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4-H television programming began in the 1950's when county and state Extension Service staff provided educational information on local television stations and state university educational TV stations.
Local stations were very receptive to Saturday and Sunday morning and noon programs by agricultural, home economics and 4-H agents. Children's programming such as Mr. Rogers and Captain Kangaroo were beginning to be popular but time slots were also available for local programs. 4-H members and volunteer leaders were sometimes included to tell about county programs, giving demonstrations and reporting on upcoming events. These Extension Service connections with local stations and university public TV established a relationship for the evolvement of 4-H TV series development with both commercial and educational television stations in the early and mid 1960s.
In an article in the May 1959 National 4-H News magazine, K. Russel Bjorhus, assistant county agent, tells how the TV teaching tool is doing the job in Alexandria, Minnesota.
4-H is reaching into 124,000 households, 44,000 of which are farm families, through television. Bjorhus says, "Recently Alexandria acquired a television station - channel 7. Some time ago we had thought of having a half-hour program to promote 4-H club work. We checked with the station and had an opening for one half hour at a cost of $150. We got Runestone Electic co-ops to sponsor the program which included a simulated 4-H Club meeting with flag and 4-H pledge, a demonstration and project talk. Two musical numbers were included and there was a panel discussion on the purposes and objectives of 4-H Club work. Panel members included state 4-H Club leader Leonard Harkness, county agent Eldon Rost,and two adult leaders, Mrs. Olander Sletto and Mr. Lewis Hillesland."
"We received fine comments from businessmen as well as farm families as to how much they enjoyed the show. Many said it was the first time they really knew what 4-H'ers did at their meetings or even the fact that 4-H'ers held meetings. Viewers who looked on as the 4-H meeting progressed got an actual play-by-play demonstration of some of the local problems and plans - including speakers for meetings, demonstration values, community improvements in the planning stages and the roles of junior leaders. Coupled with the panel's answers to leading questions, the result was a half-hour of power for furthering the 4-H way in Minnesota."
Other states were also experimenting with 4-H appearances on local television programs during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Shirley McLenon, assistant Otsego county, New York extension agent, working with WNBF-TV made good use of 4-H'ers providing demonstrations on television programs.
In the mid 1960s 4-H at the national level decided it was time for 4-H to get serious about exploring the use of television in teaching young people. As a programming model, this perhaps, had the potential of being one of the most significant changes from the traditional programming in 4-H to come along in decades. And, opinions ran the entire spectrum... from television programming being a wave of the future that 4-H should embrace... to the blunt fact that 4-H has absolutely no business "doing" 4-H television series. Production of television series can be expensive... will it take away funding from traditional 4-H programming? Are 4-H TV members REAL 4-H members, or not? And, the list goes on.
Informal research conducted by the Extension Service and National 4-H Service Committee indicated the validity of the concept that 4-H produced television series can reach more young people, especially those not previously enrolled in the program. Larry Krug, radio-television editor, National 4-H Service Committee, recalls that during this period 4-H met with many people who were getting involved in children's television programming to discuss 4-H's plans and to seek out their advise. He recalls meetings with Joan Ganz Cooney and Peggy Charrin of the Children's Television Workshop who spearheaded Sesame Street in 1969, as well as sessions with Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers Neighborhood) and Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo). These were exciting times and the idea of 4-H television series sparked the creative interests among staff in a number of states.
In 1966, the Extension Service, USDA and the National 4-H Service Committee both ventured directly into television program distribution, although early series were all produced at the state level. Prior to that, most of the TV series efforts had been both produced and distributed at the state level, state-by-state. Ralston Purina Company underwrote the cost of video taping television programs in a series called, "Dog Sense." Produced by Colorado State University, this was the first private donor support for 4-H television series at the national level. The National 4-H Service Committee arranged for promotion and distribution of the dog series on a nationwide basis.
Before the end of the decade, other series were being discussed or planned including photography, conservation, nutrition and emergency preparedness.
In the Beginning
Perhaps the best record of how 4-H television series evolved in the mid-1960s can be found in a speech delivered before the 20th Annual 4-H Donors' Conference at the Conrad Hilton Hotel in Chicago on September 20, 1967.
THE TELEVISION POTENTIAL IN 4-H PROGRAMMING
Right now 4-H is like a young couple with their first bouncing baby. We want to tell everyone about it. We think it's going to grow into something big, and strong, and fine of which we'll be very proud. But right now sometimes we don't know what we are supposed to do with it and, in fact, once in a while we even find ourselves getting into quite a mess!
Anyway, our bouncing baby I'm referring to is our group of 4-H television series. I say group of series because to date there has basically been four series produced. These have all been produced in different ways, with different objectives and consequently, with different results.
Our 4-H television series have usually been composed of eight to 10 programs, beginning with an introductory program, which explains what is going to be covered in the series, and then several programs with educational, instructional value and finally a wrap-up type of program with each series. In other words, a neat little package which is supposed to leave the viewing, participating members with a completed learning experience.
Usually there has been a piece of accompanying literature that goes along with the series which emphasizes what is being covered. There is good reason for having this piece of literature. First, boys and girls who join as 4-H television members this way receive something tangible when they enroll in the series. Another reason for the literature is that it basically covers an outline of what is to be taught in each week's program reemphasizing important parts and aiding the 4-H TV member which might happen to miss a particular program.
Now, how does a series operate? First, when a series is brought into a certain locality by either the state or local extension 4-H staff, a promotion campaign must be launched and contacts must be made with first, the person who handles the distribution of the series, and secondly, with the television station on which the series is to be viewed. These points are important. You cannot run a television series if there isn't a set of program films or tapes available at the time you plan to run it.You cannot run a series if there isn't a cooperative station on which to present the programs. Then a promotion campaign follows to recruit the 4-H TV members. In the meantime the corresponding literature, membership cards, and anything else that is to be offered to those enrolled should be ready to go. Finally the series is ready to be run and this is actually the easiest job of the whole production. The third, and often most neglected step, is to conduct a follow-up campaign, trying to keep as many of these 4-H TV members enrolled in regular, year-round 4-H as possible.
