Most of the history sections appearing on the National 4-H History Preservation website as researched and written by the National 4-H History Preservation team, tell a narrative story. The 4-H Promotion history is different. This is a compendium of selected short stories which stand alone. Many are stories of significant 4-H promotion or visibility programs. Others are examples that relay an impactful or heart-warming story covered in the media and a part of 4-H promotion simply because they should not be "lost to history."
As Franklin Reck infers in "The 4-H Story," a characteristic of almost any history is that the informative years are more exciting than later years as the early years produce the experimenters, the valiant pioneers with the new concepts. A story on the first tomato canning bee makes a better story than 100 canning competitions taking place in later years.
Reviewing 4-H promotion at the national level over the past century, there are two major statements that can be made; almost contradicting one another. First, traditionally promotion dollars never seemed to be a high priority item... "you did what you could" with the money that was allocated. However, having said this, through staff creativity, prioritizing, partnering, and doing some major projects "on the cheap," some tremendously effective promotional programs were planned and successfully carried out.
This history highlights 4-H promotion at the national level, particularly by National 4-H Council and its two predecessor organizations – National 4-H Service Committee (formerly National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work) and National 4-H Club Foundation, and by the 4-H and Information offices of Extension/USDA. Some specific examples of efforts at the state and local levels are included, particularly when they resulted in national impact or national visibility.
It is interesting to note that prior to the National 4-H Service Committee's and National 4-H Foundation's merger in 1976 creating National 4-H Council, promotion and visibility was one of the few areas of commonality in which both predecessor organizations had a strong commitment. Information staffs of both organizations often planned, coordinated and carried out promotional projects together.
From an historic perspective, one clarification needs to be made here. Over the first nearly seven decades, starting around 1920 or slightly before, and running up into the 1980s, most efforts in this whole general area were considered 4-H promotion, visibility, or public relations. It really wasn't seen in terms of "marketing" until the 1980s, and in some cases, perhaps even later. And, terms like branding, licensing, tutorials, webinars, powerpoints, Twitter, Facebook, and a whole communication's technological vocabulary that has entered the scene since the mid-90s is totally recognized, but whose history is still taking shape. Interestingly, the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communications defines technical communication as "factual communication, usually about products and services... The overarching goal is to create easily accessible, clearly communicated information for a specific audience." This has probably always been the goal of 4-H communicators from the very beginning, so in reality, the goals, the messages or stories have not changed... only the tools, and perhaps the vocabulary.
Extension 4-H staffs at the state and county levels... and state Extension information staffs, considered 4-H visibility and public relations as part of their job and responsibility. Many had regular radio and television programs, newspaper columns, newsletters, and promoted 4-H in a variety of creative ways. While this history on the National 4-H History Preservation website primarily covers 4-H promotion at the national level, these state and local efforts were equally important. The staffs at all three levels readily assisting each other with new promotion projects or ideas.
And, one final introductory comment – these success stories show a broad array of ideas relating to promotion and visibility over the many decades. But with its size, with its tremendous structure from national to state to local... and back up again, undoubtedly much more could have been done... should have been done, to make 4-H even more visible to all of the audiences 4-H desires to reach. Historically, at times, 4-H probably hampered creativity by its own system... publicity, promotion and visibility may not have always been within it's comfort zone.
Most 4-H histories point to one singular event as being the first known record for both promoting the endeavors of rural farm youth and financially supporting these youth. This was the state corn contest held during the first week of October in 1856 at the Watertown, New York Fair, the longest continuing county fair in America. A first prize of $50 was given by Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, the most influential newspaper in America. Greeley, famous for the advise, "Go West, Young Man, Go West," was later to become a presidential candidate in 1872 for both the Democratic and Liberal Republican parties. Young Franklin B. Spaulding of East Otto, Cattaraugus county, New York, won that contest. As reported, the boy stood by his exhibit of Dutton Yellow corn, his pulse quickening with sudden triumph when the party of dignified judges walked up to him and handed him the $50. Records show that Spaulding had plowed and dragged his land in April of that year after manuring it well. On May 17, he had planted the seed in hills three feet apart, four kernels to the hill. In September he had shocked his corn. Then had come a period of tense anxiety while impartial judges measured the yield and found that he had grown 152 bushels of ears per acre. He kept a careful record of expenses and income (according to the rules) which included three days of drawing manure with a team at $1.25 per day, plus his own labor charge of 75 cents per day, in addition to the cost of seed, manure, land rental and his own labor in cultivating and harvesting the crop. Total costs: $28.50. Against this he listed as income $20 for the sale of five tons of stalks and $76 for the sale of his corn at eight shillings per bushel, a total of $96; and, after deducting expenses, a net profit of $67.50.
Prior to the early 1900's there were other local contests and events supporting rural youth that brought with them promotion and visibility, but they were scattered and repeated with little continuity. Most were corn contests. A year after Horace Greeley's contest, according to an Iowa State Agricultural Society's annual report, 16-year-old Wilbert La Tourrette of Muscatine county, Iowa, won a premium by growing 95-1/2 bushels of corn on a measured acre. Both land and yield were measured and sworn to be a surveyor. And, even before Greeley's contest, as early as 1828, the teacher of a boarding school in Butler county, Ohio, about 25 miles from Cincinnati, allotted parcels of land to his students and had them grow corn, cucumbers, radishes, tomatoes, shrubbery and flowers. These boys of club age were learning by doing under the stimulus of competition, just as do the club members decades later (from Agricultural Leaders Digest, 1936, page 28.)
During the 1890s, progressive educators were beginning to promote the idea that teachers need to be teaching more than the three R's (readin', ritin' and rithmetic). In fact, M. Buisson of the French Ministry of Education, speaking at the International Congress of Education at Chicago on July 26, 1893, said: "Let the school teach, we say, what is most likely to prepare the child to be a good citizen, an intelligent and active man... Not by the means of the three R's, but rather by the means of the three H's – head, heart and hand – and make him fit for self-government, self control and self-help, a living, a thinking being." (Page 263 of the proceedings of the National Education Association for 1893).
A few educators were beginning to grasp what Buisson was talking about. Liberty Hyde Bailey, a naturalist at Cornell, was offering nature studies to young people in the 1890s that closely resembled 4-H work of later years. Perry Holden, known as the father of hybrid corn and the nation's first agronomist, first at the University of Illinois and then at Iowa State College, was almost evangelical in his quest to get small businessmen and bankers involved in financially supporting young people with project loans. At the turn of the century, a few superintendents of schools and some of the land-grant colleges were coming on board. W. M. Beardshear, President of Iowa State College (and also President of the National Education Association) in 1902 gave a speech on "The Three H's in Education" and stated "We are coming to embody Buisson's definition of education, and harmoniously build up the character of the child." Yet, there was no organized plan... no organized movement. It seems almost as if it happened through "little clusters of people" standing around talking about these three H's, nodding their heads up and down and saying, "this is a good idea," but it was moving ever so slowly. What they drastically needed was a great public relations person... a person who could present their case to the media!! But 4-H promotion and visibility was not yet on the horizon.
Traditional 4-H Promotional Areas - Past and Present
This section of 4-H Promotion history relates to promotion-type programs or events which are (or were) basically ongoing programs, spanning several years... or decades. Grouped together, they perhaps represent the basic framework or skeleton of most of the promotional efforts at the national level.
National 4-H Week
What is now known as National 4-H Week began as an outgrowth of World War II. Following Pearl Harbor, it was decided to postpone holding the National 4-H Camp in Washington, D.C., until the cessation of hostilities. During the war years, the Federal Extension Service initiated National 4-H Mobilization Week which was observed annually in the spring during 1942, 1943, and 1944 as a means of focusing the attention of 4-H members on what they might do for national defense.
The following year, 1945, and each year since, the special week has been observed as National 4-H Week. After the war, when National 4-H Mobilization Week became National 4-H Week, the purpose of the special week centered on (1) acquainting the public with the new, enlarged 4-H program, and the many ways young people may take part, (2) encourage more youth to join 4-H, (3) urge more men and women to volunteer as 4-H leaders, (4) recognize parents' contribution to 4-H and strengthen their cooperation, and (5) report the year's 4-H accomplishments and plan for the year ahead.
Results of this first National 4-H Week in 1945 indicated it had been a very effective means on the part of leaders and members alike, of reviewing the year's work, setting goals for the ensuing year, and focusing the attention of the public on 4-H and its values in the development of young people and to the general community and national welfare.
In the early years, like National 4-H Mobilization Week, National 4-H Week was held in the spring. Beginning in 1968, National 4-H Week was moved to the first full week of October, beginning with the first Sunday of October.
While plans for celebrating the annual National 4-H Week went into place at every level – national, state, county and local – the staffs at the national level put a great deal of time and thought into the observance. Information staffs of the National 4-H Service Committee, National 4-H Foundation and Extension Service, USDA traditionally joined forced in carrying out these plans. There was an annual National 4-H Week theme, National 4-H posters, radio and television public service announcements, 4-H Report to the Nation team visits and an annual National 4-H Week promotion kit. These kits were distributed to state 4-H staffs, extension editors and to every county extension office nationwide. The kits usually contained a wide assortment of promotional items including media related materials, a letter from the President of the United States, national 4-H statistics, clip art, exhibit plans and usually an "idea exchange" of how to gain more publicity for your local 4-H program.
In recent years, National 4-H Council has offered an electronic Promotional Toolkit relating to promotion for National 4-H Week.
While National 4-H Week served many purposes, promotion and visibility was easily at the top of the list. National 4-H Week was a time to let people know about 4-H and a time for recruitment of new members and leaders.
For a history on National 4-H Week visit the National 4-H History website section on National 4-H History. Go to:
The history of 4-H themes is rather spotty and is still being researched. A listing of the themes through the years is located on the 4-H History website In the National 4-H History section under the title National 4-H Poster Themes.
It is believed that the use of themes at the national level began in 1924 with the theme "Enroll in 4-H Now" used for a poster suggested by Gertrude Warren; produced and distributed by the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work (a year before they even had a Supply Service).
It is indicated in the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work's annual report for 1932 that due to finances (the Depression) they did not distribute a poster that year... and, apparently there was no theme, as well. Research has not found any mention of 4-H themes throughout the rest of the decade of the '30s nor during the early '40s. The theme for 1944 was: "Enlist Now – 4-H Clubs Need You to Carry Out their Victory Program in 1944." A similar theme was used in 1945 but using the '45 date rather than 1944. There were also colorful 4-H posters issued during the war years.
Following World War II is when the National 4-H Poster Program, sponsored by Coats & Clark, Inc., was born and with it, annual national 4-H themes were again initiated. This program lasted until the early 1990s.
In 1975, delegates to National 4-H Congress were asked to suggest theme areas for 1976 and three were selected: "4-H – Room to Grow," "We Are Involved," and "You've Got a Friend in 4-H." "4-H Room to Grow" was the designated winner.
While the National 4-H Theme is often associated with the National 4-H Poster Program, the annual themes were much broader than just being displayed on the posters. They often became the themes and speaking points for national events including National 4-H Conference and National 4-H Congress. The National 4-H Supply Service often put out a complete line of merchandise carrying the 4-H theme – buttons, stickers, place mats, T-shirts and more.
Also, state and county 4-H programs often picked up the national theme and used it in a variety of creative ways. Themes often showed up in exhibits and on floats and at the county fair. If a particular theme was popular, it could often be seen being used locally for a year or two or more after the theme had changed to a new theme at the national level.
There is no record in the files for a national theme being designated after 1990... and even then, the same theme, "4-H for Youth for America," had been used for six years straight.
Historically, 4-H themes served a very useful purpose from the standpoint of promotion and visibility and usually involved a particular direction or message that 4-H at the national level wanted to convey. Themes were very carefully selected and just by hearing the theme, one can usually visualize the message they presented. Examples: 4-H We Can Make It Happen, 4-H Room to Grow, 4-H Expanding Horizons, 4-H Pathways to the Future, Improving Family and Community Living, and Learning to Serve – Join 4-H. Some themes had an historical significance. "Working Together for World Understanding," used in 1953 and 1954 was during the time when the United Nations was in its infancy and when 4-H was expanding internationally. "4-H '76... Spirit of Tomorrow," was used in 1975, preparing for the nation's bicentennial.
4-H calendars brought tremendous visibility to the 4-H program in those states or counties participating in the National 4-H
Calendar Program. While popular, many counties traditionally did not participate in the program... 38 or 39 percent of
counties participated at the height of popularity.
To participate as official 4-H calendar vendors, calendar companies were required to obtain approval from Extension, USDA for use of the name and emblem and abide by rules and regulations established for the program. While the first calendar company received approval in 1936 it wasn't until after World War II that the program was initiated nationwide. For over four decades several calendar companies created appropriate images for 4-H calendars. The company salesmen would solicit merchants in local communities to purchase quantities of calendars for their customers... these calendars displaying the local merchant's name. Although the National 4-H Service Committee in Chicago coordinated the program, all royalties went to the establishment of a national 4-H youth center in Washington, D.C. In 1959, after the national center opened, the coordination of the program transferred to the National 4-H Foundation. The program royalties – which were substantial – helped greatly in the creation of the National 4-H Center. The National 4-H Calendar Program was discontinued at some point during the 1980s.
Today, the original art created for these calendars is not only considered historic, but exemplifies many scenes which depict rural America and youth activities over nearly a half century. Nearly 40 pieces of this original artwork is on display at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center. Through the National 4-H History Preservation Program and contributions from several supporters, all of the original art has been cleaned and restored. Efforts continue on the search for "missing" calendars and/or calendar art that has not yet been located by the history team.
