Woodbury County, Iowa 4-H History
By Nancy Burright – Former Woodbury County 4-H member and currently a 4-H Volunteer
4-H in Woodbury County, as in all of Iowa, has from the beginning been concerned with teaching youth skills that make everyday life better while developing responsible, productive citizens.
Early records show livestock 4-H clubs organized on a community basis with project emphasis on Baby Beef and Swine. In a scrapbook dated 1921 we find this note. “On December 1st Armour Payne was chosen by the executive committee of the Woodbury County Farm Bureau as leader of the Arlington Township Calf Club. He in turn made a campaign for members and secured seven members which are: Bernice Leinbaugh, William McElrath, Herbert Willer, Virgil Wright, Stewart, Byron and Wesley Seymour. A meeting was called for December 3rd for the purpose of organizing.”
In 1922 a new “Home Demonstration Agent,” Mrs. Grace Hanson, arrived, and girls club work received considerable attention. A County Club Committee was appointed to take charge of the girls club work. The two types of clubs were “garment clubs” and “your own room clubs.”
A program book from a Farm Bureau Fair held in Moville in 1927, when the Interstate Fair in Sioux City faced financial trouble, had classes for Baby Beef & Swine and for the girls Home Improvement classes. Rules were brief, but interest was high.
In 1930 the Woodbury County Fair Association was organized, and 30 acres of a farm at the edge of Moville was purchased for a fairgrounds. The county fair was traditionally held in mid-September with the students being dismissed from school to attend and exhibit their projects.
A County Achievement Show was held in Sioux City in mid-August of 1956 because the 4-H Superintendents felt the fair should be held before the start of school and the Iowa State Fair, and the Fair Board did not agree. The following year the Woodbury County Fair was held in Moville in mid-August.
A new girls club was organized at the Sanford Center in Sioux City in 1959. It was the first inter-racial club in the county with 16 girls and three leaders. In recent years new 4-H clubs have been started at Girls Inc. and the Midtown Family Community Center. The urban effort has helped to increase membership in the Woodbury County program. The Center has helped to reach new youth.
Pictured: Tammy Sobieski, Leah Roach, Rebecca Engle and Hugh Irwin
In 1964 a 4-H leader, Maynard Bauerly, suggested that a pie auction be held with the proceeds to benefit the 4-H club program by providing funds for trips, scholarships and special events. With the assistance of the Woodbury County Pork Producers, each club representative was to bake a two-crust pie made with lard to be sold by auction to the highest bidder with that bidder to get the pie and a kiss from the baker of the pie. The first year pies averaged $7 each with $124 raised. Through the years, changes have removed the necessity of lard in the crust and added the incentive of older 4-H’ers spending the fair week soliciting funds to be used to bid on pies baked by the opposite sex, with the main reward to be to get to kiss the pie baker. In 2004 pies sold for an average of $95 with a total of $2,780 raised for the 4-H program. In 2011 pie sales totaled $6,125.
In the 1970 it was mandated that we no longer have a Boys 4-H Committee and a Girls 4-H Committee. A 4-H and Youth Committee whose representatives were selected from equal population areas and would now oversee all areas of youth development. In order to provide continuing structure and support for the traditional community 4-H clubs, a sub-committee was formed in 1974. The duties of the sub-committee were to evaluate record books, prepare the fair classes, choose award winners, help recruit 4-H leaders and fair superintendents and to generally offer suggestions to help improve the county 4-H program.
Members of this newly formed committee were: Bill Hamann, Marian Harrison, Lou Matthey, Vince O-Connell, Russ Koskovich, Marie Albertsen, Maureen Sobieski, Marilyn Engle, Mildred Gardner, Maxine Black, Sheryl McGowan, Dorothy Powell, Nancy Burright, Dan Miller, Wayne Molstad, Bill Utesch, Joe Shoop, Nina Cropley, Eleanore Lewis, Bob Lewis, Lou Roach, Leonard Todd, and Milo Wilson. All 23 were present for the first meeting. This committee had continued to serve although their function has changed to follow the changes in the 4-H program. It is now called the 4-H and Fair Committee, and its members provide continuing support for the 4-H community clubs. Members include: Jen Ankerstjerne, Nancy Burright, Steve Christiansen, Tony Hansen, Jamie Johnson, Denise Knaack, Eleanore Lewis, Polly Pithan, Alan Ralston, Janet Ralston, Wayne Ralston, Gwyn Schramm, Tom Swanger, Kathy Tabke, Lane Tabke, Jim Thomas, Jessica Weber and Ashley Weber.
