. Four generation 4-H families at the time included the Florence James family with members and former members in attendance from Corning, Prescott, Nodaway, and Lenox. In 2003, Adams County 4-Hers Mary Fuller and Jennifer Amdor were featured on KMA Radio with a program called “4-H America.” Each week they talked about 4-H in Adams County and their 4-H projects. Adams County was the first county to be selected for this special KMA feature. Dean Adkins was the KMA coordinator and highly praised Mary and Jennifer for their efforts.

In June 2004, Mary Fuller and Alyssa Shipley traveled to Washington D.C. on the Citizenship Washington Focus trip. While there, they attended the funeral procession of former President Ronald Reagan who passed away while they were in the city.

In 2008, the Adams County Fair celebrated the 150th anniversary of the first Fair in Adams County. Special Fair events included welcoming back all former Adams County Fair Queens, a special postage stamp for the day, and a free Collin Raye concert which drew a crowd of over 3000 people.

In 2009, Iowa State University Extension eliminated the County Extension Education Directors (CEED) position in every county in Iowa, including Adams. That reorganization changed the face and the abilities of every extension office in the state. It eliminated a full time Iowa State University extension employee in every county and in effect broke the ISU direct ties with any staff in the county. From that point on, Adams County Extension staff were 100 percent hired and employed by the local Adams County Extension Council. The Adams County Extension office has continued to flourish, especially with its 4-H program, but where this and many other rural counties will be with Iowa State University Extension in the future is certainly unknown at this time. 4-H offers many opportunities for young people to develop life skills. The opportunities and activities occur in local 4-H clubs, in county-planned activities, and in area, state, national, and international activities. One Adams County event that stuck in many older former 4-Her memories was an Adams County 4-H trip to Des Moines and Ames in a stock truck. Beth and Eugene Chappell describe the trip one way and Charles Lundquist contributed his version of this unusual and monumental trip another. First, Eugene and Beth’s description:

“Organized by the County Extension Director William (Bill) Sparboe was a one day trip to Iowa State College for boys and girls in 4-H. We traveled together sitting on bales of hay placed in a well- cleaned out stock truck. I was very impressed by the campus. You can imagine how tired the chaparones were as well as a bunch of teenagers by the time we got home that evening. “

If it is not written down fairly immediately, historical facts can get remembered differently. Here is Charles Lundquist’s version of what we are assuming is the same trip to Des Moines and Ames. Surely it would have only happened once! Charles Lundquist, was an Adams County 4-Her from 1945 through 1949 and believes this trip to have taken place in August of 1945.

“The war with Japan had just ended. R.M. (Rollie) Slotten had come to Corning as the new county extension director. During the war, the 4-H program in the county had dwindled. He made nearly door-to-door coverage of the county recruiting potential 4-H members. Not only was membership offered, but a new adventure was in the planning.

It was something that had never been done before, nor has it been done since, George McLean, a local truck operator had purchased a new snub-nosed GMC tractor (new trucks were just not very available in 1945 and an Omaha Standard livestock trailer. The trailer was the longest the law allowed, single axle, 36 feet maybe. The 4-H-er’s were going to take a day trip to the Iowa State Campus in that new trailer! Seating was a row of straw bales along each side and a row in the middle. On the designated day about 60 kids were picked up at collection points across the county to go on the trip to Ames. An operation that was scheduled to begin after 6:00 a.m., it was after 8:00 by the time it really got rolling. The first stop was at the Capitol parking lot in Des Moines. People around had never seen such an invasion!

We completely toured the Capitol in 30 minutes. The police around were concerned about the safety of the operation. They urged the driver to be very careful as we loaded up to continue on to Ames. We saw various sights on the campus. The Campanile and the chimes were one of the things that impressed me. Arrangements were made for lunch on Campus. In mid-afternoon we boarded the trailer for the return trip.

On the return trip we stopped at Riverview Park in Des Moines. All the rides were well patronized. The highlight, of course, was the roller coaster. It had been one of those sunny days in August, not windy or oppressively hot-----A perfect day for the adventure at hand. We had run behind schedule from the start. After sunset a livestock trailer gets pretty cool. About 10:00 p.m. we were back home. That was my introduction to 4-H in Adams County.

Former Adams County 4-Her and 4-H leader, Illah Brown, sums up the Adams County 4-H program with the following statement, “Across Adams County, dedicated young people are making a difference through 4-H and community service projects.” “The Farm Crisis of the 1980’s hit our littlest county hard but we still have our Extension Director, Chris Nelson, our Youth Committee, our 4-H Youth Council, our clubs, our great leaders and our enthusiasm for the future of 4-H. The 21st Century finds lots of blessings and lots of problems to be solved. May the 4-H program keep on rolling.”


Compiled by: Illah Brown, Mary Fuller, Eugene and Beth Chappell, Charles Lundquist, Rita Miller and Chris Nelson

Remember the annual 4-H basketball competition? We Prescott 4-Hers were joined by boys fro 1or 2 other clubs to make a team. Carl Israel of Prescott was adult leader form my time in clubs 1960-1969. Reldon Cline and my dad Glen Powell also led.
Brian Powell | 3/20/23 at 3:16 AM
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