The complete history of the National 4-H Calendar Program is on the National 4-H History Preservation website at:
National 4-H posters were popular visibility tools in 4-H for decades. The first national poster was created as
a sales item by the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work in 1924, a year before the National 4-H Supply
Service was even launched. It showed a large 4-H clover emblem with the wordage, "We are the Boys and Girls Club Work."
It was suggested by Gertrude Warren, 4-H/Extension Service, USDA.
Throughout the rest of the decade of the 1920s, the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work produced annual posters which
were distributed throughout the Extension System and to donors, and then offered for sale through the Supply Service. The last of
this series apparently was the poster issued in 1931. Due to the Depression, no new posters were issued until after World War II.
There were, however, a couple of wartime 4-H posters produced and offered through the National 4-H Supply Service.
In 1946, Coats & Clark Inc. (J. & P. Coats and Clark), which had been sponsoring the
National 4-H Clothing Awards Program since 1941, began sponsoring the National 4-H Poster
Program, too. Working with the 4-H Office, Extension, USDA and National 4-H Service
Committee's information staff, Coats & Clark annually produced and distributed (for free)
the national 4-H poster; and later, also provided the poster design as a colored slide.
The poster distribution was geared to having the posters distributed in time for use
during National 4-H Week. Following many years of providing 4-H leaders and agents with
free posters by simply writing their headquarters, in the late 1960s Coats & Clark started
offering the posters for a fee – 5 cents each (order in multiples of 20). And, they were
available from the county agent or state 4-H office, not from Coats & Clark.
National 4-H Poster Art Exhibit – Mrs. Fern Kelley, program leader - 4-H, Extension USDA, confirmed that the 4-H Poster Art Program, which was held for the first time in 1970 was such a tremendous success that it would be continued again in 1971.
John B. Clark, president, Coats & Clark, Inc., (right) presents the original painting for
the 1960 4-H Club Week poster to Kenneth H. Anderson, National 4-H Service Committee,
who has helped to guide the program for more than 20 years. Coats and Clark Inc. furnishes
the official Club Week poster and distributes well over 100,000 copies annually of the
posters to state and county Extension offices.
Many of the annual poster artwork pieces were painted by the famous artist, William C. Griffith, who also was the artist for some of the 4-H calendar art.
According to Sue Benedetti, 4-H Extension, USDA, who coordinated the program in the early 1970's, more than 1,350 original posters were submitted by 4-H members, as well as clubs, in the first year of the program. The posters were judged by delegates to National 4-H Conference during sessions on 4-H image. In 1971, a change in the program made it possible for posters to be judged at local, county and state levels with a highly selective group being sent to Washington for final national judging.
By the mid 1970s, delegates to National 4-H Congress were asked to suggest theme areas for 1976 posters. An article in the Fall 1978 issue of National 4-H Council Quarterly reports that the 4-H Poster Art Program continues to grow – that a recent survey conducted by National 4-H Council showed that 47 states were participating in the program, accounting for over 130,000 4-H members submitting posters that could eventually become the design for the national 4-H poster.
It is believed that the National 4-H Poster Program was disbanded in the early 1980s. Some of the original national poster art is located at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center. A complete history of the National 4-H Poster Program can be found in the National 4-H History section of the 4-H History website.
National 4-H Report To The Nation Program
4-H Reporters with President Kennedy
The National 4-H Report to the Nation Program was initiated in 1950. The intent of the program was to utilize a team
of outstanding 4-H members as spokesmen for the 4-H program with important national officials and presenting them with
a volume describing 4-H achievements during the previous year – hence, "the Report to the Nation."
Each year a special "Report to the Nation" book was produced. It was visual, most pages containing a photo with
caption. It could be quickly read... or scanned. Reporters often used the book as talking points in meeting with a VIP
and then gave them the book.
For the first 25 years, teams were selected from delegates to National 4-H Congress in Chicago. In the mid-1970's
a change was made with the team being selected from delegates to the National 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C.
The primary sponsor of the program for its duration was the Conrad Hilton Hotel in Chicago.
The program was disbanded in either 1993 or 1994, but for over 40 years the team participants had some remarkable experiences, often getting the "red carpet" treatment at the airport as their plane touched down in a major city, being welcomed by the mayor or governor. Several teams met with the President of the United States in the Oval Office.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s the Report to the Nation team members routinely appeared on some of the top television programs in the country. They were guests on donor-sponsored television shows with youth appeal – such as Danny Thomas and Andy Griffith – as well as those with parent appeal – like the Tonight Show and the Today Show. One Sunday night the team appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show... and, one afternoon, were guests during a visit to Dick Clark's "American Bandstand."
At some point (believed to be in the early 1980's) the Report to the Nation Team became the 4-H Ambassador Program with essentially the same types of responsibilities as the older program.
The history of the 4-H Report to the Nation team is still incomplete, however a good share of the experiences are documented on the 4-H History Preservation website. Go to:
Considered by many to be the most prestigious awards in 4-H, the National 4-H Presidential Awards Winners – the top girl and the top boy in the Achievement, Citizenship and Leadership programs – began in 1924 with a single winner in the Leadership program... and ended after the naming of the winners for the year 1993 – a 70 year run.
For many years the six top recipients were given silver trays in the name of the President of the United States.
President Richard M. Nixon with winners of the National 4-H Presidential Awards at National 4-H Congress.
Although the Presidential Winners program did not receive the year-round publicity that was generated by the National 4-H Report to the Nation Program, the naming of the winners at the closure of National 4-H Congress in Chicago each year generated much promotion and visibility for that one event.
The complete history of the National 4-H Presidential Winners can be found on the National 4-H History Preservation website in the National 4-H History area under:
National 4-H Presidential Winners
National 4-H Sunday
National 4-H Sunday
Throughout much of its history, and particularly during the mid-20th century, 4-H had celebrated National 4-H Sunday and Rural Life Sunday. Held in the spring, 4-H clubs in hundreds of communities worked closely with the community church to provide the 4-H-driven church service. Members of the local 4-H club would serve as greeters, ushers, provide the choir, give the scripture readings and even the sermon. This was perfectly acceptable. After all, in the traditional homogenous rural population everyone knew everyone else; went to the same school, the same church, and belonged to the same 4-H Club.
However, by the 1970s, federal court actions more narrowly defined the separation of church and state, and 4-H had to reassess its policies. The reassessment was hastened by the recognition that the new audiences that 4-H was bringing in did not necessarily share the common religious values presumed to exist in rural America.
What had been a major, highly visible annual function in rural communities across America – National 4-H Sunday – would rapidly disappear.
4-H National Youth Science Day
Beginning in 2008, 4-H National Youth Science Day is an exciting interactive learning experience that engages thousands of youth across the country in conducting the National Science Experiment. A different science subject area is selected each year, e.g. robotics, rocketry, wind power and alternative energy. The annual National Science Experiment provides a kit for participants with all the information and materials needed to conduct the experiment. The culmination is National Youth Science Day, held in October each year during National 4-H Week.
4-H National Youth Science Day not only stresses the important of science with young people, but is one of the highly promotional and visible events currently on the 4-H calendar.
4-H Radio Promotion
When the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work (later National 4-H Council) was started in late 1921, it basically consisted of a staff of one person – Guy Noble – working at a "desk on loan" in the Chicago headquarters offices of the American Farm Bureau, with the assistance of a part-time secretary – also on loan. With some help, contributions were secured in 1922 from Meredith Publishing Company, Wilson and Company, International Harvester Company, Montgomery Ward and the Chicago Board of Trade.
In addition to the overwhelming burden of raising funds in unchartered waters... and, planning and managing the major national 4-H annual event, the National 4-H Congress, Guy Noble also knew that it was critical to promote the concept of 4-H to broader audiences if it was to grow. During the World War I years, 4-H enrollment dropped by over 50 percent. Noble was intrigued by this new media called "radio." So as early as 1922... before it was even a year old, the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work became a radio pioneer.
Noble made arrangements with the Westinghouse Radio Service of Chicago for news of boys and girls club work to be presented each Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6 p.m. In 1922 there were only 30 radio stations in the country and a quarter million receiving sets scattered across the nation.
Meredith publishing gave the radio broadcasts prominent play in its special publication, Boys and Girls Club Leader. "Club members having wireless receiving sets and others who can arrange to listen in on a neighbor's set... will hear something interesting and spicy about club work," the magazine promised in the May 1922 issue. Within a couple of years the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work, partnering with Extension, USDA, were providing boys and girls club work programming on a regular basis on all three major networks. Every evening program at National 4-H Congress was broadcast across the country "so that delegates' parents, neighbors and friends could listen in."
In 1929 a National 4-H Radio Party was held during National 4-H Camp, including a welcome by Dr. C. W. Warburton, director of Extension, and music by the United States Marine Band orchestra. The hour long program was broadcast over the National Broadcasting Company. Additional National 4-H Radio Parties were held for several years.
1926 seemed to be the start of many state college radio stations, particularly land-grant institutions, offering their 4-H staffs air time to promote boys and girls club work and 4-H events around the state. Throughout most of the 1920s, National 4-H News was carrying the schedules of radio broadcasts, and now also included the state programs. For decades, county Extension staffs and state information staffs embraced radio, providing regular programs or information to nearly every rural radio station in America. Stations which had farm broadcasters on staff, also became "best friends" with 4-H. 4-H and radio, in some aspects, grew up together. Radio is one of the integral parts of 4-H history.
Starting in 1965, the National 4-H Service Committee started distributing 4-H celebrity spots for radio... a popular service that lasted for a number of years. In 1978, the full year after merger, the National 4-H Council Communications Division subscribed to a national radio network service. The resulting feature placement was nearly $100,000 worth of additional national coverage, reaching a potential audience of 79,800,000 people in the United States and overseas. 1978 also saw the quarterly mailings of live radio public service copy to every station in the country being instituted.
For the complete history of 4-H and Radio, visit the section on the 4-H history website:
Extension, including 4-H, was beginning to work with local television stations regularly as early as the mid-1950s. As 4-H pushed into urban areas with their programming and recruitment in the 1960s, they often found friends at the local TV stations interested in helping with their quest. One example of this is the major push with urban 4-H programming in Indianapolis. Station WLWI (now WTHR) created a weekly Saturday morning show called "Clover Power" which included many interviews with 4-H'ers about their projects... the show host was David Letterman. This is but one example.
Even some of the network shows often featured 4-H – Arthur Godfrey and Lawrence Welk... when Willard Scott was on NBC's the Today Show he often interviewed 4-H'ers.
At the national level, the National 4-H Service Committee, and later National 4-H Council, produced a few 4-H television promo packages, but nothing like what had been done for radio. They were more difficult to do; and, they were much more expensive. The budget just was not there. Additionally, with radio PSAs, the disc jockeys loved them. It was much harder to get air time for television public service announcements. It was easier to supply television with good leads on news stories and let the news departments handle it. One built in audience that 4-H did have as an advantage was the farm broadcasters. A number of stations serving rural audiences were hiring TV farm broadcasters and like their radio counterparts, they were friends of 4-H. One of the best examples of this is Orion Samuelson at WGN in Chicago who undoubtedly has interviewed thousands of 4-H'ers for his programs over the years.
In addition to 4-H promotion on television, and news stories about 4-H events or achievements, occasionally there was even a 4-H theme woven into some of the regular TV series. For example, in 1968 the CBS network's popular show, "Lassie," featured an episode entitled "Lassie and the 4-H Boys." In a 1978 episode of "The Waltons" Elizabeth joins the 4-H club and raises a small pig. And, even on "The Simpsons" in a 2008 episode Bart Simpson joins the 4-H with a scrawny little calf that eventually develops into a raging bull.
The 4-H Fair
It can safely be said that in most local areas there is no time during the year when 4-H gets more publicity or promotion than during the week of the 4-H fair or county fair.
Anyone who has never been to a county fair... you are missing out on a truly American event. The excitement... from the midway, from the grandstand, from the judging arena. The sounds and smells... the squealing of pigs, bleating of sheep, smells of the cattle barn... or, cotton candy, melodious sounds of the merry-go-round, the barking of the auctioneer selling a steer or a prize-winning cake. The dust, the hot dogs, the smiles when that 4-H ribbon is presented... it is a menagerie of everything good mixed together. It is a family affair. A place where 4-H friends often become better friends... even if they are competing. It is a part of 4-H that no matter how much 4-H changes or modernizes, won't go away... nor should it. Although the typical 4-H fair may not always construe exactly the image the progressive 4-H leaders may desire, it represents something even greater. It represents a traditional value that would be hard to replicate in any other way.
National 4-H FilmFest
The National 4-H FilmFest (or Film Festival) is held each year in Missouri, sponsored by Missouri 4-H and the University of Missouri, with 4-H'ers from across the U.S. attending. In addition to the competitive film festival categories - all strictly for youth - like any major film festival there are screenings, and workshops lead by film industry professionals, and much more.
Beginning in 2013, a new category was added to the FilmFest - Voices of 4-H History. The category and awards are sponsored by the National 4-H History Preservation Program. This brings the number of categories to a total of five: Narrative, Animation, Documentary, 4-H Promotional and Voices of 4-H History.
National 4-H Supply Service (4-H Mall)
The National 4-H Supply Service was launched in 1925 by the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work as a central source of supplies, furnishing members and leaders with the pins, labels and stickers they needed to foster a sense of belonging and public awareness of the 4-H movement.
