Scott County, Iowa 4-H History
Scott County 4-H History
By Becky Bray, County Extension Education Director
(Editor’s note: 4-H started in Scott County between 1910 and 1920; county records for 4-H start in 1921. Those records and memories were used for additional articles that follow.)
4-H Programs Present and Past
Scott County 4-H held a Farm Youth Banquet each year. Members of the Davenport Chamber of Commerce each sponsored a 4-H’er. The young people sat with the adult sponsor during the meal and talked to them about their 4-H projects. It was a way to keep adults involved with the youth and give the youth some experience in speaking with adults. Many remember this event as one that they enjoyed, but that also produced anxiety as the evening approached.
The Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds allowed the 4-H boys to stay overnight up until 1979. Back in the 1940’s, they walked across Locust Street to a private home for all their meals. Later, meals were served on the fairgrounds. While at the fair, water fights on the livestock wash racks were much anticipated each year and remain a tradition to this day. Over the years, a few fair attendees have gotten wet as they passed by, but most have taken it in good fun!
4-H exchange trips were held in Scott County for many years and lifelong friendships were formed. 4-H’ers traveled to and hosted friends from North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Canada and Minnesota.
Camp Scotty also has been a tradition for many years, with teen counselors providing activities for junior and intermediate 4-H members.
Many remember the braided alfalfa and clover chains that were used during the installation of county officers at Rally Day.
Volunteers have valued the learning that they and their children have received from 4-H. They say that quality is important and 4-H gives young people a good start on learning new ways to improve. They feel that some of the core projects in 4-H that taught life skills to their children should continue today – projects such as money management, home improvement and nutrition.
In 2011 a few things mark the traditional 4-H program. We have a Family Fun Night each winter that combines current 4-H families along with long-time supporters for a catered meal, a few award presentations, and games and prizes for the younger audience. We also hold a raffle to help raise funds for our 4-H programs.
Scott County still has a basketball tournament, which brings extended families together for a day of fun competition. A new leader mentioned at leader training, that all of the families in his new club were amazed that this event had so many people coming together to support young people in this way. He shared that he felt it made them feel that 4-H was a good program for their children.
Scott County started conference judging at the county fair in 1980, and it remains one of the most educational activities of our program. We ask parents to only listen so they can hear the conversation, but not participate in the experience.
Scott County Extension 4-H Youth Development’s Involvement in Davenport Out of School Time Programs
Davenport, Iowa, has approximately 11,000 children in elementary and middle schools, with more than 50 percent of them receiving free or reduced lunches. Most elementary schools in Davenport dismiss at 2:30 p.m. Research shows that the most dangerous hours for children are between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. before adult family members come home from work. Nationwide, more than 65 percent of parents report being either late to work or leaving work early due to child care issues. With many working families, care during the out of school hours was a critical social and economic need in this community.
With the federal 21st Century Community Learning Center funds, millions of dollars were brought into the community. While the school had partners to provide high quality out of school time programs, an abundance of resources did not facilitate intentional, sustainable partnerships. When federal funds were cut, partners went back to their own tables. Suddenly, families were not being served.
Over the course of several years, ISU Extension supported a process by which a community-wide, comprehensive, high quality, sustainable fee-based out of school time care model was developed. Multiple stakeholders accepted key responsibilities that were mission-aligned for their organization, including:
- human resource services
- sliding fee scale/scholarship/tuition responsibilities
- recreation programs
- academic programs
- enrichment programs
- day-to-day operational responsibilities
- training and professional development
- assessment and evaluation
- resource development/special project funds
Through a continuous improvement process, Extension’s goal for out of school time was to work with community partners on how to create a seamless, self-sustaining system that outlasts individual staff members and even individual agencies. Our role is to:
- Lead the out of school time administrative team through continual refinement of the collaborative’s mission, vision, values, philosophies and frameworks that are responsive to new research and evidence-based practices;
- Provide training and professional development to staff at all levels to ensure systematic, intentional educational experiences that make certain the out of school time model is carried out with philosophical and empirical fidelity; and
- Assess, evaluate and document the process and products of out of school time programs, and lead stakeholder analysis of this information to continuously improve practice.
- Our professional staff provide high-quality enrichment programs daily at a number of the 19 out of school program sites. We believe that in addition to the hands-on experiences that help youth develop knowledge, social, personal and career skills, we also act as models to out of school time staff members. In order to create the best systems for out of school time, we are on the ground level where youth development happens as “embedded leaders” who model exceptional practice, coach out of school time staff members and focus on daily continuous improvement.
