Iowa 4-H History By County - Iowa 4-H Foundation

Iowa 4-H History By County

Osceola County, 4-H History

Posted on 09/26/2022 at 1:52 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            Baker Hotshots – Baker Township – 19 members

            Busy Bees – Gilman Township – 13 members

            Gilman Glories – Gilman Township- 9 members

            Jolly Jesters – Fairview Township – 8 members

            Prairie Rose – East Holman Township – 13 members

            Rural Orchids – Viola Township – 11 members

            Sunny Sisters – Ocheyedan Township – 7 members

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Hardin County, Iowa 4-H History

Posted on 02/02/2022 at 12:38 PM

Brief History of Hardin County 4-H

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jasper County, Iowa 4-H History

Posted on 07/12/2021 at 10:10 AM

Jasper County 4-H Youth Program

Jasper County has a strong 4-H heritage. "AIMS " (as taken from an early 4-H newspaper article, probably 1927.) "The 4-H program in Jasper County's purpose is to teach youth sportsmanship, loyalty, self expression and cooperation, as well as to train them in their various projects . ... It develops community spirit and teaches our young folks a better standard of production and home management."

The first county club agent in Jasper County was W. 0 Abraham. Ray Laflin was the county agent. "The first organized club work began in l 921" was the newspaper clipping headline. The program struggled until 1925 when a Baby Beef Club was formed for two members. In the same year four Bread Clubs were statted. In 1926 a Poland China Club was started with 26 members. Poultry and canning clubs were also started. There were 72 members in six canning clubs.

The history tells us that "the rnost notable event of 1927 was the formation of a 4-H Association composed of all club members in the county ... Under the leadership of the county agent, Ray D. Laflin and County Club Agent D.M. Hall, the County Club Association sprang into existence . ... The clubs of the county met once each month for the organization meeting, a program led by a club, and then a social time. This County Association was the first in the state, ... but other counties have organized similar associations."

By 1928 the records show that Jasper County youth were competing at the National 4-H Club Congress in Chicago. That same year the history shows that a best club was selected based on the members records. Record keeping continues today to be an important part of 4-H.

Through the years there have been many changes in Iowa State University Extension. Until 1951, Iowa State University Extension was closely associated with Farm Bureau in Iowa and many other states. The program was targeted at rural residents of the counties. Beginning in 1951 when the structure was changed, an Extension Council member was selected from each township to serve on the decision-making board and coordinating with Iowa State University on the hiring of staff, salaries and operating policy. The Extension Council members operate the county office with property taxes requested each year. The structure was again changed in 1993 when the first Extension Council members were elected for four year terms on the General Election ballot. Now nine members represent the residents of Jasper County. Iowa State University Extension programs to reach all residents of Jasper County.

In 1999 4-H continues to be an integral part of the Iowa State University Extension in Jasper County. The aim cited in the 1927 article has changed very little as boys and girls participate in hands-on learning in the same clubs. The mission of 4-H now is stated as "ISU Extension to Youth and 4-H creates supportive environments for culturally diverse youth and adults to reach their full potential.

To support this mission ISU Extension and the county staff will:

  • Design all program efforts using research-based knowledge from Iowa State University and the land grant university system.
  • Provide formal and non-formal community-focused experiential learning
  • Develop skills that benefit youth throughout life. We emphasize seven skills. They are: developing a positive self concept, communication skills, decision making skills, learning how to learn, ability to cope with change, citizenship skills, and leadership skills
  • Build internal and external partnerships for programming and funding
  • Actively involve youth as partners
  • Foster leadership and volunteerism in youth and adults
  • Help create community conditions that encourage healthy environments for families and youth 

Capable, competent, and caring citizens will result when we accomplish this mission,"

Projects continue to be the tools we use for learning life skills in the positive self concept, communication skills, decision making skills, learning how to learn, ability to cope with change, citizenship skills, and leadership skills. These skills will be important wherever life leads the Jasper County youth,

We salute the adults in Jasper County who give their time and skills to assist young people in learning the skills to make them capable, competent and caring citizens today and tomorrow. We also thank those who provide financial support so that youth, and their families, can have assistance to participate in those special learning experiences. The establishment of the Jasper County 4-H Geisler-Penquite Endowment Foundation makes these opportunities more reachable for families.

The Iowa State University Extension Office in Jasper County provides support to fourteen community clubs with over three hundred members in all. There are also five "special interest" clubs that 4-H'ers can belong to in effort to gain more topic specific knowledge, in addition to their community clubs. They include, Wildlife and Environment, Dog Project, Llama Project, Horse Project clubs, as well as a Jasper County Livestock Judging club.

The Jasper County 4-H program continues to be a constituent part of the Iowa State University Extension.


Jones County, Iowa 4-H History

Posted on 07/12/2021 at 10:01 AM

The History of 4-H in Jones County, 1920 - 2009

4-H clubs began as project clubs to teach agriculture and home economics. Projects for girls were food and nutrition, clothing and home furnishings. Boys belonged to 4-H project clubs that included beef, swine, dairy, crops and gardens.


  • In 1922 there were seven 4-H clubs with 63 members. By 1925, there were twenty-one clubs with 191 members.
  • A boy and girl were selected to go the State Fair Health Contest
  • In 1927 the first annual 4-H club banquet was held for boys and girls
  • Livestock workouts were started, beginning with beef and later with swine
  • Girls 4-H clubs were organized by communities and townships A girls 4-H committee was formed to give direction to girls in 4-H. Girls county 4-H officers were elected
  • Livestock was exhibited at both the Anamosa Fair and the Monticello Fair


  • Organized beef club tours were started to provided teaching and recognition. In later years, there tours included all boy's projects.
  • Boys 4-H project clubs were organized into communities or township clubs. Some parts of the county had concerns.
  • A county wide picnic for boys brought about the first election of boys county 4-H officers.
  • Girls 4-H clubs had exhibit booths at the Jones County Fair
  • Teaching was conducted in how to give a 4-H demonstration.
  • 4-H camps were held at the Monticello fairgrounds


  • Livestock is now noted as 4-H projects not livestock clubs.
  • World War II brought about emphasis on purchase of war bonds, victory gardens etc
  • A Farm Bureau group, Rural Young People, provided leadership to 4-H. They held a basketball tournament,
  • 4-H held steady during the war years

1950 -59

  • 4-H members increased to more than 600 girls and boys.
  • 4-H structure became more highly organized with terms for committee members, club expectation and more county-wide events
  • More youth became involved in state 4-H experiences
  • Extension Service moved into a new Farm Bureau building which provided meeting rooms and Extension Staff offices
  • The 4-H exchange program to other states began. The first exchange was with Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Exchanges (one year visit, next year host) continued with counties throughout the United States
  • The county-wide older youth club, 4-H Builders began. This group served banquets, did community service and experienced large cities - St Louis, Minneapolis and Chicago
  • 4-H camps tried several sites - Scotch Grove Boy Scout cabin, county fairgrounds etc
  • Boys 4-H club tours, girls 4-H achievement shows, garden tours became annual events
  • Countywide education emphasis for all 4-H clubs took place each winter

1960 -69

  • Girls 4-H and Boys 4-H were organized into a total structure
  • Girls and Boys 4-H Committees were combined to form a total 4-H Committee
  • Girls and Boys 4-H officers were united to be a 4-H Youth Council
  • more project leaders gave special training projects included horses, dogs, gardens, photography etc
  • Camping experiences grew into Junior and Senior camps as well as winter camp. Camp Wyoming was used.

The Great Jones County Fair

  • 4-H volunteers carried out the complete operation of the youth department at the county fair.
  • Exhibits had quotas as to the space available
  • A beef and dairy parade as well as a calf, pig and chicken scramble were grandstand events
  • The 4-H food stand expanded from a tent to a permanent shelter manned by 4-H'ers. The profit was the major source of income for programs and activities.
  • Extra projects became the science, mechanics and fine arts department
  • Cold watermelon feeds were big county fair treats
  • Outstanding livestock exhibits advanced to State Fair, AK-SAR-BEN, International Livestock show or Waterloo Meat Animal show

1970 -79

  • 4-H member participation exceeded more than 850 youth
  • College students were employed as summer aides to conduct summer youth outreach programs
  • 4-H'ers started taking part in Washington DC Citizenship experience
  • Summer 4-H club tours, achievement show, county camps, presentation days, Rally-Roundup and county fair involved hundreds of youth, parents and adult volunteers
  • Many activities like banquets and awards, county council elections, basketball tournaments, Share-the-Fun became annual events
  • A new show ring and a swine barn were constructed at the Great Jones County fairgrounds
  • Hogs from the fair began to be marketed on grade-and-yield with tours to plants for carcass evaluation
  • Jones county was the first Iowa county to begin nose printing beef animals for project identification


  • 4-H programs and philosophy evolved to youth development and life-skills
  • More short-term youth programs beyond the traditional 4-H club experience were carried out
  • There was increased competition for young people's time by sports, school activities, part-time work etc
  • A beef/dairy barn and a horse arena were constructed at the fairgrounds

1990 -2009

  • 4-H programming becomes more flexible and changeable
  • A three year cycle of foods, clothing and home improvement ends
  • 4-H girls and boys clubs start combining into a single community club
  • Specialized clubs begin with topics like shooting sports, horses, etc
  • Clover Kids, (k to 3rd grade) Summer Discovery day camps (k - 5th) and after-school programs begin
  • Camping experiences become more multi-county programs
  • More youth are involved in non-traditional 4-H clubs
  • Non-traditional youth programs such as shooting sports, the 5th quarter and summer community programs are developed
  • 4-H now covers a wider age range, k - 12 grades

Allamakee County, Iowa 4-H History

Posted on 07/12/2021 at 9:52 AM

4-H in Allamakee County
Submitted by: Teresa Wiemerslage, CEED; Sandra Ehrhardt, CYC

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact origins of 4-H in Allamakee County. Based on written reports, it is estimated that the first clubs developed at the turn of the century. 

In 1914, Congress passed the Smith-Lever Act which provided certain federal funds for the Cooperative Extension Service. Under this act the local people, Iowa State College and the United States Department of Agriculture cooperating planning, financing and carrying out a system of rural education that has become the largest system of organized adult education in the world. 