Perhaps there is no other continuous service at the national level that provides more opportunity for visibility and promotion than does the National 4-H Supply Service (now called the 4-H Mall), which will be celebrating 100 years of service in 2025. Beginning with issuing an annual "Handy Book of Club Work," this eventually was transformed into the annual 4-H Supply Catalog which was issued for decades. Now, most of the supply item promotion is handled electronically through the professional 4-Hmall.org website and regular electronic mailings to the 4-H Mall's customer database with alerts on pending sales promotions, new products and other opportunities.
The history of the National 4-H Supply Service can be seen on the 4-H history website:
Traditionally, 4-H history has not given nearly enough credit to the roles played by editors of newspapers and magazines in supporting and promoting rural boys and girls and the beginning of club work.
The first recorded prizes given for a corn contest back in the 1850s were given by a newspaper editor – Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune. The first national farm youth magazine – Junior Soldiers of the Soil – was published in January, 1919 by E. T. Meredith and Meredith Publishing Company. In 1921, Mr. Meredith became the chairman of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work, later to become National 4-H Council.
Both farm editors of daily newspapers and farm magazine publishers of state and national publications were some of 4-H's strongest supporters starting back in the 1920s and even during the previous decade. Both the Newspaper Farm Editors Association and the American Agricultural Editors' Association had their annual meetings in Chicago at the same time as National 4-H Congress up at least into the 1970s. Most of them did features on the 4-H Congress winners throughout the week for their respective publications.
Over the years 4-H Extension, USDA gave a number of national 4-H citations to these publications including: Farm Journal, Hoard's Dairyman, Progressive Farmer, Successful Farming, Prairie Farmer, Agricultural Leaders Digest, Southern Planter, Weekly Star Farmer, Chicago Tribune, Meredith Publishing, Newspaper Farm Editors' Association, and National Association of Farm Magazine Editors.
Some of the editors and staff members of these publications were continuously promoting 4-H, like Romaine Smith, Young Folks Editor of The Progressive Farmer and Dick Orr, Rural Affairs Editor, Chicago Tribune.
Others grew up with 4-H and were honored and recognized as National 4-H Alumni winners: William D. Knox, editor, Hoard's Dairyman; Alexander Nunn, executive editor, The Progressive Farmer; C. L. "Cap" Mast, editor, Agricultural Leaders Digest; Harold Joiner, farm editor, The Atlanta Journal; Sallie Hill, editor of home department, The Progressive Farmer; and John Vogel, editor, Pennsylvania Farmer.
While the agricultural press was always in close partnership with 4-H and gave much coverage to 4-H winners and 4-H events, other publications often provided 4-H features on a variety of subjects. A few of these include: Readers Digest, Seventeen, National Geographic, Family Circle, Jet, U.S. News and World Report, Time, Woman's Day, Co-Ed, TV Guide, Sunset Magazine, Scholastic, USA Today, Better Homes and Gardens, PTA Today, People Magazine, Changing Times, McCall's, Parade, Redbook, The Wall Street Journal, Money, Christian Science Monitor, and Ford Almanac.
One continual factor that perhaps the Communications staffs at National 4-H Council and both of its predecessor organizations can be faulted for is the way they did "reporting of success" prior to the 1980's. Annual reports and other publications would list the compiled stats – the number of releases distributed, the number of interviews, the number of media outlets reached, the number of column inches published... What impact did this visibility have? What change did it bring about? These questions never seemed to be asked... or, answered. To be fair, this was the way that the 4-H programs were also be measured – number of youth enrolled, number of trips, number of medals or scholarships, volume of Supply Service sales, circulation of 4-H News... on and on. When the simple question, "What difference are we making?" was asked, most of Extension had to change... including Council. Statistics just weren't enough.
"Map Your 4-H History" Initiated In 2015
On April 28, 2015, "Map Your 4-H History" went live: an internet-based national atlas of sites that are historically significant to 4-H families.
Every 4-H club should ask the question, "Do we have a historically significant site in our county or state that should be nominated for the National 4-H Map/Atlas?" All 4-H members, staff, volunteers, alumni and supporters are encouraged to nominate locations that are significant to the 4-H history of your county, state or the nation.
What type of sites should be nominated? Examples: 4-H history museums, 4-H camps, 4-H fair grounds, locations of the first 4-H club in your state, the longest continuous 4-H club in your state, the first club of its type in your state, and famous 4-H alumni in your county or state.
To take a look at how the new National 4-H History Map will operate, go to: http:4-HHistoryPreservation.com/History_Map This story will be updated as the program develops.
National 4-H News... Reaching The Local Level
The only national magazine devoted exclusively to the 4-H program, National 4-H News, was created by the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work, serving as an exchange of information and fresh ideas and resources for volunteer adult and junior leaders for 65 years – the first issue appearing in April 1923... and the last issue in April 1988.
4-H news was channeled from the national level to local 4-H leaders directly to the club and community level. Conversely, volunteer leaders were some of the major contributors to the magazine, sharing their success stories... as well as their challenges and problems, so News traveled from the local level directly to the national level, as well as from top down.
The National 4-H History Preservation program team members doing research on various aspects of 4-H history have come to find that National 4-H News is the singular best source for 4-H history in existence. The magazine was undoubtedly also one of 4-H's best nationwide visibility tools, month after month. The magazines have been digitized and will soon be on the history website.
The history of the national magazine can be found on the National 4-H History Preservation website at:
In 1924, although only three years old, Guy Noble as the director of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work apparently had enough faith in the little fledgling organization to boldly ask the President of the United States to be their honorary chairman. Calvin Coolidge said "yes," and, well, as they say, the rest is history.
And, every President after Coolidge, up through Bill Clinton in the 1990s, also held the role of Honorary Chairman of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work, then National 4-H Service Committee; and, finally, National 4-H Council – a string of 76 years.
So, what did this actually mean? To our knowledge, no President ever attended a board meeting, however the entire board did go to the White House to meet with their Honorary Chairman while Ronald Reagan was President. And, President Richard Nixon traveled to Chicago to address the delegates at the National 4-H Congress's 50th Anniversary. Presidents often hosted 4-H groups in the Oval Office or the Rose Garden and President Eisenhower cut the ribbons to open the National 4-H Center. They almost always sent a formal letter about National 4-H Week which could be used in the press kits, and sometimes sent Holiday Greetings to "all 4-H'ers" in December. Plus, having the name of the President at the top of your list of board members on the Annual Report didn't hurt, particularly when it came to fund raising.
There is a history of 'U.S. Presidents and 4-H' on the 4-H history website at:
The first annual 4-H Donors' Conference was held in 1948. The 2-day conference was held at the Conrad Hilton Hotel, the same hotel that hosted National 4-H Congress. The Donors' Conference was held in early October, usually during National 4-H Week. It brought together representatives of 4-H donor organizations, National 4-H Service Committee staff and Extension Service leaders. The Conference, which was held annually up into the early 1990s, facilitated communication, provided opportunities for updating donors on 4-H and Service Committee developments, and allowed for planning and arranging donor-sponsored National 4-H Congress events.
Donors' Conference was an important promotion and visibility tool in keeping national donor representatives informed about new 4-H programs and activities and getting their input on pending projects for the coming year. It also allowed opportunity for the donor representatives to have dialogue among themselves relating to their own sponsored programs.
National 4-H Alumni Recognition Program
National 4-H alumni winners in 1983 were (back row, left to right) broadcaster Orion Samuelson, Secretary of Agriculture John Block, Senator Thad Cochran (MS), Orville Redenbacher, Charles Smith, (front row) Ann Scott Porter, and hospital administrator Edna Wilke Thayer. [An eighth winner, not pictured, was Kentucky Governor Martha Layne Collins.
In 1953 the National 4-H Service Committee created the National 4-H Alumni Recognition Program, supported by Olin Mathieson Chemical Corporation as donor of awards. The program had two objectives: to draw attention to the accomplishments of former 4-H members, i.e. visibility, and to help secure needed volunteers in the 4-H program. While the program recognized outstanding 4-H alumni at all levels, it also triggered an active search for all former 4-H members and encouraged their participation as leaders and resource persons for the 4-H program at the county, state and national levels.
While the program identified alumni at the county and state levels and honored them in various ways and at different county and state events, at the national level traditionally eight outstanding 4-H alumni winners were recognized during National 4-H Congress in Chicago and given a special recognition luncheon by the donor where each recipient could relate their personal story. The program was highly visible and continued through 1992 when the last eight were recognized. Over this 40 year period many outstanding individuals were recognized and many renewed their interest and support for 4-H.
Some of the former 4-H'ers honored on this long list of VIP's include: Senator Edmund S. Muskie, Maine; Roy Acuff, country singing legend; Harold "Red" Poling, chairman, Ford Motor Company; Clayton Yeutter, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture; Pat Head Summitt, University of Tennessee head coach of the women's basketball program; Colby H. Chandler, chairman, Eastman Kodak Company; Ken Montfort, president of ConAgra Red Meats Company; Dr. John S. Toll, president, University of Maryland; Joseph "Joe" Robbie, general manager and owner of the Miami Dolphins; Reba McEntire, country music entertainer; Dr. Stanley O. Ikenberry, president, University of Illinois; Vice President Al Gore, Jr.; John R. Block, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture; Sen. Thad Cochran, Mississippi; Martha Layne Collins, first woman governor of Kentucky; businessman Orville Redenbacher, Earl Butz, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture; Johnny Bench, catcher, Cincinnati Reds; Sen. Dale Bumpers, Arkansas; Dr. Glenn A. Olds, president, Kent State University, Ohio; Sen. Howard H. Baker, Jr., Tennessee; Rep. Carl B. Albert, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives; Dr. Russell G. Mawby, president, W. K. Kellogg Foundation; Hon. Robert W. Scott, governor of North Carolina; Judge Juanita Kidd Stout, Philadelphia County court judge, first Negro woman appointed to the bench; Jean Ritchie Pickow, internationally known folk singer; Edd H. Bailey, president, Union Pacific Railroad; Dr. E. T. York, Jr., provost of the University of Florida; Jane Marsh, winner of the 1966 Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow; Dr. George Beadle, Nobel Prize winner in Genetics and president, University of Chicago; Dr. Emil M. Mrak, chancellor, University of California at Davis; Hon. William L. Guy, governor of North Dakota; Dr. Paul A. Miller, president of West Virginia University; Hon. Buford E. Ellington, governor of Tennessee; astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr.; Jesse W. Tapp, chairman of the board, Bank of America; Sen. John Sparkman, Alabama; Roy Rogers, radio, television and motion picture star; Hon. Herman E. Talmadge, governor and U.S. senator, Georgia; Gov. Dan Thornton, Colorado.
The history of the National 4-H Alumni Recognition program and complete listing of all 320 national winners can be found on the National 4-H History Preservation website:
Friends Of 4-H, Partners In 4-H And Crested Clover Awards
During the years 1941-1992, 4-H Extension, USDA had three separate national 4-H citation programs – Friends of 4-H, Partners in 4-H and the Crested Clover Awards. No awards were given between 1942-45 because of the war, and no awards were presented in 1974.
Unlike the National 4-H Alumni Recognition Awards, which were traditionally given out during a special banquet at National 4-H Congress, the 4-H USDA awards were given out separately at a variety of occasions or events. Some awards were presented during National 4-H Congress, National 4-H Donors' Conference, or National 4-H Conference; others presented in the recipient's office, perhaps on a 4-H Report to the Nation trip. The Crested Clover awards were primarily for corporations and associations in honoring their support to 4-H. National Partner Citations were normally given to individuals. Friends of 4-H awards, it is believed, were given to both.
A partial listing of the recipients of these three award programs can be found in the National 4-H History section of the National 4-H History Preservation website.
Arthur Godfrey was cited for outstanding service to 4-H during his CBS radio network show aired nationally on August 1, 1968. Presenting the plaque was Carol Burnham, Warehouse Point, Connecticut. Miss Burnham, a 1967 national winner in the 4-H Food Preservation awards program sponsored by Kerr Glass Manufacturing Corporation, was interviewed by Godfrey on the show.
Willard Scott, NBC weatherman, proudly displays the 4-H cap he received in 1984 when he was named a Partner in 4-H. With Scott is Nancy McGinness of Mineola, New York, a 1982 Presidential Tray winner.
4-H Peace Corps Project
The Peace Corps Program was created in 1961, one of the first priorities in President Kennedy's administration.
"The Peace Corps is a 'new approach in our international policy' which can make substantial progress toward greater economic and social development," according to the testimony made by Grant A. Shrum, executive director of the National 4-H Club Foundation, at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
Shrum noted that the Peace Corps could strengthen the bonds of friendship between the people of the United States and the people in other lands. He pointed out that great risks are involved if the project is not properly handled, supporting this advice by the Foundation's extensive experience with the International Farm Youth Exchange (IFYE).
By the end of that year 55 potential Peace Corps volunteers were in training at the National 4-H Center for the 4-H Peace Corps project in Brazil. The 4-H Peace Corps project volunteers would work with Brazilian Extension Service workers to expand the country's 4-S Club program, which is similar to 4-H in the United States. By spring of 1962 the Peace Corps trainees were in Brazil with Francis Pressly being named Country Project Coordinator for the Brazil project. Additionally, recruitment was progressing on the 4-H Peace Corps project in Venezuela where volunteers would work to expand and strengthen the country's 5-V Club program, also similar to 4-H in th U.S.