In the last five program years (2007-2011), more than 9,000 youth have participated in 4-H Youth Development enrichment programs within out of school time. Many more youth have been impacted by our leadership in creating a high quality, sustainable out of school time model aligned with evidence-based practices in youth development.
Early Scott County 4-H’er Gives Lifetime of Service to Agriculture
By Melva L. Berkland
Although Herb Plambeck earned many 4-H awards, his biggest accomplishment in 4-H may have been getting his parents to say, “Yes, you can join 4-H.” That was 1924. He was 14. Three years earlier his father, Herman, said no. It took encouragement from County Extension Agent H. Hoffman and the neighbor lads plus Herb’s coaxing to change the ‘no’ into a ‘yes’.
The turning point came when Herman saw improvement in the neighbors’ farming practices because their boys had access to new information through 4-H. A few months after Herb joined the Lincoln Leaders 4-H Club, his parents became so enthused about 4-H that later Elizabeth, Helen, Irma and Elna (Herb’s younger sisters) were allowed to join.
Herb’s first project was pigs. With information from Mr. Hoffman, Herb penned his 4-H pigs on clean ground away from disease infested hog lots that came with the Plambeck’s new farm. Herb’s dad saw the benefit to the clean ground system, which proved so worthwhile that Herman changed the entire livestock system on the farm because of the club project demonstration
Herb won second place on his pigs that first year at the county fair in Davenport, and it proved to his father and Herb that next year they had to move their pigs onto a field away from the old lots—a move that brought healthier pigs and more profit.
Each year Herb eagerly signed up for the new projects introduced for the year. “There’s always something exciting to anticipate in 4-H,” Herb wrote. His list of projects documented the development of new information that ISC Extension offered to farmers and 4-H’ers. In 1925 Herb added baby beef, livestock judging and weed eradication. The next year he added purebred pig, demonstrations and record keeping. In 1927 he added health and organization. In 1928 he added dairy calf and beef heifer projects.
Excellence on Herb’s part led to 4-H awards including sportsmanship and top in local and state judging events; speaking engagements; attendance at three state 4-H conferences; election to state 4-H vice president in 1927; and attendance at the American Youth Foundation Leadership Training Camp in Michigan. Such distinctions gained more opportunities for the eager 4-H’er.
Herb used the scholarships to attend Iowa State College. When tuition money ran out, he dropped out and paused to go back to the Plambeck farm in Lincoln Township to earn money by farming on IdleHour Acres, a four-acre plot that his father designated for him on the family farm as payment for the farm work Herb did. He sold the produce of potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet corn, beans, carrots and eggs on a route in Davenport, earning from $75 to $100 a week.
It wasn’t only the need to earn tuition money that caused him to interrupt his college education. His father’s period of ill health called him home. Herb blended what he’d learned from his father and in 4-H with the knowledge he gained at Iowa State College to capably work the farm for the benefit of his family.
At ISC Herb enthusiastically became involved in Varsity Debate, Alpha Gamma Rho (AGR) fraternity and other activities. Among them was the College Cossacks, a trick-riding group of 36 college men and 18 white cavalry horse. Six men rode three horses in formation and built a pyramid of the men on the backs of the horses while the horses galloped around the ISC Armory arena. Herb leaped to the top spot of the pyramid. Such antics made the Cossacks popular performers on campus.
Worked in Scott County
While at Iowa State, Herb’s diligence and writing ability brought a job offer to work as 4-H club agent for Scott County Extension. It was 1931. The Davenport Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee budgeted $600.00 to hire a county 4-H leader. Herb accepted and enthusiastically organized boys and girls 4-H clubs in all townships. He offered them opportunities to learn the latest ISC had to offer, exhibit their projects and participate in state contests. His 4-H’ers took home many top state prizes. The membership list included names of those who became well known successful Scott County farmers. After 3 years in that role, nearly 300 boys and 275 girls were enrolled in Scott County 4-H. He served as the assistant county 4-H Extension agent in Boone County for a short time, as well.
Herb was enticed away from a promising Extension career when he received a call from the Davenport newspaper, The Davenport Democrat, in 1935. The editor observed that Herb recognized a good story and knew how to retell it. Because of his way with words and leadership skills, the editor wanted Herb to start a farm/ag page. Herb accepted the job offer and often wrote up to a page of farm news each day.