To briefly run through the four TV series now existing, the oldest one is entitled 4-H TV Science Club. It consists of 10 half-hour black and white programs produced at Michigan State University under the direction of Dick Arnold, Extension TV Specialist. The programs cover the science of fire, animal skeletons, astronomy, plants, archeology, physics, behavior, microbiology, meteorology and chemistry. The series rents for $250 for one showing, $350 for two showings, and so on.
The second series is entitled 4-H TV Action Club, also produced at Michigan State University, directed by Dick Arnold, in cooperation with the Federal Extension Service and Department of Civil Defense. It, too, is a 10-program, black and white series centered on emergency preparedness. The series takes up scientific causes of such things as tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, fires, nuclear accidents, blizzards and cold. It discusses living outdoors and indoors under emergency conditions. At present, the Division of 4-H and Youth Development, FES, is handling the series which is loaned to stations through state extension offices at no charge.
A third series is entitled Dog Sense, which covers a basic course in obedience training. It consists of eight, black and white, half-hour programs produced by the Colorado Extension Service at Station KRMA in Denver. Mrs. Edna Travinek, Dog Editor for the Rocky Mountain News, is the series authority and teaches the basic obedience maneuvers--sit-stay, heeling, down-stay, and so on. Ralston Purina Company purchased the prints and turned them over to the National 4-H Service Committee. Release prints have now been produced and the series rents for $200 for one showing, $300 if used on two stations and an additional $50 for each additional use over two showings. Rental fees were necessary to defray the expense of a film distributor and the costs of the release prints.
A fourth existing series was produced by West Virginia Extension and entitled "Teen Mobile Club." It was a 10-program series in black and white and covered the areas of auto maintenance, how a car functions, how to service a car, motor mechanics, rules of the road, driving safety, emergencies, car ownership and insurance. The series was basically produced for the Virginia-West Virginia region and has not been offered nationwide, although several states have auditioned it.
Most of these are relatively new with little documented results as yet. The Dog Sense series has had two showings--Denver and Las Vegas. An additional 18 states have previewed an audition print and many will run it this winter. The Automotive series was viewed on only two stations - both were commercial stations in West Virginia - resulting in 9,000 enrolled members in West Virginia and Virginia. The TV Science Series has been shown in several states this year with around 500,000 4-H enrolled members.
This, in essence, is how our 4-H TV series is now operating. I'm sure by this time you already have a few questions and if I can try to outguess you, I will attempt to answer some of them.
Perhaps you are wondering if these viewers are really considered 4-H members, or more specifically, are the participating viewers primarily composed of youth who already are 4-H members? First, yes these TV participants are 4-H members. They are the proper 4-H age and they complete enrollment by filling out enrollment cards. They do what is expected of them during the series and complete their TV project. And, often there is a local completion activity of some sort. With the Dog Sense series if could be a dog show. The TV automotive participants in Virginia were offered a 3-day tour including a trip through an auto assembly plant in Norfolk. The TV Science Club might offer some sort of demonstration or exhibit competition. Yes, they do fulfill the requirements to be a 4-H member in good standing.
As far as whether or not many of them are already regular 4-H members or not, the only good statistics we have on this are from the West Virginia Automotive Series. In West Virginia 80 to 85% of the 9,000 boys and girls enrolled in the TV series had not been previously enrolled in 4-H.
Another question might be then, "Well, do THEY consider themselves as regular 4-H members?" Let me just quickly read a couple of short letters to TV club Leader Dick Arnold, affiliated with the TV Action Club series:
"Dear Dick Arnold - I am sorry but I don't know whether to keep doing all those things. Because my mother and father don't know how to speak English and I have so many small brothers and sisters at home and I have been trying to show them all those things. But I have to help my mother to take care of my brothers and sisters. Tell my friends down there in TV land that I want to learn more because so many things have happened to us. Thank you. Linda Chevez."
"Dear Dick - Would you tell me what lesson you are on please. I did the first one at grandma's house and made some posters. I don't have a TV, so will you tell me what lesson you are on so I can get caught up with you. I don't want to be too far behind the rest of the club. Thank you. Sally Barlette."
Again, I ask the question, "Do these TV 4-H members consider themselves as regular 4-H members?" Well, what do you think?
Another vital question might be, "Will these 4-H TV members remain in regular 4-H participation after the series has reached completion?" This is perhaps our most important question. Here's Virginia's experience after the Automotive series was shown: Over 5- percent of the members returning questionnaires after the series was completed indicated they definitely wanted to continue in the automotive program. This is significant because 40% of those enrolled in the Automotive series in Virginia had never before had any contact with 4-H!
A state 4-H leader in Kansas, which has run the 4-H TV Action Club Series on most of the stations in the state, writes, "We have recommended strongly to our county extension agents that they follow up on this 4-H TV Action Club series by inviting these boys and girls to participate in other 4-H experiences. First, we have suggested they invite these boys and girls to organize a new 4-H Club or to join existing clubs. Secondly, we have suggested that county extension agents provide exhibit days or special classes at the county fair for the 4-H TV Action Club boys and girls. Thirdly, we have urged the county extension agents to provide an opportunity for these 27,000 new Kansas 4-H members to participate in camping experiences under the sponsorship of the county extension program. The program, at this point, is so new that the success or lack of success of these follow up programs has not been ascertained."
Still, this is the area most delinquent so far in the 4-H TV series story; that of a proper follow through to keep these TV enrolled members interested in 4-H. Many states have had no follow-up whatsoever! Of course we must remember, that although one of the basic purposes of a 4-H TV series is a compact little unit of it's own and if half a million youth are reached who may never again have a thing to do with 4-H but who have at least gained from participating in a series, then this at least is something!
Another legitimate question might be, "What is the general thinking around the country on these 4-H TV series - they cost money - it takes a lot of work to run a series - are they worthwhile?