With 4-H being one of the leaders in this new federal program, there was much promotion and visibility connected to it.
National 4-H Camp On The Mall
National 4-H Camp, an annual event, was held in Washington, D.C. 26 times between 1927 and 1956 before being replaced by National 4-H Conference in 1957. (Note: There were no 4-H Camps held during the war years.)
For those 26 years, National 4-H Camp made an indelible impression on the countless youth who participated in the event and experienced the speeches by national leaders, field trips to nationally significant sites, and camaraderie among participants that made it a much anticipated yearly tradition by 4-H members and leaders from around the country. The sitting Presidents and First Ladies often visited the camp site and talked with the delegates.
The annual "tent city" of the 4-H'ers on the Washington Mall, directly across from the USDA building and at the foot of the Washington Monument, could not help but be noticed by Washington, D.C. residents and visitors, alike... including the Congressmen and Senators. It was most definitely a high visibility event.
The complete history of the National 4-H Camp is posted on the 4-H History Preservation website at:
When National 4-H Camp was replaced by National 4-H Conference and moved to the National 4-H Center, definitely one thing changed... the living conditions were considerably better! Historically, one of the overriding goals of creating a national "home" for 4-H in the nation's capital was to accommodate National 4-H Conference.
National 4-H Conference has remained a strong national 4-H event for nearly 60 years, and continues today, with the programs and experiences focused heavily on leadership and citizenship and providing "growth" experiences for the delegates. While some releases, delegate interviews and media coverage may take place, National 4-H Conference has never been a primary promotion or visibility event, per se.
The major exception to this is that often, through the years, the participating speakers and workshop presenters at National 4-H Conference have created enough promotion and visibility to merit classifying this event as a major promotion event. Traditionally, Conference planners often were not shy in asking the top "resources of Washington" to be on the Conference program... and, if their scheduled allowed, they usually were happy to do so. This would include U.S. Congressmen and Senators, Supreme Court Justices, national media representatives and leadership from the various departments of government, national organizations headquartered in Washington, and representatives from foreign embassies.
Mac McGarry, host of the popular high school quiz show "It's Academic" hosted the first National 4-H Conference Clover Bowl. Participants answered questions about the history of the Constitution, 4-H, and of Washington, D.C.(from Spring 1987 National 4-H Council Quarterly)
National 4-H Congress In Chicago
As 4-H history goes, there has never been another event like it. And, there never will be &emdash; National 4-H Congress in Chicago &emdash; the annual event that captivated so many for over 70 years.
It is what literally kept tens of thousands of teens in 4-H &emdash; a goal to win a trip to National 4-H Congress.
Guy Noble, director of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work (now National 4-H Council), who conducted the first Armour Tours of boys and girls in Chicago in 1919, and continued on with National 4-H Club Congresses for over 30 years, explained that 4-H Club Congress cannot be described on paper. One has to be a part of it and "feel" it to fully comprehend it. Perhaps Noble was correct. For the thousands who were fortunate enough to attend one or more of the Congresses held in Chicago it was, indeed, an experience of a lifetime. For the delegates it was awe-inspiring &emdash; new friends, new experiences, perhaps a time to think in ways they had never thought before. For the adults &emdash; the Extension leaders, representatives of donor companies, speakers and entertainers, even the media, it was inspiring &emdash; a week that often regenerated you to do your job better, lead your life more fully.
Walter John, director of information services, Extension, USDA, wrote these words in the December 10, 1970 newsletter, upon returning from Chicago. In referring to 4-H Congress, John said, "4-H Congress is the Greatest Youth Happening in Today's World. It had just about everything that appeals to youth... serious discussion, entertainment, awards, good food, music, dancing and lots of public attention." He went on to express his admiration for the tremendous interest and participation shown by the individual national and regional donors. "The National 4-H Congress is the epitome of success in joint action of government, education and industry in helping youth find its role in this world."
For many delegates, the week in Chicago might be considered over-whelming. Being in a large city &emdash; some of the delegates coming from rural counties not having a single building with an elevator. They were now staying at the largest hotel in the world... being served meals by waiters with white gloves and perhaps eight pieces of silverware at their place setting. For that one week each year, 4-H ruled the second largest city in the nation. 4-H flags flew from every street light up and down Michigan Avenue. 4-H'ers marched down the center of State Street. They took over Marshall Fields department store, the Chicago Board of Trade and the Art Institute. Chicago media filled the airwaves and gave the young people hundreds of column inches of news copy. Corporate executives from the Fortune 500 companies not only shook their hands and honored the delegates with formal banquets and press conferences, but actually sat down and talked with them and asked about their plans for the future or about issues of the day. They heard guest speakers &emdash; everyone from Olympic stars Jesse Owens and Rafer Johnson and advise columnist Ann Landers, to aviatrix Amelia Earhart, actors Dennis Day and James Cagney, and Sgt. Alvin York. There were also sports stars such as Ted Williams and Babe Didrickson Zaharias, and politicians like John Foster Dulles and Hubert Humphrey. The delegates enjoyed the entertainment including the Brothers and Sisters, Serendipity Singers, Up With People, The Ides of March, Chandler Conspiracy, Alabama, Chicago Ballet, and Arthur Fiedler, conductor of the Boston 'Pops', leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for 20 years straight.
But, National 4-H Congress in Chicago was widely known for something else, too. This was the publicity it generated. For many years &emdash; even during the years when there were Democratic and Republican National Conventions &emdash; National 4-H Congress traditionally was one of the top four visibility conventions in America. There would normally be 400, 500, 600 media representatives registered with the 4-H Congress Media headquarters. The National 4-H Service Committee put releases out to every newspaper, radio station and television station in the United States. A release was written on each of the 1,600 delegates, which were then sent out with photos/captions.
For two weeks prior to 4-H Congress, a couple dozen local news reporters from the daily newspapers would come to the Service Committee offices each day after work, freelancing, pouring over the delegate record books and writing releases on delegates for four or five hours into the night. During the event, Extension information specialists bolstered the Service Committee staff &emdash; some 25-30 attending each year for a week on a rotational basis. They wrote stories to send out to the wire services, covered Congress events (sometimes as many as 15-20 happening at the same time), interviewed delegates for radio and television and supported the hundreds of media reps in attendance.
Donor companies sponsoring the awards programs often brought their own media crews and blanketed the trade publications in their particular industries. Many also contracted with the Service Committee to have television interviews done with each of their 50 winners and in some cases, three interviews, one for each of the back home network affiliates. They would often bring in their own interviewers &emdash; sometimes celebrities. In the Press Headquarters, which took up an entire exhibition hall, you could possibly see Jim Nabors or Andy Griffith, top TV stars of the day, interviewing food-nutrition delegates in one booth for General Foods while the Kentucky Fried Chicken staff had Col. Harlan Sanders in the next booth with their poultry winners. And, maybe a young Dave Letterman would be in another booth interviewing Indiana delegates for his back home Indianapolis 4-H TV show called "Clover Power."
Colonel Harlan Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, greets one of the poultry winners to National 4-H Congress during a television production. KFC, sponsor of the National 4-H Poultry Awards Program, televised all their sectional and national winners for back home news coverage during the Congress week.
After 4-H Congress was over, the work was far from done. All interviews were carefully documented. Many of the broadcasters from the media regularly turned in sheets of interviews they had done during the week with the delegates from their coverage areas. The Service Committee contracted with three major clipping services and hired three part-time helpers for two months to go through clippings, separating them out by program and donor. The resulting donor reports on media coverage of the donor-sponsored programs were not only impressive; they were overwhelming. This is one of the reasons the Service Committee was able to retain these large awards donors for an average of 20 years tenure. None of them ever received that kind of factual reporting for other contributions they were making.
While Chicagoans certainly knew that the 4-H'ers "were in town," people across America, particularly in the '30s-'70s, also knew that 4-H Congress was once again going on in Chicago. News reels being shown in the movie houses across America reported from 4-H Congress, as well as all the radio networks; and, later nightly network TV news covered the event.
One example of this: Coverage of National 4-H Congress just by Chicago newspapers alone, in 1953 totaled 4,711 column inches of stories &emdash; nearly 27 full newspaper pages eight columns wide! With Chicago then the center of the infant television industry in the '50s, the National Committee was able to attract nationwide audiences for 4-H with 65 network and 150 Chicago radio-TV broadcasts at the '54 National 4-H Congress.
From the standpoint of promotion and visibility and bringing the achievements of 4-H &emdash; and 4-H'ers &emdash; to the general public, there is little doubt that National 4-H Congress in Chicago is at the top of the list.
The National 4-H History Preservation team has researched and written a history of National 4-H Congress which is completed in draft form (some 200 pages) but not yet up on the history website.
National 4-H Congress in Atlanta
For over seven decades the National 4-H Congress was held in Chicago. Initially conceived as a boys' and girls' educational tour of Chicago for groups of 4-H'ers attending the International Live Stock Exposition, planned and coordinated by Guy Noble of Armour and Company, a major Chicago meat packing company, the event evolved into what became National 4-H Congress in 1922.
In 1994 the National 4-H Council, which conducted National 4-H Congress in coordination with the extension services of USDA and the land-grant universities and colleges, announced they would no longer be hosting this traditional awards and recognition event. There was no National 4-H Congress in 1995, but two invitational events were hosted by the Southern Region and Western region states. And then, 1996 saw the rebirth of National 4-H Congress in Memphis, Tennessee under the leadership of the Extension Service - USDA. Memphis was the home of National 4-H Congress until the event moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 1998. National 4-H Congress continues to be held annually in Atlanta for five days during November.
National 4-H History Preservation Program
In 2009 a team of volunteers, mostly retired from National 4-H Council or 4-H, Extension, USDA, created the National 4-H History Preservation Program. The program was supported by National 4-H Council and 4-H, Extension, USDA, however relied primarily on contributions to 4-H history from private individuals for their operating costs.
The program was an outgrowth of the project creating Kathleen's Room and 4-H history mural at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center, plus the concern that much of the 4-H history at the national level was either being lost or discarded, or was in repositories difficult to access by the general public.
The team set about inventorying items and files stashed away at the 4-H Center, while beginning to research and write the history of well over 100 areas of targeted 4-H history. The history team started a major digitization program for both books and other printed materials and for films & A/V items. A 4-H history website was launched at:
where both the digitized materials and the 100 written sections would be placed. Other 4-H repositories around the country were identified and listed in a directory on the website. Two major grassroots programs were undertaken – 'Hands on 4-H History' offering projects and guidance on activities dealing with 4-H history at the county, community and club levels; and 'Voices of 4-H History," working with the states in developing outreach programs encouraging 4-H members to interview and document 4-H history (audio or video) from 4-H alumni and others.
Not only is the National 4-H History Preservation Program providing a valuable service to the entire 4-H Extension system, but provides an excellent example of utilizing volunteers at the national level. The visibility being generated in this history preservation program continues to grow... through the website, the monthly 4-H history newsletter, sponsorship of the history section of the National 4-H FilmFest, exhibits and displays and through a growing corps of nearly 100 other volunteers now helping with the program.
Parades And Floats
Everybody loves a parade! 4-H is no exception. At the local level there may be 4-H parades relating to National 4-H Week or the county fair. Community or city parades generated to celebrate the 4th of July, Labor Day, Veteran's Day, Flag Day or other events may often have a 4-H float represented. But, historically, 4-H hasn't shied away from some of the bigger events. 4-H has been represented in the Rose Bowl Parade... and in the Presidential Inaugural Parade.
Perhaps a 4-H float is one visibility area where 4-H'ers can really get creative. They also provide an excellent opportunity for team work in planning the float, building the float... and, perhaps riding on the float. 4-H parades were alive and well over 100 years ago. We expect so long as there will be parades, 4-H will be represented with floats.
President George H.W. Bush's 1989 Inaugural parade's float by the
President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports featured members of a
Washington, D.C. 4-H Club and the California Raisins. The California
Raisins was a popular fictional musical group in the late 1980s; 4-H is
(From Winter 1989 National 4-H Council Quarterly)
Exhibits And Displays
Traditionally, most 4-H exhibits and displays through the years have been table-top size. County fairs and storefront windows during National 4-H Week are common locations for such displays. Most are planned and assembled by 4-H members. Some have a specific, targeted theme. Others simply promote 4-H. Yes, some are good and some perhaps not quite as good. But that's OK.
There are other displays which are perhaps a lot more elaborate, but they may not be any more effective than that simple poster board display made by the little 9-year-old and placed in the window of the drug store on the corner.
During National 4-H Week in the fall – particularly on the campuses of the land-grant universities, 4-H displays may even be a central part of the half-time show on the football field with the band marching in the shape of "4-H" or even the clover. Now, we are beginning to get into big time visibility, particularly if the game is being televised.
As the cover of the August/September 1980 issue of National 4-H News says... "4-H Promotion. The Sky's the Limit."
(From August/September 1980 issue, National 4-H News)
Billboards And Signage
"4-H is Tops" – the photo on the left, from the Aug/Sept 1979 National 4-H News – shows a 4-H promotion sign on a railroad bridge in Bridgewater Township, New Jersey from over 35 years ago. Barbara O'Neill, Somerset County 4-H Agent, says she drove under the bridge for three years, thinking how great a 4-H sign would look up there... until one day she got on the phone and the project began. It was the first of many phone calls. In fact, it took one-and-a-half years to attain permission and have the sign finished. The main problem was that the ConRail Company wouldn't give permission until the community did, and the community wouldn't give permission until the railroad did. But they finally got the ball rolling when 4-H leaders attended a town council meeting and applied for a "town variance" (required for an unusual activity). The council not only voted to allow the 4-H sign, but wrote a resolution stating that 4-H is very important to their community, and has national recognition, so they would be very proud to have the sign.
