Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on September 26, 2022 at 1:52 PM by Emily Saveraid

Osceola County 4-H History
Prepared by Jan Stofferan, County Youth Coordinator

No comprehensive history of Osceola County 4-H has been written and therefore, this writing is the first record .of 4-H history for Osceola County.  4-H Historian’s books, club secretary’s records  newspaper clippings as well as  4-H program material  and miscellaneous papers reveal a rich  history of 4-H activities for Osceola County.  

Earliest information is a report called, “History of Girls’ Club work in Osceola County 1923-1933.”  This documents states that girl’s club work had its beginning in Osceola County in 1923 when two canning clubs were organized. The following year, eight fully organized girl’s clubs were organized.  Two clubs were canning clubs and the remaining being clothing clubs. In 1925 nine clubs were organized.

Other early information about youth club work is a report by the Osceola County Agricultural Agent. In a 1926 document, “Report of Program of Work of Major Project for Junior Club Work,”  he reports his work in relation to establishing girls and boys clubs for the purpose of developing community leaders.  He also writes about his goals for youth in that he wants, “ youth to gain a thorough understanding of farm cooperation and improvement of farm practices.”

 The county-wide goal during this time was to implement or form a standard livestock club and a standard girls’ club in every township.  It appears from this correspondence that specific clubs such a Poultry club and the Pig clubs were organized.  There were eight meetings with a total attendance of 339 people.  There were 170 girls enrolled in 12 “garment” clubs.  These clubs, usually located in every township, held 126 meetings with a total attendance of 1,260.  Specific demonstration teams were set up and eleven were set up that year and reached a total of 85 people.  The different girls’ garment clubs of the county with their local leaders are listed:

  In 1927 each of the twelve townships had a girls’ club which completed work in Home Furnishing. In 1928, Home Furnishing was the project selected for club work. In 1929 the canning project was implemented.  In 1930 there were 120 girls enrolled in the baking project. 

In 1931 the first ever Rally Day was held. Sometimes Rally Day and Achievement Day were held together. County Officers were elected at this time. It appears the County Officer’s group functioned as a governing body.  Clothing was the project area for these girls.  This continued into 1932. In 1935 Dr. F. P. Winkler was made the first Osceola 4-H Honorary member.  The county agent at this time was Paul Nelson.

A partial report for 1937 indicated difficulty in recruiting leaders for 4-H Clubs.  Reasons given for women not wanting to lead girls’ 4-H clubs include being too busy with home chores, belonging to too many clubs, and most of all, they do not have the time to spend on a 4-H girls club organization.

A 1938 report on girls 4-H clubs indicated that clubs were being organized with (new) leaders and 4-H members as officers.  One 4-H club officer was able to attend the State 4-H Girl’s Convention with expenses being paid for by the Farm Bureau in that township (Goewey).  In 1939, newspaper articles from the Ocheyedan Sunny Side 4-H club showed meetings were held in homes with roll calls, demonstrations and a special program for the Farm Bureau.

Historians’ Record books from the East Holman Prairie Rose 4-H Club from1940-49 showed  the 4-H year began with certain club events such as Mother-Daughter banquet with prospective members as guests.  Club Achievement Day followed in August and the format was similar to that of a business meeting. More interesting was the entertainment after a business meeting dated August 6, 1941 in which the group listened to recordings of “La Golondrina” and La Paloma.”  In addition, two living picture skits, “Virgin in Adoration” and the “Water Carrier” were portrayed and a courtesy skit on theater etiquette was also given.  At the close of the program, the Achievement Day articles on exhibit were discussed.  Lunch was served.  This club also had its specific county, regional and State events.

County events included:  Rally Day, County 4-H Officer’s training, County Achievement Days, (Demonstration teams were selected and competed) and County Fair. District Events included: Club Camp – The Prairie Rose sent two delegates and chaperones to Camp Walther League, Lake Okoboji and Clay County Fair – Held in September.  State events included:  State Convention – held at Ames in June, Red Cross Aquatic School – held at the Red Cross National Aquatic School at Woodward, Iowa.  In 1945, the school was held at Camp Matigiva on the Des Moines River, State Fair and State Conservation Camp.