I think it is remarkable that this is one of the few things that we in 4-H can certainly term completely new which is receiving terrific support from practically all circles. State 4-H leaders and extension agents who have been involved with the running of some of these series are enthusiastic:
One state leader, after completing the TV Action Club series, stated, "We have been so impressed with the results... that we are planning a year-round TV program." Here's a different reaction: "4-H TV series broaden the image of 4-H and give others a better idea of the scope of 4-H activities." Still another: "Many parents watch the series with their children. The fact that the series is received in the home is of considerable value." Another view point is that since television knows no state boundaries, often several states must work together on promoting and running a series, hence better understanding between states. One state has their tentative TV schedule Ok'd with stations in the state already up through 1972 and a state extension director recently termed 4-H TV series as the greatest thing to happen to the Extension Service in many years! Yes, extension is enthusiastic!
What do the television station personnel think about all this? When the National 4-H Service Committee explored the feasibility of offering the Dog Sense series nationwide, I polled 120 TV stations at random by simply taking every so many stations from the Broadcasting Directory, and I asked how many would be interested in a TV series on dog training. Results: Well to begin with, the simple fact that over 60 stations - in fact 53% of them - took time to reply by letter, as there wasn't any nifty card to fill in, indicates interest. Still more interesting is the fact that 83% of the stations replying including commercial as well as educational stations, said they definitely were interested in the series.
Here's a few station replies: From WISH, Indianapolis, "I'm delighted at the possibility of receiving the series... put me down as a firm commitment" - from KETC in St. Louis, "We are most interested in the series... we have aired your other 4-H TV series and think it is one of the best children's programs to come along for many years" - From KAIL, Fresno, California, "We would be very interested in this series. I think this would be a very good series not only for children but the general public" - From KATU, Portland, Oregon, "Yes, we would be interested in the series... sooner the better, sounds very interesting."
The station manager at WTEV in New Bedford, Massachusetts, an ABC network station, says "We'll give 4-H the prime time to reach youth - 9-9:30am on Saturday morning 52 weeks of the year, if you supply us with good programs." And, in Las Vegas, a city known for many things - 4-H usually not being one of them - I quote from the Las Vegas TeeVee Magazine an article on 4-H television series at KLAS, a CBS network affiliate station: "Here's a chance for every youngster to view what I believe could be the best show on TV for them... this is a show that every parent should urge their youngsters to watch, and, as a matter of fact, it wouldn't be too bad an idea for all of us to sit in on it. In the opinion of this writer, the 4-H does more for our young people than any other organization... If you've been griping about TV, and rightly so, here's an opportunity for your offspring to watch something that is both educational and interesting." Yes, TV stations are enthusiastic over 4-H television series, regardless of commercial or educational - network or non-network.
The National 4-H Club Foundation in Washington is enthusiastic - already hoping and planning to produce a TV series on the 4-H International programs.
And, the National 4-H Service Committee is enthusiastic or I wouldn't be standing here today.
This briefly brings you up-to-date with what is going on in 4-HTV series. We feel that our new baby has just began to creep with one-half million members. Everyone is looking toward a sunny future and if I can elaborate a little on some of the thinking that has been going on this past summer as to the future of 4-H TV series, first, new TV series WILL be developed. In what areas remain to be seen however if we can dream a little - here's some of the plans.
1 - New Mexico is interested in doing a series entitled, "Clothes, Money and You," and already has one or two programs completely outlined.
2 - Massachusetts has plans on doing three series with Station WGBH in Boston, one of the top production studios in the country. One is entitled "4-H TV Electric Club" series. They are working in cooperation with the Electric Council of New England and to some degree with the Edison Institute. This proposal is complete for 10 color programs. The general program subject matter is already outlined along with the supporting materials and a $131,000 budget. It appears that they plan to dwell a lot on electrical power of the future along with the practical aspects involved with everyday use. A second Massachusetts proposal calls for a "4-H TV Conservation Club." This, again, will be a 10-week series. A third Massachusetts proposal is for a 4-H TV Humane Education Series," developed in cooperation with The American Humane Education Society. Main objectives of this series is to create an increased awareness of the need for humane treatment of all animal life, particularly among young people in the informative years.
3 - The National 4-H Club Foundation in Washington, as I mentioned earlier, is interested in cooperating with Michigan State University in doing a 4-H series on their International programs.
4 -The University of Nevada and the local Las Vegas Extension office anticipates doing some TV programs in the area of lawn planning and care and perhaps one on career selection.
5 - Also, in Washington there's interest in a new series on automotive safety, perhaps doing the whole series behind the wheel as you would look through the windshield of a car.
A survey of state 4-H leaders done this summer by the Extension Service in Washington indicated their suggestions for having series produced in the following areas: Plant growing and science, entomology, photography, and bicycle safety. I'm sure some of these will eventually become realities.
A second prophesy for the future other than subject matter, will be that any additional series will be in color. This is a demand from television stations and a fair one if we are to compete with other programs in the time slots that we prefer.
Another point in discussing future 4-H TV series is that the entire program needs to be coordinated. Planning new series and determining what goes into them must become standardized. We can no longer let an isolated group or a state produce a series on their own with the intentions of later offering it nationwide. Proper content; proper professionalism must be stressed if we are to expect to get these series on television. Film distributing techniques will need to become standardized. Guidelines on how to conduct a TV series must be prepared to include launching a promotion campaign, running the series, and conducting a proper follow-up after the series has been completed. Guides to financing new series, from planning and production through distribution and follow through, needs to be explored. These are but a few areas that concern us who have been involved with the present series now in the offering.
To help curb some of these concerns, new committees are being appointed out of Washington.
Being so new, these committees and their responsibilities are still rather unknown. The Federal Extension Service appointed a committee highly composed of State Extension directors, who met in late May to discuss the expanded use of TV for Extension Programs. Out of this came a recommendation that ECOP establish an adhoc committee to: 1) obtain program content of high quality, 2) obtain high quality production at reasonable costs, 3) devise effective ways of distribution, and 4) determine how TV programs can be financed. This ad hoc committee was approved last week on September 13th with minor variation.
