Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on September 18, 2019 at 2:29 PM by Emily Saveraid

4-H History in Muscatine County

NOTE:  The following is not a complete history.  The information that follows was gleaned from records found at the Muscatine County Extension Office.  Records in the early years were very well kept; however in later years details were taken from newspaper clippings at the time which didn’t always have dates on them.

On October 17, 1912, a group of Muscatine County farmers first met to discuss hiring a Crop Expert for Muscatine County.  This original committee decided to select two members from each township for the purpose of creating a permanent organization and from which to elect officers. 

Thus the Muscatine County Crop Improvement Association was created.  By November 23, officers were elected, an executive committee established, and a Crop Expert for Muscatine County was hired.  The members of this first committee were:

President:  F.D. Steen, West Liberty

Vice President:  B. F. McClain, Wilton

Treasurer:  W. J. Hendrix, Bloomington Twp.

Secretary: H. C. Lawrence, Muscatine

Executive Committee:  C. G. Hargrave, Atalissa; P. F. Carroll, Wilton; J. L. Giesler, Muscatine; C. B. Vail, Muscatine

On January 15, 1913, Mr. K. A. Kirtpatrick of St. Paul was hired as the first Crop Advisor in Muscatine County, and Muscatine County became one of the first in Iowa to receive the benefits of a County Crop Advisor and the extension work of the US Agricultural Department and of the Iowa Agricultural College.

In these early records, there is no mention of organized 4-H clubs, but using youth from the rural schools to test corn seed in contests was mentioned in a report from K. A. Kirtpatrick, county agent, on June 27, 1914.  A camp for farmers’ boys was planned for the last week of July of that year.  Awards and pennants for work done by youth at the rural schools were also given out at eighth grade graduations.  K. A. Kirtpatrick resigned from his position, effective September 15, 1914.

On January 4, 1915, the Crop Improvement Association hired J. W. Merrill of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to serve as the second County Agent in Muscatine County.  At an association meeting on February 27, 1915, a Miss Freyermuth read a very interesting paper on the subject of The New Movement of Efficiency in Home Management, which was followed by a Miss Stone, who addressed the meeting on the subject of canning tomatoes.  On March 20 of that same year, Miss Bentley, of the Extension Department of Ames, addressed an association meeting on the subject of home economics.  A rising vote of appreciation was extended to her at the conclusion of her talk. 

Bits and pieces gleaned from early records indicate that there was Boys’ and Girls’ club work evident in Muscatine County in the mid-1910’s, but no specific start up date was determined from the information researched for this project.  Minutes from the Crop Improvement Association mention the county agent visiting schools, a boys camp picnic, youth being involved in testing bushels of corn, recruiting boys to help with a project, plans for a farmers’ boys camp held in the county, a suggestion by the county agent to put up a prize trip to junior short course for the work done by the Pig Club one summer, and recruiting entries from the Baby Beef Club to ensure prizes from the Chicago packers.  Contests were held to stimulate interest and friendly competition among youth in different areas of the county, such as an Acre Corn Growing Contest and a seed corn saving campaign in the rural schools.  Also, in 1916, there is record of three boys being honored by a trip to the Junior Short Course in Ames for their excellent Baby Pork Club records.  Club tours were held four times a year where members visited the homes of fellow members.  It was reported that the boys went back to their own homes with lots of information to improve their animals.

Beginning in the mid-1910 and continuing for many years, several institutes were held around the county every year.  These institutes served as mini fairs, usually involving livestock judging one day and exhibits in farm crops and home economics the second.  A meeting with a speaker was usually conducted the last day of the institute. 

In 1918, several national events affected life in Muscatine County.  In May, Miss Mollie Feil arrived from Ames as Muscatine County’s first Home Demonstration Agent.  It was felt that a Home Demonstration Agent was needed due to the war conditions. 

The flu epidemic and quarantine of 1918 resulted in the cancellation of the boys’ banquet.  Also, in that year, several boys dropped out of the Pig Club because their brothers went off to war. 

A seed corn saving program was requested by the State Department and Governor Harding due to the severe shortage of seed corn the previous year.  In cooperation with the County Superintendent of Schools, a seed corn saving campaign was put into motion.  Nearly every rural school in the county was visited, giving talks on the selection of seed corn and the best methods of caring for and storing seed.  The children were then excused from school for a day if they would pick two bushels of seed corn.  The result was that the children in 58 schools picked 614 bushels of seed corn.  The children were very enthusiastic and the campaign did a great deal of good, not only for the value of the work the students did, but for the psychological effect on the parents in helping with the war effort.