When the railroad received the council's enthusiastic response, they gave a contract to 4-H – for $1 per year rental on the bridge. A first in New Jersey. The county 4-H association designed and paid for the sign, raising $1,400. The railroad hired the painters who applied the five-by-fifty-foot signs, one on each side of the bridge.
For two years Stearns County, Minnesota 4-H Club Agent Monroe E. Stenerson had been looking for a better way to publicize National 4-H Club Week. Then sometime before the date of the week he made up his mind to ask the secretary of the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce for the use of the billboard which they loan organizations for announcements. Of course, the request was granted, for St. Cloud is all for 4-H work. Next step was to draw up "copy" for the sign, and have it painted. The board is eight feet high and 18 feet wide, and the 4-H announcement stood from March 2 through the 15th. Cost of painting was $12.
The sign naturally attracted a lot of attention from people of St. Cloud and surrounding country, and State 4-H Leader Leonard L. Harkness had to look twice when he passed by one morning on one of his trips. Some folks told Stenerson there ought to be signs like it all over the state. One definite result of the sign was a full page feature in the St. Cloud Daily Times carrying scenes of 4-H folks around the county made by the newspaper's photographer. And, now, a second result – the front cover of 4-H's national leader magazine!
The above two examples – one from 35 years ago; the other from 60 years ago – although quite different from one, another, convey the same story... almost anything is possible regarding 4-H visibility if you are creative and if you just ask. Or, sometimes even if you don't ask! We've seen a couple of examples of counties that "borrowed" the idea of a series of roadside signs that were so popular in the 1930s-1950s by Burma-Shave and applied it to 4-H... clever, but probably done without permission.
National 4-H Council provides a variety of promotional toolkits for those looking for materials to promote 4-H in their community. The toolkits include tips for working with the media, information about the 4-H emblem and proper usage, as well as press release templates, flyers, fact sheets, ads, promotional videos, photographs and more. For example, there is a National 4-H Week Toolkit, Take on Health Town Hall Meetings Toolkit, Volunteer Recruitment Toolkit, Social Media Toolkit, Media Relations Toolkit, Revolution of Responsibility Brand Toolkit, Online Giving Toolkit, 4-H Science PSA Toolkit... and more.
For information on all the current toolkits, go to the 4-H.org website: 4-H.org/resource-library/promotional-toolkits/
4-H Plays, Skits and Drama
Historically, providing local 4-H clubs with ideas for entertaining their club members was an important service from the national level, particularly during the 1920s and 1930s. And, an expanded audience always included parents, other family members, and the community at large.
The National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work (now National 4-H Council), pushed many of these efforts. The leader magazine, "National 4-H Club News," carried promotions for short plays and skits in nearly every issue. The 4-H Handy Book, forerunner to the National 4-H Supply Service Catalog, promoted plays, skits and drama. The National Committee often contracted with various writers and educators to create new plays and skits for 4-H audiences. National 4-H events - including National 4-H Club Congress in Chicago and the National 4-H Camp on the Mall in Washington, D.C. - often premiered these plays and dramatic presentations. When delegates and chaperones saw these plays and skits performed at the national events, they went back to their respective states and counties and replicated them in their own clubs, at local and state 4-H camps and at county fairs and achievement nights.
In addition to the plays written specifically for 4-H, the National Committee also promoted and sold other plays written for a wider audience, but appropriate for 4-H groups, as well.
There is a section on 4-H Plays, Skits and Drama under National 4-H History on the National 4-H History Preservation website.
4-H boys perform an original skit they created themselves at the 1937 Illinois State Meet in Urbana.
Cast of Bearden 4-H Club of Oklahoma which won southern honors in 1936.
4-H Novels Have a Popular History
4-H novels and children's books may not be well known in today's 4-H; however, starting in the 1920s... and, in every decade since then, new ones have appeared. Several dozen titles are documented and at one time Miss Gertrude Warren, from the 4-H USDA office, issued a listing of "approved" 4-H juvenile literature. While current research has not uncovered this listing, many of the titles are included in the 4-H novels segment of the 4-H books and printed archives section of the National 4-H History Preservation website.
Here is a short list of some of the titles:
4-H cowboy by Arthur Charles Bartlett (1938)
4-H Filly by Patsey Gray (1958)
A clown like me by Thomas Crowell (1985)
A Dog for Joey by Nan Gilbert (1967)
Adventures in 4-H by Betty Baxter Anderson (1938)
Call of the land: A novel of high adventure in 4-H club work by Harold Morrow Sherman (1948)
Charlie ate my hat! by Ruth L Kirk & Degen L (2004)
Chicken bucks by Susan Sharpe (1992)
Come to the fair by Audree Distad (1977)
Connie Dale 4-H leader by Ruby L Radford (1958)
County agent by Virginia B McDonnell (1968)
County fair: A 4-H romance by Anne Emery (1953)
Cowboy Charley, 4-H champ by Chuck Martin (1953)
Dynamo farm: A 4-H story by Adam Allen (1942)
Farm in the family by M I Ross (1943)
Hattie's holidays by Marie Frost (1994)
Helping hands, caring hearts by Carol Larson & Carol Faber (2002)
Hickory hill by Anne Emery (1955)
Hustler, the farm dog by Arthur Charles Bartlett (1937)
Imagine that! by Deborah Guillemette & Darren Whalen (2004)
Inky: Seeing eye dog by Elizabeth P Heppner (1957)
Jill's victory by Elisa Bialk (1952)
Joey's ghost pumpkin by Fern Pascoe Dooley & Jack Woodson (1982)
Johnny of the 4-H club by Alice-Alison Lide (1941)
Josie and Joe by Ruth Gipson Plowhead (1938)
Lucky four by Anne Colver (1960)
Raising cane with Cammie by Elizabeth A McMahan (2001)
Ray and Stevie on a corn belt farm by Liffring-Zug (1956)
River's edge: A 4-H environmental science adventure by Gail Smith Chesson (1989)
Royalty in the house by Charles Ferry (2002)
Salome goes to the fair by Paul Witty & Anne Coomer (1953)
Sandra Kendall of the 4-H: The career story of a young home demonstration agent by Ella Williams Porter (1942)
Sausage patty by Diane Allevato & Trish Van den Bergh (1998)
Skip by Aileen Fisher (1958)
So dear to my heart by Sterling North (1947)
Sweet sixteen by Anne Emery (1956)
Sweet skunks and sneaky butter: A laugh-happy story of zany animals and 4-H kids by Wendell Knowles (1979)
That blizzard cow by John H Bradshaw (1961)
The eagle feather prize by Lyla Hoffine (1962)
The hayburners by Gene Smith (1979)
The plant that keeps on growing by Barbara Brenner & Melissa Sweet (1999)
Under the 4-H flag by John F. Case & (1927)
Special appreciation goes to Dr. Jan F. Scholl, The Pennsylvania State University, for her research in this area.
4-H Bands and Orchestras (Coming Soon)
Annual Reports And Newsletters
One of the responsibilities of Corporate Communications is creating the annual report and newsletters. National 4-H Council, and its two predecessor organizations, always issued an annual report and basically had some form of newsletter that went out to varying audiences.
Annual reports highlighted the year's accomplishments, donor contributions, financial reports and a listing of the board and leadership. They also played a major role in providing visibility and promotion for the organization. While the earliest annual reports of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work, prior to 1925, were primarily typed and copied, by the late 1920's they began using photographs in the annual reports. Today, the annual reports are full color and electronically distributed through email and the Council website.
Likewise, the newsletters of the National 4-H Service Committee, National 4-H Foundation, and earlier years of National 4-H Council, were printed; and, use of full color came surprisingly late. It was probably in the late 1990's that newsletters transitioned over to being electronic, and even then, recipients were given the option of having the newsletter mailed to them or sent electronically for several years.
National 4-H Hall Of Fame
The National 4-H Hall of Fame was established in 2002 as part of the 4-H Centennial Project of the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA), and partners with National 4-H Council and 4-H Youth Development, USDA.
National 4-H Hall of Fame honorees are nominated by their states based upon their exceptional leadership at the local, state, national, and international levels. Each year the Hall of Fame laureates are recognized for their lifetime achievements and contributions to 4-H during a ceremony at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Although considered primarily a recognition program, the National 4-H Hall of Fame Program certainly has strong promotion and visibility appeal, particularly during the fall months when the honorees are selected and announced.
For a complete listing of National 4-H Hall of Fame laureates, please visit:
There are shelves of 4-H books – state and county 4-H histories – at least three published official national 4-H history books. There are biographies and autobiographies relating to 4-H pioneers and leaders; even a string of 4-H novels for boys and girls. The list seems to go on without end.
Perhaps one of the more intriguing books is one that apparently had at least two editions and was advertised heavily in National 4-H News, yet the National 4-H History Preservation team has yet to actually see a copy. Reference is to "World Book Encyclopedia at Work with 4-H." It is believed to have been produced in 1956 by Field Enterprises, Inc. in Chicago and was still being offered through full-page advertisements in the magazine in the late 1960s. The ad states that "the book contains OVER 170 MAJOR 4-H Club projects listed alphabetically... under each heading are World Book articles helpful in work on particular projects or activities." It goes on to explain, by example, that "Conservation" lists 43 pertinent articles. While this is not a history book, it is, indeed, an interesting special reference with high visibility. Just being published by World Book Encyclopedia, which during these two decades was probably the "go to" reference of choice in many American homes, lends great prestige.
Naturally the Internet now provides a ready resource for looking up nearly any subject pertaining to 4-H. Interestingly, as the National 4-H History Preservation website continues to grow, covering 4-H history in one place perhaps better than any other resource in the past, more and more Internet searches will lead you directly to the history preservation website as the resource.
National 4-H Council Announces First Official National 4-H Spokesperson
During the annual National 4-H Legacy Awards Celebration in April 2015, National 4-H Council announced Grammy Award-winning singer and 4-H alumna Jennifer Nettles as the first official national 4-H spokesperson.
Growing up in the small town of Douglas, Georgia, Jennifer was a member of 4-H and participated in the Georgia 4-H's Clover and Company performing arts group from 1986 to 1993. In 2003 Jennifer Nettles teamed up with Kristen Hall and Kristian Bush to form Sugarland, one of the top country music groups in America.
At the time of agreeing to become 4-H's national spokesperson in March 2015, Jennifer was appearing on Broadway in the role of Roxy Hart in the smash hit Broadway musical, "Chicago."
Jennifer Nettles photo by Donna Svennevik/ABC, courtesy of the Country Music Association.
Special 4-H Promotion Campaigns
Over the years there have been some very special 4-H promotional projects or events... some of these a one-time activity, but very much an important part of 4-H promotion history.
Will Otwell's Farmer Boys, Illinois 1905
Otwell's Farmer Boys national roundup of corn growing contestants in 1905 in Carlinville, Illinois may not have been the first organized national event for farm boys and girls, but it perhaps was the most significant one to date.
After several years of setbacks starting in 1898, Will B. Otwell, a local nurseryman, finally realized his dream. Always "raising the bar," in 1905 Otwell invited farm youth anywhere in the country to Carlinville, Illinois, for a national roundup of corn growing contestants in his home town. Before this, he had held county roundups, but this one would include farm youngsters from anywhere in the United States.
Otwell broadcast his invitation, instructing his followers that they were to parade on horseback, the boys to wear a blue sash of crepe paper hanging from the shoulder, the girls to wear a sash of gold.
The results were astonishing; families migrated to Carlinville from 40 counties in eight states, their saddle horses hitched to their buggies. When the parade was formed, Otwell recalls in an interview with E. I. Pilchard, Illinois Extension, in 1927, that it measured four miles in length, four horsemen abreast.
Mounted on a black charger, Otwell led the Boys' Horseback Brigade past the reviewing stand. There proudly stood Illinois Governor Richard Yates. Along side Yates was former Vice President of the United States, Adlai Stevenson, watching as young men and women from near and far paraded past the reviewing stand. Vice President Stevenson, with tears in his eyes, said it was the most inspiring sight he had ever seen.
Otwell's contests were not club work. He formed no local groups and required no regular meetings. He did, however, help create wide interest in better seed corn. Most important of all, from the standpoint of the future 4-H movement, he proved how wholeheartedly the hitherto neglected farm boy would respond to public recognition and encouragement.
The complete Will Otwell Farmer Boys story is on the 4-H history website at:
Although Will Otwell's 1905 national roundup of corn-growing boys is a great story, the story of Otwell's creativity from 1904 is an equally noteworthy story worth repeating.
Will Otwell was a simple, local nurseryman in Macoupin County, Illinois. He was president of the county Farmer's Institute which had sponsored an annual county corn contest for farm boys for two or three years, each year getting a bit more successful. Then in 1903 Illinois Governor Richard Yates (over Otwell's protest) gave the responsibility of creating an exhibit representing Illinois at the great 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exhibition in St. Louis. The prospect appalled the farm-bred man from Carlinville. He knew that famed artists would create beautiful displays for other states. What could he do to match them?
