Posted on July 12, 2021 at 9:52 AM by Emily Saveraid
4-H in Allamakee County
Submitted by: Teresa Wiemerslage, CEED; Sandra Ehrhardt, CYC
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact origins of 4-H in Allamakee County. Based on written reports, it is estimated that the first clubs developed at the turn of the century.
In 1914, Congress passed the Smith-Lever Act which provided certain federal funds for the Cooperative Extension Service. Under this act the local people, Iowa State College and the United States Department of Agriculture cooperating planning, financing and carrying out a system of rural education that has become the largest system of organized adult education in the world.
By 1918, there was a county agent in every county and documentation of county programs and activities was started. The first clubs in Allamakee County were the Sow and Litter Club, Pure Bred Calf Club, and Poultry Club. According to the May 1921 Edition of the Farm Bureau News, the Boys and Girls Bee Club started in 1921 with seven new members: Jennie Russell, Elmer Ellefson, Ralph Ellefson, Calvin Simmons, Alfred Hansmeier, Robert Hager, Carl Brandsmeier.
T. E. Stanton, County Agent in 1925, reportedfis annual report that "a good start was secured in the Dairy Calf Club work when eighteen boys of the Better Dairy Calf Club exhibited their calves at the Allamakee County Fair. This club was organized in the early part of May  and the majority of the members secured calves from their father's herd which they fed and took care of until after the Fair. Many of the boys are still feeding and caring for their calves. This Club was organized with no particular breed in mind but any dairy calf, either grade or purebred, was satisfactory and as a result, four Brown Swiss calves, six Guernsey and eight Holsteins were among the group."
The club meetings were a community affair with town residents coming out to the meeting locations to participate in the meetings. A Poultry club also started about the same time. Stanton reports, "One meeting of the Poultry Club and the Calf Club was held in conjunction which worked out very satisfactory as the poultry members showed an interest in the dairy club work and the dairy club members showed an interest in the poultry club work. Members of such clubs are disappointed if regular meetings are not held. In many instances, a group of boys drive fifteen and eighteen miles to attend these meetings. No doubt, many of the boys in this dairy calf club realized for the first time, the problems connected with feeding. In one instance a father of two club boys found the club heifers doing so well under the management of the boys that he decided to take better'ftre of the calves in his herd and those calves were given the same feed and same management as the calves received from the club boys."
The Clothing Clubs in Allamakee County were a source of interest among the girls, their parents and friends. In 1925, Mrs. Albert Bahr was chairman for the girl's club committee. That year sixty-five girls enrolled in clothing work with thirty-six completing the year. There were five clothing clubs in 1925, namely the "Wide Awake Club" of Waterloo township; "the U-Go I-Go Club" of Ludlow township; "The Up and Sewing Club" of Makee township; "The Be Square Club" of Union Prairie township and the "Merry Workers" of Iowa township.
Fifty-three meetings were held as a total by all the clubs and sixty-six demonstrations were given by the girls at these meetings. During the year, ninety-five dresses were made and sixty-five under garments. Club leaders report the total value of these garments at $713.35, with a4cost of $288.12, making a total savings of $425.23.
Today, Allamakee County has 15 traditional 4-H clubs with 323 members. There are also special interest clubs like dog obedience club, dairy judging team, dairy quiz bowl team, beef team and a Saturday Clover Kid group. In addition, over 73 4-H school enrichment programs were offered in the county in 2004 reaching over 1200 children.