WHO Radio Called
A call from WHO radio with an offer to start a farm radio program lured Herb to Des Moines in August 1936. He was the first full time farm broadcaster in the country. In this role, he worked along side News Director H. R. Gross who later was elected Iowa’s third district U. S. Congressman and WHO Sports Director Ronald Reagan, future President of the United States. Herb stayed at WHO in the role of director of the farm department (radio and later TV) for 37 years.
While at WHO he founded the National Plowing Matches with Al Hagen. Herb’s 4-H experience as a winning contestant in various judging contests and later organizing them as an Extension professional, made him well equipped to organize and promote the popular plowing matches. At the 1988 World Plowing Match in Amana, Iowa, more than 200,000 persons from many countries attended the event. Herb narrated this furrow-by-furrow competition.
Herb took a break from WHO radio to serve his country in the National Guard during World War II. His record as a prolific and respected writer and broadcaster gained his assignment to England as a U.S. War Correspondent. The U.S., The Netherlands and Norway honored Herb for his reporting that aided victory.
When he returned to WHO, “…And my world” from the 4-H pledge became an ongoing part of Herb’s reporting career. His professional travels took him around the world several times as a representative of U.S. agriculture. During his lifetime he was in 84 countries.
In his role as dean of farm broadcasters, he met and interviewed many U.S. presidents and numerous world leaders. He was the first to broadcast from behind the Iron Curtain in Russia in 1955 and in 1976 from The Peoples Republic of China. In both countries, he was a part of an elite group traveling as official U.S. farm delegates with the U.S. presidents.
Herb left WHO to work on the staff of the U. S. Secretaries of Agriculture Dr. Clifford Hardin and later Dr. Earl L. Butz. As assistant to the secretaries, he continued his 50-year journalism career. Herb counted 12 state or national agriculture secretaries that he covered as news sources, starting in 1933 with Henry A. Wallace, later Vice President of the U.S.
Herb’s early Extension work in Scott County gave him the happy occasion to meet his bride, Frances Hahn. They reared their family, Mary and James, in Des Moines, but farming kept a hold on Herb. Herb and Frances bought a farm in Boone County in 1958, which they rented out. They called it Sunny View Farm. Besides crop production, Herb and sponsors used Sunny View Farm to demonstrate new production and soil conservation techniques plus promote safe practices to farm families.
Retirement Included Writing
In Herb’s retirement, he continued to farm, write, speak and broadcast. He wrote 11 books and booklets that document facets of agriculture. Among them is the 342-page book, “This is Herb” with NEVER A DULL MOMENT. He wrote that the book is not an autobiography, but “…a compilation of some of my most interesting and meaningful experiences in writing and broadcasting....”
Retirement meant that Herb added the state fair to his community service. He enjoyed 60 years of Iowa State Fair participation including as a 4-H member, club leader, Extension agent, reporter, editor, broadcaster, and agriculture and garden consultant. Herb eventually became superintendent of the Agricultural and Horticultural departments in the Agriculture Building.
See Herb’s Records in Person or Online
Herb worked with Laura Hicks to organize the records he kept during his lifetime. He gave them to ISU. They are archived in the Iowa State University Special Collections Department, room 403 in Parks Library in Ames, which is open 9-4 Monday through Friday. Among the papers, audiotapes, videotapes and awards are autographs from presidents and world leaders. Most unusual is an autograph from Roy Rogers and one from his horse, Trigger.
You can access the well-indexed records by calling 515-294-6672 or use the finding aid for the Plambeck Collection located at http://www.lib.iastate.edu/arch/rgrp/21-07-042.pdf to see the 81categories of fascinating information in Herb’s files that occupy more than 71 linear feet. You may also link to the Special Collections web site hhtp://www.lib.iastate.edu/spl/index.html
Lived the 4-H Pledge
Herb Plambeck took greatest pride in being known as the voice of the family farm. It all started in Scott County in Lincoln Township near Eldridge where 4-H gave him the opportunity to speak and write about agriculture, farming and life on the family farm. Throughout life Herb Plambeck continued to make the best better and live the 4-H pledge: “…for my club, my community, my country and my world,” until his death in 2001.
(Editor’s Note) The author, Melva Lafrenz Berkland, is a Scott County native who got her start in journalism when she was elected reporter of her 4-H club, the Sheridan Hustlers. She earned degrees in journalism from Iowa State University. She enjoyed a 20-year career as 4-H editor and writer with Iowa State University Extension, Ames.