County governance for 4-H activities seemed to be a County 4-H Committee, County 4-H Girls Officers and County Extension Director.

It appeared the direction for 4-H club plan of work originated with the State 4-H office and of interest is a document, titled, Osceola County 4-H Girls’ Club Project for 1941.  There are 13 county goals listed with #9 being, “Each girl in the county to own a well-fitting club uniform and tie, and wear to all local and county-wide events.”  Fifteen club goals were listed.  Fourteen individual goals were listed.  Of interest is Individual Goal # 12, “To have a health examination by August 1 and correct defects.”  A document, “Results of Health Examination, July 9, 1942 lists 35 defects in one column and names of 8 members of the East Holman Prairie Rose 4-H Club in subsequent columns. X’s are placed in their column.  The defect most often checked was “Misalignment of teeth.”

Music for the 1944-45 club year was especially important with a document which stated goals for singing for all family members using a song book, “Got together Songs,” published by Lorenz.  There was also a plan for singing games and for the family to find “good listening” on it’s radio. The club also received a certificate for meeting the requirements of a “standard.” Club.  Although the Prairie Rose 4-H Club was singled out here due to the number of Historian’s books present, the activities are representational of the girls clubs during that time. Osceola County does not have Historian’s books from boy’s 4-H clubs for this time period.

 A Historian Book/scrapbook, “History of Osceola County 4-H Girl’s Club Work, 1945-54,” reported seven girls Clubs:

            Baker Hotshots – Baker Township – 19 members

            Busy Bees – Gilman Township – 13 members

            Gilman Glories – Gilman Township- 9 members

            Jolly Jesters – Fairview Township – 8 members

            Prairie Rose – East Holman Township – 13 members

            Rural Orchids – Viola Township – 11 members

            Sunny Sisters – Ocheyedan Township – 7 members

Total Club enrollment for 1944-45 was 80 members. Figures for the 1945-46 club year showed 94 members.  In 1946-47 membership decreased to 70 members.  In 1947-48 it increased to 110.  In addition to membership information, the book revealed information about special projects and activities.  For example, the 1946-47 year emphasized a Garden Seed Campaign to raise funds to contribute seeds for overseas.  Also 10 people attended district music school at Milford.  Records also indicated three new clubs were formed: Horton Jr. Housekeepers, Prairie Maids and Wilson Workers. 

A 1947 program booklet from an Officer Training school showed that activities began at 9:15 a.m. and ended 9:30 p.m. However, a shorten program, in 1948 had the County 4-H Officer Training school beginning at 1: p.m. and ending at 4:00 p.m.

In 1950 the direction for girl’s club work emanated from the State 4-H Girls leader and a newspaper clipping indicated that Miss Elizabeth Smith met with the girl’s 4-H County Committee and County 4-H Leaders.  Another aspect of club work was a committee, the girl’s 4-H County Committee which seemed to have been comprised of 4-H leaders or interested parents.  At this time a County Home Economist, Mrs. John Guy, was hired. According to a newspaper clipping, Mrs. Guy  was employed by the Osceola County Farm Bureau Board.  Ten girls 4-H clubs were listed in the County’s Annual report with a total of 122 members.  Events included: 4-H Party (3 held that year) Officer’s Training School, Rally Day, Achievement Day, Conservation Camp.  Girls were encouraged to choose a Junior and Senior better groomed girl to represent each club. Girls were selected at the 4-H Girls Rally Day.  From 19500 –1955, activities did not vary.  Junior and Senior girls were selected as “Better Groomed Girls.”  (This author does not understand the context here—is this related to Dress Review?)