Another committee, to actually do researching and work with the specifics of each TV series will be an ECOP subcommittee on television. This committee will draw heavily on all types of professionals in an advisory capacity depending upon the situations that arise.
If these points about the future of 4-H television series come to reality, and it appears that they will since the ball is now rolling, we will some day only look back smile at the time our baby crept at the 500,000 member stage. When our baby begins to stand on his or her own two feet and begins walking - then we can foresee 4-H television future enrollment reaching annual proportions of five million members - maybe more. And if our baby learns to stand and walk, I'll bet that he can even learn to run!
The following year, 1968, saw a feature in the National 4-H News magazine authored by Eleanor L. Wilson, Program Leader, 4-H and Youth Development, USDA relating to 4-H television series.
TV and 4-H - Popular Combination
Eleven-year-old David Rock in Larksville, Pennsylvania, credits the 4-H TV Action program with saving the lives of his family when fire extensively damaged their home. "I quickly and calmly aroused my parents and my brother. Then I called the fire department, and we all escaped safely from the burning building," reported David to his classmates at St. Stephens School in Plymouth, PA. When asked how he knew what to do, his reply was, "From the 4-H TV Action program - `The Friendly Enemy' and my TV Action project book."
David is one of nearly a million young viewers enrolled in 4-H TV Action clubs throughout the United States. He views a series of 10 half-hour programs teaching 9 to 12 year olds and their families about natural and nuclear disasters and what to do if one should strike.
Each program simulates a 4-H club meeting, taking place in volunteer leader Dick Arnold's basement which has been converted into an emergency preparedness headquarters. Five club members, ranging in age from 10 to 12, meet weekly to learn what to do in such emergencies as tornadoes, earthquakes, fires, nuclear explosions, over-exposure to heat, blizzards and cold.
Each week the meeting is started by one of the club members inviting the youngsters at home to join them for the day's meeting. The president of the TV Action club calls the meeting to order and the secretary reads the minutes. After the business session members give poster demonstrations, participate in quiz games, prepare emergency kits or work on various projects. Special field trips are featured in five of the meetings, and are reported by members. Dick Arnold demonstrates some phase of medical self-help at the close of each meeting.
As a 4-H leader, you will be interested in observing the leadership role Dick Arnold portrays during each program. The variety of learning experiences offered may suggest new ideas to you.
Each young viewer is invited to join the club by sending a card with his name and address to the TV station, or filling out a 4-H TV Action enrollment card provided through extension offices. The enrolled TV member receives a project book outlining several activities that he can do at home. After viewing the first program, for example, he can make a list of emergency telephone numbers from the instructions provided in the TV project manual.
The series has been shown in 45 states on more than 120 commercial or educational stations. For the majority of TV members, 4-H is a new experience. Surveys indicate 80 to 85 percent have not belonged to 4-H before.
Letters and informal studies indicate youth do enjoy the club. They are identified as 4-H TV members, and they learn.
"Would you tell me what lesson you are on please?" wrote one 4-H TV member. "I did the first one at Grandma's house and made a poster. I don't have a TV, so will you tell me what lesson you are on so I can get caught up with you? I don't want to be behind." Another wrote, "I like TV Action club because they do lots of exciting things and many experiments, too. They try to live up to their pledge."
The 4-H TV Action club was the first 4-H series designed for multi-state use. It was produced in 1965 by Michigan State University's Cooperative Extension Service teamed with the Federal Extension Service, the Office of Civil Defense, and WMSB-TV, Michigan State's educational TV station.
Michigan pioneered in the development of the TV series idea in 1957 by producing the "4-H Electrical Series." They also produced two science series; one in 1959; the other in 1963. Although 4-H TV Science series was designed for use in Michigan, it has been and is being shown in 15 to 20 states. This series deals with the science of fire, astronomy, plants, archeology, animal skeletons, physics, microbiology, Meteorology, behavior and chemistry.
Automotive care and safety, dog care, room improvement and leadership are topics of other 4-H TV series produced by several states in the past five years. Their local use proves to be an effective educational method for 4-H, especially in urban areas.
Praise from Station Managers. Typical of the response of television managers to 4-H TV Action are these excerpts from the Las Vegas TV magazine.
"Here's a chance for every youngster to view what could be the best show on TV for them. It's one every parent should urge their youngsters to watch and it would not be a bad idea for all of us to sit in on it."
"If you've been griping about TV, and rightly so, here's an opportunity for your offspring to watch something that is both interesting and educational."
The enthusiastic endorsement of 4-H TV Action by television managers and producers suggests that 4-H can make an important contribution to children's programming. Watch for "4-H TV Action Club," "4-H TV Science," and new 4-H TV series on your local stations.
By promoting membership in these clubs, you, as local leaders, can help more boys and girls have new opportunities in 4-H.
(from July 1968 National 4-H News)
4-H Television Series Get Some Structure
After a decade of 4-H television development at the state level, and usage of these series nationwide, this area of delivering the 4-H program had grown significantly and it was clear that the federal 4-H office needed to do something about coordinating the development of 4-H television. At the request of the 4-H subcommittee, ECOP created an ad hoc 4-H television committee in 1968. Eleanor L. Wilson, on the 4-H Extension USDA staff, was appointed national 4-H TV coordinator. A year later, the National 4-H TV Review Board was organized. Having gone from no structure to three different levels of structure in a few months inevitably created overlap and confusion. Basically, the review board and the TV coordinator worked together as a clearinghouse for new TV series and encouraged treatment of 4-H subjects that would be suitable for nationwide use. The board also planned to develop cost-sharing techniques that would build funds for future series. The ultimate aim was to provide a nationwide distribution scheme that would make it easier for programs developed in one area to be shared by all. As national 4-H TV coordinator, Wilson was put in the classic Extension position of trying to get everyone to work together toward common goals without having authority over anyone. It proved to be an exceedingly difficult task which never was accomplished completely (from "4-H: An American Idea").