Then he struck upon the idea of holding a boys' corn contest, this time state-wide. Otwell expanded the contest to include 50,000 entrants. In the fall of 1903, Otwell and his associates in Carlinville were busy opening 10-ear entries of corn, drying them out, and repacking them for shipment to the Agricultural Palace at St. Louis. They sent down the best 1,250 samples from the contestants along with 600 photographs of the young farmers. This made up the bulk of the exhibit. Exhibition visitors came upon the sight of two huge pyramids of corn, one of yellow corn, the other of white, arranged neatly in 10-ear samples. Above the pyramids were signs reading: "Grown by the farmer boys of Illinois!" And, on a huge banner were the words: "8,000 Farm Boys in Contest." The fact that hundreds of the samples were adorned with the pictures of the boys who grew them added the personal touch. The result: the Illinois corn display literally stole the show from the other states.
Newspapermen at the World's Fair, learned that each morning Otwell was getting approximately a bushel basket full of mail from his youthful contestants, literally overwhelmed Otwell for stories.
The newspapers and magazines from around the country carried about 2,000 special articles about the pyramid of corn from Illinois. The display received so much attention that Otwell received offers from foreign countries to stage similar contests there.
Always "raising the bar," the next year, 1905, was when Otwell invited farm youth from anywhere in the country to Carlinville for a national roundup of corn growing contestants in his home town.
Corn Clubs Spread Through the South
Following the successes in the midwest, by 1909 corn clubs were spreading through the South at a rapid rate. In Virginia that first year, 10,543 boys joined corn clubs and while many of them merely went along with the crowd, some of them made records that surprised their communities. Other states were having similar experiences. On one of his trips from Washington to Mississippi, Dr. Seaman Knapp, highly pleased with the way boys' demonstration work was going, offered a trip to Washington to the Mississippi boy who made the best record with his corn crop. His offer started something. Following up the lead, O. B. Martin made a similar offer in his own state of South Carolina. T. O. Sandy, in Virginia, raised the purse to send the Virginia champion to the Capitol, and the bankers of Arkansas promised a trip to their champion.
Four young winners – representing four states – made the trip: Ralph Bellwood, Virginia; Bascom Usher, South Carolina; Dewitt C. Lundy, Mississippi; and Elmer Halter, Arkansas. These four teen-age boys were honored for their proficiency in cultivating soil. They were introduced to President William Howard Taft at the White House, and awarded the first diplomas of their kind by Secretary of Agriculture Wilson. They became charter members of the All-Star Corn Club, a national honorary organization of champion growers.
Knapp's idea of giving prize trips to Washington was continued the following year, and the record made by these boys was more sensational than those of the 1909 winners. The hero of the trip was Jerry Moore, 16-year-old Winona, South Carolina, boy who had raised the amazing total of 228-3/4 bushels on his acre.
Jerry was headlined throughout the nation as the champion corn grower of all time. Newspapers and magazines carried his story in detail, picturing the slight, straw-hatted boy sitting on the edge of an immense mountain of husked corn – the product of his one-acre experiment. His thorough records show exactly how he prepared the soil and what he used for fertilizer. He planted Batts' Four-ear Prolific corn by hand, about three inches apart in the drill, thinning the plants to about six inches when a half-foot high. He cultivated his corn every four days. Jerry Moore's story is worth recalling because news of his great yield arched over the nation like a rainbow, providing an apt object lesson for farmers whose yields were lower than they might have been.
Canning Clubs Get Underway
With boys' corn clubs successfully under way, it was inevitable that the Washington office should sponsor a program for girls.
By 1910 O. B. Martin was hearing from all over the South – demands that girls' work be federally sponsored as the corn clubs were. Programs for girls were not new. A number of states had successfully started girls' club work. The question was, how much of this should Farmers' Cooperative Demonstration Work at USDA put into its program for the South?
Seaman Knapp was never in favor of scattering one's effort over so wide a program that none of it made an impression. His idea was to begin by doing one thing, and doing it so well that the program would sell itself. In the boys' program he had started with one crop – corn. The same method should be adopted for girls. Ideas were discussed with various states during the fall of 1909 and out of these discussions came the idea of having girls grow and can one vegetable – the tomato.
The tomato was selected because it was universally grown and appreciated. It wasn't too difficult to get a good crop. It was acid and therefore easy to can without danger of excessive spoilage. Each girl should be asked to plant a plot large enough to provide tomatoes not only for family use, but for sale. The plot agreed upon was a tenth of an acre.
During the Christmas holidays of 1909, Martin outlines these ideas tentatively to the school teachers assembled at the annual state educational association meeting in Columbia, South Carolina. The teachers listened with interest, but only one of them caught the vision and put the plan into practice. Miss Marie S. Cromer, a country school teacher from Aiken county, went home and spent her Saturdays writing letters to girls, enlisting them in the project. When spring came, 46 volunteers were setting out their tenth-acre plots in accordance with instructions from the Department of Agriculture.
Meanwhile another state, knowing that a domestic science program was in the wind, was making preparations for 1910. In Richmond, Virginia, the alert Dr. J. D. Eggleston, state superintendent of public instruction, asked the state demonstration agent, T. O. Sandy, where he could find a capable woman to develop such a program for rural schools. Sandy recommended Ella G. Agnew, a remarkable young Virginia woman currently working for the YWCA in Toledo. Eggleston wrote her that if she would like to do something for rural girls there was a place for her in her home state. Miss Agnew arrived in Richmond on February 1, 1910. Although she was put to work organizing cooking classes, they told her they had "something else" for her to do later. That "something else" became apparent on May 31, when Miss Agnew was called to the state capitol to meet with Dr. Knapp, Governor William H. Mann, and various other officials and legislators. There, Miss Agnew learned that she was to teach country girls to grow and can tomatoes. Knapp crisply outlined her duties: She was to begin with only two counties, organize small manageable groups, and concentrate on tomatoes. Her title was to be "State Agent of Girls' Tomato Clubs." In Washington, Knapp had trouble persuading the Secretary of Agriculture, James Wilson, to appoint a woman as field representative of the department. There was no precedent for it. Field representatives were men. All the agents for Farmers' Cooperative Demonstration Work were men. Knapp's ideas prevailed, however, and on June 3, 1910, Ella Agnew received her appointment as the Department's "State Agent of Girls' Tomato Clubs – the first home demonstration agent ever appointed by the Department of Agriculture.
While Virginia was laying the groundwork for home demonstration, the tomatoes in the plots of Miss Cromer's school girls were getting ripe down in Aiken county, South Carolina, and it was up to Knapp's office to do something about it. The Department mailed each of Miss Cromer's girls letters, instructional leaflets, and farmers' bulletins. By July, the tomatoes were becoming full and red, and it was time to go ahead with the next step in the program – canning. The task fell to O. B. Martin, since the experiment was taking place in his home state. The task was complicated by the fact that a public-spirited woman had financed Miss Cromer to a summer of domestic science study in New England and the young teacher had departed for the North. Thus, the first experiments in canning had to be conducted without the services of the woman who led the club. A meeting of the tomato club was called at Aiken on July 16. A big canning outfit, shipped from Illinois, was set up on the courthouse lawn. Since Martin knew next to nothing about canning, he had Miss Carrie Hyde, home economics teacher of Winthrop College, take charge of actual operations. Miss Hyde, however, knew little about canning in tin. The powers-that-be had decided to teach canning in tin because girls were going to sell their surplus, and housewives were used to buying tins rather than glass jars. To help Miss Hyde with this phase of the work, Martin rounded up a tinner, and for good measure had a plumber and carpenter standing by. The scene on the Aiken courthouse lawn was an historic one, forerunner of many more such scenes to take place in the next few years. There were long tables at which women worked blanching and peeling tomatoes. Clustered about their baskets filled with red fruit, were some 25 girls. Off to one side was the canner, "as large as a two-horse wagon body," with smoke pouring from the stack. There were eager parents watching and helping, and idle onlookers wondering what crazy idea the government was up to now. The canning bee ran three days and the crowds got larger each day. Enthusiasm for the canning demonstration was running high. Other communities in the county wanted to have sessions, so it was planned to move the canning outfit around the county, giving every girl a chance to put up her produce. That first session at Aiken in July, 1910, produced a champion. One 14-year old girl named Katie Gunter came in every day, driving the two miles in a buggy, bringing in basket after basket of ripe tomatoes, all the products of her tenth-acre plot. When her pack was finished and counted, it was found that she had 512 No. 3 cans of tomatoes. She was declared county champion and later the state legislature recognized her achievement by passing an act giving her a scholarship at Winthrop College. [Later that same year, Jerry Moore, the corn champion, was to be similarly honored with a college scholarship.]
The Aiken county canners had provided themselves with artistic labels bearing a picture of a tomato and the words: "South Carolina Tomatoes." On the other side were the words: "Grown and Packed by the Aiken County Girls' Tomato Club."
When Marie Cromer returned to Aiken county from New England, she received an appointment as an agent of the Department of Agriculture on August 16, 1910, 10 weeks after the appointment of Miss Agnew in Virginia. There is a historical marker in Abbeville, South Carolina in honor of Marie (Cromer) Seigler as "founder of a girls' tomato club, the first of many such clubs nationwide."
Marie Cromer, who started the first girls' tomato club, and Ella Agnew, the first home demonstration agent ever appointed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are truly two remarkable pioneers. (taken from The 4-H Story by Franklin Reck)
American Oil Company Provides World Globes to 4-H
In 1962 the National 4-H Service Committee worked with the national 4-H donor of the 4-H Tractor program in supporting an activity to enhance 4-H's international exchange programs, including shipping the globes out across the country. During the first six months of the year over 50,000 plastic inflatable globes were made available without charge to state leaders for 4-H distribution. The retail value of the gift was estimated at $522,000.
Many clubs, responding to a suggestion accompanying the shipment of globes, took part in an activity entitled "Everybody Learn Where 4-H is Around the World." Using a list of 70 countries where a 4-H type organization exists, members placed tiny 4-H seals on the globe to show the world-wide scope of 4-H. Other clubs used them for following the progress of IFYE delegates or by participating in the People-to-People program. Some members used the globe to trace Col. John Glenn's first orbits around the earth in February of that year.
A 4-H'er blows up the plastic world globe so club members could trace the scope of 4-H in other countries.
Healthiest Boy And Healthiest Girl
During the summer of 1922, while visiting the Iowa State Fair, Guy Noble, director of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work, watched with great interest the state health contest conducted by Josephine Arnquist. He thought this was intriguing and decided to replicate it and expand upon it at National 4-H Congress that December.
At Chicago the event was made national. State leaders were invited to have their youngsters select the boy and girl from their delegations whom they deemed healthiest. In Chicago, behind some screens in the cattle barn at the International Live Stock Exposition, candidates were thoroughly examined by physicians from the Elizabeth McCormick Memorial Fund, a health foundation.
The idea of presenting a farm boy and farm girl as the "healthiest in the United States" had an appeal that fired journalistic imagination and won headlines across the nation. The names and pictures of the first two winners, Joseph Isaken, of Springfield, Minnesota, and Marguerite Martin, of Shepard, Tennessee, were advertised from one end of the nation to the other. In that first year, 1922, and for years thereafter, the health contest produced more newspaper and magazine space than any other single feature at the 4-H Congress, and in spite of its defects, the contest focused attention on the importance of health to boys and girls as well as the livestock being raised. "Be your own best exhibit," became a familiar club slogan. The contest continued for a number of years.
An accounting on the "facts about the health champions" from the 1925 4-H Congress shows the thoroughness of the contest:
George Cuskaden, a 14-year-old Indiana farm boy was found to have the highest score, 97.7 percent. Deductions were made for filled teeth and an almost imperceptible tendency toward flat footedness. He had never touched coffee or tea in his life, preferring cocoa or straight milk as a beverage. He eats fruits every day of the year, apples being his mainstay. Since he was a wee tot his hours of sleep have been as regular as the sun, 9:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. in the winter and 8:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. in summer. He helps his father run a 200-acre farm near St. Paul, Indiana. Last summer his club pig took first prize at both the county and state fairs. "Regular hours, mother's cooking, meat two or three meals a day, milk and fresh vegetables all the year round, plenty of work and plenty of play" are the reasons George Cuskaden gives for his remarkable physical condition. With the exception of the flu several years ago, the boy has never been sick in his life. He is five feet, five inches tall and weighs 55 pounds.
Alice Burkhart, chosen as healthiest girl in 1925, tells a very similar story. With more emphasis on the use of cereals for breakfast and a scientific balanced ration conducted by her mother, her diet has been much the same as George's. She is five feet four inches tall and weighs 131 pounds. Her score was 95.7 percent, deductions being made because of a slight cold contracted after arriving in Chicago, and because of slightly faulty teeth and insufficient muscular development in the arms. Alice is living on the farm where she was born and where her mother is rearing a brood of six children of which Alice is the fifth. She suffered from measles and other children's diseases when she was smaller, but there was no later effect from these ailments. Her hours of rest too have been as regular as George's but she has been allowed more sleep, from 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. For exercise she walks four miles a day to school where she is a junior in high school. She washes dishes, rides horseback, plays basketball and tennis and is a member of the physical training class at high school.
4-H Brands From the Farm
Almost from the creation of the term "4-H" and before the use of the 4-H emblem, enterprising young girls and boys were using the term "4-H Brand" as a "stamp of quality" on their home-grown farm products resulting from 4-H projects... kind of like the "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval."