County and Club Records Tell 4-H History
By Carol Freund, Walcott, former member of the Blue Grass Sunshine Workers
When Becky Bray from the Extension office told me they have annual reports back to 1921, I was excited. When I started reading them, however, I found that the reporter focused mostly on adult activities rather than youth clubs. Boys clubs were mentioned in early records though nothing was written about girls clubs until 1925.
Before girls clubs were organized, some girls joined the county livestock clubs with the boys. In 1921, club options included a baby beef club, market pig club, dairy calf club, and sow and litter club. Some members belonged to more than one club, and some of the leaders were the same, but they concentrated on one project. In 1921, a total of 29 boys and girls were enrolled in the Scott County market pig club; 29 completed their projects.
The county report writer gave some advice to parents. “In 1921, 25, boys and four girls entered into the market pig club contest; everyone of whom finished up the work, and all but one showed their pigs at the Mississippi Valley Fair. The father or mother who expects to give the boy or girl a definite interest in the work of the farm can well afford the little inconvenience that is necessary in order to enable the boy to carry on this work.”
The 1926 county report stated that 149 girls were enrolled in home furnishings in nine clubs. Record books were completed by 99 girls, and members made or refinished 356 articles. One leader and member recorded their thoughts; with only a couple exceptions, their comments could have been written by today’s leaders or members.
Rosa M. Brus wrote what she learned as a leader of a 4-H club. “As a leader of one of the 4-H clubs in our county, the Blue Grass Sunshine Workers, I find great pleasure in working with the young girls. I learn many new and worthwhile ideas by attending leader schools and take great pleasure in bringing these ideas back to the girls.”
A member of the Buffalo Busy Bees, Clara Kress, wrote what she gained from club work. “Club work has been very interesting and educational for me. I have learned to appreciate good music, read good books, wear approved shoes, play the health game, and keep personal expense accounts, besides studying clothing and furnishings for my own room. Since I was fortunate enough to win three trips, I had the opportunity of seeing many interesting places and educational things. It was an inspiration to meet so many club folks together and also the people that made these things possible for me.”
The mention of winning trips points out one of the things that has been part of 4-H from the beginning. Trips have always been a strong incentive for good work and have had high educational value to hundreds of young people. Even then they believe as we do today that the basic purpose of 4-H centers on personal growth, and the project is only a vehicle for achieving personal development.
Club Historian Books Give Details
In going through historian books for the Blue Grass Sunshine Workers, I found many fascinating things that were never recorded in the Scott County archives. I learned that the Sunshine Workers were organized on July 20, 1920. They did not call themselves 4-H until 1926. Before that, they were a sewing club. The name 4-H and the four-leaf clover we are so familiar with were not always hand in hand with 4-H as they are today. In fact, at one time, Iowa used a three-leaf clover standing for Head, Heart and Hand. Later Health was added and a four-leaf clover was used.
A home economics teacher at Teachers College of Columbia University in New York by the name of Gertrude Warren probably more than anyone is responsible for giving 4-H its name. The clover had been used on posters and literature for years, and she promoted the 4-H at a conference in Washington, D.C. shortly after WWI. Others preferred Junior Extension Work, but her idea won out.
Achievement Show as Family Event
Family has always been stressed in 4-H, and one of the early family events was the achievement day. In later years the achievement day was a method of weeding out projects so that they would not have too many for the exhibit space available at the Mississippi Valley Fair. But the early achievement days were a means of showing what each girl had accomplished during the year plus a way to learn something and have fun. Sometimes they were held in conjunction with the Farmer Institutes or Farm Bureau meetings. The Blue Grass Sunshine Workers held their first Achievement show Sept 2, 1922. Home Demonstration Agent Mrs. E. F. Barker spoke on “What can we do to better our club in the coming year.” In addition to exhibiting their projects, they enjoyed songs, games and a picnic dinner.
The early secretary books include a wealth of fascinating information. For instance, at one meeting they played a game called “Chalking the Pig’s Eye. (I haven’t been able to find out how the game was played.) On Dec. 8, 1923, their roll call was, “Give materials suitable for underwear.” (Can you imagine having that for roll call in our club today?)