One other significant thing happened during this time period. 4-H began counting its television participants in 1969. Although this was a controversial decision in some circles, television programming was now a part of 4-H and had to be acknowledged as such.
The Major 4-H Television Series:
4-H TV Electrical Series
By the mid-1950's, many state Extension services had added television specialists to their communications staffs, and by 1957, Michigan State University was at work on the "4-H TV Electrical Series", 13-half hour shows designed for 9- to 11-year-olds. The producers simulated a 4-H club meeting with youngsters and a volunteer leader who knew something about electricity. The series was an aid to leaders who could get 4-H clubs together in their homes and watch their counterparts on TV. This may sound like a rather boring approach, however pre-dating "Sesame Street" and "The Electric Company", these early efforts had great success.
4-H TV Science Club
Michigan State University's first science television series in 1959, was followed by a second in 1963. The "4-H TV Science Club" was used in a number of other states as Extension agents began to realize television's unequaled ability to hold children's attention. Rhode Island's State 4-H Leader Ken Coombs reported on the success of the 4-H TV Science Club in his state in 1965: "When it went on the air on December 19 (1964), we had some 1,500 enrollments and our figures now exceed 3,000. In the electrical series last spring, 1,750 Rhode Island boys and girls enrolled and nearly 800 from Massachusetts signed up. We are convinced this is an important Extension method."
The 4-H TV Science Club series, which was used for more than a decade eventually enrolled over 4 million 4-H'ers. 4-H television experts worked out a system so that young viewers could join the 4-H TV club by calling or writing their county Extension offices. They received an enrollment card and a workbook or program guide to the series. Participation counts were based on the children who made contact. No doubt, thousands of others tuned in at random and learned something, too.
The June 1959 issue of National 4-H News carries a feature on the 4-H TV Science Club entitled "SCIENCE... New Dimension in 4-H."
4-H TV Action Club
Based on the success of the science programs funded by the U.S. Office of Civil Defense, Michigan State University received an FES contract to produce another 4-H series, this one on emergency preparedness. Produced in the mid-1960s in the television studios at Michigan State University, the 4-H TV Action Club was hosted by Dick Arnold, Farm Radio Director at Michigan State University station WKAR. The 4-H TV Action Club prepared young people to deal with tornados, fire, atomic attack and a host of other disasters. It also taught the potential of nuclear power to provide electricity. Like its predecessors, it was built around the club scenario. The series was black and white, and low budget, yet during the first four years after production some two million youths were 4-H TV Action Club members across the nation. The series was used by 125 television stations in 45 states.
In the mid-1960's, Colorado produced a 4-H series called "Dog Sense." Dog Sense was a 4-H series of eight half-hour television programs produced at KRMA-TV, Denver, an educational television station, with the assistance and supervision of Colorado State University and Denver area Extension agents. Just as nationwide project literature created problems in the diverse world of 4-H requirements and structures, television was destined to make mistakes, as well. The teacher/trainer who hosted the program evidently knew a good deal about dogs, but as Eleanor Wilson, National 4-H TV Coordinator, described it years later, the woman did not know enough about 4-H. In the midst of a demonstration on using patience in dog training, she advised her viewers to take a break for a relaxing can of beer if the dog did not appear to be responding. Although it may have been good advice for the troubled pet owner, it was bad public relations for an organization like 4-H that served minors almost exclusively. Wilson, in the book "4-H: An American Idea," described Dog Sense as an interesting series that did not go far.
Ralston Purina Company, donor of the 4-H Dog Care & Training Awards Program, underwrote the cost of having the Dog Sense series transferred to videotape which was then distributed through the National 4-H Service Committee.
Teen Mobile Club
In the Autumn 1967 4-H AUTOMOTIVE Bulletin, published by the National 4-H Service Committee in cooperation with The Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., donor of the National 4-H Automotive Program, there is a lead feature on the "Teen Mobile Club" 4-H-produced television series:
TV TEACHES 4-H AUTOMOTIVE
Last spring approximately 9,000 boys and girls in southern West Virginia and southwestern Virginia enrolled in a 10-week television series on the automotive safety project. The half-hour programs entitled "Teen Mobile Club" were primarily for pre-drivers.
The programs were produced and hosted by William Clark, the 4-H Extension agent in Raleigh County, West Virginia, with the assistance of the state 4-H staff and Frank Blake, extension television specialist. Clark states that teaching via television has a real potential for reaching youth as long as you can offer them something in which they are interested. The automotive series was promoted by way of news releases, television announcements and through the schools.
The West Virginia TV series ran along these lines: A different guest instructor appeared on each program, along with 14 youngsters appearing as teen mobile club members. These members took part in the programs in various ways such as by question-answer participation and working with visual aids and demonstrations.
Some of the subject areas included in the series were: auto maintenance, how a car functions, how to service a car and motor mechanics, rules of the road, driving safety and auto statistics, emergencies, car ownership and insurance. Most of the material was localized to the Virginia-West Virginia area.
The series was viewed on two West Virginia stations: WHIS-TV, Bluefield and WOAY-TV, Oak Hill, which are both commercial stations with network affiliation. The programs were videotaped and presented at 7 p.m. Tuesdays by one station and replayed the following Saturday on the other station at 12:30 p.m. right before American Bandstand.
In West Virginia 80 to 85% of the TV members had not previously been enrolled in 4-H. Thirty-five percent of the participating members turned in completed project circulars for which they received a certificate for recognition. One county had a 56% completion rate. Since the series was called Teen Mobile Club and not 4-H, other organizations accepted the idea and also became involved.
Although produced in West Virginia, television knows no state boundaries and the series was also received by residents of Virginia. Glenn Snyder, West Virginia 4-H program leader, alerted the Virginia 4-H staff that the series would reach their state and explained the contents. Three Virginia counties accepted the challenge to locally coordinate the project and over 1,500 boys and girls enrolled in the program.
