Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on February 2, 2022 at 12:38 PM by Emily Saveraid

Brief History of Hardin County 4-H

The 4-H program in Hardin County continues to be a vibrant opportunity for youth and the development of their potential.

The Cooperative Farm Bureau and Iowa State Extension program was organized in Hardin County in 1922.  Hardin County clubs consisted of baby beef club, sow and litter club, gilt club, Holstein heifer club and nine girls clothing clubs.  Hardin County was very proud of their 9 active girls’ clubs and 120 girl club members.  The purpose of this club work was to develop every girl into a wholesome natural member of her neighbor-hood and to teach wholesome recreation. 

“Learning by doing” propelled Hardin County 4-H from the beginning.  In the early 1900’s, 4-H emphasized learning new methods for farming and home making.

From the 1924 records - Club work was the most important part of 4-H. In order to reach as many boys and girls as possible, it was necessary to have a variety of clubs. “Hardin County is largely a beef county; approximately 75% of the cattle raised are of the beef type. A baby beef club has been active for the past three or 4 years and the results have been very encouraging.”

In 1924 an exhibit was on display at the State Fair which won first premium in the north central district. The exhibit portrayed the three main crops of Hardin County in the form of three pillars on each side of the booth, and supported the arch of Hardin County. This design was copied from the main entrance to the Hardin County Courthouse.

This club booth from the Rosebud Club, Eldora Township was a prize winner at the Hardin County Fair in 1925.

In 1947 Hardin County 4-H girls were asked to help with the European Relief Auction.  They purchased the necessary supplies and carried out the sale of the sandwiches, doughnuts and coffee sold at the Auction to make a contribution of $200. 

In 1952, a small, but very successful older girl’s camp was held at the new State Club Camp south of Boone. Ten girls attended the camp from Hardin County. The camp had primitive accommodations, but was thoroughly enjoyed because of the camping experience.  

In 1956 a new Hardin County Youth Building was opened as the result of a fund drive in the county.  What started as a suggestion at a meeting turned into a very usable building that is still used today.  All static exhibits are displayed in it during the county fair.  Hardin County 4-H uses the building for their annual awards night in the fall. 

In 1957, 4-H Booster Committees were started on a trial basis to help the 4-H program and the leaders. It worked so well that all townships were organized and all committees were ready to begin their duties in the fall. Some townships in Hardin County still have a Booster Committee that works with the leader and the club.

Corn growing, animal husbandry and canning projects dominated the early years. Hardin County 4-H has grown to encompass a vast variety of activities and topics.  Today, 4-H’ers enroll in projects to learn, but they also learn at conferences, workshops, camps, special interest programs and fairs across the state, nation and world. 

In 1962 approximately 500 Hardin County 4-H’ers toured businesses in Eldora to become better acquainted with their products and it also exposed the county population to 4-H.  During the 1960’s Hardin County 4-H tried to provide an opportunity for 4-H’ers and the whole 4-H family for fun and recreation.  The purpose of was also to stimulate an interest in 4-H.  Family Fun Night was held during the spring and it consisted of square dancing and a skit by the county officers. 

In the 1970’s, programs of educational value were developed for 4-H’ers when they showed their livestock at the fair.   Carcass programs for all beef, swine and sheep were started.  In addition a rate of gain program for beef cattle was developed and 4-H members were required to wear rate of gain information around their neck and also weight information on the beef breeding projects.  The average rate of gain of market beef was increased to .3 of a pound over the last three years due to the educational efforts of the 4-H committee and the Hardin County Extension Service.

Also in the 1970’s, Hardin County held monthly roller skating parties for all 4-H members and prospective members.  This was a fund raising effort to help 4-H’ers with expenses to Conference, Camp, and Citizenship Short Course.   It also gave the 4-H’ers in the whole county an opportunity to become better acquainted.  Two tractor safety training schools were held in Hardin County with 51 youth enrolled.  The safety training was felt to be beneficial to youth in reducing their chances of being injured while performing farm chores or working for neighboring farmers.

The Hardin County 4-H program has benefited from profits of the food stand that operates during the Hardin County Fair.  In 1982 the net income amounted to over $2,000 with the 1981 profit totaling $2,400.  The Hardin County 4-H and Youth Committee has used this money to subsidize such things as State 4-H Conference, Junior Camp, Citizenship Washington Focus and paying adult chaperone fees.  The money is also used for county awards for project work, Intermediate Day Camp and other programs.  It was felt that the food stand profit was and still is very critical to the scope of 4-H programs in Hardin County.  The previous building that was used in the 1980’s belonged to the Eldora High School.  In the fall of 1981 it was decided to have a fund raiser for a new building.  On the first day of the 1982 Hardin County Fair the new food stand was ready and official opening ceremonies were conducted.  This major effort served not only to assure years of income to improve the quality and scope of Hardin County 4-H programs, it also taught the county’s youth leadership and organizational ability and the satisfaction that comes from a job well done.  The profit from the 1982 food stand was $3,386.  

Hardin County has a 4-H Awards program in the fall to recognize the participation of its members. Some years it was a meal where you had to purchase tickets, some years the Eldora Chamber of Commerce provided meal as good will, some years it has been a potluck with families providing the food.  For several years there was always a 4-H Leader Banquet sponsored by the 4-H County Council where the leaders were honored and recognized.

Several members have achieved the highest honors by having their projects selected for state awards, going to National 4-H Congress, or on the Citizenship Washington Focus Trip.  The Hardin County Bankers Association has sponsored a senior 4-H’ers trip to Chicago for deserving members.

The 4-H program is vital to the youth of our county and continues to grow and respond to the needs of the residents.

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