By 1918, there was a county agent in every county and documentation of county programs and activities was started. The first clubs in Allamakee County were the Sow and Litter Club, Pure Bred Calf Club, and Poultry Club. According to the May 1921 Edition of the Farm Bureau News, the Boys and Girls Bee Club started in 1921 with seven new members: Jennie Russell, Elmer Ellefson, Ralph Ellefson, Calvin Simmons, Alfred Hansmeier, Robert Hager, Carl Brandsmeier. 

T. E. Stanton, County Agent in 1925, reportedfis annual report that "a good start was secured in the Dairy Calf Club work when eighteen boys of the Better Dairy Calf Club exhibited their calves at the Allamakee County Fair. This club was organized in the early part of May [1925] and the majority of the members secured calves from their father's herd which they fed and took care of until after the Fair. Many of the boys are still feeding and caring for their calves. This Club was organized with no particular breed in mind but any dairy calf, either grade or purebred, was satisfactory and as a result, four Brown Swiss calves, six Guernsey and eight Holsteins were among the group." 

The club meetings were a community affair with town residents coming out to the meeting locations to participate in the meetings. A Poultry club also started about the same time. Stanton reports, "One meeting of the Poultry Club and the Calf Club was held in conjunction which worked out very satisfactory as the poultry members showed an interest in the dairy club work and the dairy club members showed an interest in the poultry club work. Members of such clubs are disappointed if regular meetings are not held. In many instances, a group of boys drive fifteen and eighteen miles to attend these meetings. No doubt, many of the boys in this dairy calf club realized for the first time, the problems connected with feeding. In one instance a father of two club boys found the club heifers doing so well under the management of the boys that he decided to take better'ftre of the calves in his herd and those calves were given the same feed and same management as the calves received from the club boys." 

The Clothing Clubs in Allamakee County were a source of interest among the girls, their parents and friends. In 1925, Mrs. Albert Bahr was chairman for the girl's club committee. That year sixty-five girls enrolled in clothing work with thirty-six completing the year. There were five clothing clubs in 1925, namely the "Wide Awake Club" of Waterloo township; "the U-Go I-Go Club" of Ludlow township; "The Up and Sewing Club" of Makee township; "The Be Square Club" of Union Prairie township and the "Merry Workers" of Iowa township. 
Fifty-three meetings were held as a total by all the clubs and sixty-six demonstrations were given by the girls at these meetings. During the year, ninety-five dresses were made and sixty-five under garments. Club leaders report the total value of these garments at $713.35, with a4cost of $288.12, making a total savings of $425.23. 

Today, Allamakee County has 15 traditional 4-H clubs with 323 members. There are also special interest clubs like dog obedience club, dairy judging team, dairy quiz bowl team, beef team and a Saturday Clover Kid group. In addition, over 73 4-H school enrichment programs were offered in the county in 2004 reaching over 1200 children. 





Mitchell County, Iowa 4-H History

Posted on 10/12/2020 at 11:29 AM

Prior to 4-H being established, there were boys and girls groups supported by the school. In 1916 C.W. Bond, Superintendent of Schools, organized the first boys club in Mitchell County. A one-acre corn contest was organized with each contestant keeping accurate records of cost, harvesting, and yield.

In 1918, the Extension Service was organized in Mitchell County under Farm Bureau sponsorship, and 4-H began in Mitchell County. Frank Tracy, county agent, had to meet with youth individually since there were no clubs. The first 4-H project activity reported was garden with 38 participants.

Poultry culling clubs became popular around 1920 and Mitchell County had the first poultry culling club in the state – the Jenkins Cullers. Several years later, in 1955 and 1960, Mitchell County’s poultry judging teams were recognized for winning first place at the Iowa State Fair!

In 1923 club work started. Girls clubs and boys clubs were organized by township. Each year a different project area was emphasized. The girls focused on home economics projects such as clothing, food, or home improvements, and the boys focused on livestock and agricultural projects.

Canning was the project for seven organized girls clubs in 1925. Judging of the girls’ exhibits was held to select the best to go to the State Fair, and the winning demonstration was canning chicken. It wasn’t easy for the exhibitors to take a live chicken with them while they camped at the State Fair! During World War ll, canning was popular again, along with victory gardens and salvage programs, as they played an intricate role in relieving wartime stress.

There have been many beef projects in Mitchell County since beef club work started in 1923. 4-H exhibitors have gone on to show at Ak-Sar-Ben, the American Livestock Show in Kansas City, and the International Livestock Show in Chicago.

The first 4-H live animal auction was held in 1933. This later changed into a combination of beef, swine, sheep, and dairy with a ribbon auction in 1990. Mitchell County still carries on the tradition today. A portion of the ribbon auction proceeds helps fund 4-H and FFA activities throughout the year.

Livestock projects continued to evolve. In 1959 the 4-H girls who had livestock formed a group of their own called the County Chore Girls. That same year a rate-of-gain contest was added. The 4-H swine project increased in popularity, and in 1968 the first 4-H beef and swine carcass judging was held.

Projects other than the traditional home economics and agriculture became popular in the early 1960’s. This significant change involved the need for project leaders. Special project clubs included horse, dog, and photography. In the 1980’s, co-ed clubs were organized in addition to the separated girls and boys clubs in the county.

There have been many activities outside of projects and the county fair for 4-H members to engage in. One of the first 4-H camping experiences was in 1938 when 4-H boys went to Carter’s Woods. After the rainstorm came the boys mudded their way to town and slept on the county agent’s living room floor!

For about 20 years youth participated in district 4-H camp at Clear Lake. Pine Bluff 4-H Camp in Decorah was the destination for several years, and the last few years an area 4-H camp has been held at Cedar Springs Camp in Floyd.

In the late 1940’s sports were quite an important part of the 4-H program. Sometimes it was county tournaments and other times it was in connection with the Farm Bureau. 4-H teams also participated in a state sports festival. Sporting events included softball, basketball, wrestling, and volleyball.

In the mid-1900’s, 4-H girls and 4-H boys clubs held separate “county rallies” to elect county officers. In 1963 over 1100 people attended the first joint rally for both boys and girls. This event was held at the fairgrounds and included a barbeque and election of the first county 4-H Council.

Forty members gave 40 demonstrations at Sound Off Day in 1979 and this popular program continued in the 1980’s with the goal of at least one third to one half of the junior members from each club participating. The parents, members, and leader visited with the evaluator after the presentation.

Demonstrations were emphasized during local club meetings and the annual club achievement shows, advancing to the county fair. The top selected went on to the State Fair. In the 1980’s the program expanded to include musical numbers and entertainment called Share the Fun.

As the needs of our youth change, the structure of 4-H has adapted and changed as well. At the turn of the century, several specialized programs have been initiated. Some of these include a FIRST Lego League and Robotics Club, an Outdoor Adventure Club, and a Shooting Sports Club specializing in archery and trap shooting.

In 1997 a 4-H Clover Kids program was also added for children in kindergarten through third grade. Clover Kids offers opportunities to build valuable life skills and engage in a variety of hands-on educational activities in afterschool clubs. Many Clover Kids go on to participate in the club 4-H program after third grade. 

The Extension staff involved with the 4-H program for many years were the County Home Economist and the County Extension Director. Mitchell County has been fortunate to have very competent staff serving in these roles. One of these individuals was Neil Wubben. Neil worked in Mitchell County from 1985 to 2010 and was the last individual to serve as a County Extension agent before counties were reorganized into regions.  Neil was dedicated to taking the time to build working relationships and educate youth through his work in Extension and 4-H.

The 4-H program in Mitchell County has been, and will remain, an outstanding program because of the support of many volunteers and businesses. It will continue to provide opportunities for youth to develop skills they can use now and throughout their life. Its growth will reflect the needs and strengths of youth, their families, and communities.

Hardin County, Iowa 4-H History

Posted on 08/18/2020 at 9:25 AM

With the passage of the Smith-Lever Act in 1914 and the setting up of the county agent system, 4-H club work began in Hardin County May 1, 1916. In that year a series of 13 township picnic meetings were held in cooperation with the county superintendent of school. The rural schools of each township were dismissed for the day on which the meeting was to be held in that particular township. At these meetings the Junior club work was explained to the boys and girls.

At first H.D.A. in Hardin county, as far as records show, was Grances Loffer in 1918. At that time, she worked with two counties. Hardin, with the county seat at Eldora, and Clark county at Osceola. Her project work included canning potatoes, wheat saving, sugar saving and wool conservation. These were timely topics relating to World War I.

In the period of years from 1916 to 1926 Junior Club work expanded through a system of special interest clubs organized on a county wide basis. There were pig clubs, baby beef clubs and corn clubs for boys.

Eighteen girls clubs were organized on the township and community basis in 1916. Canning clubs for girls spread in 1917 and 73 girls exhibited at the county fair. The general project system set up was two years of foods, one of canning, one of bread, two years of home furnishings, and two years of clothing. This type of project carried through until after 1935 when the three-year rotation plan was adopted. The plan called for one year of home furnishings, one year of clothing and one year of foods and nutrition.

Demonstration work by girls was developed as far back as 1927. Girls were sharing what they learned by demonstrating making bread to the public. And after these girls spent a year in a “Bread Making Club” you can guess they really knew how.

In 1917 there were 27 boys in Hardin county that were active in the baby beef club, pig club and corn club.

Transportation was difficult during those years. In 1921, Maurice Cook loaded his baby beef on to a railroad car at Lawn Hill, shipped it southeast to Gifford and then north to Eldora in order to show at the County Fair.

In 1926 boys clubs in Hardin County began to be organized on a community basis. By this time there were sheep clubs, horse clubs, dairy clubs, poultry clubs, and various other activities being carried on by the local groups. Boys and girls would often meet together to study culling principles and learn how to select the high producing birds from their flock of laying hens.

Next came the depression years and the big test for 4-H club work. By demonstrating efficient farming, quality of livestock, and homemaking methods the 4-H program proved itself through the training of young boys and girls to meet the problems of their time.

As the depression rolled away and agriculture once again began to thrive, the 4-H program began to expand its activities. It was during these years, 1936-1940, that livestock judging, and demonstration work grew into the program as we know it today. The first record of a boys demonstration team in Hardin County was in 1933. From that time on, there was a rapid growth of judging contests. Beef judging teams, horse judging teams, sheep judging teams, etc., were an important part of community and county wide activities.