Today the 4-H emblem is a federally protected mark that can't be used on products without approval. The 4-H emblem was patented in 1924, and a 1930 law protects the use of both the 4-H name and the emblem.
"Early" 4-H'ers were very keen on the management and marketing of their projects. Accurate record-keeping and accountability were stressed by the leaders and county agents. And, creative marketing was often the key to success... devising ideas on how to market their products that even their parents or leaders had not thought about. So whether it was vegetables from the garden, fruit from the orchard, eggs from the hen house, dairy products from the barn or honey from the 4-H bee hive, creative marketing was important to the young boys and girls.
Those in charge of club work in the federal office strongly supported the use of 4-H brand labels for marketing 4-H produce, encouraging the boys and girls to standardize their products.
At the local level, 4-H "produced" products was perhaps one of the most visible programs outside of the county fair. For a more complete history of 4-H Brand Products from the Farm, go to:
While previous first ladies are shown in short news clips, it is believed that Lou Hoover was the first president's wife to directly make radio addresses to the public. Records show she made anywhere between nine and 15 such addresses during the Hoover administration years of 1929-1933 - two of them directed to the 4-H Clubs. Her very first radio address was on April 19, 1929 to the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and was very brief.
Mrs. Hoover's second radio address, which has captured the most attention in reports on Lou Hoover's radio speeches, was a June 22, 1929 speech to 4-H'ers from the Hoover's Virginia retreat, Camp Rapidan, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was during the National 4-H Camp on the Mall and was aired on the evening of June 22 during the first National 4-H Radio Party broadcast over the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). It is estimated that over 700,000 listened to the broadcast arranged by the Department of Agriculture.
What made this speech so noteworthy? As First Lady, Lou Hoover continued her life-long belief in the equality of women and men. In her remarks to the 4-H Club, Mrs. Hoover emphasized that housework was for men, too, and that boys should learn to clean the house and wash the dishes along with the girls, because they were "just as great factors in the home-making of the family as are the girls." During this speech she also asked the 4-H Clubs to be "of service in their communities" and at this point not "even her husband had spoken to a national audience at such length."
Mrs. Hoover's second radio address directed to 4-H'ers came on Saturday, November 7, 1931 as a part of the second National 4-H Achievement Program on the NBC Network. from 11:30-12:30 a.m. During her speech, Mrs. Hoover congratulated the 850,000 4-H Club members on their year's achievements.
Unfortunately, Lou Hoover's pioneering radio addresses were the extent of her use of the modern media. Following a traditional tact of First Ladies, she refused to grant any formal interviews to print or broadcast journalists during her tenure, though she would answer to impromptu questions that reporters might be able to pose to her.
4-H is fortunate to have been the key audience for Mrs. Hoover twice during this period and certainly added to 4-H's growing visibility and stature.
Over 80 Years Ago 4-H Helped Inaugurate Mother-in-Law Day
It was March 5, 1934, in Amarillo, Texas: the first observation of Mother-in-Law Day. Even the First Lady (and a Mother-in-Law herself), Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, traveled down to Amarillo for the occasion.
Mrs. Roosevelt displayed a marked interest in rural life, the welfare of rural women and the improvement of rural homes. On the occasion, she said "I do not know very much about your specific problems, but I imagine they are not very different from those of the rural women in my home state. I have been closely associated with the rural women of New York State for 32 years. For the past 11 years I have accepted a part on their short course program; to me there isn't any more important work in the world than home demonstration work."
Mrs. Roosevelt was amazed at the thousands who thronged Amarillo for the occasion - estimated at 200,000 - and wondered where they all hailed from. She enjoyed the huge parade titled "Home Demonstration and Girls' 4-H Club Work on Parade." Collingsworth County 4-H club girls displayed how eggs of good grade produce baby chicks sufficient to supply the family table with poultry products. Gray County 4-H girls modeled slips to show that they had completed their first wardrobe demonstration goal. Anna Reno, state 4-H tomato canning champion from Hutchinson County, showed the audience quality canned tomatoes and tomato products. Moore County 4-H club girls modeled attractive aprons. Wheeler County was represented by the Magic City 4-H club girls who showed exactly how to conduct a business meeting.
4-H Films That Inspire
4-H has a tremendous list of films to its credit; well over 100 that were distributed nationwide, starting back before 1920. Many were produced by corporate donors of National 4-H Council and its two predecessor organizations, while others were made by independent film companies... and some even came from Hollywood!
The primary purpose of many of these films was to inform the viewers about some aspect of 4-H – coverage of a 4-H event, program or success story. But others followed inspirational scripts with the intent of making the audience feel good... "tear jerkers" so to speak. Some of these include:
"The Green Promise," distributed by R-K-O Radio Pictures was produced in 1949 and featured child stars Natalie Wood and Bobby Ellis, along with Marguerite Chapman, Walter Brennan, Robert Paige, Milburn Stone, and Jeanne LuDuke (a 10-year-old 4-H girl from Mount Vernon, Indiana). A local 4-H Club gets involved in helping a widowed father and his four motherless children save his farm that he was about to lose. "The Green Promise" had its initial premiere at the final banquet of the 1948 National 4-H Congress.
Robert Paige inducts child star Natalie Wood as a member of 4-H in
"The Green Promise," a Glenn McCarthy production for R-K-O release in which
Marguerite Chapman and Walter Brennan co-star.
"Tom Boy and the Champ," 1961 Universal Pictures, with Candy Moore, Ben Johnson, Jesse White and Rex Allen. A Texas ranch girl wins a calf at the county fair and calls him "Champy." While training the animal, she gets caught in a storm and contracts polio. She learns to walk again and wins awards with "Champy" going all the way to the International Live Stock Exposition in Chicago. The film shows the 4-H parade in the Arena. Advertised through National 4-H News, "the intriguing 'feel good' entertainment was produced in honor of 4-H Clubs across the country."
"So Dear To My Heart," a 1948 film by Walt Disney Productions starring Bobbie Driscoll, Beulah Bondik and Burl Ives. While the story takes place in the early 1900s prior to the use of the term "4-H," it tells the story of young rural boys and girls, their projects and the county fair. Also the film was advertised heavily in National 4-H News and had its premiere in Chicago during the time of National 4-H Congress.
"Where the Road Turns Right," produced in 1946 by Venard Films and the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work, and funded by Sears-Roebuck Foundation, the "feel-good" movie is a tribute to local 4-H volunteer leadership and designed to stimulate interest among rural youth to help reach the goal of 3 million club members by 1950. The film was based on a national 4-H movie promotion through National 4-H News. 4-H volunteer leaders were encouraged to submit their ideas for filming a real story of 4-H club work and 4-H members were asked to enter the contest to make up the talent for the film. A total of 809 club leaders and 1,346 members entered the contest. Clarence Snetsinger of Barrington, Illinois was the winning leader whose story was told. The movie premiered at the 25th National 4-H Club Congress in 1946.
"Young America," a Twentieth Century-Fox film, is dedicated to "the thousands of 4-H club leaders throughout the country." Starring Jane Withers, Jane Darwell, William Tracy and Ben Carter, the film is about a "spoiled-brat" urban girl who is shipped off by her exasperated parents to visit her aunt and uncle who live on a farm and ends up, through 4-H, raising a champion steer. The film premiered at the December 1941 National 4-H Congress and was released in early 1942.
One of the most recent 4-H-related productions, made by Paramount Pictures in 2006, is "Charlotte's Web" which features the 4-H emblem multiple times. The themes portrayed speak directly to the great work that 4-H does in developing youth, building friendships, commitment to goals and having fun! A movie ticket purchase campaign was conducted through National 4-H Council.
The National 4-H History Preservation team is attempting to document all known 4-H films distributed nationwide and to digitize as many of them as we can find. To review current information on the films go to the National 4-H Film Archive:
There have been two major authoritative history books published at the national level on 4-H during the first 100 years of its existence.
"4-H: an American Idea 1900-1980, A History of 4-H," was written by Thomas Wessel and Marilyn Wessel, and published by National 4-H Council in 1982, in cooperation with the Cooperative Extension Service. It documents the record of excellence of the nation's largest youth educational organization, recounting 80 years of change, evolving from a program primarily concerned with improving agricultural production and food preservation to one dedicated to the development of young people. It follows the expansion of 4-H from an almost exclusively rural organization to one serving young people wherever they live – in the city, small town, suburb or on the farm.
Prior to the Wessel book, the major history on 4-H was "The 4-H Story, A History of 4-H Club Work" written by Franklin M. Reck and published by the National 4-H Service Committee in 1951.
The Wessel book does not replace the Reck book, but reinforces it and brings the history 30 years closer to the present.
Frank Reck, author of "The 4-H Story" stays busy autographing his history book for delegates at the 1951 National 4-H Congress. (From January 1952 National 4-H News)
Together, they make good resources on 4-H, although neither had the luxury of space to tell the "whole story" on the many faceted areas of 4-H history. Both histories are digitized and appear in the books archives of the 4-H History website.
The Frankie Welch 4-H Scarf
Frankie Welch was born Mary Frances Barnett in Rome, Georgia and graduated from Furman University in South Carolina where she met her husband, William Welch. She also studied at the University of Georgia and the University of Wisconsin. While at Wisconsin, she was influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright's lifestyle and architectural discipline.
Mrs. Welch operated a fashionable ladies boutique in Alexandria, Virginia and became a favorite designer for Washingtonians of influence, particularly with her political and institutional designs. She became a protégé of Lady Bird Johnson and designed her "Discover America" scarf and staged the first fashion show in the White House for Lady Bird. During the 1968 political campaigns, Frankie was the favored choice of both the Democrats and Republicans, designing their "official" attire. The following year she was appointed by the White House to design the "Forward Together" scarf which was given as a souvenir at President Richard Nixon's Inaugural Ball. She designed the gown which First Lady Betty Ford designated for the official portrait as well as the wax figure in the Smithsonian in the Hall of First Ladies; and, Mrs. Welch was commissioned to design political attire for the Jimmy Carter campaign and for Ronald Reagan. In 1976 she originated the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration scarf.
Frankie Welch was particularly known for her scarf designs and counts well over 1,000 major corporations, national associations, museums and universities as her "scarf customers" for which she has designed scarves.
A frequent visitor to the Alexandria boutique, who became a friend of Frankie Welch, was Eleanor L. Wilson, 4-H Extension USDA staff member (currently a member of the National 4-H History Preservation leadership team). One day, Eleanor mentioned that it would be nice if Frankie could design a scarf for 4-H. Frankie thought this was a tremendous idea and asked Eleanor to bring some 4-H emblems and other items over to her apartment so they could start designing a scarf. The Frankie Welch 4-H scarf is the result. The 8" x 33" scarf was sold during the late 1980's through the National 4-H Supply Service (now 4-H Mall) and was often used as prized gifts in honoring people at the national level. Through Frankie's dimensional standardization, this versatile method for example, allows one square to become a pocket kerchief or cocktail napkin, and the entire three or four squares make a lady's scarf.
First National 4-H Slogan Contest… No Winners
In 1924 the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work, in coordination with Miss Gertrude Warren of the Federal Extension Office, USDA, issued for sale the first 1924 poster entitled "We are for Boys and Girls Club Work." (See story on National 4-H Poster Program elsewhere in this Compendium.) Shortly after the announcement of the 1924 poster, the National Committee - looking toward 1925 - announced a National 4-H Slogan Contest to choose a theme for the following year. The National Boys and Girls Club News was used to promote the contest, lasting from September 15-November 15, 1924.
Cash prizes were offered for the winners and hundreds of entries were received. An esteemed group of three judges reviewed the entries. The judges included: Mr. O. E. Bradfute, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation; J. W. Coverdale, representing the National Committee (a future president of the National Committee board); and DeWitt C. Wing, editor of the Breeder's Gazette, one of the major agricultural publications of the day.
The winning 10 slogans and their authors are as follows:
"A Worth While Investment - Boys' and Girls' Club Work" by Dorothy Emerson, Girls' Club Agent, Extension Service, College Park, Maryland,
"Tomorrow's Leaders Are Doing Boys' and Girls' Club Work Today" by Mrs. Ray W. Hall, local leader of Good Luck Canning Club, Colville, Washington,
"Boys' and Girls' Club Work Prepares for Life" by C. M. Hampson, county agent, Findlay, Ohio,
"Club Work for Every Community and Every Community for Club Work" by F. P. Hurst, District club agent, Jackson, Mississippi,
"Say It With Boys' and Girls' Club Work" by Dan Lewis, Assistant State Boys' and Girls' Club Agent, Extension Service, Clemson College, South Carolina,
"Boys and Girls Work and Play, 4-H Club Show the Way" by Jessie Marion, Home Demonstration agent, Sidney, Montana,
"Boys' and Girls' Club Work Makes Boys and Girls Love Work" by W. G. Owens, county agent, Canon, Georgia,
"The Dawn of a Better Day - Boys' and Girls Club Work" by Mrs. Mary Watson, local club leader, Amistad, New Mexico,
"Head, Hands, Heart, Health - We Learn, Earn and Save Our Wealth" by Mrs. George E. White, local club leader, North Haverhill, New Hampshire,
"Let's All Boost Boys' and Girls' Club Work" by G. N. Worden, county agent, Port Orchard, Washington.
While an exceedingly large number of slogans were submitted, the judges after lengthy consideration felt that none was quite equal to the 1924 slogan , "We Are the Boys' and Girls' Club Work," and that, therefore, the prize money should be divided among the best 10 and that the 1924 slogan be used on through the year of 1925, however a new poster design may be created.