Evidence of boys Pig, Baby Beef, Corn Growing and judging teams being established in Muscatine County begin showing up in annual reports in 1914-15.  A few girls also participated in these clubs. 


In 1920, two Muscatine County boys showed the Grand Champion and Reserve Champion Baby Beef at the Iowa State Fair.  Another boy had the highest gain on his pig of all the pigs entered in the market pig show at the State Fair.  Two carload lots of beef took 2nd and 4th premiums.  The livestock judging team received the highest score and won a trip to Sioux City and a chance to represent Iowa at the International Livestock Exposition in Chicago.

A Sheep Club was established in 1920 for youth 5-11 years old because sheep were easy for them to handle.  The first demonstration team at State Fair, two boys, James Shepard and Wayne Probst, got second on their topic of giving good points of a beef steer and how to feed it and a meat cutting demonstration.  The pig club was represented by four breeds at the State Fair.  One youth had the champion Hampshire gilt, and others place 4th and 6th in the Hampshire classes. In the Chester whites, we had 2nd and 4th places and in the Poland China class we had 11th and 12th.  None were able to place in the Duroc Jersey gilts.

A garden club was a new venture in 1920 with two boys participating.  They won first prize at the Iowa State Fair for their demonstration, even beating out the girl’s teams.  Efforts were begun to organize a Colt Club, but there weren’t enough colts to get the club started.

In 1920, Henry Wallace of Wallace’s Farmer, spoke at the annual Farm Banquet.

1920 enrollments included Baby Beef Club-16; Corn Club-7; Market Pig Cub-8.  Though these numbers are few, they did very well at the Iowa State Fair, having the reserve champion calf, the champion shorthorn calf, the champion Hampshire gilt, and for the third year in a row, a boy from our county had the State championship in baby beef feeding records.  Our demonstration team on truck crops won sweepstakes at the Mid West Horticultural Exposition, and at the International, Muscatine had the champion calf in the Junior Feeding contest.

Under the tutelage of Home Demonstration Agent, Ethel Guthrie, eleven girls from Goshen Township became members of the Clothing Club in 1920.  They made 4 dresses, 11 holders, 11 samples of different stitches, and hemmed 5 towels.  An Own Your Own Room Club was also organized in 1920 in Bloomington Township with 19 girls enrolled.

In 1921, a Poultry Club, Cottage Cheese Club, and Own Your Own Room Club were begun.  Records on the Cottage Cheese Club are most amusing.  The club goal of the 15 members was to have better health through the increased use of milk products.  Demonstrations at club meetings included “The Making of Cottage Cheese”, “Salads Made of Cottage Cheese”, “The Making of Cottage Cheese Sandwiches”, “Pasteurized & Sterilized Milk”, “A Cottage Cheese Dish”, and a “Camouflaged Cottage Dish”.  In his report, the County Agriculture Agent shared these thoughts, “More work along this line of milk as a food has been stressed as we were a little handicapped as half of the girls do not like cottage cheese.”  The club continued on the next year, choosing another topic to study.

In 1922, there were 10 Garment Clubs.  The Baby Beef Club decided to have a load of cattle from Oklahoma shipped to Muscatine to stimulate interest and “improve” the quality of cattle locally.  While membership numbers did increase, it was discovered in later years that the range cattle shipped in did not do as well as the cattle grown locally.

1923, there were 8 standard girls 4-H clubs with a total of 115 members.  Eight demonstration teams were trained.

Beginning in 1924, the Rotary Lodge at Staley Lake in Goshen Township was a popular meeting place for 4-H camps and other events.  Swimming, singing, performing skits and pageants were popular activities at camp.  Campers brought food and 75 cents to cover the costs.  In order to attend camp, girls has to qualify by knowing five music memory numbers, five trees, can at least five jars of food, appear on the program at a club meeting, and dress appropriately for camp.  The girls put on plays and invited members of Rotary to watch.  This was followed up by a game of baseball.  Generally, someone from the state Extension Department attended to present talks and workshops. The Rotary Lodge burned down in the 1960’s.