During these hard times of the ‘30’s, the girls club work emphasized attaining and keeping good health. It was a great honor to be selected Health Champion at the annual county wide Rally Day each spring. These girls were selected by local doctors and dentists and then participated at the state contest in Ames during the State Convention which began in 1927.

Other similar county-wide activities were also being established such as the annual county Style Show, held at the county fair. Even in 1926 this was an important event as it was last year with girls modeling garments which they made themselves and were proud to display.

Next came the war. We have the familiar victory gardens, bond drives, scrap drives, and paper drives. Clubs organized special scrap drive campaigns and contests were held to see who could collect the most scrap iron. 4-H clubs played an important part in the war effort. Not only did they help to direct contributions through scrap drives, but their specialized training paid big dividends when agriculture was called upon to mobilize its manpower and expand to meet the crisis.

After the war, 4-H boys and girls began to express the pride and honor they felt for their organization by the adoption of distinguishing articles of identification. 4-H t-shirts, and jackets began to grow in popularity. The girls uniforms were changed. 4-H girls in Iowa, up until 1949, work the “Middy” type uniform that had been in use since the 1920’s, but in 1949 we saw a new attractive uniform introduced with much approval.

Membership in Hardin County 4-H exhibited a steady growth through the years. In 1916, there were 27 boys and girls belonging to 4-H clubs. In 1926, it grew to 178. In 1936 there were 231 members and in 1946 there were 235. By 1978, there were 600 boys and girls active in Hardin County 4-H. Today (2019), that number would change to 300 4-H and Clover Kids members.

Muscatine County, Iowa 4-H History

Posted on 09/18/2019 at 2:29 PM

4-H History in Muscatine County

NOTE:  The following is not a complete history.  The information that follows was gleaned from records found at the Muscatine County Extension Office.  Records in the early years were very well kept; however in later years details were taken from newspaper clippings at the time which didn’t always have dates on them.

On October 17, 1912, a group of Muscatine County farmers first met to discuss hiring a Crop Expert for Muscatine County.  This original committee decided to select two members from each township for the purpose of creating a permanent organization and from which to elect officers. 

Thus the Muscatine County Crop Improvement Association was created.  By November 23, officers were elected, an executive committee established, and a Crop Expert for Muscatine County was hired.  The members of this first committee were:

President:  F.D. Steen, West Liberty

Vice President:  B. F. McClain, Wilton

Treasurer:  W. J. Hendrix, Bloomington Twp.

Secretary: H. C. Lawrence, Muscatine

Executive Committee:  C. G. Hargrave, Atalissa; P. F. Carroll, Wilton; J. L. Giesler, Muscatine; C. B. Vail, Muscatine

On January 15, 1913, Mr. K. A. Kirtpatrick of St. Paul was hired as the first Crop Advisor in Muscatine County, and Muscatine County became one of the first in Iowa to receive the benefits of a County Crop Advisor and the extension work of the US Agricultural Department and of the Iowa Agricultural College.

In these early records, there is no mention of organized 4-H clubs, but using youth from the rural schools to test corn seed in contests was mentioned in a report from K. A. Kirtpatrick, county agent, on June 27, 1914.  A camp for farmers’ boys was planned for the last week of July of that year.  Awards and pennants for work done by youth at the rural schools were also given out at eighth grade graduations.  K. A. Kirtpatrick resigned from his position, effective September 15, 1914.

On January 4, 1915, the Crop Improvement Association hired J. W. Merrill of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to serve as the second County Agent in Muscatine County.  At an association meeting on February 27, 1915, a Miss Freyermuth read a very interesting paper on the subject of The New Movement of Efficiency in Home Management, which was followed by a Miss Stone, who addressed the meeting on the subject of canning tomatoes.  On March 20 of that same year, Miss Bentley, of the Extension Department of Ames, addressed an association meeting on the subject of home economics.  A rising vote of appreciation was extended to her at the conclusion of her talk. 

Bits and pieces gleaned from early records indicate that there was Boys’ and Girls’ club work evident in Muscatine County in the mid-1910’s, but no specific start up date was determined from the information researched for this project.  Minutes from the Crop Improvement Association mention the county agent visiting schools, a boys camp picnic, youth being involved in testing bushels of corn, recruiting boys to help with a project, plans for a farmers’ boys camp held in the county, a suggestion by the county agent to put up a prize trip to junior short course for the work done by the Pig Club one summer, and recruiting entries from the Baby Beef Club to ensure prizes from the Chicago packers.  Contests were held to stimulate interest and friendly competition among youth in different areas of the county, such as an Acre Corn Growing Contest and a seed corn saving campaign in the rural schools.  Also, in 1916, there is record of three boys being honored by a trip to the Junior Short Course in Ames for their excellent Baby Pork Club records.  Club tours were held four times a year where members visited the homes of fellow members.  It was reported that the boys went back to their own homes with lots of information to improve their animals.

Beginning in the mid-1910 and continuing for many years, several institutes were held around the county every year.  These institutes served as mini fairs, usually involving livestock judging one day and exhibits in farm crops and home economics the second.  A meeting with a speaker was usually conducted the last day of the institute. 

In 1918, several national events affected life in Muscatine County.  In May, Miss Mollie Feil arrived from Ames as Muscatine County’s first Home Demonstration Agent.  It was felt that a Home Demonstration Agent was needed due to the war conditions. 

The flu epidemic and quarantine of 1918 resulted in the cancellation of the boys’ banquet.  Also, in that year, several boys dropped out of the Pig Club because their brothers went off to war. 

A seed corn saving program was requested by the State Department and Governor Harding due to the severe shortage of seed corn the previous year.  In cooperation with the County Superintendent of Schools, a seed corn saving campaign was put into motion.  Nearly every rural school in the county was visited, giving talks on the selection of seed corn and the best methods of caring for and storing seed.  The children were then excused from school for a day if they would pick two bushels of seed corn.  The result was that the children in 58 schools picked 614 bushels of seed corn.  The children were very enthusiastic and the campaign did a great deal of good, not only for the value of the work the students did, but for the psychological effect on the parents in helping with the war effort.

Evidence of boys Pig, Baby Beef, Corn Growing and judging teams being established in Muscatine County begin showing up in annual reports in 1914-15.  A few girls also participated in these clubs. 


In 1920, two Muscatine County boys showed the Grand Champion and Reserve Champion Baby Beef at the Iowa State Fair.  Another boy had the highest gain on his pig of all the pigs entered in the market pig show at the State Fair.  Two carload lots of beef took 2nd and 4th premiums.  The livestock judging team received the highest score and won a trip to Sioux City and a chance to represent Iowa at the International Livestock Exposition in Chicago.

A Sheep Club was established in 1920 for youth 5-11 years old because sheep were easy for them to handle.  The first demonstration team at State Fair, two boys, James Shepard and Wayne Probst, got second on their topic of giving good points of a beef steer and how to feed it and a meat cutting demonstration.  The pig club was represented by four breeds at the State Fair.  One youth had the champion Hampshire gilt, and others place 4th and 6th in the Hampshire classes. In the Chester whites, we had 2nd and 4th places and in the Poland China class we had 11th and 12th.  None were able to place in the Duroc Jersey gilts.

A garden club was a new venture in 1920 with two boys participating.  They won first prize at the Iowa State Fair for their demonstration, even beating out the girl’s teams.  Efforts were begun to organize a Colt Club, but there weren’t enough colts to get the club started.

In 1920, Henry Wallace of Wallace’s Farmer, spoke at the annual Farm Banquet.

1920 enrollments included Baby Beef Club-16; Corn Club-7; Market Pig Cub-8.  Though these numbers are few, they did very well at the Iowa State Fair, having the reserve champion calf, the champion shorthorn calf, the champion Hampshire gilt, and for the third year in a row, a boy from our county had the State championship in baby beef feeding records.  Our demonstration team on truck crops won sweepstakes at the Mid West Horticultural Exposition, and at the International, Muscatine had the champion calf in the Junior Feeding contest.

Under the tutelage of Home Demonstration Agent, Ethel Guthrie, eleven girls from Goshen Township became members of the Clothing Club in 1920.  They made 4 dresses, 11 holders, 11 samples of different stitches, and hemmed 5 towels.  An Own Your Own Room Club was also organized in 1920 in Bloomington Township with 19 girls enrolled.

In 1921, a Poultry Club, Cottage Cheese Club, and Own Your Own Room Club were begun.  Records on the Cottage Cheese Club are most amusing.  The club goal of the 15 members was to have better health through the increased use of milk products.  Demonstrations at club meetings included “The Making of Cottage Cheese”, “Salads Made of Cottage Cheese”, “The Making of Cottage Cheese Sandwiches”, “Pasteurized & Sterilized Milk”, “A Cottage Cheese Dish”, and a “Camouflaged Cottage Dish”.  In his report, the County Agriculture Agent shared these thoughts, “More work along this line of milk as a food has been stressed as we were a little handicapped as half of the girls do not like cottage cheese.”  The club continued on the next year, choosing another topic to study.

In 1922, there were 10 Garment Clubs.  The Baby Beef Club decided to have a load of cattle from Oklahoma shipped to Muscatine to stimulate interest and “improve” the quality of cattle locally.  While membership numbers did increase, it was discovered in later years that the range cattle shipped in did not do as well as the cattle grown locally.

1923, there were 8 standard girls 4-H clubs with a total of 115 members.  Eight demonstration teams were trained.

Beginning in 1924, the Rotary Lodge at Staley Lake in Goshen Township was a popular meeting place for 4-H camps and other events.  Swimming, singing, performing skits and pageants were popular activities at camp.  Campers brought food and 75 cents to cover the costs.  In order to attend camp, girls has to qualify by knowing five music memory numbers, five trees, can at least five jars of food, appear on the program at a club meeting, and dress appropriately for camp.  The girls put on plays and invited members of Rotary to watch.  This was followed up by a game of baseball.  Generally, someone from the state Extension Department attended to present talks and workshops. The Rotary Lodge burned down in the 1960’s.


William Slater of the Baby Beef Club of Sweetland Twp. was named Champion Health Club Boy of Iowa at the State Fair.


Helen Springmeir of the Fulton Industrial Club won the honor of the State Home Furnishing Scholarship which gave her three months of non-collegiate work at Iowa State College.  Ina Paul of the Fulton Royal Workers won the Best Six Year Club Record of Iowa.