The first 4-H Hall of Fame inductee from Woodbury County was Esther Klingebiel McKee. Esther came to Woodbury County in 1939 as “Home Demonstration Agent” and served until 1968. For many people, she was the standard by which all extension personnel were measured. She was a graduate of ISU and received awards on both the state and national levels for her work with 4-H clubs and rural men and women. She was a charter member of the Iowa 4-H Foundation and assisted in raising money to purchase the
4-H Camping Center. Other Hall of Famers are Jack and Nancy Burright (2004), Jack Powell (2005), Eleanore Lewis (2006), Wayne Molstad (2007), Lucille (Lu) Matthey (2008), Lujean Faber (2009), Venita Wilcox (2010) and Sheryl McGowan (2011).
Clubs with long histories include the Arlington Future Farmers – 89 yrs, Pioneer Valley – 71 yrs, Willow Workers – 75 yrs, Triple S Hawkeyes – 61 yrs, and Rock-Kee-Union – 60 yrs. In 1963 Woodbury County boasted of 49 4-H clubs. Currently there are 20 clubs.
As Iowa celebrated the 4-H Centennial, Woodbury County was honored to premier the children’s book, “Helping Hands, Caring Hearts.” To honor Lou Roach and Sheryl McGowan, Dr. Roach and Dr. McGowan underwrote the printing costs. The book was illustrated by Carol Faber, former Woodbury County 4-H’er.
Pictured: Carol Faber, Sheryl McGowan, Dr. Gerald McGowan, Florine Swanson, Dr. Kenneth Roach and Lou Roach
Each Spring Woodbury County 4-H’ers give workshops on agricultural topics to Sergeant Bluff Middle School for the annual Farm to City Day. 4-H members will bring their livestock and give presentations to over 100 fourth graders. Topics range from caring for animals, safety on the farm, farm machinery, and how animals and produce from the farm becomes food in the grocery store. Woodbury 4-H and the Woodbury County Farm Bureau have partnered for this event since 1998.
Emily Widman presenting at the Farm to City Day at Sergeant Bluff Grade School.
Jared McCoy presenting a workshop on Farm Safety and Machinery.
Pictured at the 4-H Foundation Night Hike in June 2011: Dylan Bechen, Natalie Lord, Houston Sheer, Braden Christensen, Merrill Brady and Jessi Riediger
In 2005 the Woodbury County 4-H Foundation was established in hopes of having money to supplement 4-H programs and activities. The foundation is set up through the Iowa 4-H Foundation. In the summer of 2011 a night hike activity at Little Sioux Park near Correctionville, Iowa, helped to add to the fund. Over the last three years, beginning in 2009, 12 high school seniors have been awarded scholarships to assist with their education because of the donations from 4-H families and other supporters to Woodbury County 4-H.
Pictured in front of their new club booth are Caprice Delperdang, Anna McCoy, Gabbi Jansen and Hayden Wittrock
A $10,000 grant from the Missouri River Historical Development allowed the 4-H Fair Superintendents to design and build new booth dividers and other furnishings for the 4-H Building on the Woodbury County Fairgrounds in 2011. The new dividers replaced the ones built in 1972 when the 4-H Exhibit Building was erected and dedicated to 4-H usage during the fair. Several years ago the Woodbury County Fair Board let 4-H members use the air conditioned Varied Industry Building to have their 4-H building exhibits conference judged before fair. This has been much appreciated by 4-H families, leaders, judges and 4-H fair superintendents.
To make a donation to the Woodbury County Endowment through the Iowa 4-H Foundation, click this button. Then select Woodbury County in the far right column (My 4-H County) and complete the gift information.
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