William Slater of the Baby Beef Club of Sweetland Twp. was named Champion Health Club Boy of Iowa at the State Fair.


Helen Springmeir of the Fulton Industrial Club won the honor of the State Home Furnishing Scholarship which gave her three months of non-collegiate work at Iowa State College.  Ina Paul of the Fulton Royal Workers won the Best Six Year Club Record of Iowa.


In 1931, Muscatine County 4-H’ers won first and second place at the Iowa State Fair in the club clothing ensemble contest.  Lucy Anderson of the Wapsie Best 4-H Club won first place with a winter outfit of a dress, shoes, hose, purse, gloves, jewelry and lingerie.  Alethea Paul from the Fulton Royal Workers received second place with a woolen frock of tan with orange trimmings, a hat, shoes, lingerie, and corresponding accessories.  Alethea Paul also had the top five-year expense account award at the State Fair, winning herself a trip to the International Livestock Exposition in Chicago.

At the Annual 4-H Boys and Girls Banquet on November 21, 1931, Mr. Frank Reed from Ames gave an interesting address showing the growth of 4-H clubs in Iowa, and he remarked that Muscatine County was one of the oldest counties in 4-H work.  He also reported that Muscatine had one of the largest enrollments in livestock clubs in Iowa.

1932 – Ruth LeFever, 16, of the Bloomington Best 4-H Club, was elected State Girls Historian at the Ames Convention.

Home Demonstration Agent Elizabeth Armstrong wrote in 1932 - “Because of the present strenuous times many girls are being deprived of opportunities they have been enjoying or might have enjoyed along educational and social lines.  This change makes the work of 4-H clubs in Muscatine County more necessary and more important.”

Carl Rylander, Muscatine County Ag Agent, commented, “Results coming in this fall indicate that the so called depression has not retarded the enrollment in 4-H projects.  There, the outlook for next year is very promising.”  Due to the depression, gate receipts at the fair were down and premiums were reduced as much a possible.  The fair remained in good condition and plans are to go forward with next year’s show.

There was grumbling at the 1932 County Fair as Johnson County 4-H’ers are allowed to enter our fair and they send only their best cattle, which succeeded in getting away with the cream of the premiums. 

1933 – There were 14 girls 4-H Clubs:

Bloomington Best                        Goshen Wapsie Plus                Seventy Six Sparkers

S. S. Cedar                                  Montpelier Pep Girls                 Wapsie Best

Fruitland Sunshine                       Moscow Sunshine                    Wapsie Ever Ready

Fulton Industrial Workers            New Era Favorites                    Wilton Busy Bees

Fulton Royal Workers                  Pike Lassies

Truck & trailer - 1933 - A load of 4-H furniture travels the 150 miles from Muscatine to the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, all on dirt roads.  The name of the woman is unknown – possibly home demonstration agent?  She looks so excited!  Quite a journey in 1933!


1934, Muscatine County 4-H had the National Health Champion in Doris Louise Paul of Wilton. 

Music was a huge part of the 4-H program in its early years.  A music memory competition was held annually with 76 4-H girls competing in identifying the song and composer of both classical and semi-popular songs that were incorporated in the year’s club program.


Despite the 1940’s being dominated by World War II, 4-H club work in Muscatine County continued to grow and became more important as families supported the war effort.  A glimpse of the sacrifices 4-H families made during these years are indicated in available records as some methods were adopted by clubs to combat war restrictions by holding all day meetings every other month, having more family gatherings combining the girls and boys clubs, and a careful analysis of planned programming.  Four major phases of the club year were carried out:  first aid in the home, home care of the sick, farm business affairs a woman can handle, and clothing conservation.  Red Cross classes were also established. 

There was an emphasis on raising poultry, gardening, and food preservation methods.  Fewer boys were enrolled in the baby beef project due to their serving in the war.  4-H’ers conducted several bond auctions raising several thousands of dollars.  The sale and purchase of bonds and stamps were strongly encouraged across the state at the State Conference held in Ames. In 1945, efforts in bond sales by Muscatine 4-Hers raised $21,887.50.   Many girls put in long hours in the fields and doing chores in absence of brothers who are in the armed forces.  March meetings were devoted to “Food Fights for Freedom”.  Glora Rahls was awarded a $25 war bond by the Standard Oil Company for her “Outstanding Achievements in 4-H war food production.  War Service activities was added as a new project area offered to 4-H’ers. 