I was surprised to find that the club bought material for uniforms. On March 15, 1924, the president appointed a committee to get material for club dresses, and on May 3 it was moved, seconded and passed that the club pay for materials for the dresses from the treasury. In that same year (1924), in November, a motion passed that they not pay more than 25 cents for presents for their Christmas exchange. How times have changed; today we set $5, and they can’t really get much for that
Another thing I found in the historian book that I had almost forgotten about was Rally Day. Those first Rally Days sounded like a lot more fun than the one that I remember. Violet Brus, who was at the first Rally Day June 6, 1922, told me that they had music memory contests. They had to memorize selected tunes ahead of time and then had a contest at Rally Day to see who could recognize the most tunes. Also the different clubs gave games, skits or stunts.
Do you remember clover chains? A different club was in charge of making it every year. It was carried onto the stage and laid out in the shape of a clover. It was used for installation of county officers and award ceremonies. The first mention I could find of it was at the 1942 Rally Day. I don’t know if this was the first time it was used or not.
Of course, in those days everyone wore uniforms to meetings and special events like Rally Day. Six styles of uniforms were used through the years. Dates of the first uniform are not certain.
Perhaps you have some fond memories of 4-H days, and this has brought some of them back to you. In the early days it was one few social outlets that rural young people had, but even today, with all the choices kids have for outside activities, many still choose 4-H, and it is just as important in forming young lives. Today they come from the most rural areas to large cities.
Teachers say they can tell 4-H’ers because they know how to get up and talk in front of people. Former 4-H’ers have told me how important their 4-H experiences have been to them when they go away to college or start a job. They told me that it gave them self-confidence; it taught them to set goals; finish what they started and how to put their thoughts into words.
Our daughter, while in graduate school, had to make a poster for a conference she attended in Chicago. She told me it was 4-H that taught her how to make a good poster. So you can see how even a lowly poster project can carry over into adult life.
4-H continues to make a difference for our club, community, country and world. That’s why it is so important that these 4-H programs be continued.
He Built It, They Came
By Melva L. Berkland
Softball and basketball made 4-H fun all year round in Scott County. Ralph and Irma Kay showed their support of 4-H’ers by building a regulation softball field on their Sheridan township farm in the 1950s.
Before the Kay diamond, 4-H’ers in Sheridan Sluggers and Sheridan Hustlers 4-H clubs played softball in Eldridge at the school diamond and in the pasture on the Henry and Norma S. Keppy farm southwest of Eldridge. These simple setting provided fun, friendships and family times.
For example, I met my country school teacher for the first time at the Eldridge softball diamond during a 4-H practice. She was a player on the Sheridan Hustlers team. I attended with my cousins Velma and Jeanette Keppy at the age of 5 and served as bat girl. My cousin said, “This is who is going to be your teacher, Lucille Rochau (Wadsworth).” Indeed, in a couple months we were together at our one-room country school, Sheridan #5—she was the teacher, and I was one of three primary (kindergarten) pupils. (Those practices led to Scott County winning the state softball tournament in the late 40s.)
Softball in the pasture led to a nature experience for me. We watched from the ditch bank, an amphitheater of sorts for my folks, younger sister Linda and me. It was Sheridan Sluggers 4 and Lincoln Leaders 5. I stood up and yelled as my cousin Alfred hit a homer that brought in another run to win the game for Sheridan. People thought I was cheering. No! The real reason I was standing and yelling is that I had sat on an anthill and had ants in my pants!
That possibility was no longer a problem after Ralph and Irma rallied people to build a regulation diamond on their grain and livestock farm. Hank Keppy and other young farmers who were 4-H grads eagerly volunteered to build the diamond. It was complete with lights, bag bases that fastened to the ground, a backstop that was a catcher’s delight, team benches and space for fans who brought folding chairs and lawn chairs.
County tournaments were played at centrally located Kay Diamond. (Kay rhymes with sky.) For weeks in July the tournaments were held. Girls tournaments were first, and then the boys played. Often double headers kept 4-H’ers playing under the lights.
Teams came up with uniforms. Our Sheridan Hustler softball uniforms were dark green and white one-quarter-inch gingham check sleeveless button front blouses paired with new dark blue jeans, cuffs rolled up to just above the rolled down white bobby sox.
Refreshments came from the best farm cooks and 4-H bakers in Sheridan Township. It was pie, sold by the slice: apple, peach, rhubarb, cherry and apple with crumb topping. Ice cream cups were available from the canvas cooler picked up in downtown Davenport that afternoon. Proceeds from pie and ice cream sales boosted the club treasury.