E. B. Hale, associate extension agricultural engineer at Virginia Tech., coordinated an evaluation of the 10-week period after the series was completed. The results of the survey from 628 returned questionnaires indicated that the TV programs served as a very substantial part of the participants over all 4-H automotive training.
A significant response indicated that well over 50% of those returning questionnaires planned to continue in the program next year by enrolling in Unit II (over 40% of those returning questionnaires in Virginia had never been in 4-H before). A trip through an auto assembly plant in Norfolk was offered to those completing the project. A total of 118 members and leaders made the 3-day tour which also included stops at several famous Virginia landmarks.
The general opinion of the extension workers involved in the 4-H TV series in both Virginia and West Virginia is that television is a good teaching method in this type of project if (1) the viewers are organized, (2) the leadership is developed to supplement this type of teaching method, (3) more program activities and better accompanying manuals are developed and (4) the TV programs are of top quality and have the right viewing time. All people involved thought the 4-H image had been improved because of the series.
4-H TV Fun on Wheels Club
A 4-H TV Fun on Wheels Club had its premiere on station WTEV, New Bedford, Connecticut, and Providence, Rhode Island, on January 17, 1970 at 8:30 a.m., as reported in the Winter 1970 National 4-H Service Committee COMMENTS newsletter.
Part of the 4-H Bicycle project, the 13-program series was telecast on successive Saturdays through April 11. This 4-H TV Club series was developed by the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Connecticut at Storrs, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the University of Rhode Island at Kingston, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The TV programs were correlated to material in a bright well-illustrated 20-page manual and a leaders' guide.
Literature was compiled and edited by John F. Farrell, county Extension agent in 4-H Club Work, Bristol County, Massachusetts, who also spearheaded the planning and production of the series.
Material in the literature was supplied or suggested by Dr. Paul Dudley White; the National 4-H Service Committee; The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, national 4-H bicycle program donor; the safety department of the Allstate Insurance Companies; Bicycle Institute of America, Inc.; American Youth Hostels, Inc. and National Safety Council.
The TV program titles include: Wonderful World of Bikes, What's a Bike?, Does Your Bike Fit You?, Is Your Bike Ready to Go?, Keep Your Bike in Good Condition; Customize Your Bike; Learn to Ride; Ride It Right; Road to Adventure; What Shape is Your Bike In?, Fun on Wheels; Bike Safety Test; and Bike Riding Test.
It is not known if the bicycle series was used in other states besides the three cooperating states which produced the series.
4-H Photo Fun Club
The series introduces young people to cameras, film, picture composition and turns common errors into learning situations. The members learn how to use a camera to take clear, sharp pictures which convey a message or preserve a memory and how photographs can help record progress made in 4-H projects. They learn to tell stories with photos and to record events, ideas and situations that surround their daily activities. The TV club members were selected through an auditioning process involving over 70 current Milwaukee area 4-H members. The auditions were set up by Carl Smith, Milwaukee County 4-H Youth Agent.
A nationally appointed 4-H Photography TV Series Development Committee assisted in the planning of the series and development of the supplemental materials. E.C. Ferringer, head, Agricultural Information and Audio Visual Production, Purdue University, chaired the committee with Eleanor L. Wilson, national TV coordinator, Extension Service, USDA, providing overall coordination.
4-H Photo Fun Club was produced by WMVS-TV, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for 4-H in cooperation with Eastman Kodak Company and the Extension Service of the U.S.Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service of the Land-Grant Universities and National 4-H Service Committee, Chicago. Frank Pallo, Jim Healy and Robert Fordyce, Eastman Kodak Company, supervised production of the series, working with Ron Salek, producer-director, WMVS-TV. Larry Krug, Information Associate-TV, National 4-H Service Committee acted as technical advisor representing the photography development committee.
Interestingly, although Eastman Kodak Company is a film manufacturing corporation, the 4-H Photo Fun Club was the first 4-H TV series produced on videotape. There was a series of educational and promotional materials produced to accompany the series including a members manual, leaders guide, button, poster, leaflet and more.
Premiered at a national television workshop in Colorado in mid-1970, 4-H Photo Fun Club was shown on more than 90 commercial and educational stations during its first several months.
During the first year and a half the series was shown on over 120 television stations in half the states - cities including Baltimore, Boston, Providence, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Sacramento, Orlando, Honolulu, Roanoke, Hartford, Raleigh, Asheville, Des Moines, Wichita, San Francisco, Syracuse, Buffalo, Fairbanks, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Over 70% of the stations programming the series were commercial stations. Some 89% of the programming at these stations took place in what was considered prime viewing hours for the targeted audience - 44% programmed the series on Saturday mornings; 27% on weekday afternoons after school and 18% on weekday evenings during the early hours.
Studies on 4-H Photo Fun Club by the Extension Service, National 4-H Service Committee, and Eastman Kodak showed some 70 percent of the young viewers who enrolled in 4-H Photo Fun Club had no previous experience with 4-H and that two thirds of these youth wanted to become affiliated with the 4-H program after the series was completed. Other information derived from the study demonstrated the success of television as a teaching medium as more than half the viewers surveyed improved skills and increased knowledge of photography.
Being the first 4-H television series produced at the national level in cooperation with a business sponsor - Eastman Kodak Company - this gave Extension opportunities to work with the donor affiliates at the local level in helping promote and support the TV series. Many Kodak distributors and processors across the country took an active part in aiding with the local plans for organizing the series, and then also became involved in the regular ongoing 4-H Photography program at the local level. Many states reported examples of county Extension personnel getting the support of adult camera clubs, school photography clubs and photography shops. Illinois, for example, sent county 4-H TV coordinators a list of Illinois Kodak dealers who expressed an interest in helping with the 4-H photography project. In West Virginia, the state 4-H staff and radio-TV specialists conducted 4-H agent training meetings in four of the state's six Appalachian Center areas using a 30-minute video tape of the history of 4-H television programming as well as the audition print for Photo Fun. In California a local show was aired on KVIE-TV in Sacramento the week before the series started, introducing 4-H Photo Fun to potential enrollees. Working with the Boy Scouts, the series also qualified Scouts for the photography merit badge in the Sacramento area.
