Story County, Iowa 4-H Histoy

Iowa 4-H History By County

Story County, Iowa 4-H Histoy

 

Compiled spring of 2012

Introduction

Youth have been learning and developing through the 4-H program in Story County for nearly a century due to the efforts of many volunteers, parents and extension staff.  The history below has been written to create a picture of a few of the happenings in each decade.  The decade section is followed by a summary of the Inspiration Program and the County Fair.
 
In the past 10 years, the Story 4-H History Committee has put together notebooks and lists of people who have been involved in the program.  Check out the following links:  County Officers, Councils and Leadership Teams and Extension Staff.  More lists are in process.  The notebooks are at the Story County Extension office, 220 H Avenue, Nevada, IA 50201.  The Extension Annual Reports (1919-1968) are available for viewing at the Parks Library (Special Collections) on the Iowa State University campus in Ames, Iowa.  In 2010 the History Committee produced a DVD, 'Bridge from Past to Future 4-H', a look into the history of 4-H in Story County, which you can view now.  A list of Story County 4-H Historical Resources may be found at the end of this document.
 
4-H is a dynamic movement that has roots in the formation of our country.  The History Committee is currently gathering a history of the roots that formed the foundation of an organization that has had profound impact on the development of people in Iowa, across the nation and around the world.  4-H does not stand alone.  The document being created describes its formation with dependence on the wider Extension Service, Iowa State University, and the United States Department of Agriculture.  It looks at the tremendous impact from federal legislation, state legislation and local input through the Farm Bureau organization, Board of Supervisors, business and civic leaders and local volunteers.  All of these groups were essential in bringing 4-H into being and nurturing its growth.


Early Years

1910 -1919

1910 - Records show that 78 Story County boys and girls were enrolled in boys and girls club work offered by Iowa State College and the superintendent of schools.
 
The Story County Farm Bureau was organized November 17, 1917, as the local sponsoring organization of the Extension Service. Knute Espe, the first Story County Agricultural Agent, began work on January 26, 1918.
 
In August 1918, 150 persons (interested boys, girls, leaders and parents) attended a countywide picnic.  There enthusiasm and interest crystallized that led to county-wide 4-H club activities in Story County for years to come.  Purebred beef heifer, market pig and corn clubs were organized.  Four boys and girls clubs were organized in 1918 with 153 members.
 
Several demonstration projects were set up to show youth the value of purebred livestock and their proper care, feeding and management.
 
The Banker's Association Purebred Calf Club was organized.  The county agent spent time visiting members to help them 'have a presentable calf' for the show.  The show/sale was held February 1, 1919, with 90 heifers entered.  Thirty prizes were awarded to the boys and girls who had taken the best care of their heifer the past 5 ½ months.  It was well attended with a number of the successful breeders in the state in attendance.  An exciting result of the sale was that many heifers went home with the youth, resulting in the start of purebred herds.  And the interest of purebred breeders was aroused.
 
The first local funding came when Dean C.F. Curtiss of the College of Agriculture at Iowa State College led a group of 35 Story County men to meet with the Board of Supervisors on August 8, 1918.  The result was $1,000 from Story County to assist in extension educational efforts including work with Boys' and Girls' clubs.
 
The county agent visited schools to recruit club members.  A Home Demonstration Agent was hired to work with families on canning methods.
 
Quote from county agent's annual report 1919: "We believe that club work of this character is invaluable to Story County ......and we wish to recommend that it is on a larger scale next year".


Decades

1920s

Boys and girls clubs were a major emphasis in the extension program of the 1920s.  They started in the local school districts with special emphasis on corn clubs, gardening clubs and canning clubs. Additional special project clubs developed through the years including baby beef, poultry, purebred gilt, sewing, soybean, apple spraying, sow and litter, sheep, dairy calf, clothing, farm management, bees and bread.  We have record of the first girls club organizing in the Roland school as a sewing club. 
 
A county boys judging team was organized in 1920.  In 1921, a club judging team was organized with three members selected to represent Story County at the Iowa State Fair.
 
Seven consolidated schools were visited to recruit soybean club members in 1920.  120 boys and girls were enrolled.  The object of the club was to see which member could "produce the most good seed." They were given one pound of seed to plant.
 
A club leader at Roland recruited 100 boys and girls and started a campaign to eradicate rats.  They operated on 45 farms and killed 1,645 rats.  The largest number eradicated by one member was 500.  The methods used were exhaust from a Ford car, tanks with bait, steel traps, guns, clubs, dogs and poison.
 
Nine girls clubs whose focus was clothing construction were organized in 1924.  The Girls County Club Committee was instrumental in conducting club work that summer.  In July, Rally Day, which included the girls' annual meeting, Country Girls' Creed Contest and the election of county officers, was held at the Nevada City Park.  Demonstration teams from three clubs competed for a trip to state fair.  Doris Poorbaugh won the Story County Health Contest and advanced to win the State and Interstate contests.  She represented Iowa at the National Show in Chicago. (Above photo pictures a State Fair stocking demonstration in 1926)
 
By the mid-1920s, 4-H members were grouped together in standard clubs.  The yearly program included camps, a county achievement show where the best exhibits from each club were judged and displayed, and trainings for judging and demonstration teams.
 
By 1925, 237 boys and girls were members of 4-H clubs. The county achievement show was held in Ames.
 
The county sheep club tour was held several years in the 1920s.  Photos show the youth and their families in white shirts, suit jackets, ties and dresses, a bit different than today. (Photo at right depicts the shirts and ties worn at club tours)
 
In the latter 1920s, the number of school districts was decreasing because of consolidation.  Local 4-H clubs were meeting independently and were no longer associated with the local school district.
 
The first Annual 4-H Banquet was held in 1929.
 

1930s

In 1930, there were 431 4-H members.  Boys enrolled in agricultural clubs while girls enrolled in home demonstration clubs.  There was an exception.  Twelve girls enrolled in agricultural clubs.
 