Despite the pressure of war activities, interest in 4-H club work remained high in the 1940’s.  Hayrack rides, basketball tournaments, fair parade floats, Rally Day, Better Groomed Girl contests, camps, achievement shows, officer trainings, and the county wide banquet continued to be held.  Boys and girls continued to attend district training schools and the state short course.  Annual enrollment campaigns were held to encourage youth to join 4-H.  It was also in the 1940’s that 4-H was opened up to youth in small towns.  4-H was no longer just for farm kids!  A tri-county camp for Muscatine, Scott, and Cedar counties was held at Camp Abe Lincoln in Scott County.  By 1949, 222 girls and 320 boys were enrolled in 4-H club work.  A huge interest in Farm Project clubs was a major reason for increased memberships.  The Muscatine County Fair held in West Liberty continued to be a highlight of the year.

County 4-H girls held their Rally Day in the spring where club nominees were elected to county office.  Clubs took turns each year making a clover chain which was carried into the auditorium by those club members and laid into the shape of a clover on the stage.  This ceremony was conducted as part of the ceremony in naming the Honorary 4-H Members.


Donna Eichelberger of the Lake Lassies 4-H Club, was elected State Girls’ 4-H President at the annual State Convention in Ames.  Evelyn Hoopes, rural Muscatine, was selected as Iowa’s Best Dressed Girl in the 4-H Style Revue at the Iowa State Fair.


Donna Eichelberger was elected state 4-H Girls President in 1950.

In 1951, modernization was coming to rural Iowa and 4-H boys were part of the process as the project area of emphasis was farm electrification.

Club tours where club members traveled to each member’s house and the member shared information about care and grooming of their livestock were popular.  Many club tours lasted most of the day with a picnic lunch was held at noon by most clubs.

Boys clubs did fertilizer test plots where fertilizer was applied at different rates and results shared at the end of the growing season.

On September 12, 1951, a fund drive for the State 4-H Camp was begun in Muscatine County.  By October 1, $3600 of the $5000 goal was achieved.  By 1952, $9236.25 was raised.

The Agricultural Committee of the Muscatine Chamber of Commerce sponsored a baby beef and dairy heifer show in conjunction with the county fair with proceeds to benefit the Muscatine Emergency and Rescue Unit.  This fair was planned as an educational experience and opportunity for club members to gain experience in fitting and showing animals previous to the county and state fairs.  Muscatine, Cedar, and Louisa County 4‑H’ers were invited,

The Muscatine County Fair was held in mid-August with Cedar and Johnson counties allowed to participate.

At the Iowa State Fair, photos were taken from around the fair, including a demonstration team from Muscatine, for an article about fairs for 17 Magazine, especially the Iowa State Fair.

Clinton County 4-H’ers and leaders came to Muscatine County to hold a training school for leaders and club members on how to begin and plan a demonstration.

Poultry was a very popular livestock project for Muscatine County 4-H’ers making them third in the state for number of members with the laying flock project.

The boys had a basketball tournament each year, an activity begun in the 1940’s.

The Tri-County Camp held at Camp Abe Lincoln includes girl 4-H’ers from Muscatine, Cedar, and Scott counties.  Crafts, recreation, and swimming along with lessons in manners and other worthwhile workshops were part of the three day camp.  Oh, and fun too!  As well as meeting new friends.

The annual county-wide party was held each year with the grade school aged 4-H’ers meeting at a church while the high school and older met at the Y for dancing, movies, and refreshments.

In 1954-55 David Pace was selected to attend the National 4-H Club Camp in Washington DC.  1955 boasted 530 4-H club members.  Boys’ county officers were elected in the fall at the Fall Theater Party.  The girls had their own elections in the spring. 

In October, the cherry Pie Bake-Off was a popular event for senior 4H girls.  Girls who received a blue ribbon on their cherry pie at the West Liberty Fair in August were eligible to compete.  The contest was held in the window of Batterson’s Department Store with 4-H’ers making and baking their pies for the public to view.  Top winners competed the next day with the first place winner receiving an all-expense paid trip to Chicago, provided by the National Red Cherry Institute, and the opportunity to compete as Miss Iowa in the national cherry pie baking contest in February.