In 1931, Muscatine County 4-H’ers won first and second place at the Iowa State Fair in the club clothing ensemble contest.  Lucy Anderson of the Wapsie Best 4-H Club won first place with a winter outfit of a dress, shoes, hose, purse, gloves, jewelry and lingerie.  Alethea Paul from the Fulton Royal Workers received second place with a woolen frock of tan with orange trimmings, a hat, shoes, lingerie, and corresponding accessories.  Alethea Paul also had the top five-year expense account award at the State Fair, winning herself a trip to the International Livestock Exposition in Chicago.

At the Annual 4-H Boys and Girls Banquet on November 21, 1931, Mr. Frank Reed from Ames gave an interesting address showing the growth of 4-H clubs in Iowa, and he remarked that Muscatine County was one of the oldest counties in 4-H work.  He also reported that Muscatine had one of the largest enrollments in livestock clubs in Iowa.

1932 – Ruth LeFever, 16, of the Bloomington Best 4-H Club, was elected State Girls Historian at the Ames Convention.

Home Demonstration Agent Elizabeth Armstrong wrote in 1932 - “Because of the present strenuous times many girls are being deprived of opportunities they have been enjoying or might have enjoyed along educational and social lines.  This change makes the work of 4-H clubs in Muscatine County more necessary and more important.”

Carl Rylander, Muscatine County Ag Agent, commented, “Results coming in this fall indicate that the so called depression has not retarded the enrollment in 4-H projects.  There, the outlook for next year is very promising.”  Due to the depression, gate receipts at the fair were down and premiums were reduced as much a possible.  The fair remained in good condition and plans are to go forward with next year’s show.

There was grumbling at the 1932 County Fair as Johnson County 4-H’ers are allowed to enter our fair and they send only their best cattle, which succeeded in getting away with the cream of the premiums. 

1933 – There were 14 girls 4-H Clubs:

Bloomington Best                        Goshen Wapsie Plus                Seventy Six Sparkers

S. S. Cedar                                  Montpelier Pep Girls                 Wapsie Best

Fruitland Sunshine                       Moscow Sunshine                    Wapsie Ever Ready

Fulton Industrial Workers            New Era Favorites                    Wilton Busy Bees

Fulton Royal Workers                  Pike Lassies

Truck & trailer - 1933 - A load of 4-H furniture travels the 150 miles from Muscatine to the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, all on dirt roads.  The name of the woman is unknown – possibly home demonstration agent?  She looks so excited!  Quite a journey in 1933!


1934, Muscatine County 4-H had the National Health Champion in Doris Louise Paul of Wilton. 

Music was a huge part of the 4-H program in its early years.  A music memory competition was held annually with 76 4-H girls competing in identifying the song and composer of both classical and semi-popular songs that were incorporated in the year’s club program.


Despite the 1940’s being dominated by World War II, 4-H club work in Muscatine County continued to grow and became more important as families supported the war effort.  A glimpse of the sacrifices 4-H families made during these years are indicated in available records as some methods were adopted by clubs to combat war restrictions by holding all day meetings every other month, having more family gatherings combining the girls and boys clubs, and a careful analysis of planned programming.  Four major phases of the club year were carried out:  first aid in the home, home care of the sick, farm business affairs a woman can handle, and clothing conservation.  Red Cross classes were also established. 

There was an emphasis on raising poultry, gardening, and food preservation methods.  Fewer boys were enrolled in the baby beef project due to their serving in the war.  4-H’ers conducted several bond auctions raising several thousands of dollars.  The sale and purchase of bonds and stamps were strongly encouraged across the state at the State Conference held in Ames. In 1945, efforts in bond sales by Muscatine 4-Hers raised $21,887.50.   Many girls put in long hours in the fields and doing chores in absence of brothers who are in the armed forces.  March meetings were devoted to “Food Fights for Freedom”.  Glora Rahls was awarded a $25 war bond by the Standard Oil Company for her “Outstanding Achievements in 4-H war food production.  War Service activities was added as a new project area offered to 4-H’ers. 

Despite the pressure of war activities, interest in 4-H club work remained high in the 1940’s.  Hayrack rides, basketball tournaments, fair parade floats, Rally Day, Better Groomed Girl contests, camps, achievement shows, officer trainings, and the county wide banquet continued to be held.  Boys and girls continued to attend district training schools and the state short course.  Annual enrollment campaigns were held to encourage youth to join 4-H.  It was also in the 1940’s that 4-H was opened up to youth in small towns.  4-H was no longer just for farm kids!  A tri-county camp for Muscatine, Scott, and Cedar counties was held at Camp Abe Lincoln in Scott County.  By 1949, 222 girls and 320 boys were enrolled in 4-H club work.  A huge interest in Farm Project clubs was a major reason for increased memberships.  The Muscatine County Fair held in West Liberty continued to be a highlight of the year.

County 4-H girls held their Rally Day in the spring where club nominees were elected to county office.  Clubs took turns each year making a clover chain which was carried into the auditorium by those club members and laid into the shape of a clover on the stage.  This ceremony was conducted as part of the ceremony in naming the Honorary 4-H Members.


Donna Eichelberger of the Lake Lassies 4-H Club, was elected State Girls’ 4-H President at the annual State Convention in Ames.  Evelyn Hoopes, rural Muscatine, was selected as Iowa’s Best Dressed Girl in the 4-H Style Revue at the Iowa State Fair.


Donna Eichelberger was elected state 4-H Girls President in 1950.

In 1951, modernization was coming to rural Iowa and 4-H boys were part of the process as the project area of emphasis was farm electrification.

Club tours where club members traveled to each member’s house and the member shared information about care and grooming of their livestock were popular.  Many club tours lasted most of the day with a picnic lunch was held at noon by most clubs.

Boys clubs did fertilizer test plots where fertilizer was applied at different rates and results shared at the end of the growing season.

On September 12, 1951, a fund drive for the State 4-H Camp was begun in Muscatine County.  By October 1, $3600 of the $5000 goal was achieved.  By 1952, $9236.25 was raised.

The Agricultural Committee of the Muscatine Chamber of Commerce sponsored a baby beef and dairy heifer show in conjunction with the county fair with proceeds to benefit the Muscatine Emergency and Rescue Unit.  This fair was planned as an educational experience and opportunity for club members to gain experience in fitting and showing animals previous to the county and state fairs.  Muscatine, Cedar, and Louisa County 4‑H’ers were invited,

The Muscatine County Fair was held in mid-August with Cedar and Johnson counties allowed to participate.

At the Iowa State Fair, photos were taken from around the fair, including a demonstration team from Muscatine, for an article about fairs for 17 Magazine, especially the Iowa State Fair.

Clinton County 4-H’ers and leaders came to Muscatine County to hold a training school for leaders and club members on how to begin and plan a demonstration.

Poultry was a very popular livestock project for Muscatine County 4-H’ers making them third in the state for number of members with the laying flock project.

The boys had a basketball tournament each year, an activity begun in the 1940’s.

The Tri-County Camp held at Camp Abe Lincoln includes girl 4-H’ers from Muscatine, Cedar, and Scott counties.  Crafts, recreation, and swimming along with lessons in manners and other worthwhile workshops were part of the three day camp.  Oh, and fun too!  As well as meeting new friends.

The annual county-wide party was held each year with the grade school aged 4-H’ers meeting at a church while the high school and older met at the Y for dancing, movies, and refreshments.

In 1954-55 David Pace was selected to attend the National 4-H Club Camp in Washington DC.  1955 boasted 530 4-H club members.  Boys’ county officers were elected in the fall at the Fall Theater Party.  The girls had their own elections in the spring. 

In October, the cherry Pie Bake-Off was a popular event for senior 4H girls.  Girls who received a blue ribbon on their cherry pie at the West Liberty Fair in August were eligible to compete.  The contest was held in the window of Batterson’s Department Store with 4-H’ers making and baking their pies for the public to view.  Top winners competed the next day with the first place winner receiving an all-expense paid trip to Chicago, provided by the National Red Cherry Institute, and the opportunity to compete as Miss Iowa in the national cherry pie baking contest in February.


In 1960, a special 4-H activity of rat and pocket gopher control was created.  The activity started in January with a home-farm rat survey where each 4-H’er took a survey of rat damage on his home farm.  During February, each 4-H member poisoned the rats on the home farm and staged a community survey of neighboring farms to find out the number of rats in the community.

March started the pocket gopher control and continued rat poisoning.  Pocket gopher control consisted of poisoning the gophers during the months of March and April.  At the end of each month the local clubs collected all of the material gathered by the club members and turned in a club summary of its report to the Extension office.   4-H club members and leaders sold rat bait during the activity.  The activity proved to be educational and interesting to local leaders and 4-H members.

A basketball league for 4-H’ers was held during the winter months with teams playing one night each week.  A tournament was held in early spring.  A softball league was held throughout the summer with a tournament at the end of the season at Weed Park.  Both tournaments were used to develop good sportsmanship among the youth, develop better communication among 4‑H members throughout the county, and to provide enjoyment.  It also gave some of the 4-H members a chance to participate in sports that would not have had a chance to make a team in school.

4-H Field Day

The purpose and objectives of a 4-H Field Day was to teach the 4-H members proper fitting, grooming and showing techniques of beef cattle, dairy, sheep and swine.  This was accomplished by giving actual demonstrations on the livestock in the field.  Livestock judging workouts were also held in conjunction with the Field Day.

Joint Boys and Girls 4-H Activities

Several joint boys and girls 4-H activities were created.

  • 4-H Theater Party - 750 club members, parents, and leaders attended as 4-H county officers were installed and country awards presented to outstanding 4-H members in boys and girls club work
  • Officer’s Training School - 120 club officers attended training held at the YMCA in Muscatine.  The school was completely planned and conducted by the county 4-H officers.  There was group training for various club officers, parliamentary procedure and a model meeting was included in the program. A session for local 4-H club reporters was taught by Chuck Hansohn, Farm Editor of the Muscatine Journal
    • Muscatine County Coed Camp – Coed Camp was held at the State 4-H camp in June.  For the first time Muscatine campers were also jointed with Scott county. 105 campers and counselors attending the three day camp.  Activities included swimming, sports, hikes, vesper service, campfires, evening parties, and crafts.
  • Leadership Club – A county-wide 4-H club dance was held the night before the opening of the West Liberty Fair at the fairgrounds. The dance was planned, conducted and sponsored by the Leadership Club. Approximately 250 4-H members attending.