Clubs strived to be a standard club by meeting universal standards such as attendance of members at a required number of meetings, holding a club tour, conducting project work and using parliamentary procedure at club meetings.
 
In the early years, due to the maximum age for membership (21 years), there were usually 25-30 members each year who had finished high school.
 
1931 - First County Achievement Show was held in Nevada.  4-H members decorated club booths where the members' exhibits were displayed.  Each club was represented by a demonstration team.  They had contestants in the style show and well-groomed girl contests.  Girl's exhibits were selected to represent the county at state fair.
 
1932 -The Story County 4-H Club Show was held in Ames.  The girls exhibits (achievement show) were displayed at the High School Field House.   The boys livestock exhibits were housed at the Highway Commission Building.  Financial support for the shows came from businesses in the county and the Ames Junior Chamber of Commerce.
 
Mrs. J. I. Mather, county chair of the Girls 4-H Club Committee, served 18 years.  She retired in 1937.  In 1930, she hosted a countywide 4-H picnic supper at her home attended by more than 400 4-H'ers and family members.  The program for the evening was a 'moving picture show'.
 
All 4-H boys were invited to a county-wide judging workout in 1932 conducted by a former member of the Iowa State College judging team.  Training included hogs, dairy, beef cattle, sheep, horses and grain.  During the 1930s, there were judging contests held in crops, poultry, grain, dairy, beef cattle and other livestock species at county, district and state levels.
 
Canning clubs were organized with goals such as, "each girl to can at least 25 quarts, this number to include at least three jars high in vitamins, three high in iron, and five to make a balanced meal".  In 1936, 4-H members canned 4,438 quarts of food.
 
Story County 4-H boys and girls attended separate district camps. In 1932, the boys attended a three-day/two-night district camp. The fee was $2 for meals and lodging.
 
The focus of the girls club project work was home furnishings in 1933.  The boys (and six girls) enrolled in livestock clubs including purebred beef heifer, dairy, sheep, purebred sow and litter, market pig, colt, poultry and corn clubs.

In 1934, some livestock clubs continued as single project clubs; others were local township clubs that allowed members to enroll in more than one project.  County-wide tours were held for some countywide project areas such as beef. (Picture at right depicts that showing sheep was a dress-up affair)
 
In the 1930s, Girls project work included a shoe campaign, "to encourage girls to wear straight-line low heel shoes.  Several members reported improved shoe choices as did some of their mothers".
 
In 1935, young people just past the maximum 4-H membership age (21) formed an organization known as the Junior Farm Bureau.  One of their goals was to support 4-H club work across the county.
 
In 1936, there were 14 farm project clubs involving youth from 15 townships.  The poultry club members reported 3,158 head of poultry.  They held their 'Round Up' with judging at the Nevada Poultry Company plant.
 
In 1938, both boys and girls competed in the county health contest and representatives were selected for state fair.  A 4-H band was organized and played at the Achievement/livestock show and the County 4-H Banquet.  New clubs were forming such as bee keeping, entomology and wildlife conservation. (Photo at right shows the high scoring livestock judging team in 1938).
 
In the fall of 1939, youth 12 through 21 could belong to 4-H. Younger youth showed a great interest in becoming members.
 
County officers gave leadership to a number of county events, including the County 4-H Harvest Festival Banquet in 1938.  After this award banquet, an adult commented:  "If we can leave our future destinies in the hands of young people like these, I will have no fears for the future."
 

1940s

In 1940, there were 32 clubs with 555 members.  Clubs were organized by township and centered in school districts where possible.
 
Livestock judging workouts had 228 boys involved in 1940.  These workouts were a large part of the tours held by each club.
 
In the early 1940s, girls' club work involved Home Efficiency projects with members making articles for the home.  They studied arrangement of furniture, lighting, safety and fire prevention.  By 1948, 4-H organizers started a three-year rotation.  Girls took home furnishings one year, textiles and clothing the next, and food and nutrition the third year.
 
Boys' club work focused on livestock production of beef, dairy, hogs, sheep, horses and poultry.  Good citizenship and good farming practices also were part of their training.  54 members completed the dairy project in 1940.  136 members showed 223 beef calves in 1941.  These numbers grew to 311 baby beeves in 1946.
 
Camps remained popular with both girls and boys attending district camps in growing numbers.  In 1940, 46 girls (camp fee: $2.75) and 23 boys (camp fee: $3.25) attended camps at Pine Lake in Hardin County.
 
(Photo at right shows 4-H'ers making an appearance on WOI radio).
 
Harland Harper was elected State Boys 4-H Vice President in 1942.
 
Throughout the war years (1940-1945) 4-H project work was focused on food production.  Records of 4-H'ers during one year showed 25,308 quarts of food preserved, 2,511 hours of work in victory gardens, and 371,700 pounds of live meat animals marketed at the county fair.  Victory gardens were planted all over the county in yards and parks including Brookside Park in Ames.
 
For several years, both boys and girls club members sold war bonds and stamps.  In 1944 alone, they raised a combined $12,519.50 through the campaign.  In addition, the boys took part in salvage campaigns and collected 25 tons of waste paper and 30 tons of scrap iron.  It increased to 90 tons of paper and rags in 1945.
 
4-H'ers showing livestock had to complete their record book including the sale price and actual profit or loss on their animal before they were eligible for premium money.
 
Four music schools were held throughout the county, resulting in a county chorus that sang at Rally Day and the County Achievement show (county fair).
 
Kittenball was a hit with both boys and girls clubs competing in a tournament at county fair.
 
By 1944, 329 boys had participated in the county Health Program.  Physicians and other medical professionals helped give the physical checkups as a part of the program.
 
(Photo at right shows the 1946 Health Champions).
 
In 1947, Rally Day was held in the Community Building in Nevada with initiation of an honorary 4-H member, a ceremony honoring 4-H leaders, skits and singing games, a parade downtown at noon, and the election and installation of county girls 4-H officers.  The Boys Annual Meeting was held at the Farm Bureau office with election of county officers. Each club could have a campaign speaker present one of their members as a nominee for office.  There were two voting delegates from each club for the election.
 