In 1960, a special 4-H activity of rat and pocket gopher control was created.  The activity started in January with a home-farm rat survey where each 4-H’er took a survey of rat damage on his home farm.  During February, each 4-H member poisoned the rats on the home farm and staged a community survey of neighboring farms to find out the number of rats in the community.

March started the pocket gopher control and continued rat poisoning.  Pocket gopher control consisted of poisoning the gophers during the months of March and April.  At the end of each month the local clubs collected all of the material gathered by the club members and turned in a club summary of its report to the Extension office.   4-H club members and leaders sold rat bait during the activity.  The activity proved to be educational and interesting to local leaders and 4-H members.

A basketball league for 4-H’ers was held during the winter months with teams playing one night each week.  A tournament was held in early spring.  A softball league was held throughout the summer with a tournament at the end of the season at Weed Park.  Both tournaments were used to develop good sportsmanship among the youth, develop better communication among 4‑H members throughout the county, and to provide enjoyment.  It also gave some of the 4-H members a chance to participate in sports that would not have had a chance to make a team in school.

4-H Field Day

The purpose and objectives of a 4-H Field Day was to teach the 4-H members proper fitting, grooming and showing techniques of beef cattle, dairy, sheep and swine.  This was accomplished by giving actual demonstrations on the livestock in the field.  Livestock judging workouts were also held in conjunction with the Field Day.

Joint Boys and Girls 4-H Activities

Several joint boys and girls 4-H activities were created.

  • 4-H Theater Party - 750 club members, parents, and leaders attended as 4-H county officers were installed and country awards presented to outstanding 4-H members in boys and girls club work
  • Officer’s Training School - 120 club officers attended training held at the YMCA in Muscatine.  The school was completely planned and conducted by the county 4-H officers.  There was group training for various club officers, parliamentary procedure and a model meeting was included in the program. A session for local 4-H club reporters was taught by Chuck Hansohn, Farm Editor of the Muscatine Journal
    • Muscatine County Coed Camp – Coed Camp was held at the State 4-H camp in June.  For the first time Muscatine campers were also jointed with Scott county. 105 campers and counselors attending the three day camp.  Activities included swimming, sports, hikes, vesper service, campfires, evening parties, and crafts.
  • Leadership Club – A county-wide 4-H club dance was held the night before the opening of the West Liberty Fair at the fairgrounds. The dance was planned, conducted and sponsored by the Leadership Club. Approximately 250 4-H members attending.

In 1961, two delegates were sent to the State 4-H Health Camp, held at the State 4-H Camp in Madrid.  Members were selected on the basis of their work in health activities over the past year.  Health Camp serves as an award trip for members who have done extra work in health projects.  Members attending: Joe Van Nice and Carol Behrens.

Program objectives were reemphasized.  They were:

  • Provide more leadership opportunities for older 4-H’ers
  • Increase interest and participation in the boys demonstration program
  • Expand 4-H enrollment in rural and urban areas
  • Create better understanding of total 4-H program of the Extension Service, local 4-H leaders, 4-H parents and members
  • Provide a leader training program that will enable leaders to do a more effective job
  • Increase enrollment in non-livestock projects

4-H Winter Camp was held for the first time.  It was a weekend camp with older 4-H members with activities of tobogganing, hiking, and evening parties.  Attendees received special training on leading recreation during the spring and summer meetings.

National 4-H Club Week provided the opportunity to promote 4-H locally.  Short stories were written for radio presentations, windows decorated in the towns in the county, and local newspapers prepared a special edition of club work.

Better Groomed Girl Contest - Local clubs held better groomed girl contests to select representatives to participate in the county better grooming revue.  Shirley Schneider was selected as top senior girl.

A citizenship program was completed.  Objectives were:

  • Teach leadership club members to carry out a citizenship study program in their local clubs
  • To develop a broader concept of the meaning of citizenship
  • Create an awareness of their responsibility as a good citizen to themselves, their home, community, local club and world
  • To teach the importance of an individual in local, state and national government
  • Create a better understanding of how local, state and national government operates
  • Teach how a bill becomes a law
  • Evaluate local club study on “Citizenship and Myself”
  • Teach an understanding of local government in operation
  • Make them aware of the duties and responsibilities of elected county officials
  • Evaluate local club study on “Citizenship and Their Home”
  • Teach an understanding of aspects of community citizenship, race and religion
  • Evaluate local club study on citizenship
  • Put good citizenship into practice
  • Observe citizenship of another portion of the country

Our first 4-H Exchange Trip was held with a trip to Hardin County, Kentucky in 1963.  Delegates were selected from the Leadership Club membership.  The exchange allowed 4-H’ers to learn ways of life in another part of the country.