In 1961, two delegates were sent to the State 4-H Health Camp, held at the State 4-H Camp in Madrid.  Members were selected on the basis of their work in health activities over the past year.  Health Camp serves as an award trip for members who have done extra work in health projects.  Members attending: Joe Van Nice and Carol Behrens.

Program objectives were reemphasized.  They were:

  • Provide more leadership opportunities for older 4-H’ers
  • Increase interest and participation in the boys demonstration program
  • Expand 4-H enrollment in rural and urban areas
  • Create better understanding of total 4-H program of the Extension Service, local 4-H leaders, 4-H parents and members
  • Provide a leader training program that will enable leaders to do a more effective job
  • Increase enrollment in non-livestock projects

4-H Winter Camp was held for the first time.  It was a weekend camp with older 4-H members with activities of tobogganing, hiking, and evening parties.  Attendees received special training on leading recreation during the spring and summer meetings.

National 4-H Club Week provided the opportunity to promote 4-H locally.  Short stories were written for radio presentations, windows decorated in the towns in the county, and local newspapers prepared a special edition of club work.

Better Groomed Girl Contest - Local clubs held better groomed girl contests to select representatives to participate in the county better grooming revue.  Shirley Schneider was selected as top senior girl.

A citizenship program was completed.  Objectives were:

  • Teach leadership club members to carry out a citizenship study program in their local clubs
  • To develop a broader concept of the meaning of citizenship
  • Create an awareness of their responsibility as a good citizen to themselves, their home, community, local club and world
  • To teach the importance of an individual in local, state and national government
  • Create a better understanding of how local, state and national government operates
  • Teach how a bill becomes a law
  • Evaluate local club study on “Citizenship and Myself”
  • Teach an understanding of local government in operation
  • Make them aware of the duties and responsibilities of elected county officials
  • Evaluate local club study on “Citizenship and Their Home”
  • Teach an understanding of aspects of community citizenship, race and religion
  • Evaluate local club study on citizenship
  • Put good citizenship into practice
  • Observe citizenship of another portion of the country

Our first 4-H Exchange Trip was held with a trip to Hardin County, Kentucky in 1963.  Delegates were selected from the Leadership Club membership.  The exchange allowed 4-H’ers to learn ways of life in another part of the country.

A Junior Feeder Pig Project was started.  12 boys weighed in 211 feeder pigs on May 4. 

Boys could have 15 to 20 pigs weighing 30 to 50 pounds, then marketed then as a group on a grade and yield basis.  The project was set up to teach members more on the commercial feedlot, feed conversion, carcass information, and different types of hogs

Participation in the Iowa State Fair included exhibits of 13 dairy, 11 beef heifers, 10 baby beeves, and one entomology project.  Livestock and crop teams judged in state contests.  Eldon Kile placed 3rd in the 4-H Tractor Operators Contest.

In 1965, 594 county 4-H’ers were enrolled in 1,775 agricultural and home economics projects and activities.  31 club members conducted other than agriculture and home economics projects.  37 older 4-H members and 5 adults went on a 10-day exchange trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  A Pennsylvania delegation was scheduled to visit Muscatine County the following year.  4-H program was expanded to include a dog care and obedience project, photography, and horse project program.  Ardyce Fett organized a county 4-H chorus which performed at the 1965 West Liberty Fair.

1967 found 41 Muscatine County 4-H’ers and four chaperones on a 12 day exchange trip to Prince Albert Saskatchewan.  A group from Prince Albert will visit the next summer.

620 county 4-H members participated in various activities and camps.  Program emphasis was on clothing and animal sciences.  Horse and dog project training was begun in 1968 with several project meetings held and dog obedience training held for 10 weeks.

Two single-day day camping programs were instituted for 4-H club members.  215 intermediate and junior 4-H’ers attended this Day Camping Session held at Wildcat Den

In the early 1960’s a cherry pie bake off contest was held in the window of the Batterson Building in Muscatine.  4-H girls from Louisa and Muscatine counties were chosen based on the quality of the cherry pie they entered in their local fairs.  Four girls at a time made their pies in the window for passersby to observe their pie baking skills.  Ovens and supplies were provided by donors.  Winners from each session were selected and competed one more time against each other with the overall winner receiving an expense paid trip to VEISHEA in Ames.  Second place was a $50 savings bond.

More exchanges with 4-H’ers from a county in other states became popular in the 1960’s.  Muscatine county 4-H’ers would travel to another state one year and the next year the visited county would come to Muscatine.  Exchanges were held with Hardin County, Kentucky (1963-64); Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (1965-66),; Tioga County, Pennsylvania (1970-71); and Bennington County, Vermont (1974-75).

In addition to exchanges with other states, students from foreign countries visited through the IFYE program (International Farm Youth Exchange).  In 1965, a visitor from Nepal stayed a few weeks with a Muscatine 4-H family and shared his 4-H experiences with Muscatine 4-H’ers.  In1961, David Pace spent three weeks in Uruguay as an IFYE exchange student – International Farm Youth Exchange.  His experiences were published in the Muscatine Journal through a letter he wrote to the paper.

Many 4-H’ers attend winter camp at Madrid, State 4-H Conference in Ames, and Co-Ed Camp at the State 4-H Camp in Madrid where only Muscatine county senior 4-H’ers attended.  Many memories and friendships were developed at these camps.

120 members joined the 4-H chorus in 1964.  Several practices were held at the YWCA with the goal of performing at the Muscatine County Fair.  Singers must have been at least 13 years old and a 4-H member for two years.  Ardyce Fett, County Extension trainee, and Bob Lary led the group with Kay Barnhart, a 4-H member from Letts, accompanying.

A yearly leader recognition banquet was held where Awards of the Clover were handed out.  The banquet was hosted by county officers and the county youth committee.

In the 1960’s a leadership club called the MuscaTEEN Builders was formed to develop leadership through participation in club activities, to perform community service to the 4-H clubs and citizens of Muscatine County, and to provide recreational activities for members.  Members had to be at least 15 years old and the group capacity was capped at 50 members.

LANGWOOD – In 1969 Warren and Dorothy Langwith of Davenport donated 95 acres in Louisa county to the Iowa 4-H Foundation “to be used by the Davenport Extension Area 4-H for camping and educational programs of (the Iowa 4-H Foundation) for the benefit of its members in Clinton, Des Moines, Henry, Lee, Louisa, Muscatine, and Scott Counties, Iowa.”  The Iowa 4‑H Foundation accepted the donation and the challenge to fulfill the Langwith’s vision.  Local 4‑H’ers named the property Langwood in honor of the Langwith’s.

During the 1970’s the vision of Langwood began to take shape as local 4-H clubs cleared trees and sold the wood.  The Langwood Reserve Board of Directors played an important role in determining the direction for the facility as well as fundraising.  Many dozens of volunteers helped clear trees and brush, build an A-frame cabin, restrooms, pond, high and low ropes courses, and a lodge.  John Wanfalt, Muscatine County 4-H Youth Leader, was also instrumental in developing the camp and it was used by hundreds of youth for day camps and overnight camping. 

Following John’s retirement from Extension in 1986, the State 4-H Foundation became less involved in Langwood and the Louisa County Conservation began managing the area in 1989.  Eventually LCC purchased the property and the name was changed to Langwood Education Center.  Langwood has touched the lives of many youth and continues to do so today.


Sports tournaments for both boys and girls were very popular in the 1970’s.  Basketball, softball, and volleyball tournaments were held for many years and gave youth an opportunity to participate in sports that usually don’t get the chance to play organized sports.

Project trainings were popular in the1970’s with workshops held for dog, horse, advanced cattle feeding, home improvement, junior leadership, home grounds improvement, rabbit, small arms safety, and corn crops.

Special interest groups were formed during the 1970’s for such activities as horseback riding, bicycling, archery, model airplanes, veterinary career exploration, riflery, electronics, theater, tennis, dog obedience, and campus visits.

Co-ed Camp, State Conference, county awards programs, Citizenship Short Course, and many other opportunities for 4-H’ers continued on into the 1970’s and provided many opportunities for fun, fellowship, and education for 4-H’ers.


In 1986, two families hosted youth through the International 4-H Youth Exchange.  The David Watkins family hosted Jon Tveiten Skuterud from Norway, and the Don Noll Family hosted Jorunn Nordstokke, also from Norway, for three weeks.  The students toured the area and learned about farming in mid-America, which is much different than in Norway.  Both visitors were amazed at how big and flat the United Stated was.

A youth soccer program was set up for Hispanic minority.  123 you attended the clinic held in February.  Also, Ripley’s Mobil Home Park was run down and was fixed up by 4-H members.  Muscatine Steamers and Bluebirds 4-H clubs received a grant of $1500.  The money is to be split between the two clubs and will help assist the Lutheran Homes in their cemetery restoration.

127 4-H’ers weighed in 395 market beef at the fair weigh-in held in December.

County fair continues to be a highlight of the year as 4-H’ers showcase what they have learned throughout the year by entering exhibits to be judged.  Several participated in the communication program by giving a presentation at the fair and my modeling clothing they made,


Junior camp, intermediate camp with 4-H’ers from other counties, State Conference for older 4‑H’ers, and Citizenship Washington Focus were all social and educational activities youth could participate in.  Basketball, softball, and volleyball tournaments were still popular events for youth and a great way to get to know 4-H’ers from other clubs.

The year kicked off for clubs as many held fall parties, hayrack rides, and other events for new members to get to know club members.  A county Awards Night was held each November recognizing 4-Hers for their project work, record keeping skills, and leadership abilities.

Fair is still a major event in a 4-H’ers life.  It gives youth the opportunity to showcase what they have learned throughout the year by bringing an exhibit to the fair, whether it be in the 4-H Exhibit Building or the livestock barns. 


Now, 100 years later in 2002, we find that 4-H has changed over the years, but the core values of hard work and stick-to-it-ness have not.  Much research on why 4-H has been so successful for a century has been conducted and researchers determined that the four basic needs of youth (belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity) have been met through 4-H by caring adults, safe environments, inclusive settings and opportunities for mastery, service to others, self-determination, planning for the future, and engaged learning through project areas.

Many Muscatine county 4-H’ers have been selected for County Office, State Council and state awards, including trips to 4-H Congress in Atlanta and 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C.  It’s these 4-H’ers who grew the program through the years by giving younger 4-H’ers something to aspire to as they got older.