A county delegation was selected to attend both the girls 4-H Convention and the boys Short Course each year.
 
Junior Farm Bureau (JFB) members (young adults just above club age) had several purposes, one of which was to direct recreational activities for 4-H clubs.  They held a county sports festival with east and west softball teams of 4-H'ers participating.  They also served as 4-H club leaders.  JFB sponsored a Rural Drama Tournament for 4-H clubs in the winter months.  During the war years, the JFB members wrote notes to send to members of their group who were serving in the armed forces.  In 1945, they wrote letters to 53 members.  Feedback told them how important this was.
 
A sign on a 1947 4-H parade float read "4-H Today - A Better World Tomorrow."
 

1950s

In 1950, there were 32 clubs with 549 members.
 
A combined boys and girls district camp was held for the first time.
 
A Builders Club for older boys and girls was organized on January 24, 1953, by C.J. Gauger, County Extension Director.  The organization was composed of both old and new county 4-H officers and one representative from each club.  Their purposes were:  to promote 4-H activities, to provide new experiences, including leadership for older 4-H members, to supplement existing leadership provided by adults, to provide suggestions for improving the 4-H program in Story County, and to encourage club members to stay in 4-H.  At their first meeting they selected six projects to focus on, with one being a county 4-H chorus.  Other activities that year included a special recognition dinner for club leaders and spouses, square dancing and regular meetings.   Growing 4-H membership was a major focus of the Builders Club this decade.
 
4-H Chorus:  4-H'ers were invited to a rehearsal on June 5, 1953.  55 4-H'ers came.  Their first public appearance was at the 1953 Story County Fair.  In 1954, the 75-member chorus made numerous appearances including WOI-TV and State Boys 4-H Short Course. They held square dances to earn money for supplies as well as a recreation outlet for themselves after their practice sessions. (Members of the County Chorus are shown on the right).
 
Roller skating parties were a new activity for the 1950s 4-H'ers.  Attendance was so large that not everybody could skate, so subsequent parties were held once a month for half the county so everyone could come to six parties a year.
 
Farm safety was a special activity in 1951 for boys clubs.  200 members checked their farms for hazards and corrected them.  In 1952, a 4-H testing program began with a weigh-in designed to encourage getting pigs off to a good start.  In 1955, a hog carcass contest was started at county fair.
 
Bob Wise of Fernald was elected state 4-H boys' president in 1952.
 
The Chicago Awards trip was given in recognition of outstanding work by a 4-H boy or girl in Story County.  Most commonly three boys and three girls were selected along with two leaders.  The trip to Chicago gave 4-H'ers new experiences (museums, aquarium, a stage show or dinner theater, and new foods).
 
In 1954, 86 percent of the members completed their record books...quite an accomplishment.
 
In 1956, the Builders Club invited Friends of 4-H (those supporting the program financially and otherwise) to an awards banquet held at the Memorial Union on the Iowa State College campus.
 
In 1954, former 4-H'ers who were attending Iowa State College conducted livestock judging workshops and a county contest.
 
The county delegation to the 1958 State Girls Convention conducted the state honorary member ceremony.  This required 24 4-H'ers to conduct the ceremony. Additional leaders and parents helped gather red clover and tie it to a rope for the ceremony.  Five girls had speaking parts, but everyone was a part of the ceremony.
 
Interstate exchange programs were happening, including one with Michigan and one with Mississippi 4-H'ers.  One year Story County youth traveled and stayed in homes of 4-H'ers in the other state; the next year Story County families hosted 4-H'ers from that state.
 
Several 4-H'ers were involved in doing radio spots promoting 4-H activities during National 4-H week and keeping up the tradition of delivering cakes to Friends of 4-H.
 
(Above photo shows a young 4-H'er proudly displaying his entomology project in the 1950's).
 

1960s

875 boys and girls were enrolled in 39 clubs in 1960.
 
It was decade of change.  In the 1960s, several parts of the program were combined from separate boys and girls activities into joint events.  By spring 1962 the first joint organizational leader training was held.  The girls and boys county 4-H committees combined into one committee that same year.  New green and white stripe two-piece girls 4-H uniforms were introduced in 1963. (Photo at right shows the girls uniforms for the 1960's, 1920's, and 1950's).
 
The list of projects available to 4-H'ers was growing.  Project leader training began to support project leaders in projects like gardening, photography, woodworking, horse and pony, and electricity.  Special trainings for leaders and youth included tractor safety (1960).  Social courtesy discussions and demonstrations were held at a club meeting in all local clubs (1964).  Money management was the special activity in 1965.
 
Story County 4-H leaders were honored at an Ames Rotary Club Rural-Urban Banquet.  Each was given a gatepost sign, which read '4-H Club Leader Lives Here'.
 
Camping continued to be a fun experience for youth.  Boys and girls attended both county camps and district camps.  In 1961, 72 girls attended the county camp at the State Camping Center, and 30 boys attended a four-county camp.
 
Builders Club Interstate Exchange trips involved Kentucky, Michigan, and Kansas. The Club sponsored other events such as roller-skating parties with proceeds going

to club activities plus National 4-H Week activities, 4-H leaders barbecue, social gatherings and club meetings.  In 1961, the membership of Builders Club was open to all 4-H members 15 years and older.  In 1967, the Builders Club ran a dairy bar at the county fair.

(Photo at right shows 1966 State 4-H Conference Delegation).

The first Citizenship Trip to Washington, D.C. sponsored by the Builders Club was in 1964.  Thirty delegates were selected from 52 applicants.  Each 4-H'er participated in a four-session training before going.  They presented reports to local 4-H clubs, service clubs, and other groups when they returned home.  By the end of the 1960s, 102 4-H'ers had traveled to Washington, D.C. on the Citizenship trip.
 
In 1966, 21 4-H'ers traveled to Northeast Iowa where they lived with 4-H families in Allamakee County as part of an exchange.  4-H'ers from that county visited Story County in 1967.
 