A Junior Feeder Pig Project was started.  12 boys weighed in 211 feeder pigs on May 4. 

Boys could have 15 to 20 pigs weighing 30 to 50 pounds, then marketed then as a group on a grade and yield basis.  The project was set up to teach members more on the commercial feedlot, feed conversion, carcass information, and different types of hogs

Participation in the Iowa State Fair included exhibits of 13 dairy, 11 beef heifers, 10 baby beeves, and one entomology project.  Livestock and crop teams judged in state contests.  Eldon Kile placed 3rd in the 4-H Tractor Operators Contest.

In 1965, 594 county 4-H’ers were enrolled in 1,775 agricultural and home economics projects and activities.  31 club members conducted other than agriculture and home economics projects.  37 older 4-H members and 5 adults went on a 10-day exchange trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  A Pennsylvania delegation was scheduled to visit Muscatine County the following year.  4-H program was expanded to include a dog care and obedience project, photography, and horse project program.  Ardyce Fett organized a county 4-H chorus which performed at the 1965 West Liberty Fair.

1967 found 41 Muscatine County 4-H’ers and four chaperones on a 12 day exchange trip to Prince Albert Saskatchewan.  A group from Prince Albert will visit the next summer.

620 county 4-H members participated in various activities and camps.  Program emphasis was on clothing and animal sciences.  Horse and dog project training was begun in 1968 with several project meetings held and dog obedience training held for 10 weeks.

Two single-day day camping programs were instituted for 4-H club members.  215 intermediate and junior 4-H’ers attended this Day Camping Session held at Wildcat Den

In the early 1960’s a cherry pie bake off contest was held in the window of the Batterson Building in Muscatine.  4-H girls from Louisa and Muscatine counties were chosen based on the quality of the cherry pie they entered in their local fairs.  Four girls at a time made their pies in the window for passersby to observe their pie baking skills.  Ovens and supplies were provided by donors.  Winners from each session were selected and competed one more time against each other with the overall winner receiving an expense paid trip to VEISHEA in Ames.  Second place was a $50 savings bond.

More exchanges with 4-H’ers from a county in other states became popular in the 1960’s.  Muscatine county 4-H’ers would travel to another state one year and the next year the visited county would come to Muscatine.  Exchanges were held with Hardin County, Kentucky (1963-64); Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (1965-66),; Tioga County, Pennsylvania (1970-71); and Bennington County, Vermont (1974-75).

In addition to exchanges with other states, students from foreign countries visited through the IFYE program (International Farm Youth Exchange).  In 1965, a visitor from Nepal stayed a few weeks with a Muscatine 4-H family and shared his 4-H experiences with Muscatine 4-H’ers.  In1961, David Pace spent three weeks in Uruguay as an IFYE exchange student – International Farm Youth Exchange.  His experiences were published in the Muscatine Journal through a letter he wrote to the paper.

Many 4-H’ers attend winter camp at Madrid, State 4-H Conference in Ames, and Co-Ed Camp at the State 4-H Camp in Madrid where only Muscatine county senior 4-H’ers attended.  Many memories and friendships were developed at these camps.

120 members joined the 4-H chorus in 1964.  Several practices were held at the YWCA with the goal of performing at the Muscatine County Fair.  Singers must have been at least 13 years old and a 4-H member for two years.  Ardyce Fett, County Extension trainee, and Bob Lary led the group with Kay Barnhart, a 4-H member from Letts, accompanying.

A yearly leader recognition banquet was held where Awards of the Clover were handed out.  The banquet was hosted by county officers and the county youth committee.

In the 1960’s a leadership club called the MuscaTEEN Builders was formed to develop leadership through participation in club activities, to perform community service to the 4-H clubs and citizens of Muscatine County, and to provide recreational activities for members.  Members had to be at least 15 years old and the group capacity was capped at 50 members.