Those softball games gave us many opportunities to practice the 4-H way: “Win without bragging and lose without squealing.” We had fun, and Kay diamond surely was a field from which dreams were made and played. There we gained family and community support; such support remains a vital building block of 4-H in the 21st century.
Keppy Learns to Lead in 4-H; Advances to USDA
Glen Keppy learned leadership skills as a member of the Sheridan Sluggers 4-H Club in the middle of Scott County in Sheridan Township. It’s no wonder that swine projects were his favorites: his father Roy Keppy developed the crossbred breed for better growth and better pork. His parents, Roy and Myrtle were charter members of the Iowa Pork Producers.
A fourth generation hog and crop farmer from rural Davenport, Glen served a three-year appointment as the associate administrator in the Farm Service Agency of the USDA under President George W. Bush from 2006 to 2009. He worked on the administration’s view for agriculture. His daily responsibility was to make sure that was the path they were on, with the help of 650 staff. Keppy’s four main areas included commodity and warehouse, farm loans, farm programs, and state and county offices.
Back at their home farm after his national appointment, Glen and his wife Jean encourage others to tell the agriculture story. He said, “Continue to work with our legislators and express our ag interests and concerns because if we don’t …other interest groups are more than happy to tell their agendas. Get involved with Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions or farm organizations or any of the many local groups that do community service projects because that is one of the best ways to help improve our image in our farm community.”
Before serving in Washington, Keppy used his leadership skills as president of the National Pork Producers Association, as chair of the National Pork Board’s Foreign Trade Commission, as a member of the board of directors of the U.S. Meat Export Federation, as vice chair of the Iowa Ag Value Committee and as two-term president of Scott County Farm Bureau.
Glen has traveled to Greece with the American Soybean Producers, China for Pork Producers, Japan for Meat Export Federation, Brazil for a crop and grain fact-finding trip, and to Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela and Mexico on an energy and fertilizer fact-finding mission. He has traveled several times to neighboring Mexico and Canada to strengthen relationships with North America pork producers.
Glen lived the 4-H Pledge: “…my hands to larger service…for my club, my community, my country and my world.”
By Melva L. Berkland
4-H in Scott County – Mid 1950’S
By Anita (Steinhagen) Holst, Bettendorf, IA
I joined 4-H in the fall of 1951 as I was turning 10 in January. Our leaders in the Hickory Grove Blue Belles (now they have dropped the ‘e’) were Verna Rock and Ruby Kluever. We met once a month at various girls’ homes. We had to take an offering of 50 cents for the treasury each month. We also had uniforms – the ones with the sailor collar and the ties that were tied with a square knot.
The first year was sewing; the next was home furnishing, then food and nutrition. I remember two of the first items I took to the fair the first year were a rolled edge scarf and a party apron. We were allowed to take three items each year. Those were some of the items that had not been filled by the girls whose last names were further up in the alphabet. One of the home improvement items I remember taking to the fair was a wooden wastebasket. My dad (Marvin “Jack” Steinhagen) helped me saw the wood sections; next I stained each piece and laced the tops together with lacing, and screwed the bottoms to a piece of wood cut to fit the eight sections. I think I got a red ribbon on this.
Several years after I joined, they started having achievement shows where you could take as many items as you wanted to the show, but each was judged and selections were made as to what you could take to the fair. This procedure was still in effect when my children (Colleen, Daniel and Elizabeth Holst) were in 4-H in the late 1970’s to mid 80’s.
Style shows were a big item during sewing years. I remember modeling my apron in front of many moms and grandmas who were in the Starlite Ballroom watching. My older sister (Edythe) was also in 4-H – she and a neighbor (Barbara Reese) did a food and nutrition demonstration at the fair called Peach Nog. It had fresh peaches and ice cream in it – I do not remember any other ingredients, but they practiced it quite a bit, so we got to taste test.
The only office I held was junior treasurer. I got to give the treasurer’s report one month when the junior officers were in charge of the meeting.
Pictures were taken when you gave a demonstration at the meeting – you were assigned demonstration subjects and the meeting agendas were set at the beginning of each 4-H year. One of the demonstrations Edythe and I gave was frosting a butterless cake, so we made angel food cakes from scratch and frosted them with a Seven Minute Frosting called Strawberry Fluff. This recipe used strawberry juice instead of water and had sliced strawberries folded into it. Another demonstration we gave was preparing fresh fruits for salads. At this particular meeting our county 4-H leader (Lettie Zuber) was at that meeting, and we had forgotten to take a sliver knife to slice bananas with, and she asked why we were not using one. Boy, were we ever embarrassed! Another demonstration I remember was given with another girl (Lorraine) on the proper procedure to wash dishes!