A local club achievement show was held by all girls' clubs in 1967 with a limit set on the number of exhibits that could advance to the county fair. (Photo at right shows girls' exhibits being judged in the Community Building in 1968).
 
Most clubs carried out community service activities each year.  In the 1960s, projects such as assisting with drives for the Red Cross, CROP, and cancer; holding benefits to raise scholarship funds; donating gifts to needy children; and supporting the IFYE (International 4-H Youth Exchange) program were undertaken.  In 1966, nearly 1,000 4-H'ers joined forces on an anti-rubbish campaign.  Among the many projects, they picked up trash along the roadsides and cleaned up cemeteries.  In 1967, the Richland Royals club received a state award for their work to beautify their township.
 
1960s: Livestock judging continued to be a big interest with 138 4-H'ers entering the county contest one year.  Former 4-H'ers assisted with workouts.
 
A major factor in planning a boys' and girls' Rally Night involved finding a space large enough to house the audience.  The first joint Rally Night was attended by more than 800 4-H'ers, family and friends. The 1961-62 boys and girls officers were elected at this Rally Night.
 
The 4-H Spring Festival provided contests in vocal music, creed speaking and better grooming contests for both boys and girls.  Winners demonstrated their skills and talents at Rally Days, county fair and other events.
 
Participation in the boys and girls demonstration contests showed growth.  In 1966, 54 demonstrations were given at the two county contests. (Photo at right shows safety demonstration winners in 1967).
 
In 1960, 201 beef project members showed 393 baby beeves at the county fair; in 1961, six Story County 4-H'ers won the State Dairy Judging Contest; and the horse and pony project enrollment increase from 40 to 82 head.  Club tours by agricultural clubs were held in the summer prior to fair with members reporting on feeding and management practices.  Changes in the 1969 county fair beef program included minimum weights at fair weigh-in, carcass contest and rate of gain recognition.
 
In 1969, Dog obedience training was started resulting in the first dog obedience classes at the fair.
 
Projects involving learning management skills continued to be a large part of several 4-H projects: examples were record keeping in the junior cattle feeder project and purchasing a garment to fit into a wardrobe.
 
National 4-H Week, a standing tradition, continued with cakes delivered to friends of 4-H, window displays and radio interviews with 4-H officers.  A team of 4-H'ers delivered a thank-you cake to the Board of Supervisors for their financial support of the county fair.
 
Gates Hall opened in 1963 and 4-H home economics exhibits were now displayed with space to handle the large numbers.  Participants enjoyed the air conditioned comfort.
 
Recreation workshops drew more than 90 club recreation leaders. They took lots of fun activities to their clubs.  Monthly skating parties were popular with 70 to 150 4-H'ers attending. (Square dancing was popular in the 50's and '60's among 4-H members as shown in the photo on the right).
 

1970s

In 1970, there were 704 members in 39 clubs.
 
Lynne Pilgrim was elected State 4-H Historian in 1970; in 1973 Jeff Pilgrim was elected State 4-H Vice President; Kevin Miskell was elected State Historian in 1977.
 
In 1972, 9-year old youth could become members for the first time.  Membership rose to 820.  A youth staff member was hired to recruit members in urban clubs.  By the end of 1973, there were 941 members in 46 clubs.  About half of these clubs were either in Ames or Nevada.
 
School programs: Mulligan Stew, a nutrition program, reached 2,677 5th and 6th grade youth in Story County.  Short term special interest groups were formed: Puppets and Pizza was developed as an after school educational activity for girls; photography, recreation and nutrition programs were held twice a week for eight weeks at the Boys Club in Ames.
 
4-H beef members wore arm bands at fair for the first time listing average daily gains
and weigh-in weights for their beef animals to assist the judge in evaluation.
 
During the 1970s, pressure arose to change county officers to a county council made up of five boys and five girls. (1969-70 County Council shown on right).
 
The first fair queen was chosen to represent Story County at the Iowa State Fair.
 
A decrease in participation led to the elimination of the annual 4-H Rally Day in 1973.  The election process was moved to the county fair.  The honorary member ceremony was moved to awards night.
 
The garden project was popular with 70 4-H'ers participating in the county garden tour held before the fair as part of the evaluation of their project.
 
Family Nights were held by most clubs in the fall.  It was a time for 4-H'ers and their families to get acquainted.  New members were initiated and club officers installed.
 
Story County 4-H'ers collected 21,396 Betty Crocker coupons to help purchase a new kidney dialysis machine for Mary Greeley Hospital.
 
An evening tradition at the county fair was the parade of champions.    4-H'ers from all project areas showed off their exhibits to the crowd. County 4-H Council members planned family fun nights with lots of activities in which 4-H'ers and their families could participate.
 
(Photo at right shows beef project members learning about grooming livestock.)
 
Several clubs were holding their own camps in addition to the ongoing county camps.  One year 103 Story County 4-H'ers and 13 counselors attended camp at the State 4-H Camp near Luther.
 
525 4-H'ers, parents and friends attended the annual 4-H Achievement Night (awards program) at the Memorial Union in 1973.  The 'I Dare You' award, Brinkman Award, and Nevada Rotary Achievement award were presented to those 4-H'ers who were outstanding in leadership and achievement.
 
4-H membership records show that a record membership was reached in 1974 with 1,056 members.
 
The communication contest was now open to junior, intermediate and senior members.  For many years the junior members were called Clovers.   Many 4-H'ers learned good communication skills through demonstrations, talks, working exhibits and posters.  The Spring Festival included the following contests:  junior creed, citizenship pledge, Country Girls Creed, national pledge, 4-H chorale, One Little Candle, 4-Leaf Clover Song, Plowing Song, talent, vocal and instrumental.
 
In 1975, Lauren Christian became the county 4-H swine project leader and conducted his first meeting.  He gave countless hours to education of 4-H members and parents, well into the 1990s.  The Swine Derby Program grew under his leadership.   By 1979, 45 youth enrolled hogs in the Swine Derby show and Pork Carcass evaluation contest.
 