LANGWOOD – In 1969 Warren and Dorothy Langwith of Davenport donated 95 acres in Louisa county to the Iowa 4-H Foundation “to be used by the Davenport Extension Area 4-H for camping and educational programs of (the Iowa 4-H Foundation) for the benefit of its members in Clinton, Des Moines, Henry, Lee, Louisa, Muscatine, and Scott Counties, Iowa.”  The Iowa 4‑H Foundation accepted the donation and the challenge to fulfill the Langwith’s vision.  Local 4‑H’ers named the property Langwood in honor of the Langwith’s.

During the 1970’s the vision of Langwood began to take shape as local 4-H clubs cleared trees and sold the wood.  The Langwood Reserve Board of Directors played an important role in determining the direction for the facility as well as fundraising.  Many dozens of volunteers helped clear trees and brush, build an A-frame cabin, restrooms, pond, high and low ropes courses, and a lodge.  John Wanfalt, Muscatine County 4-H Youth Leader, was also instrumental in developing the camp and it was used by hundreds of youth for day camps and overnight camping. 

Following John’s retirement from Extension in 1986, the State 4-H Foundation became less involved in Langwood and the Louisa County Conservation began managing the area in 1989.  Eventually LCC purchased the property and the name was changed to Langwood Education Center.  Langwood has touched the lives of many youth and continues to do so today.


Sports tournaments for both boys and girls were very popular in the 1970’s.  Basketball, softball, and volleyball tournaments were held for many years and gave youth an opportunity to participate in sports that usually don’t get the chance to play organized sports.

Project trainings were popular in the1970’s with workshops held for dog, horse, advanced cattle feeding, home improvement, junior leadership, home grounds improvement, rabbit, small arms safety, and corn crops.

Special interest groups were formed during the 1970’s for such activities as horseback riding, bicycling, archery, model airplanes, veterinary career exploration, riflery, electronics, theater, tennis, dog obedience, and campus visits.

Co-ed Camp, State Conference, county awards programs, Citizenship Short Course, and many other opportunities for 4-H’ers continued on into the 1970’s and provided many opportunities for fun, fellowship, and education for 4-H’ers.


In 1986, two families hosted youth through the International 4-H Youth Exchange.  The David Watkins family hosted Jon Tveiten Skuterud from Norway, and the Don Noll Family hosted Jorunn Nordstokke, also from Norway, for three weeks.  The students toured the area and learned about farming in mid-America, which is much different than in Norway.  Both visitors were amazed at how big and flat the United Stated was.

A youth soccer program was set up for Hispanic minority.  123 you attended the clinic held in February.  Also, Ripley’s Mobil Home Park was run down and was fixed up by 4-H members.  Muscatine Steamers and Bluebirds 4-H clubs received a grant of $1500.  The money is to be split between the two clubs and will help assist the Lutheran Homes in their cemetery restoration.

127 4-H’ers weighed in 395 market beef at the fair weigh-in held in December.

County fair continues to be a highlight of the year as 4-H’ers showcase what they have learned throughout the year by entering exhibits to be judged.  Several participated in the communication program by giving a presentation at the fair and my modeling clothing they made,


Junior camp, intermediate camp with 4-H’ers from other counties, State Conference for older 4‑H’ers, and Citizenship Washington Focus were all social and educational activities youth could participate in.  Basketball, softball, and volleyball tournaments were still popular events for youth and a great way to get to know 4-H’ers from other clubs.

The year kicked off for clubs as many held fall parties, hayrack rides, and other events for new members to get to know club members.  A county Awards Night was held each November recognizing 4-Hers for their project work, record keeping skills, and leadership abilities.

Fair is still a major event in a 4-H’ers life.  It gives youth the opportunity to showcase what they have learned throughout the year by bringing an exhibit to the fair, whether it be in the 4-H Exhibit Building or the livestock barns. 


Now, 100 years later in 2002, we find that 4-H has changed over the years, but the core values of hard work and stick-to-it-ness have not.  Much research on why 4-H has been so successful for a century has been conducted and researchers determined that the four basic needs of youth (belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity) have been met through 4-H by caring adults, safe environments, inclusive settings and opportunities for mastery, service to others, self-determination, planning for the future, and engaged learning through project areas.

Many Muscatine county 4-H’ers have been selected for County Office, State Council and state awards, including trips to 4-H Congress in Atlanta and 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C.  It’s these 4-H’ers who grew the program through the years by giving younger 4-H’ers something to aspire to as they got older.

4-H continues to change with the times, staying relevant with today’s youth.  It’s motto still fits today, “Making the Best Better!”

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