Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on April 19, 2011 at 10:27 AM by Global Reach

2008 Johnson County - Portia CooperPortia Cooper was a charter member of the Golden Rule 4H Club which was organized in 1929 and is still active - the oldest club in Johnson County.
Portia’s contributions are shared through this “historical” view.  
From Portia Cooper, “A few things I remember during my 8 years as a 4-H club member.  The record books were judged on a county level.  During a canning year, I won first and I still hear the judge say, "If you want to learn how to keep a complete and neat record book, just take lessons from Portia!"  I won a dozen fruit jars on the side of which were a four-leaf clover and the words "Good Luck".  I still have 3 or 4!!  
We made our uniforms - the 2-piece blue ones with the pleated skirt and long-sleeved middy blouse and black tie.  This is what we wore in the county-wide better-grooming contest which was held at Rally Day.  Those in the contest were each club's delegate to the state convention in June.  I won in Johnson County and then was in a contest at convention on the Ames campus where I (we) had to wear the uniform continuously.  That was in 1934 when we had horribly hot and dry weather.   It was in early June and NO green grass anywhere on the campus.  So my leader had to scare up several uniforms to keep washed and ironed for changes.  WHAT A JOB!!!  
After college and one year of teaching, I was asked to help with the club.  My job was to train the demonstration team.  Back then, each club chose two to be the demonstration team.  They chose their subject, developed and practiced a demonstration which they gave for the contest at the county Achievement Day.
After several years of teaching, marriage, and two children, I was asked if I would consider being leader of the club.  Because I lived in town and the organization was still rural, I questioned it.  But I felt the 4H experience was important for preparing girls for their adult lives.  Also, I had an eight-year old daughter, and hoped that, even though we lived in town, she would be able to join the club.  So I accepted the job.  
By the time my daughter was 10 (the required age then) 4H was open to residents in town as well as on the farm!  So our next problem was all of her friends.  With my daughter and her friends, I had a membership of 30!  Too many for a living room.  So I gathered all the city girls together and found two willing women to be leaders and founded the first town club - the East Lucas Cloverettes.  Today in Johnson County, the club is called the East Lucas Clovers.
Although, during the additional 34 years I worked with the club, there were many honors among the girls, the most important thing was that they received the knowledge and training they would need in their lives.  And many of the girls have expressed to me their appreciation of their 4H experience.
During the years I had several assistant leaders, all of whom were excellent help and invaluable to me.
This has given me a great sense of satisfaction.  And I always felt a thrill when I could say I was leader of the 4-H club that was the oldest club in the county and I was a charter member of it.  It says that I have been connected with 4H since its beginning in Johnson County!!!”
Portia has shared this history with numerous 4-H leaders and clubs and has contributed 4-H items to the Johnson County Historical Society.

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