 
 
 
(Recreation added fun to 4-H. Pictured on right is a mini-bike built by a    4-H'er.)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Kevin Brooks was one of four Iowa 4-H'ers selected to attend the National 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C. in 1977.
 
4-H'ers participated in Citizenship Washington Focus trips in 1971, 1973, 1975, 1978 and 1979. 4-H'ers were encouraged to practice what they learned through their own citizenship project.
 
One year in the 1970s, 180 girls and boys, age 9 -18 participated in the County Fashion Revue which emphasized clothing construction and selection.
 
Interstate exchanges with 4-H'ers in Wisconsin, Butler County, Pennsylvania; Garland County, Arkansas; western Kansas, and Shelby County, Tennessee were fun experiences for Story County 4-H'ers in the 1970s.
 
Action Plus Workshop became the name for club officer training.  Training of this kind has been held from the beginning of club work.  For many years county officers or council members and Extension Staff provided leadership for this activity with support from community members.
 
4-H members with the support of their horse project leader started a drill team in the 1970s.  The youth developed and practiced their drill patterns.  They have performed at many county fairs since that time.
 

1980s

In 1980, there were 800 4-H members in 51 clubs.
 
1980-Farm Progress Show - 600 4-H'ers and adult volunteers worked at the pop stands during the 3-day event.  From the proceeds, they gave $24,000 toward building the new extension office and Christy Hall, (now known as Christy 4-H Hall) and set aside $6,000 for a future 4-H foundation.  The Extension staff moved to the new facility in 1981. (Photo at right shows organizing workers for the pop stands).
 
The Selling Yourself Seminar provided real-life experiences for more than 100 high school-age 4-H'ers.  Ames merchants provided clothing and models to demonstrate appropriate dress for job interviews.  Owners of a fast food restaurant shared the characteristics they looked for in an employee.  Another speaker showed them how to complete a job application and do an interview. Each youth was assigned a type of job, and completed the application form for that job.  Adult volunteers conducted a mock interview with each participant.
 
4-H'ers participated in Citizenship Washington Focus trips to Washington, D.C. in 1981, 1983, 1985, 1987 and 1989.  During the 1980s, 143 4-H'ers went to Washington, D.C.  County delegations of 20 and more attended the State 4-H Conference in June each year.
 
1982 - 16 4-H'ers participated in the Interstate Exchange in Pendleton, Kentucky.
 
A two-day 4-H horse camp started at the fairgrounds in the early 1980s under the direction of horse project leader, Doris Olson and 4-H volunteers.  For a few years before that, it was held at a park in the county.  Horses came to camp with their owner.  4-H'ers learned about safety and caring for their horse, practiced riding and showing skills, gained new friends and had lots of fun.
 
County 4-H Council members planned and carried out many of the activities for younger members. One popular activity was the 4-H Lock-in for 9-11 year olds.  The activities for this overnight experience included crafts, recreation, movies, food and little sleep.
 
(4-H members often gathered to cookout during summer months as seen in this photo on the right).
 
Colleen Martin, Story County representative in the State Fair Queen Contest, was crowned the 1982 Iowa State Fair Queen.
 
The County 4-H Council members of the 1980s planned and carried out a Family Fun Night at county fair with contests such as Jell-O eating, water balloon toss, egg throwing, three-leg race, paper airplanes, plus a hog calling contest and volleyball tournaments.  The 'Pie in the Face' event was a highlight.  People with the highest bid got to throw a pie in the face of '4-H personalities' such as staff, leaders and fair board members.  Money raised went to the Builders Club.
 
A number of youth participated in Share the Fun throughout the years.  Youth shared their musical talent, danced, did a funny skit, told stories or performed other entertaining acts they designed.  Often they were original.  Each year acts were chosen to advance to the State Fair.
 
As the years have gone by, small animal project numbers have grown.  These include dogs, rabbits and small pets.  Project leaders held weekly dog obedience training for the 4-H'er and their dog which meant the 4-H'er and their family now had a well-behaved pet that responded to commands. (Photo at right shows a 4-H'er teaching others about dog obedience at the County Communication Contest).
 
"Chris Clover", the 4-H mascot showed up at many events.  The 4-H'er in the green clover costume spent some pretty warm days as Chris during the hot summers.
 
An activity popular with the Builders Club in the 1980s was ski trips to Minnesota.  One year a bus of 4-H'ers skied all day, and then slept on the concrete floor of a local high school at night.
 
County 4-H Council elections at county fair involved candidate speeches, campaign posters, and a ballot box in which each 4-H'er placed their ballot. In 1988, 25 Story County delegates attended the state 4-H conference.
 

1990s

 In 1990, 645 members were in 41 clubs.
 
1992 - 17-year-old Builders Club president, Erin Olson, was the manager for an $8,000 project involving the construction of a new Builders Club Food Stand at the fairgrounds.  The Builders Club which started in 1953 remained active with club meetings and management of the food stand at fair.
 
Buddies Program - During the 1990s, five deaf youth were members of 4-H.  Interest was raised when two boys gave a sign language presentation at the county communication contest.  A simulation, 'It's a Deaf, Deaf World" was held for all 4-H volunteers and members. Participants experienced what it was like to be deaf.  Sign language workshops were held for adults and youth.  Four of the deaf youth were part of the teaching team.
 
(As shown in photo on the right, Story County held a rocket workshop with the help of older 4-H'ers to lead the workshop).
 
Citizenship Washington Focus Trips (CWF) were held in 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, and 1999.  During the 1990s, 115 4-H'ers attended CWF in Washington, D.C.  Pre-trip meetings provided orientation and time for each 4-H'er to set goals on how they would grow through the experience.  Matters of dress, trip plans and handling situations in a new environment were discussed.  When they returned home, they assembled a display or notebook of their experiences to share with others as they gave talks at their club, civic groups and county 4-events. The group planned and conducted a citizenship program at the Inspiration program.  One year they put together a slide show.
 