Everyone was assigned to either lead the pledge to the U.S. flag, the 4-H pledge or other things for each meeting. We elected junior and senior officers each year.
After the fair each year we had to do our record books where we reported on everything we had learned and done throughout the year. We put in any pictures we had for each project, demonstration, etc. We had to have them to our leaders by October 1. We got fair premiums (money) according to whatever ribbons we won on each exhibit.
I dropped out after the eighth grade as we had moved, and we did not want to start in a new club – at that time you were supposed to go to the club in the township you lived in.
After I got married, I found out that my mother-in-law (Pearl Helble) had been in the first club in Scott County – the Butler Wide Awakes. She was born in 1903, so this was in about 1913-1915 that she was in. My husband (Billy Holst) and his brother (Gary) had also been in – they usually only took their cattle as projects. They stayed in the 4-H dorm at the fairgrounds all week so they were there to take care of the cows.
My children all joined when they turned 10. Colleen was in until she graduated from high school; Dan was in until about the 10th grade; and Beth was only in until about the 6th grade.
I remember that when they were in, since we did not live on a farm, Dan took his tropical fish to the fair. The fair had quite a large exhibit of tropical fish from open class as well as 4-H entries at that time. Dan also was into doing leather projects – a billfold and a belt were two of his many projects he did in this category.
All three took many projects during their years. They did the cooking, sewing and home furnishing projects as well as many creative arts projects. When they were in, you had to do a write-up in a notebook telling about your project, why you decided to do it, and what you learned by doing that particular project.
My two oldest grandchildren (Sarah and Kristen Flathers) are now in 4-H, except since they live in Clinton County, they are enrolled in their club up there. Their club is the Low Moor Minnehaha Club. They are the fourth generation in the Holst family to be in 4-H. Sarah started when she turned 10, but since they now have Clover Kids for children in Kindergarten through 3rd grade, Kristen was able to start in Kindergarten. Of course, the younger children do not get their projects judged; they just get a participation ribbon. Sarah has been very fortunate in getting several of her projects chosen to go to the Iowa State Fair.
4-H is a program that teaches you lifelong skills that you never forget. I am still sewing and doing other projects, like putting new covers on chairs that need refinishing, and doing a lot of cooking and baking as well as preserving garden produce for eating in the winter!
Volunteer Leaders Donate Farm and Funds
By Melva L. Berkland
Two volunteer leaders in Scott County gave major gifts to the Iowa 4-H Foundation. Each was an unsolicited surprise for the Foundation.
In 1988 the Schlapkohl farm family deeded their Blue Grass Township farm of 260 acres. The unmarried trio, Henry, Eldred and Marie, saw that youth benefited greatly from 4-H and wanted to continue that possibility by giving their farm. During Marie’s adult life, she served as a favorite leader to the girls in her neighborhood. Today the Schlapkohl’s forward-looking gift continues to benefit Iowa 4-H’ers.
One of Marie’s 4-H “girls” followed her example. $149,943.60 came to the Iowa 4-H Foundation from the Sylvia Brandt estate in 2005-06. Sylvia also followed her leader’s path by becoming a leader of the Blue Grass Sunshine Workers Junior 4-H club for five years.
In 2012 the Schlapkohl and Brandt gifts remain the largest gifts in the individual bequest category. Their generosity allows 4-H’ers to continue to make the best better.
Family Reunion Chatter Covers Scott 4-H Memories
Sisters Arlene, Vanita and Loretta sat with Melva at a picnic table overlooking the lake. The four Lafrenz cousins shared 4-H memories from 50 years earlier. You can eavesdrop now.
VANITA: It was after WWII. We had to be very frugal. Luella Schaeffer and I gave a team demonstration. It was on meatless meatloaf made with ground peanuts. We had to practice many times. Dad (Carl) got so sick of eating our practice meatless meatloaf!
Even though we had practiced, I was very nervous at the fair. (In fact, I felt like I had to wet my pants every time I got up before people to speak.) During our demonstration at the fair, the edge of the tablecloth stuck out. I placed the meatloaf in the pan, and, while turning to move it to the oven, I caught the pan on the tablecloth, the meatloaf fell out raw, onto the floor! I picked it up, put it in the pan and went on.