Reports from the Jolly Jesters 4-H club, 1955-56,  showed 20 members enrolled and 12 club meetings held.  Activities included a Mother/Daughter Tea, Officer Training School, hayrides, folk dancing, selection of IFYE delegates, Rally Day, three members to District 4-H camp, Achievement Day with a Junior and Senior Demonstration team, and   County Fair. The club was given a set of personal goals for 1955-56 year as well as club goals.  In addition, they were given two pages of songs to learn. This was followed by a typed copy of their club program which included a list of officers, club members and four club committees.  They also had a reading list.  Also included with all Historian’s books are programs from the Awards Banquet, 4-H Officer School, Achievement Day Program

Records from 1960’s Historian’s books esp., girls books, follow a certain format with a club’s Organization list containing names of Leaders, Officers and members.  This was followed by a hand written or typed history of club activities throughout the year.  Activities included: Dress Revue, Walther League Camp, Builder’s Camp, Judging Team and Demonstration Teams.  Many of the books contained a booklet, “Osceola County Girls’ 4-H Program (Prairie Rose, 1962-63, for example). The Wilson Worriers Historian book had a one-page yearly history, photographs of members at meetings, newspaper clippings about meetings, county Fair events and other county events such as Rally Nite, district camp at Lake Okoboji and club programs.  Some books included their Secretary’s books.  

There are fewer scrapbooks for the 1970’s and those consulted are East Holman Wildcats (boys).  Their set up consists of photographs of boys with their steers, a club program, 1977 Membership Roster, newspaper clippings of County Fair winners in various species and newspaper clippings of Award winners at the Banquet.  This was also true for 1978-83.  The East Holman Prairie Rose listed its members, leaders and officers.  Leaders for 1977 were: Mrs. Roger Poppen, Mrs. Charlie Eggink and Mrs. Herman Eggink. The book consisted of Newspaper clippings of club meetings, Fair results, recognition certificates and photographs. 

A large scrapbook for the Wilson Cloverettes  dated 1971 – 1976  contained a sheet with names of girls enrolled and al listing of meeting dates.  This was followed by programs of County events such as “4-H Awards Banquet,” “Certificate of Recognition.”  A list of ribbons received at the county fair and  club photos.  Certain years were more complete and some years included the 4-H Club Secretary’s record book.  Other years also contained newspaper clippings of club meetings, State Fair Results and other county events such as 4-H’er returning from CWF trip to Washington.  A notation in the 1975 club year summary indicated that Home Furnishings was to be the main project area.

Scrapbooks from 1985-91 followed a certain format.  Photographs from the East Holman Wildcats, 1985-91 Historian Books shows photographs of 4-H members with their livestock, followed by Fair newspaper clippings, membership lists, club programs and newspaper clippings of meetings.  Other pages included newspaper clippings from Awards Programs and several out-of county activities.

Scrapbooks from 1990’s were few (3) and contained mostly colored photographs.  Some County events were listed.  The Fairview 4-H’ers used colored photographs and showed club and county events.  What seemed to be missing from these were club membership lists and a club program sheet.

Summary:    Twenty- eight Historian’s books were reviewed as well as various miscellaneous loose papers.  These materials, located in Osceola County Extension Office, Sibley, provided an invaluable source of information about 4-H club activities in Osceola County.  Books varied in the amount of information presented with many early books providing more information as well as program brochures and booklets about local, county and area events than some of the more recent ones. Many books showed various stages of deterioration with pages fading, tearing and crumbling. Four of the 28 books were from boy’s 4-H Clubs.  One book, Western Workers, 1993-97 was a mixed club.

 Most of the older books contained program/booklets from specific county events.  Also some contained a program of information from the State Leaders as to what was to be taught to girls and boy’s 4-H clubs.  The directions as to expectations were written and sent to clubs.  There were also specific guidelines and rules as far as dress, deportment and club structure.  This was seen in the 1945 and the 1950’s club books.  After this, I did not see the State publications regarding the specific direction of 4-H for project areas.  They are not apparent in Historian’s books from the 1970’s onward. 

The Historian’s books showed another wonderful fact for Osceola County 4-H.  Many of the 4-H members during the 1970’s and 80’s are 4-H leaders today.  Therefore, it appears, the original purpose of boy’s/girl’s clubs of the 1920’ and 1930’s is fulfilled in that 4-H members do become community leaders.  They learned invaluable organizational and leadership skills at the club level and used them into their adult years as 4-H and community leaders.

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