4-H continues to change with the times, staying relevant with today’s youth.  It’s motto still fits today, “Making the Best Better!”

Black Hawk County, Iowa 4-H History

Posted on 03/01/2018 at 3:31 PM

The Extension program started in Black Hawk County in 1912 in a livery stable in Cedar Falls.  Mr. A. A. Burger assumed his duties as Black Hawk County’s first county agent that same year.  At that time local farmers paid the expenses of the first county agent through an organization known as the Farm Improvement Association, located in Cedar Falls.  4-H club work had not yet claimed the interest and financial assistance of groups which were later to play a big role in its success.  In the first year, 4-H club work was financed by business concerns of Waterloo and Cedar Falls.  Then the county fair association became interested in the movement and furnished pigs to boys.  At the end of the club year each boy turned in two pigs for each sow he had received.

When A.A. Burger, encouraged the first 4-H club members to enroll in a corn and garden project, little did he realize that from that small group was to grow an organization which by 1934 would claim the active interest of 483 of the 1,194 boys and girls of club age in the county.  The organization would reach 1,500 of the 2,100 homes.

Black Hawk County enjoyed the distinction of having the first county home demonstration agent in Iowa.  Miss Tura Hawk assumed her duties in September of 1916.  Two sewing clubs with a total enrollment of 60 members comprised the girl’s club work in 1916.

In 1917, Professor F. E. Fuller of Iowa State Teachers College was instrumental in forming the first poultry club in Black Hawk County.  In that same year four mixed groups of boys and girls were reported.  Comparatively little was accomplished in club work during the years immediately following World War I.

The second phase in the progress of Black Hawk County 4-H club work consisted of welding the individual members into local or township groups with local adult leaders in charge.  During this period, rules and standards for the 4-H organization were formulated.  Experience gained in this formative period paved the way for later success.

Girls were organized on a local club basis from the beginning.  Boys organized into local club groups in 1927.  The record of a junior club committee of members is found in 1922.  Adult committees were named to actively assist local club leaders and county agents in carrying out a county club program.

In 1924, demonstration and judging contests were regular phases of the club program.  Girls of the county had started demonstration work as early as 1920, when a team of A.A. Burger and Clara Sutter from the Ferris Wheel Club of Cedar Falls Township represented Black Hawk County at the state fair, demonstrating the canning of tomatoes.

In 1924, Back Hawk County boys judging team captured the grand championship at the Iowa State Fair.  During the same year a demonstration team representing Black Hawk County won the contest at the Waterloo Dairy Cattle Congress, thereby earning the privilege of representing the state at the National Dairy show in Milwaukee.

Two years later another Black Hawk County livestock judging team won first place at the Iowa State Fair, at the Interstate Fair in Sioux City where teams from eight states completed and judged at the International Livestock Show in Chicago, where they won sixth place.  During that same year a Black Hawk County team also won the demonstration contest at the Waterloo Dairy Cattle Congress, there by winning the right to represent the state at the National Dairy Show.

Election of countywide 4-H officers for girls was started in 1924.  In the same year there is a record of a county boys’ club committee composed of A.H. Evans, Vocational Agriculture instructor in Hudson High School and Lloyd Loonan and A.J. Minish, two prominent Black Hawk County farmers and beef producers.

A major highlight in Black Hawk County 4-H was in 1936 when the Black Hawk County Dairy Judging Team won the National Contest and advanced on to the International Dairy Judging Contest in Bristol, England.  The team consisted of Vincent Kelley, Kenneth Kramer and Clinton Sage.  They traveled with Paul B. Barger, the Black Hawk County Extension Agent and Floyd Johnson, representing Iowa State University.  The group sailed on the U.S. Manhattan from New York City on June 17, 1936.  The International contest was held on July 1, 1936.  As was typical of the time all team members wore long white coats when participating in the judging contest.  Final contest results were announced in front of the Royal Pavilion by Sir Merrik Burrel of the Royal Agricultural Society of England.  The English team took first place with the Black Hawk team coming in second.  Some of the Black Hawk team didn’t notice that one of the jersey cows had been milked prior to the competition and was not a dry cow.  Vincent Kelley had the highest individual score in the contest.  Following the contest the group took a tour, visiting farms in England and Islands of Jersey and Guernsey.  They also toured farms in Denmark, Switzerland and France.  Their 6 week journey ended with a visit to Niagara Falls in New York.

By the 1930’s record books were being submitted to the state 4-H office.  Community clubs enrolled more than 27,000 rural youth, teaching them how to run a farm and manage a home. 

In the 1940’s the IFYE (International Farm Youth Exchange) program was started after World War II to build peace and understanding.  One of the first IFYE’s was Ray Dankenbrink of Poyner. 

In the 1950’s, Black Hawk County had the champion national livestock judging which represented the United States at the International Livestock Judging Contest in England.  Gene Clubine was selected to participate in the IFYE program.  By the late 50’s a state law passed creating County Extension Councils and the break took place from Farm Bureau although Farm Bureau has continued to be very supportive of the 4-H program.

In the 1960’s Larry Anton of LaPorte City was selected as an IFYE delegate to France.  The 4-H program began to change from not just farm and rural communities to an emphasis on both urban and rural.  Programs emphasized personal development, citizenship and leadership, not just livestock and homemaking projects.

In the 1970’s Frank Wyatt of Hudson was selected as an IFYE delegate.

In the late 1980’s the Discovery program was developed by the county 4-H youth coordinator, Mary TeWinkel.  Discovery took place during Dairy Cattle Congress in September.  Over 1500 elementary students from Waterloo and Cedar Falls came to the fair each year where they visited a number of educational booths that have rotating workshops about livestock and food as well as experiencing Cattle Congress.   A Farm Safety Camp was also started in 1989.

Support to expand the program was funded by the Iowa 4-H Foundation in the early 1990’s through a grant from the Iowa Department of Agriculture.  Later the Clay County Fair and the Guthrie County Fair replicated the Discovery program.  In the 1990’s the county started to raise funds to support the 4-H program through a direct mail campaign as well as personal asks. In addition an omelet breakfast was started.    For over 25 years over 400 4-H’ers, leaders and families have been involved in this fund raiser.  At this same time the Black Hawk County 4-H and FFA Fair Foundation was created to support the county fair.  A new program for young people was carried out in Black Hawk County called, “Growing in the Garden”.

In 2000 Black Hawk County started the County Fair Queen and Fair King Contest.  Two of the young women went on to be Iowa State Fair Queens.  They were Katie Greiman and Lydia Beck.    It was in the 2000’s that community service was emphasized in local 4-H clubs.

In the 2010’s the Black Hawk County 4-H and FFA Fair was awarded the Iowa Fairs Blue Ribbon Fair Award.  In 2017 the Black Hawk County Fair Board received the Iowa Governor’s Volunteer Award.   The Discovery program at the fair as well as the Farm Safety Camp still continue.  Black Hawk County is one of only two counties in Iowa that doesn’t have their onw county fairgrounds.  The Black Hawk County 4-H & FFA Fair has always been held on the grounds of the National Dairy Cattle Congress grounds in Waterloo.  The other county is Polk County that uses the Iowa State Fair grounds. 

Little did anyone know that what began in 1912 with farm boys and girls learning new and better methods of raising corn, feeding calves and pigs, canning fruits and vegetables, and sewing would grow into our current 4-H program. 



Honorary 4-H Members were first recognized in 1930 and continue today. 

1930 – Katherine Hearst

1931- Mrs. John Plum

1932 Mrs. Elmer Blough

1933 – Mrs. Ira Knapp

1934 – Mrs. R. E. Middlekauff

1935 John W. Cloverdale

1936 – Mrs. Floyd George

1937 – Mrs. A. J. Hansen

1938 – Mrs. John M. Briden

1939 – Mrs. J. J. Kelly

1940 – Mrs. E. J. Hausman

1941 – J. H. Butts

1942 – Matha Nation

1943 – Bertha Mae Dimmitt-Kelly

1944 –Rev. J. S. Deedrick

1945 – Elizabeth Sage and Paul B. Barger

1946 – Blanche Jones-Wolfe

1947 – Glen W. Morris

1948 – Hugh E. Muncy and Mrs. Robert Mess and Mrs. A. F. Hoppe

1949 – Mrs. Orville Tannreuther

1950 – Mrs. L. J. Dunwlad

1951 – Mrs. Godfrey Guldager

1952 – Mrs. Lester E. Loveland


1954 - Mrs. Thorwald Nelson

1955 – Russell Sage

1956 – Ramona Esbeck and Mrs. Stuart Henry


1958 – Mrs. Paul Barger and Mrs. Harold Brown


1960 - Hazel M. Kuehn

1961 – Ron Pullin

1962 – Folmer C. Hansen


1964 – Mrs. Paul Degener


1966 - Dorothy Mark and Dorothy Brown

1967 -  Maurine Rullen

1968 – Mrs. Harry Brown

1969 – Irving H. Anton

1970 – Mrs. Clinton Sage

1971 – Ralph Leymaster

1972 – Elsie Watters

1973 – Walter w. Renner

1974 – Irene F. Morgan

1975 – Jay Trent

1976 – Vyla Blough

1977 – June Faust-Hanson

1978 – Leeward Albert

1979 – Arlene Flickinger

1980 – Lawn Griffith

1981 – Ruth Beck

1982 – AuRae Heidemann

1983 – Water Hesse

1984 – Bettie Ferguson

1985 – June Faust-Hanson

1986 – Cliff Strein

1987 – Lions Clubs

1988 – Floyd TeWinkel and Ethel TeWinkel

1989 – Albert Petersen

1990 – John Noteboom and Beb Noteboom

1991 – Linda Herod, Glenda Schaeffer, and Barb Meyers

1992 – Bob Messerly

1993 – Joanne Eggleston

1994 – Kay Messerly

1995 – Gene Pint

1996 – Dan Schmitz and Cliff Murray

1997 – John Ackerman

1998 – Wally Mochal and Noreen Mochal

1999 – Phyliss Boatman

2000 – Alice Green and Larry Green


2002 – Leon Mosely



2005 – Dr. Phil Edler and Pat Eldler

2006 – Jeanne Hansen

2007 – Maynard Murch and Dick Goering

2008 – Farm Credit Services of America and Larry Steffens

2009 -  Mona Rottinghuas

2010 – Jackie Wulf


2012 – Phil Hufford

2013 –Charlotte Nieben

2014 – Lyle Guldager

2015 – Betty Ehler

2016 – Bruce Clark

2017 Tom Sage and Larry Walters and Bob Livingston


4-H Alumni Awards include:

1956    Mrs. Delbert Gerholdt          Wesley Yuska

1957    Wendell Glasener                Mrs. Harry Brown

1958    Lila Messerly                        R. Gordon Strayer

1959    Clinton Sage                         Irene Kramer

1960    Irene Morgan                        Wayne Mark

1961    Blanche Jones-Wolfe          Godfrey Guldager

1962    Ronald Sieben                     Martha Nation

1963    Otis Budlong                        Mrs. Evan Sage

1964    Les Newton                         Mrs. Harold Koob

1965    Virginia Ebbing                    Bob Tannreuther

1966    Barb Johnson                        Maurice Telleen

1967    Mrs. Don Mangrich               Paul Barger

1968    Rachael Gould                     Bernard Ebbing

1969    Bev Bennett                         Dick Klingaman

1970    Dorothy Brown                      Ralph Leymaster

1971    Helen Sage                          T. J. Andersen

1972    Bill Davidson           

1973    Ron Burk                             Rose Ann Pierce

1974    Blanche Pulling                    Lester Lampe

1975    Joanne Kucera-Vlasak        Rex Boatman

1976    Dora Rizzo                           Carrol Hayes

1977    Jean Klingaman                   Judd Leland

1978    Jeanette Brasch                   Luverne Christian

1979    Rick Hofmaster

1980    Del Bowers

1981    Marshall Grosscup

1982    Harlan Blough

1983    Judy Anton                            Larry Anton

1984    Norma Hager

1985    Jim Sage

1986    Jerry Kramer                         Joanne Kramer

1987    Ron Pullin

1988    Marilyn Teig

1989    Eleanor Meyerhoff

1990    Mary Esther Pullin                Mary TeWinkel

1991    Larry Loenser

1992    Ruth Taylor                           Marvin Taylor

1993    Ann Sage                             Frank Wyatt

1994    Carolyn Clubine

1995    Donna Schletzbaum

1996    Nancy Schmitz

1997    Helen Ackerman


1999    P. Lee Miller                         Barbara Miller

2000    Loretta Anderson                 Marty Port                             Dale Port

2001     Chris Greiman                    SOO Greiman                        Al Ricks                      Donna Ricks

2002    Frank Wyatt

2003    Judy Walsten                        Eddie Entz

2004    Louis Beck                            Pat Beck

2005    Kevin Sittig

2006    Jay Hansen

2007    Mary Jean Murch                  Hope Goering

2008    Pat Lichty                              Randy Lichty

2009    Tom Volding                          Craig Strein

2010    Duane Wulf

2011    Bob Koeningsfeld                  Lynette Cline

2012    Kay Connelly                        Phil Hufferd

2013    Charlotte Nielsen

2014    Lyle Guldager

2015    Mary Seekins

2016    Bruce Clark

2017    Mike Geisler


The Mayor of Waterloo’s Volunteer Award has recognized numerous 4-H volunteers.

? yr. -  Carolyn Clubine

1986 – Marilyn Teig

1988 – Jim Sage

2001 – Dan and Nancy Schmitz

2002 – Helen Ackerman

2003 – Dale Port

2004 – Mary Esther Pullin

2005 – AuRae Heidemann

2006 – Al & Donna Ricks

2007 – Loretta Doepke

2008 – Pat Lichty

2009 – Mike Pipho

2010- Marty Port

2011 – Kevin Sittig


In 2002 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of 4-H the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame was created by the Iowa 4-H Foundation.  Each year one person or a couple are nominated by each county.  Black Hawk County recipients have included:

2002 – Mary TeWinkel

2003 – Ron & Mary Esther Pullin

2004 – AuRae Heidemann

2005 - Eleanor Meyerhoof

2006 – Rose Ann Pierce

2007 – Rex and Phyllis Boatman

2008- Judy and Larry Anton

2010 – Arnola Jean Siggelkow

2011 – Dan and Nancy Schmitz

2012 – Soo Greiman

2013 – Dale and Marty Port

2014 – Louis and Pat Beck

2015 – Barbara and P. Lee Miller

2016 – Pat and Randy Lichty

2017 – Aland Jane Eilderts


Materials gathered by Eleanor Meyerhoff, 33 year 4-H program assistant

Edited by Florine Swanson, Retired Iowa 4-H Foundation Executive Director

Adams County, Iowa 4-H History

Posted on 02/06/2018 at 3:45 PM

Adams County is a very rural county in southwest Iowa and is recognized as the smallest population county of the state with less than 4,000 residents in 2015. 4-H remains strong at about 90 club members in 3 traditional Adams County 4-H clubs. The county also has a Clover Kids club for K-3rd graders and 3 independent 4-H members.Following the elimination of County Extension Education Director positions in the ISU Extension reorganization of 2009, Adams County extension continues. The county uses its own tax dollars to support a part-time County Extension Program Coordinator, a fulltime Office Assistant (OA), and a part-time County Youth Coordinator (CYC) to manage programs.

There have been many 4-H clubs through the years in Adams County. The current 4-H club names and their leaders are: Happy Go Lucky club, Tina Boswell, Sally Shires, and Amy Shipley as leaders; Jasper Specialists, April Maeder and Matt Maeder as leaders; Prescott 4-H Workers, Michelle Birt, Marnie Cline, and Tonya Inman are leaders; Clover Kids Club, Treena Douglas and Betsy Stormer, leaders.

Other groups and people who are highly involved in the Adams County 4-H program include the present Adams County Extension staff, Chris Nelson Program Coordinator, Misty Johnson, OA and Bonnie Chafa, CYC; the Adams County Extension Council, Don Gee, chairperson, Tyler Edwards, vice Chairperson, Cliff Mann, treasurer, Jean Smith, secretary and members Lindsey Kock, Tim Cooney, Lisa Worrall Konecne, and Kaleb Bissell; the Youth and 4-H committee, Jason Oathoudt, chairperson, Don Gee, vice chairperson, Tina Boswell, secretary, Sally Shires, treasurer, and members, Jade Wilbourne, Doug Birt, and Cody Birt; the Youth and 4-H Endowment Fund Board, Joyce James, chairperson, Chris Nelson, secretary/treasurer, and members, Jill Shuler, Karen Saltzman, Dave Mullen, Lauri Greenlee, Time Ennis, and Nancy Amdor; the Adams County 4-H Youth Council, Jade Wilbourne, president, Morgan Shuey, vice president, Jasmine Wilbourne, secretary, Kayley Myers, treasurer, Ryan Allison, Morgan Cline, Jade Petersen, Cody Birt, Payton Thomas, Emily Lauer, Bryson Rhamy, John Seyler, Amanda Seyler, Cheyenne Goodnight, members; and the Youth and 4-H/FFA Fair committee, Paul Anstey, chairman, Gary Goldsmith, vice chairman, Kathy Bozwell, secretary, Steve Sonntag, voc-ag teacher and treasurer, Chris Nelson, Extension Program Coordinator, Chuck Harderson, bookkeeper, and members, Arnold Maynes, Taylor Cobb, Patrick Hogan, Evan Maynes, Austin Brandt, Melodie Winkler, and Jonathon Reser.

Adams County volunteers receiving Iowa’s highest 4-H volunteer recognition in the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame include, Sonja Walter in 2002; Joyce Neill in 2004; Lawrence Peterson in 2005; Earl and Ruth Goldsmith in 2006; Rick and Jolene Bissell in 2007; Blake Cooper in 2008; Don Mach in 2009; Joan Haley in 2010; Joyce James in 2011; Jo Preston in 2012; Jim Curtis in 2013; Jim Stalcup in 2014; and Evelyn Lund in 2015.

That is a brief overview of the Adams County 4-H program in 2015. What follows is only a small synopsis of the history of 4-H in Adams County from its start in 1918 to its present state 97 years later.

1918 is recognized as the year the 4-H Club Program began in Adams County, although the Adams County Fair and Boys’ Club work were started prior to that time. You might say 4-H took off with a bang in Adams County. Vard Worstell was the first County Agent hired by the Iowa State University as Extension Director. According to his annual report in November 1918, he had organized three boys and girls clubs, with a total membership of 128. In 1919 four more clubs were organized with twenty-four more youth enrolled. Mr. Worstell wrote that he had trouble with the parents objecting to the youth learning new ideas. Mrs. Ellen Grace Gibson Brown said that her parents objected to her joining a club because of the expense. She later served as Farm Bureau Women’s Worker and 4-H leader when her daughters excelled in 4-H. Extension and Farm Bureau worked together in the early years of 4-H in the county. Vard Worstell, still serving the as County Agriculture Agent in 1921 reported not only Farm Bureau officers serving the County but also the following Junior Work Committee members; H.B. Hardin, Weaver Cooper, Miss Anna Lynam, Frank Beath, and Mrs. A. Windom. Mrs. George Beck was the boys’ poultry club leader and Mrs. H. B. Hardin was the girls’ club leader. The Farm Bureau report the same year included a purebred heifer club, a purebred gilt club, a sow and litter club, a baby beef club, a poultry club and a purebred lamb club.

4-H club work advanced rapidly in Adams County in the 1920’s and many outstanding awards were won by the members. Some of the awards included the 1922 Grand Champion Poultry Demonstration team at the Sioux City Interstate Fair. Team Members were Agnes Hendrickson, Laura Beath and Floyd Van Pelt. Adams County had the 1926 Iowa State Fair Champion Baby Beef Group. Marvin Hayes exhibited the Iowa State Fair Grand Champion Baby Beef in 1928 and Hugh Septer, Jr. exhibited the Reserve Grand Champion Baby Beef at both the State Fair and at AKSARBEN in 1929. 

The following girls’ 4-H Clubs were going strong in the 30’s – Bluebirds in Lincoln township with Mrs. Alice Lee as leader; Washingtonians in Washington township, with Miss Anna McCuen as leader; Joy Bells in Carl township with Mrs. Blanche Fickel; Harmony Workers with Miss Alice Anderson; Rainbow Girls with Mrs. Margaret Grundman; Sunny Sisters with Mrs. Artie Morley; Clover Leaf Club with Mrs. Janette Turner; and Mor-Pep Club with Miss Elizabeth Thomas. Mor-Pep Club became Peppy Pals later and was continuous along with most of the others over many years.