The 4-H Horse project was very active under the leadership of Claire Hall and a team of volunteers. Project members grew in numbers. Each year, six months of project meetings started in January.  In the 1990s the Horse Camp became a four-night event.  In addition, horse school was held every Wednesday night in June and July prior to fair.  A Model Horse program was developed for kids in the 'horseless horse' project and Clover Kids.  4-H'ers learned about breeds, anatomy, tack and more.  Their model horse does well if it exhibits characteristics of the breed for the class they enter and have chosen appropriate tack. (saddles, etc.)
 
In 1994, 475 volunteers (including 4-H'ers and 4-H leaders) worked successfully to pass a referendum to assure future funding of extension (and the 4-H program) in Story County.
 
(Photo at right: Honoring 4-H Alumni was part of Awards Night).
 
In the 1990s, interest in bottle bucket calves grew with support of the project by the Story County Cattlemen.  A large number (75 or more) of 4-H'ers competed at the State Fair with their livestock exhibits each year.
 
In today's world, food safety is an important responsibility of 4-H'ers who market animals.  Food Safety and Quality Assurance (FSQA) training became a requirement for 4-H'ers in the 1990s.  It helped youth and their parents better understand what they could do to produce the safest food possible.
 
The Clover Kid program grew in the 1990s.  Most 4-H clubs sponsored a Clover Kid Group for K-3rd grade youth.  It was required that Clover Kid leaders taught a separate program which was appropriate for their age.  For the convenience of families, some Clover Kid groups met at the same time as the 4-H club but in a separate space.  Other Clover Kid Groups had their activities during a 3-4 month period during the year.  There were certain events, like the family night, that drew everyone together.
 
(Photo at right: Exploring what lives in the water was a fun part of a day camp held in the 1990's).
 
The Communication contest grew in the 1990s.  Youth could do a presentation, a working exhibit, extemporaneous speaking, create a poster and develop promotional material for 4-H.  In 1995, 169 youth developed decision-making, organization and communication skills by participating in the county contest.
 
The ISU dairy project offered urban youth the opportunity to learn how to care for and show a dairy animal.  Besides learning about dairy cattle, they learned what taking responsibility meant on a daily basis.
 
The 4-H Youth Programs Development Committee was reorganized with 13 adults and five youth.  They made decisions on policy, planned the program and assisted in carrying out county activities.  The committee adopted a new awards system in 1998 with 350 4-H'ers recognized at awards night.
 
In 1997 the "County Fair goes to the Mall" in Ames became a reality. Judging of the photography and visual arts exhibits was done at the mall two weeks before fair.  The display of exhibits over the weekend helped visitors learn about skills gained through 4-H.  The photography project often had more than 500 entries. (Chris Clover hosts the 'Fair goes to the Mall' shown in the photo on the right).
 
The State 4-H Conference has always drawn a significant number of 4-H'ers to the three-day event in Ames.  An all-time high was reached in 1998 when 45 4-H'ers were in attendance.
 
For several years, the Palestine Peppy Pushers 4-H Club has raised money to help their community.  Their biggest accomplishment was the outdoor amphitheater in Huxley's Railroad Park.  They sold firewood, operated a concession trailer for community festivals, and did pancake breakfasts to earn money toward the $65,000 needed for the amphitheater.  In 1995, the Nevada Do Drops raised $500 for Georgia residents in flooded conditions.   This was in response to the support Story County received in 1993 after the flood here.
 

2000s

In 2000, 667 4-H'ers and 132 Clover Kids were in 29 Clubs
 
2002: More than 400 attended the reunion at county fair to Celebrate 100 Years of 4-H.  Clubs built floats for parades and made club history displays to inform others at fair.
 
2004-2005:  The Food and Fitness Craze program was chosen as an educational focus for local club programs.  One club participated in 'Go the Distance'; wearing pedometers, they learned how much activity they were actually doing.
  
Karla McKilligan of Ames was one of four Iowa 4-H'ers selected to attend the
 National 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C. in 2005.
 
Rabbit Hopping has gained the interest of 4-H'ers today.  Youth train their rabbit to jump small hurdles.  The one who jumps all the hurdles without knocking down a bar and completes the course in the shortest time wins.  Clover Kids and 4-H'ers of all ages participate in this fun activity.
 
4-H'ers participated in the Citizenship Washington Focus trips in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011.  This brings the total Story County 4-H'ers participating in the CWF experience since 1964 to nearly 500 youth.
 
For seven years, Story County 4-H'ers participated in the Region 8 Tri-County Junior camp.  At some of the first camps, 4-H'ers worked to improve the campsites including constructing picnic tables and campfire rings, landscaping the lodge and general clean up.
 
Clover Kids are an active group of youth, grades K through 3rd.  In Story County most groups have a connection with a 4-H club.  Leaders are trained and supported with activities for their workshops.  Some of the projects enjoyed are model horses, bottle bucket calf, small pets and rabbit hopping. (Photo at right shows a Clover Kid with his pet. Pets are a popular project for Clover Kids).
 
The 4-H horse project has remained strong (80 to 100 members) with horse camps, horse school, project meetings and model horses.  A number of 'graduates' of the program have become leaders and helpers in the program.  There is a lot of opportunity for learning.  As a result, Story County teams have represented the state well at national contests, such as the Western Livestock Show in Denver. (As shown in the picture on the right, The Model Horse project attracts many youth).
 
Technology interest is growing in 4-H.  One way is through First Lego League (FLL).  Teams in grades 4-8 have participated in regional and
 state competitions.  Each team has 5 minutes to present a problem and their solution in a creative way.  Additionally, they use Legos to create attachments for a robot that they program to complete a variety of tasks on a playing field.  Technology is also evident as 4-H'ers explore
 ways to alter photos, learn about Global Positioning Systems, and even learn how various kinds of energy, including wind turbines, are beneficial to their communities.
 