Mom knew of my stage fright. She said I handled the mishap very well—I didn’t faint!
ARLENE: One year Vanita and I entered the same thing at the fair. I got a blue and Vanita got a white ribbon—on the very same thing!
I was on a float one year and wore a crown.
When I got married I was kicked out of 4-H!
I hated record books!, Arlene and Vanita said in unison.
LORETTA: Arlene and Vanita got to be in 4-H, so Vernon (brother) and I couldn’t because our folks thought helping our sisters was a lot of work for the parents to take them to meetings, etc., and didn’t want to double that.
Our mother (Mildred Arp) was in 4-H when she was growing up. Mom was asked to reorganize and restart the Buffalo Busy Bees. She became the leader for a couple of years until Mrs. Ed Hamerlinck became the leader.
Though I couldn’t be in 4-H, Mom gave me her 4-H pin from when she was in 4-H, and I still have it.
MELVA: An embarrassing 4-H moment for me came in public view in the window of Batterson’s department store in Muscatine. Our county home economist Lettie Zuber encouraged older 4-H’ers to enter a national cherry pie baking contest at the Mississippi Valley Fair. A friend and I won and were selected for the tri-county bake off in Muscatine.
First of all, it was embarrassing to be “on display” in the store window where we made our pies. We baked them in ovens inside that were for sale. That’s where the second embarrassment occurred.
I forgot to turn the oven temperature down after the first 10 minutes so by the time I remembered, my pie was too brown and out of the running for the top prize—a trip to Chicago for the national bake-off. [My friend, Bonnie Keppy (Moeller) won and earned the Chicago trip. I was glad for her.]
Sharing memories with my cousins led to more 4-H recollections on the way home from the family reunion. Here are some of the 4-H memories that floated through my mind.
Before I was in 4-H, two of my next door cousins came to our farm home to ask for money to start a 4-H camp for Iowa 4-H’ers. Years later I got to go to that camp near Madrid—the Iowa 4-H Camping Center. The first time I went, cabins hadn’t been built so we slept in tents.
I went to my first 4-H meeting with my older cousins. I didn’t know if I wanted to go because they teased me and said that to be initiated I would have to ride a goat! I was relieved when I didn’t have to do that!!
Before I was in 4-H my mother and I were substitute hostesses for my aunt when 4-H was at her house. She couldn’t be there; she had to appear with her son and other parents because her son and his friends had pulled a prank in downtown Davenport the night before and got arrested. The muscular farm boys had no trouble lifting the VW Beetle from its parking place on the street to the sidewalk, but trouble came when the police caught them in the act.
I really enjoyed a sewing workshop at the home of my 4-H leader, Mrs. Albert Hamann, in Eldridge. Older 4-H girls helped the beginning seamstresses. Mom and I chose the fabric for a circle skirt. I really liked the skirt and wore it often.
We knew it was getting close to fair time when we saw my cousins leading their black Angus club calves down the road to break them to lead. When they got to our farm they brought them onto our farmyard and paraded them so the steers would get use to what they would have to do in the show ring. Those fat baby beeves waddled from side to side with the extra fat desired in the 1950s, but they often were the prize winners.
When I was county girls president, I was assigned to visit township 4-H club meetings. One that I visited was a new club that was just getting started in Davenport at Kay Kretschmar’s home. Kay (Runge) later became director of the Des Moines Public Library.
Roy and Myrtle Keppy were our neighbors on the same section. Roy was named a national 4-H alumni winner. He accepted the award at the National 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C. Judy Issacson, a state 4-H staff member, attended the ceremony. She reported that Roy gave a very meaningful tribute to 4-H in his acceptance speech. He said, “The other three winners all have degrees from colleges; I don’t, but I do consider that I got my college degree from all that I learned in 4-H.”
Another Scott County 4-H’er, Don Goering, and I each served on the Iowa State University Extension staff for 4-H. Together we helped produce a state 4-H satellite uplink in the mid 1980s. We also worked together on many other state 4-H educational materials and events.
Now it is your turn. Which 4-H memories can you use to start a conversation with your friends and families? Also you can write your comments below and they will become part of the Scott 4-H History that your are reading now.
Visit the Scott County 4-H Website.
To make a donation to the Scott County Endowment through the Iowa 4-H Foundation, click this button. Then select Scott County in the far right column (My 4-H County) and complete the gift information.