The Girls Project areas were on a three year rotation with Food and Nutrition, Sewing, and Home Furnishings. The first girl’s uniforms were blue two-piece outfits with a full pleated skirt and middy top with a sailor collar and had to be carefully starched and ironed. The uniforms changed several times over the years.

The first State 4-H Convention was held in Ames in 1928. In 1929, the Blue Birds were represented by Lola (Schafer) Vogel and the leader. They travelled by train.

In 1929 Helen Vogel Mossman and Lola (Schafer) Vogel represented the club and the county at the Iowa State Fair with a demonstration of Baking Bread. Forty years later the same club won a blue ribbon with a similar demonstration. In 1942, the Blue Birds changed the name of the club to the Eager Beavers, to go along with the township boys club the Busy Beavers.

Former Adams County 4-Her, Mary Fuller, searched Adams County Extension Annual reports for tidbits of Adams County 4-H history. Here is what she found decade by decade from 1930 to 2000.

The 1930s -----In 1934, there were five organized 4-H clubs in Adams County. Each of the clubs were under a local leader, also the under the direction of county club committees. Projects that club members were involved in included: oven products, baby beef, dairy calf, purebred pigs, sheep, draft colt, and corn. Ten townships had members enrolled including Lincoln, Washington, Carl, Douglas, Quincy, Prescott, Nodaway, Jasper, Mercer, and Grant.

The 1940s-----In 1941, the Adams County Extension office was moved to the new Corning Post Office building, where it remained until June 1, 1993. Adams County 4- Hers joined numerous campaigns during World War II to collect scrap iron and aluminum to conserve use of scarce items essential to the American war effort. During the War, the county fair was cancelled and a two-day 4-H Club Show was held in its place. Milton H. Henderson was hired as a youth worker for Extension in Adams County in 1949. The 4-H program in Adams County grew under his distinguished record as a youth leader.

The 1950s-----When Extension was separated from Farm Bureau on July 1, 1955 the County Extension Service was first supervised by a county Extension Council in cooperation with Iowa State University. Livestock judging teams, tractor safety programs and babysitting clubs with both girls and boys were popular in the 1950s and 60s. Awards Night for the County was held in November each year and awards for the year were given out. An outstanding club was always chosen. In 1957, Marvin Johnston, Sam Buck, and Extension Director David May erected the first county welcoming road sign north of Corning on Highway 148. 

The 1960s-----In 1968, Adams County Extension celebrated fifty years of service. A history book called “Our Golden Years” was researched and printed for the occasion. Committee members were Mrs. Austin Brown, program chairperson; Mrs Frank Davis, guest committee chairperson; Mrs. Russell Olive, open house chairperson; Harold Mosman, general and ticket chairperson; Axel Nelson, banquet chairperson; James Hoffman, master of ceremonies, and Len Beath, historian. James Kearns was hired in 1969 as the County Extension Director, and remained in that position until 1975. Adams County delegates to the Boys State 4-H Short Course in Ames in the mid 1960’s were Gordon Goldsmith, Edward Swartz, Mike Jones, Eddie Peterson, Duane Foster, and Jim Amdor.

The 1970s-----The County 4-H Council consisting of a youth representative from every club worked to plan County events. In 1970, there were nineteen club representatives with officers elected from the group: Tom Schweers was elected Chairman; Anne Thomas, Vice Chairman; John Narigon, Secretary and Mike Olive, Historian. In 1975 the first Adams County 4-H King and Queen were selected from all the 4-H members in the county. In previous years, only a queen had been crowned. The King and Queen were selected by a judging committee and ruled over the county fair. Deb Hall was hired as the Extension Director in 1978 and served until 1985.

The 1980s-----In 1982, Tracey Gridley, Kendall Roberts, Brenda Smith, Diane Cerven, and Diane Maeder attended the Citizenship Washington Focus trip to Washington D.C. with forty one other 4-Hers from the Midcrest Extension Area. Chris Nelson was hired as the County Extension Director on April 1, 1986. Also in 1986 the Share-A-Calf program was started. This program was a cooperative effort between the Adams County Youth and 4-H Committee and the Adams County Cattlemen. At the 4-H Beef Weigh-in in December, 4-Hers received a calf to feed and show at the county fair in July. The 4-Her was responsible for paying for the feed and supplies for the calf and the profits were divided 50/50 between the 4-H and the producer. The animals were slaughtered and the carcass data was made available on all the animals. The program enjoyed great success and had as many as twenty 4-Hers a year participating. In 1987 the Adams County Project Fair was started and became an annual event for the county. This event allows 4-Hers to explore new project area or expand their skills in one of their current project areas.

The 1990s----- In 1995 Adams County 4-Her Aaron Amdor was selected as the Champion Swine Showman at the AKSARBEN Livestock Exposition in Omaha, Nebraska.

The 2000s-----In 2002, a 4-H Centennial Committee was organized to plan a 4-H Alumni Celebration at the 2002 county fair. This Alumni celebration included recognition of the oldest living former 4-Hers, families with four generations of 4-H involvement, families with the greatest number of cumulative years in 4-H, and all past 4-H leaders, superintendents, and committee members. Centennial Committee members were Joyce James, Joyce Neill, Terry Etheredge, Dale Jackson, Colleen Bickford, Barb Fuller, Jo Bissell, and Chris Nelson. Four generation 4-H families at the time included the Florence James family with members and former members in attendance from Corning, Prescott, Nodaway, and Lenox. In 2003, Adams County 4-Hers Mary Fuller and Jennifer Amdor were featured on KMA Radio with a program called “4-H America.” Each week they talked about 4-H in Adams County and their 4-H projects. Adams County was the first county to be selected for this special KMA feature. Dean Adkins was the KMA coordinator and highly praised Mary and Jennifer for their efforts.

In June 2004, Mary Fuller and Alyssa Shipley traveled to Washington D.C. on the Citizenship Washington Focus trip. While there, they attended the funeral procession of former President Ronald Reagan who passed away while they were in the city.

In 2008, the Adams County Fair celebrated the 150th anniversary of the first Fair in Adams County. Special Fair events included welcoming back all former Adams County Fair Queens, a special postage stamp for the day, and a free Collin Raye concert which drew a crowd of over 3000 people.

In 2009, Iowa State University Extension eliminated the County Extension Education Directors (CEED) position in every county in Iowa, including Adams. That reorganization changed the face and the abilities of every extension office in the state. It eliminated a full time Iowa State University extension employee in every county and in effect broke the ISU direct ties with any staff in the county. From that point on, Adams County Extension staff were 100 percent hired and employed by the local Adams County Extension Council. The Adams County Extension office has continued to flourish, especially with its 4-H program, but where this and many other rural counties will be with Iowa State University Extension in the future is certainly unknown at this time. 4-H offers many opportunities for young people to develop life skills. The opportunities and activities occur in local 4-H clubs, in county-planned activities, and in area, state, national, and international activities. One Adams County event that stuck in many older former 4-Her memories was an Adams County 4-H trip to Des Moines and Ames in a stock truck. Beth and Eugene Chappell describe the trip one way and Charles Lundquist contributed his version of this unusual and monumental trip another. First, Eugene and Beth’s description:

“Organized by the County Extension Director William (Bill) Sparboe was a one day trip to Iowa State College for boys and girls in 4-H. We traveled together sitting on bales of hay placed in a well- cleaned out stock truck. I was very impressed by the campus. You can imagine how tired the chaparones were as well as a bunch of teenagers by the time we got home that evening. “

If it is not written down fairly immediately, historical facts can get remembered differently. Here is Charles Lundquist’s version of what we are assuming is the same trip to Des Moines and Ames. Surely it would have only happened once! Charles Lundquist, was an Adams County 4-Her from 1945 through 1949 and believes this trip to have taken place in August of 1945.

“The war with Japan had just ended. R.M. (Rollie) Slotten had come to Corning as the new county extension director. During the war, the 4-H program in the county had dwindled. He made nearly door-to-door coverage of the county recruiting potential 4-H members. Not only was membership offered, but a new adventure was in the planning.

It was something that had never been done before, nor has it been done since, George McLean, a local truck operator had purchased a new snub-nosed GMC tractor (new trucks were just not very available in 1945 and an Omaha Standard livestock trailer. The trailer was the longest the law allowed, single axle, 36 feet maybe. The 4-H-er’s were going to take a day trip to the Iowa State Campus in that new trailer! Seating was a row of straw bales along each side and a row in the middle. On the designated day about 60 kids were picked up at collection points across the county to go on the trip to Ames. An operation that was scheduled to begin after 6:00 a.m., it was after 8:00 by the time it really got rolling. The first stop was at the Capitol parking lot in Des Moines. People around had never seen such an invasion!

We completely toured the Capitol in 30 minutes. The police around were concerned about the safety of the operation. They urged the driver to be very careful as we loaded up to continue on to Ames. We saw various sights on the campus. The Campanile and the chimes were one of the things that impressed me. Arrangements were made for lunch on Campus. In mid-afternoon we boarded the trailer for the return trip.

On the return trip we stopped at Riverview Park in Des Moines. All the rides were well patronized. The highlight, of course, was the roller coaster. It had been one of those sunny days in August, not windy or oppressively hot-----A perfect day for the adventure at hand. We had run behind schedule from the start. After sunset a livestock trailer gets pretty cool. About 10:00 p.m. we were back home. That was my introduction to 4-H in Adams County.

Former Adams County 4-Her and 4-H leader, Illah Brown, sums up the Adams County 4-H program with the following statement, “Across Adams County, dedicated young people are making a difference through 4-H and community service projects.” “The Farm Crisis of the 1980’s hit our littlest county hard but we still have our Extension Director, Chris Nelson, our Youth Committee, our 4-H Youth Council, our clubs, our great leaders and our enthusiasm for the future of 4-H. The 21st Century finds lots of blessings and lots of problems to be solved. May the 4-H program keep on rolling.”


Compiled by: Illah Brown, Mary Fuller, Eugene and Beth Chappell, Charles Lundquist, Rita Miller and Chris Nelson

© 2023 Iowa 4-H Foundation. All Rights Reserved.