Safety and Education in Shooting Sports (SESS) is offered by trained 4-H SESS volunteers that provide 4-H'ers safety education and skill development in the archery, shotgun and air rifle disciplines.  4-H'ers learn the important range commands that alert them when they can prepare to shoot, retrieve arrows and so on.  They learn to identify the parts of their bow, air rifle or shotgun.  Through this they can see how it works.  While shotgun is available to 4-H'ers ages 12 and up, archery and air rifle are available to all 4-H'ers in grades 4-12.  Several Story County 4-H'ers have participated in state and national 4-H competitions this decade.
 
Since 2002, individuals have been inducted into the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame each year.  Click here to find the Story County inductees.  In that same time the Story County 4-H History Committee has hosted 4-H Reunions at county fair, sorted and preserved a number of 4-H photos and clippings, and produced a DVD with the help of Story County 4-H alum, Dennis Goering.
 

Story County 4-H Foundation

A Story County 4-H Foundation Board was activated in 2004.  They 
started with an endowment of $39,000 established in 1999. Some of this money had been raised by 4-H'ers at the 1980 Farm Progress show and had earned interest over the years.  One of the first fund raisers was the 4-H Pathway to the Future, a display of engraved bricks and blocks.  The Board's original goal of $100,000 was reached late in 2006.  The following summer distribution of funds began.  Today, the board has supported grants, memberships in new clubs, recruitment and scholarships.  Numerous grant proposals have been presented by 4-H'ers (with adult support) to do projects such as creating gardens for the disabled, building wash racks at county fair, making blankets for pediatrics at Mary Greeley Hospital, constructing picnic tables and landscaping at the Community Building.  Support has also been given to leader training, camps, 4-H'ers representing the state at national events, and to projects such as Shooting Sports.  As of May 2012, the foundation has provided more than  $21,000 to support the growth of  4-H youth in Story County.
 

Inspiration Program and Citizenship Washington Focus Trips

Story County 4-H'ers are very fortunate to have had John Hattery as their friend and supporter.  Mr. Hattery wore many hats during his life-time.  Some of them were Story County Sheriff, state senator, attorney and Chief of the Iowa Highway Patrol where he was instrumental in the formation of the first highway patrol.  According to a 1940 newspaper article, "John Hattery, state senator-elect gave the address on citizenship at the Story County 4-H awards banquet."  In 1947, the annual report shows that Mr. Hattery, a local attorney, gave a talk on parliamentary procedure at the 4-H officer training.  In the early 1970s he was initiated as an Honorary 4-H Member.
 
Due to his great interest in youth and relationship with the 4-H program, Mr. Hattery contributed $100,000 to Story County 4-H in the 1970s.  The interest on the gift was to be used to bring an inspirational speaker to the county to speak to 4-H'ers, parents and the people of our county.  The first Inspiration Program was in 1978.  The speaker was Colonel James Irwin, Apollo 15 astronaut, who landed on the moon in 1969.
 
John Hattery had a saying that he believed applied to the youth of the day.  "Ships are safe in the harbor, but ships were meant to go to sea."  Like ships, youth must leave the safe harbor and go to sea.  He wanted the 4-H'ers to have the opportunity to hear and learn from individuals who had been successful and could encourage youth to believe in themselves.  In the years that followed some of the speakers were Ray Pugh, Marguerite Piazza, Rosey Grier, Molly Cooney, Rocky Blier, Simon Estes (pictured below), Tom Jorgenson, Al Oerter, Tori Allen, and Charlie Wittmack.
 
One can see by John Hattery's life that serving others was important to him.  He was excited about the training youth were receiving though the Citizenship Washington Focus trip to Washington, D.C.  In 1980, he generously agreed that the interest from his original gift could be used to sponsor up to one-half of the delegate fee for each youth taking part in the Citizenship Washington Focus trip.  To this day the CWF trip and the inspiration program receive financial support from this fund on alternate years.
 

Story County 4-H Fair

The county fair is the highlight of the 4-H year for many a 4-H'er.  It is exciting to bring exhibits to the fair.  It might mean feeding, grooming and showing a steer; or raising vegetables and bringing a plate of tomatoes; or refinishing your grandmother's chair to exhibit.  Extension staff provide the education and training of leaders and 4-H'ers.  The fair board provides the facilities for the evaluation process that is part of the 4-H experience.
 
The Story County 4-H Fair has been a true youth fair from its inception.  County Officers, County 4-H Councils, Leadership Teams, and Builders Club have taken responsibility over the years to carry out many activities and events at the fair.  These have been evenings featuring 4-H talent, family nights and contests to list a few.  The fair dance was the place to see 4-H friends from across the county.
 
Visit with a Story County 4-H family and you will find that they like the fair without a midway or grandstand.  They have found the fair a great place for younger members of their family to spend the day with their friends in a safe environment.
 
Another lifetime memory of county fair for many 4-H'ers has been staying overnight at the fair.  At one time, boys stayed in the horse barn. Today, camping in a tent or RV with your family is a tradition.  In the past 20 years, the number of campers has grown.  Now two camping areas available, and RVs start rolling in several days before fair actually starts.
 
Story County has been known for its quality of exhibits whether in the barn or exhibit hall.  Thanks to hundreds of fair volunteers for the time and effort they have put into making this great experience possible for the youth.  Today the fair is known as the Story County Youth Fair.
 

A few highlights of the Story County 4-H Fair

When the Story County Extension Service was organized in 1917, club groups soon began to form.  By 1925, a 4-H Achievement Day for youth was held in Ames.  In 1931, the first Story County 4-H Achievement Day/Club Show for all projects was held in Nevada at the corner of 7th and J Ave.  The fair continued to move around the county during the 30s.
 
On June 28, 1939, the Story County 4-H Fair Association was incorporated and 18 acres at the current site of the Story County 4-H Grounds located at 2nd and H in Nevada were secured through a city bond issue.  The 1939 4-H club show was held at the newly acquired 4-H grounds.  Two big tents and a barn on 2nd Street housed the livestock.  The girls exhibits were displayed at the Presbyterian Church.  Works Project Administration (WPA) began the construction of three barns and a community building the next year.  4-H clubs of the county raised $3,000 to put toward the buildings.  The Story County Drama tournament sponsored by the Junior Farm Bureau provided additional funds toward the 4-H club buildings.  Thus, the Story County 4-H Fair had a home.
 