Follow-up activities in various states after the series was completed also show local creativity and effort. There were numerous examples of conducting photo exhibits at shopping center malls, museums, schools, teen centers and photography shops. Most states conducted drives to move the 4-H TV photography members into an ongoing 4-H photography project for year-round activities. Florida provided an opportunity for all series participants to enter their best snapshots and picture stories at the Central Florida Fair. South Dakota used specific Photo Fun classes at their county fairs and state fair. Some states conducted photography contests immediately after series completion with prizes awarded by local photo dealers and processors. Tours through photography processing plants were offered. In North Carolina three 4-H Photo Fun camps were scheduled for July and August, involving outside resource people in instructing youth attending the one-week-long camp where technique was taught and film processed and critiqued right at the camp. Virginia invited 4-H TV members to attend the regular summer camping programs conducted by 4-H. Connecticut station WENB-TV added an additional 30-minute program to the series featuring six local youth who formed a viewing club and followed the series through to completion. Massachusetts and Rhode Island scheduled an additional half hour after the series was over to tell about 4-H in their states and how to join an on-going project.
A national survey showed the majority of 4-H Extension personnel, school officials, television station managers and program directors, Photo Fun Club enrolled members... and their parents, seemed to be complimentary of the series. The program quality was said to be good, the series fulfilled its goal to teach Unit I of the 4-H photography manual and having six programs seemed to be a desired length. The nationally produced promotion kit for the series was used by every state programming the series, many of them adapting the materials to their own local situations.
The 4-H Photo Fun Club series provided a number of "firsts"...
Living in a Nuclear Age
"Living in a Nuclear Age" was produced in cooperation with the Extension Service, United States Department of Agriculture; Department of Defense, Office of Civil Defense; and State Extension Services of the Land Grant Universities. A National 4-H TV Development Committee on Civil Defense and The Kansas State University Development Committee planned and designed the series. The series was produced by Extension Film Production, Kansas State University, who also developed the supporting educational and promotional materials.
The film crew traveled to many sections of the country shooting for the series. Visits with scientists from the Atomic Energy Research Labs in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and at other locations give the series depth.
The National 4-H Service Committee was responsible for the distribution and promotion of the series. which was launched in late 1972.
The six programs included:
The series was accompanied by a members' manual and leaders' guide, plus promotional pieces including a poster and leaflet.
Some 10,000 promotional kits were produced by the National 4-H Service Committee and several power suppliers aggressively helped to spread the word about the series during the first year. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association distributed 650 kits to its field representatives, urging them to help promote the teen-oriented production in their states. Other energy groups promoting the series included the American Public Power Association, Electric Energy Association and the Farm Electrification Council. The Defense Civil Preparedness Agency, U.S. Department of Defense also promoted Living in a Nuclear Age through various internal channels. One example is their Information Bulletin No. 270 which explains the series and encourages nationwide cooperation between extension offices at the state and local levels and local civil preparedness agencies.
The National 4-H TV Review Board endorsed the full use of Living in a Nuclear Age and became actively involved in seeking ways to promote the series. At a spring 1973 meeting of the Advisory Group to the National 4-H Electric Development Committee, a program from the series was shown. The group is composed of young people representing 17 states. Their recommendation was that 4-H'ers throughout the nation should conduct an awareness campaign on electricity and the energy crisis and that utilization of the 4-H television series, Living in a Nuclear Age, be a part of this campaign.
"Living in a Nuclear Age" was also featured on the front cover of the August issue of GPN Newsletter, the monthly publication of Great Plains National ITV Library, series distributor - one of the largest distributors of instructional television series in the country.
The series was initially used in very early spring 1973 in four states - Colorado, Michigan, North Dakota and Pennsylvania. Nearly 50,000 youth were enrolled in these states. The ratio between boys and girls enrolled was nearly split, two states reporting 49% boys and 51% girls and one state showing 50% enrollment for both boys and for girls. A large number of metropolitan youth enrolled in Living in a Nuclear Age, figuring as high as 72% (cities of 50,000 and over and suburbs) of the state's total enrollment in one state. Twenty-seven stations programmed the series in the four states carrying the series in spring, 1973. The 27 stations were located in 14 different market areas containing over 5-1/2 million TV households and reaching nearly 17 million total population. Of these 27 stations, 17 were commercial, network affiliated stations and 10 were educational stations. The series was carried in such market areas as Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Lancaster, Scranton, Denver, Grand Rapids and Fargo.
Commercial stations scheduled Living in a Nuclear Age during weekend programming hours in 88% of the cases with Saturday afternoons ranking first, Saturday mornings rated second and Sunday mornings third. Educational stations used the series most on weekdays with only two of the stations showing it on the weekend (Saturday afternoon) and in both cases the series had also been telecast earlier in the week.
Gearing up for using Living in a Nuclear Age in fall 1973, upward of 4,000 supportive kits of promotional and educational material were distributed through the National 4-H Service Committee. As of December 1, 1973 UMC/Colson Co., distributor of the series members manuals and teacher/leader guidebooks, had sold 196,000 manuals and 26,720 guidebooks for the series.
A number of states planned on using the series in fall/winter 1973 and in 1974, however final statistics have not been located in the 4-H archives.
According to the 1975 report on distribution of the series, 14 states programmed the series during 1975, reaching 80,000 youth and paralleling the age of the intended target audience. The highest enrollment was that of 13-year-olds, followed by 12-, 14-and 11-year olds. Stations were located in 19 different market areas serving over seven million TV households. The fact that the series seems to fit well into the school science curriculum of the target audience has aided its use. State 4-H TV coordinators report that Living in a Nuclear Age has increased the rapport between 4-H and science teachers/school administrators. Local and state civil defense officers continue to be of great assistance in helping coordinate and finance the series in several areas of the country. The four states which were given national grants to develop training models for the series - Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Kansas and West Virginia - continue to work in their respective area of study.
