Posted on August 18, 2020 at 9:25 AM by Global Reach
With the passage of the Smith-Lever Act in 1914 and the setting up of the county agent system, 4-H club work began in Hardin County May 1, 1916. In that year a series of 13 township picnic meetings were held in cooperation with the county superintendent of school. The rural schools of each township were dismissed for the day on which the meeting was to be held in that particular township. At these meetings the Junior club work was explained to the boys and girls.
At first H.D.A. in Hardin county, as far as records show, was Grances Loffer in 1918. At that time, she worked with two counties. Hardin, with the county seat at Eldora, and Clark county at Osceola. Her project work included canning potatoes, wheat saving, sugar saving and wool conservation. These were timely topics relating to World War I.
In the period of years from 1916 to 1926 Junior Club work expanded through a system of special interest clubs organized on a county wide basis. There were pig clubs, baby beef clubs and corn clubs for boys.
Eighteen girls clubs were organized on the township and community basis in 1916. Canning clubs for girls spread in 1917 and 73 girls exhibited at the county fair. The general project system set up was two years of foods, one of canning, one of bread, two years of home furnishings, and two years of clothing. This type of project carried through until after 1935 when the three-year rotation plan was adopted. The plan called for one year of home furnishings, one year of clothing and one year of foods and nutrition.
Demonstration work by girls was developed as far back as 1927. Girls were sharing what they learned by demonstrating making bread to the public. And after these girls spent a year in a “Bread Making Club” you can guess they really knew how.
In 1917 there were 27 boys in Hardin county that were active in the baby beef club, pig club and corn club.
Transportation was difficult during those years. In 1921, Maurice Cook loaded his baby beef on to a railroad car at Lawn Hill, shipped it southeast to Gifford and then north to Eldora in order to show at the County Fair.
In 1926 boys clubs in Hardin County began to be organized on a community basis. By this time there were sheep clubs, horse clubs, dairy clubs, poultry clubs, and various other activities being carried on by the local groups. Boys and girls would often meet together to study culling principles and learn how to select the high producing birds from their flock of laying hens.
Next came the depression years and the big test for 4-H club work. By demonstrating efficient farming, quality of livestock, and homemaking methods the 4-H program proved itself through the training of young boys and girls to meet the problems of their time.
As the depression rolled away and agriculture once again began to thrive, the 4-H program began to expand its activities. It was during these years, 1936-1940, that livestock judging, and demonstration work grew into the program as we know it today. The first record of a boys demonstration team in Hardin County was in 1933. From that time on, there was a rapid growth of judging contests. Beef judging teams, horse judging teams, sheep judging teams, etc., were an important part of community and county wide activities.
During these hard times of the ‘30’s, the girls club work emphasized attaining and keeping good health. It was a great honor to be selected Health Champion at the annual county wide Rally Day each spring. These girls were selected by local doctors and dentists and then participated at the state contest in Ames during the State Convention which began in 1927.
Other similar county-wide activities were also being established such as the annual county Style Show, held at the county fair. Even in 1926 this was an important event as it was last year with girls modeling garments which they made themselves and were proud to display.
Next came the war. We have the familiar victory gardens, bond drives, scrap drives, and paper drives. Clubs organized special scrap drive campaigns and contests were held to see who could collect the most scrap iron. 4-H clubs played an important part in the war effort. Not only did they help to direct contributions through scrap drives, but their specialized training paid big dividends when agriculture was called upon to mobilize its manpower and expand to meet the crisis.
After the war, 4-H boys and girls began to express the pride and honor they felt for their organization by the adoption of distinguishing articles of identification. 4-H t-shirts, and jackets began to grow in popularity. The girls uniforms were changed. 4-H girls in Iowa, up until 1949, work the “Middy” type uniform that had been in use since the 1920’s, but in 1949 we saw a new attractive uniform introduced with much approval.
Membership in Hardin County 4-H exhibited a steady growth through the years. In 1916, there were 27 boys and girls belonging to 4-H clubs. In 1926, it grew to 178. In 1936 there were 231 members and in 1946 there were 235. By 1978, there were 600 boys and girls active in Hardin County 4-H. Today (2019), that number would change to 300 4-H and Clover Kids members.