The 1942 County 4-H Fair was held with the boys' livestock housed in the large new modern 4-H club barns and the girls' exhibits in the Nevada Community Building.  The 4-H club auction was held at the end of fair with baby beef selling for an average of $14.60 per hundredweight.
 
Within a few weeks in the spring of 1944, 4-H members raised sufficient funds through donations to completely pay off the debt on the 4-H Building.  For the 1947 fair, a newly completed horse barn provided dormitory space on the second floor for boys.  It held 60 beds which were rented from the Iowa State College Department of Residence.  Nearly 300 4-H livestock club members exhibited more than 1,700 head of livestock and poultry in 1949.
 
In the 1950s, the fair activities included girls club booths, a boys demonstration contest, county sports festival, musical talent, livestock parade and presentation of awards to demonstrations teams in addition to the usual exhibits and livestock shows.  In 1954, a new show pavilion was built, holding 800 people at the first evening lamb show.  The poultry and rabbit barn was built in 1957.  In 1959 4-H'ers marched into the new arena as club groups, in uniform and sat in the bleachers.  Award winners were announced and received their trophies.  A dairy barn was built in 1962.  In the 1970s, horses were housed here as dairy numbers had decreased.
 
(Photo at right: 4-H boys loved sleeping in the horse barn dorm in the 1950's). 
 
In 1964, a new barn was built in cooperation with the Nevada Park and Recreation Department.  It has been used for commercial and community booths, but more recently for 4-H exhibits including goats and llamas.  For several years Park and Rec used the building during the year and vacated it at fair time.  A 12' x 32' building also was built, which contained restrooms plus space for a dressing area and an office.  This building was taken down and replaced by a mens and womens restroom in the 1990s.
 
A celebration was held during the 1965 county fair to recognize that the Story County 4-H Fair had been held on the grounds for 25 years.  In 1967, the 36th annual 4-H Fair was held.  (The 4-H fair dates back to the first 4-H Achievement Day/Club Show in 1931.)  The 1967 fair was a time to recognize Walt Smay of Fernald who built the laminated beams that created the curved roof line that has been a unique architectural design of the fair buildings.  Two buildings with the curved roof line, the Community Building and the Lauren Christian Swine Barn, are still on the grounds.
 
In the 1970s it came time to erect a new fence around the horse ring.  This was a community effort with the park board providing the lumber, the fair board providing the labor and the Nevada Jaycees donating time to paint the fence.  A 1940 beef barn was destroyed by a wind storm.  In 1980 a new sheep barn was built to replace it.
 
Leonard Dueland, Fair Board president, was recognized during the 1985 County Fair for his 30 years of service, many of which he served as president.  The 4-H show pavilion was named the Dueland Pavilion.  In 1987, a new beef barn was built to replace the 1940 beef barn.
 
In the early 1990s, the Builders Club helped finance the building of a new Builders Club Food Stand.  The Bob Williams Arena was built in 1997 to house dairy and other animals as needed.  It also provided a judging arena for dairy cattle and goats.  Bob served on the Fair Board for 30 years.  Of these, he served 14 years as president.
 
(Pictured at right is the 2001 Story County Fair Board).
 
Since 2007, several 4-H clubs have stepped forward to apply for Foundation grants to support projects at the fairgrounds.  These have included new wash racks for the beef, swine and sheep barns; landscaping at the community building; a barn quilt; and a makeover of the fair office.  In 2011, a horse barn was built just south of the extension office.  New box stalls had been in place with a temporary cover for a few years before this permanent structure was completed.
 
In 2009, the City of Nevada donated approximately 15 acres of the original 18 acres of land to the Story County 4-H Fair Association.  It had been a good tenant-landlord relationship for 70 years.
 
Over the years, 4-H'ers, fair board members, leaders and parents have stepped forward to help maintain the fairgrounds.  It may have been cleaning up before and after fair, helping with building one of the barns, painting and landscaping, or scrubbing up the food stand after a flood.  All this is done so that 4-H'ers and the people of our county can enjoy the tradition of a county fair for another year.
 

Early Days of the County Fair

For more information, check the Story County Fairgrounds & 4-H Fair history compiled by Jim Christy that takes us back to 1859.  It includes more detail about the movement of the county fair around the county and the growth over the years.  (Of course, the committee had to convince Jim to put his name in this document.)
 

Links included in this Story County 4-H History

 

Story County 4-H History Resources

View these notebooks at the Story County Extension office, 220 H Avenue, Nevada, IA
 
  • Citizenship Washington Focus delegates  1964 - present
    Contains photos and lists of delegates attending
          
  • Summary of Story County 4-H History 1951 to present
    A summary by year including county activities, state and national recognition 
     
  • Story County 4-H Leaders  1918 - present
    Contains the Harold Montgomery History of 4-H Clubs from 1918-1949
          
  • 4-H Reunions since 2002
          
  • Celebrating 100 years of Story County 4-H - 2002 Party
  • Inspiration Program 1978 - 1985 - book 1
          
  • Inspiration Program 1986 - present - book 2
     
  • 4-H Membership Records since 1969 to present
     

View Reports at Parks Library, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
 

  • Annual Reports from 1917 through 1968
(Contains clippings, photos and narratives giving many names of 4-H'ers and volunteers involved over the years in Story County; includes listings of clubs and membership for each year)
 
 
Get your own DVD, "From Past to Future 4-H" from the Story County 4-H Foundation at the Story County Extension Office.  Order forms are available on line at www.extension.iastate.edu/story/4h

 

Visit the Story County 4-H Website.

To make a donation to the Story County Endowment through the Iowa 4-H Foundation, click this button. Then select Story County in the far right column (My 4-H County) and complete the gift information.

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