It was stated in 1973 that the fact the series seems to fit into the school science curriculum of the target audiences and that portions of the subject matter have a direct relationship to the current energy crisis should enhance the use of Living in a Nuclear Age. Coupled to these factors is a current national promotion campaign of Extension Service, USDA and the National 4-H Service Committee to promote better and continued use of the series.
The key to the amount of success experienced by states using Living in a Nuclear Age seems, as in past series, to be closely correlated with the amount of resources that go into the preparations for utilizing the series... training; contacts with schools, television stations, other organizations; use of promotional and educational supportive material; available fiances and time and manpower allotted to the effort.
In 1973 the average child watched 24 hours of television a week, or more... a longer period than they spent in school. Television has the greatest, most profound impact of any mass medium in history and it can be one of the most positive forces in our children's lives. "Living in a Nuclear Age and other 4-H series," according to Eleanor L. Wilson, National 4-H TV Coordinator, "are helping to support the cause for learning by offering creative youth television programming. As Living in a Nuclear Age is used more and more during the months ahead, it will be interesting to observe the impact it has on the intended target audience (13-to 15-year olds), an age group seldom considered in television production."
Living in a Nuclear Age was a very creative production, however never reached the success level of the 4-H nutrition series, Mulligan Stew, which was developed during the same period. One reason, probably, was that the nutrition series related to one of the era's politically and socially "hot issues," whereas Nuclear Age was before its time - prior to the energy crisis and prior to Three Mile Island, it seemed to recede into the category of a civil defense pep talk.
A 1972 production made available in 1973, "Mulligan Stew" centers around a five-piece kids' rock group that turns on to good nutrition by solving a different type of nutrition problem in each of the six half-hour TV programs. The series was developed by Extension Service, USDA and filmed by USDA Motion Picture Service. It was developed based on plan and design proposals by Developmental Committees, Iowa State University Extension Service 4-H Nutrition Television Programs. The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) provided a grant to produce the series.
Eleanor Wilson, national 4-H TV coordinator, recalls that once the EFNEP funds were secured, her office subcontracted with Iowa State University to develop an outline of educational concepts for the series. The 4-H TV developmental committee responded favorably to what Iowa State did with nutrition content, but the series did not emerge as a creative whole until Extension hired Ira Klugerman to direct the series. Klugerman, who came from a background of children's television at WQED in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, came up with the title and general treatment for the series.
Production began on location in southeast Washington, DC in 1971. Wilson remembered that the project consumed her and whatever staff she could involve. The budget, always a precarious item, had to be watched with dogged attention. On the other hand, the nutrition subject matter had to meet the standards of a host of home economists who did not always agree. Klugerman insisted that the production be entertaining as well as educational, but was unwilling to let pedantics dominate the series. The child actors were sometimes difficult and Wilson recalled that when she was not juggling columns of numbers, she was settling arguments on the set or haunting the local produce markets looking for just the right shade of green vegetables for the next day's shooting. Wilson herself was without much direct experience in TV production but she did know about Extension and she was convinced that if the show was to be a success it would have to be a compromise effort.
Mulligan Stew premiered on October 4, 1972, during the National 4-H Week at the National 4-H Center, but it was already a winner. Advanced information on the series had enticed the states and they were lining up their viewing schedules and stockpiling materials. The series included the six half-hour films, leaders' guides, and a Mulligan Stew comicbook developed by Michigan State University.
The Mulligan Stew series was being promoted and distributed through the National 4-H Service Committee, and the Committee's Television Specialist Larry Krug recalls the comicbook printer, Shaw-Barton's reaction to the series, "We placed an initial order for one million copies of the comicbook and before they got them off the presses I had to call back and order another 1-1/2 million. They thought I was crazy, but it continued. Before the series was completed we had printed over seven million copies of the Mulligan Stew comicbook."
In all, the Cooperative Extension Service invested $716,000 in Mulligan Stew. That amounted to about $1 per child enrolled, compared to the $10.48 cost of enrolling a child in a single 4-H project. A 4-H member from McConnelsville, Ohio, summed up the series' appeal when he wrote, "Dear Mulligan Stew, Thank You for putting on the show. It taught me a lot about nutrition. My little brother watched it and is eating better now. I hope you will show it again next year. It was funny too." From letters like that it was apparent that "Stew" had succeeded in combining the often-dry concepts of good nutrition with the sometimes too-flamboyant airs of television.
The "good nutrition" series was designed for 4th, 5th and 6th graders with special emphasis on low-income urban youth. The fast moving scene changes and techniques utilizing animation, puppets, and music throughout the sequences are similar to "Sesame Street" and nutrition assignments tackled in each program by the Mulligan Stew force are reminiscent of "Mission Impossible" or "Mod Squad." Wilbur Dooright brings assignments from "upstairs". The group does fun one-liners like Laugh-In. Oh yes! There are some of our great astronauts as well as world famous food authorities and scientists. Each show is "way-out" in entertainment while teaching exciting things about feeding yourself for a healthier you.
One program deals with poor breakfasts, another with fad diets and still another with overall poor eating habits of a whole town called "Lazy Susan." An international program in the series brings in kids representing many foreign lands and Mulligan Stew shows them that no matter where in the world they live, they can find native foods that fit into the basic four food groups and they can have a well-balanced diet. Foods of the future are featured in a program filmed at the Houston Space Center.
The six programs included:
A wide assortment of educational and promotional materials by Michigan State University Cooperative Extension Service accompanied the series. The Mulligan Stew television series was distributed by the National 4-H Service Committee and a colorful, professional promotional kit included a whole cafeteria of materials for 4-H agents, teachers and others to utilize the series. These materials included:
Compiled by National 4-H History Preservation Team.
The 4-H Name and Emblem are protected by 18 USC 707