Coke And Georgia - A Promotion & Fund Raising Campaign
Donald R. Keough, president, The Coca-Cola Company, admires 4-H commemorative Coke bottle with Bill Gentry, state 4-H officer from Carroll County, Georgia. Keough is a member of National 4-H Council's Board of Trustees. (From 1985 Winter National 4-H Council Quarterly)
In 1984-85, 4-H'ers in Georgia were selling Coke bottles as part of a fund raising campaign. However, these were no ordinary Coke bottles. The bottles read, "Rock Eagle: The World's Largest 4-H Center, 30 Years of Service to 1,000,000 citizens of Georgia 1954-84." The front of the bottle flashes the 4-H emblem – a 4-leaf clover, just below The Coca-Cola Company logo.
The 96,000 special bottles were printed by The Coca-Cola Company as part of a five-year fund raising program to raise $2 million for the renovation of the 4-H camp and conference center in Eatonton. The 4-H'ers were selling the Coke bottles for $1 donation, or more, at county fairs, harvest sales, grocery stores, convenience stops and school stores.
4-H Human Formations
Iowa 4-H girls, representing all 100 counties, while attending their annual meet in Ames in 1936 create a human formation.
From the very beginnings of 4-H a century ago, often when boys and girls gathered for special events, one of the activities would be the creation of a human formation. This would often be in the shape of the number and letter "4-H" or the 4-H emblem design. If there were enough participants, sometimes the outline of the state where the event was taking place would circle the main part of the formation. Pictures would be taken for souvenirs - even though most of the images of the participants were indistinguishable.
Later on, starting in the late 1960s after National 4-H Club Week was moved to October, occasionally university marching bands would create a human formation in the shape of the 4-H clover in the center of the football field during halftime ceremonies to commemorate the special event.
National 4-H Music Hour
During the 1930s the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work negotiated with the National Broadcasting Company to produce and air a monthly hour-long educational musical show on the NBC network. The programs were broadcast mid-day from 12:30 to 1:30 Eastern Standard Time – always on the first Saturday of each month.
Announcements for the shows, carried in the National 4-H News magazine for 4-H leaders, explained that the United States Marine Band would play the music and annotations relative to the songs and composers would be given. The Extension Office, USDA helped coordinate the programs and R. A. Turner, 4-H USDA, narrated the annotations.
Themes apparently were selected for the entire year. For example, "Songs That Live" was the theme for the 1936 series of the National 4-H Music Hour. "A Musical Journey Around the World" was the theme for the 1938 series and "Stories Told by Music" was the focus of the series in 1939. The programs were intended to be both uplifting and entertaining, while also carrying a strong theme for music appreciation.
The National 4-H Music Hour was part of a much larger plan of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work and Extension USDA to contribute to uplifting the spirits of rural farm families during the great depression years.
National 4-H Song Contest
During the summer of 1937 National 4-H Club News sponsored a National 4-H Song Writing Contest. Compositions were submitted from 30 states with songs from Arkansas, Wisconsin and Illinois chosen by the judges for the three top places. The judges included Homer Rodeheaver, evangelist singer and composer, Allan Grant, staff pianist of NBC, and Walter Goodell, composer and arranger.
On Saturday, February 11, 1938, during the National Farm and Home Hour broadcast coast to coast at noon time on the NBC network, all three top songs were sung with accompaniment. Then 4-H leaders and members across America were asked to vote for their favorite by submitting their ranking on a postcard or via letter.
The three top ranking songs were: "4-H Pastoral" by Martha Ruth Mayo, West Helena, Arkansas; "4-H Pep Song by Myrtle Carry, Footville, Wisconsin; and "Stop, Look, Listen and Sing" by Ruth H. Williams, Morgan Park, Illinois.
Hundreds of votes came in from 36 states who voted "4-H Pastoral" their choice by a sizeable margin. The winning song is a soft, meditative number, inspiring the love of nature, consisting of three verses and a chorus. The National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work offered all three winning songs in sheet music format.
Martha Ruth Mayo
Oh, a south wind blows over winter snows,
And I know that spring is coming,
When soft warm rain will fall again
On green things gently growing;
On green things gently growing.
So as we live let us learn to give
To the folks the wide world over
Whose hearts may yearn for the things we learn
At the sign of the four-leaf clover.
There's a time of joy for the girl and boy
Who live in the open country,
When garden and field give up their yield
And the table groans with plenty;
And the table groans with plenty.
So we cook and sew and we plant and hoe,
In a highly approved manner,
As our happy band march hand in hand
Under-neath the 4-H banner;
Under-neath the 4-H banner.
Jeff Gordon, Dupont And 4-H
As one of the major sponsors of 4-H National Youth Science Day in 2009, DuPont provided some extra visibility extending to a massive audience – in the NASCAR circuit, the DuPont-sponsored car driven by Jeff Gordon prominently carried the visual of the 4-H emblem with the 4-H.org website on the back of the vehicle.
4-H In Times Square
In November 2009, dozens of 4-H youth gathered in Times Square to display their 4-H pride in one of the world's busiest cities. Above them on West 42nd Street. A 4-H PSA aired on the CBS "Super Screen."
Outfitted in 4-H and Cornell University sweatshirts, nearly 30 4-H'ers from the Cornell Cooperative Extension New York City 4-H program hit the streets to survey New Yorkers about their impressions of the organization. The youth interviewed a variety of people from diverse backgrounds and ages – from older couples and young professionals to teenagers like themselves. Through a splash of green in Times Square, they helped draw attention to the 4-H brand and the positive impact the organization has on the lives of youth.
The 15-second PSA aired twice an hour throughout the month of November. Nearly 1.6 million people pass through Times Square daily, which gave 4-H a total potential reach of almost 50 million people.
4-H Helps Make the Depression Years... Less Depressing
A major objective during the depression years of the 1930s for the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work was "to try to make life a little richer, a little more fun, for rural America." With the dust bowls and lower prices for their commodities, life was tough for farming families. The National Committee published a National 4-H Club Songbook. They published a series of 4-H skits and plays, particularly adaptable to 4-H club meetings. Through both their 4-H radio programs and the National 4-H News magazine, hobby information and tips on inexpensive recreation were given and competitive sports and musical groups were encouraged for 4-H clubs. The National Committee ran contests and offered prizes for the best uplifting stories and poems.
House-bound, with little money for "just having a good time," rural America was grateful.
While these efforts were not promoted extensively outside of the Extension system, they were heavily promoted through the 4-H Supply Service catalog, National 4-H News and at 4-H events.
4-H Celebrity Promotional Spots
Beginning in 1965... and, extending into the 1970s, the National 4-H Service Committee, in cooperation with the Cooperative Extension Service, provided an annual "package" of radio public service announcements promoting 4-H just prior to National 4-H Week. Voiced by "celebrities," the spots were popular with the stations and many used them year round. The state Extension radio editors and state 4-H offices also used the recordings to the fullest.
The spots were produced on 2-sided 33-1/3 RPM vinyl records and distributed to nearly every radio station in the country – big or small. Larry Krug, the Service Committee's radio-TV specialist, was responsible for writing the scripts, contacting the celebrities (or their managers) and having the records produced and shipped.
Krug says, "We had very little budget for this annual project and spent most of it on mailing the records to the radio stations." He says, "I remember fondly the hot summer afternoon, leaving the 4-H office in Chicago's Loop and taking the elevated train north to Wrigley Field lugging my old, heavy Wollensak reel-to-reel tape recorder. I did the radio spots with Ernie Banks in the Chicago Cubs dugout before the game." Another time, Krug says, I went down to Rensselaer, Indiana with Jerry Deuel, editor, National 4-H News, to the Chicago Bears training camp to interview and record Gale Sayers, who had recently been named Rookie of the Year. After the 4-H interviews the PR staff invited us to stay for lunch with the team in the big building just off the training field. The food providers placed a plate including two large baked potatoes and a 24-oz. steak in front of each of us. As the big football players were scarfing down their lunch – obviously all members of the "clean plate club" – Jerry and I felt we had no choice but to eat everything on our plates, too. We were in misery our entire drive back to Chicago.
Some of the celebrities voicing the 4-H spots on the records include: entertainers Arthur Godfrey, Bob Hope, Eddie Albert, Ernie Ford and Diahann Carroll. Also, television personalities Mike Douglas and Johnny Carson.
Sports stars represented included Quarterback Bart Starr of the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Cubs first baseman Ernie Banks, Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas, Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers, race car drivers Richard Petty and Parnelli Jones, Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox, and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith.
Additional celebrities voicing spots: actors Bill Cosby and Jimmy Stewart; astronaut James Lovell; Miss America Marilyn Van Derbur; Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and columnist Ann Landers.
While many of these names may not be familiar today, 45+ years ago most of them were certainly "star power."
In later years – probably the early '80s – two additional celebrity packages were distributed which included VIPs Telly Savalas, Pat Boone, Glenn Campbell, Tanya Tucker, Roy Rogers, The Captain and Tenille, Archie Griffin, The Fifth Dimension, Eric Estrada, Sugar Ray Leonard, Rita Moreno and Charlie Pride.
There was certainly nothing unique about the 4-H celebrity records. Some other organizations were doing the same thing. But responses the National 4-H Service Committee got back from the stations on the return postcards that accompanied the records were sometimes unbelievable. It was not unusual for a station to reply that they had aired the spots 100 times, or 150 times!... with the added notation, "Please send us more."
Here are samples of the spots:
"This is Ernie Ford saluting 4-H members and leaders everywhere for their fine accomplishments. As a father of 4-H members, I certainly want to commend these two and three-quarter million young people who live up to the 4-H motto, "Learning by Doing." Nowadays, boys and girls wherever they live can enjoy belonging to 4-H. They learn new skills and experiences, and leadership responsibilities. So, if you're between the ages of nine and 19 – or are a parent of a boy or girl between nine and 19 – take it from Ernie Ford – enroll them in 4-H, an opportunity well worthwhile."
"Hi, this is Bob Hope saluting America's three million 4-H boys and girls who are setting examples for 4-H organizations in 80 other countries around the world. There's even an active 4-H program in war-torn Vietnam, where the government has issued a postage stamp in honor of 4-H as being one of the few hopes of the future that lives and grows each day in their country. 4-H has something to offer every boy or girl between the ages of nine through 19, or if you're over 19, become a 4-H leader, an opportunity to help today's youth." [It was during this period that Bob Hope was doing his annual Christmas tours to the war zones, including Vietnam.]
"This is Jim Nabors saluting 4-H members everywhere for the fine job they are doing in helping to build a stronger America. Through their modern educational programs, 4-H has something to offer all youth wherever you may live. Such a strong program has kindled the way to 4-H-like organizations around the world. I had the opportunity to meet sixteen hundred of these young people at National 4-H Congress in Chicago and felt comforted to see these young Americans gathered and to know that our nation will continue to thrive in capable leadership for many, many more years. If you're between nine and 19 and would like to join 4-H – take it from Jim Nabors – join today – you'll be glad you did."
"This is Ernie Banks with the Chicago Cubs, saluting a real fine youth organization – 4-H. There are three million boys and girls in this country learning how to do things and having fun through 4-H. And now days they come from the cities and suburbs as well as the country – in fact, we have 150 4-H Clubs right here in the city of Chicago! If you're between the ages of nine through nineteen, take it from Ernie Banks – hit a home run with 4-H by contacting your county extension office today."
First Animated 4-H Public Service Spots
In the fall of 1984 National 4-H Council and 4-H, Extension Service, USDA, produced a package of new TV public service ads, "4-H For Youth For America." The spots featured a new open and close – an animated symbolic map of the United States and a 4-H clover on top of it. The five 30-second television spots in the package focused on careers, community service, computers, food and fitness, and conservation. Additionally, radio spots were produced that had the same subject matter focus as the television spots. A musical jingle, "4-H For Youth For America," was also incorporated into the spots.
In addition, print public service ads featuring the same theme as the televison and radio promos, added broad visibility in many national and regional magazines.
A new set of spots produced for nationwide distribution in 1985 used the same "4-H For Youth For America" theme as in 1984, and the same animated opening and closing. The five spots focused on 4-H members, volunteers, and parents, all telling why the 4-H program has been a positive experience for them. The TV spots were distributed on 3/4" videotape. This year the radio public service announcements were distributed directly to counties via the 4-H Week promotion ideas kit.
The electronic public service package was produced with the help of the Michigan State 4-H Program and Ford Motor Company. Ford President Harold A. Poling, who serves as chairman of National 4-H Council's Board of Trustees, participated in recording both television and radio spots for the package and opened up the Dearborn Assembly Plant to provide a location for taping.
"4-H is More!" Creates Greater Public Awareness
Roy Rogers talks to 4-H'ers in film "4-H Is More!"
As part of the 1984 4-H promotion campaign a film was produced by National 4-H Council and the Illinois State 4-H Foundation entitled "4-H Is More!" The sole purpose of the film was to create greater public awareness of the nature and scope of the 4-H program. The film emphasized the changing image of 4-H as it moves into urban areas.
In one segment of the film, Roy Rogers, a former 4-H member, talks to a group of young people about 4-H and the influence of 4-H in his life. When he was growing up in a small town in Ohio, Roy Rogers recalled, there wasn't much for kids to do. A teacher suggested a 4-H project and Roy hand-raised a baby pig that first year.
From this experience, he says, he learned lessons in responsibility that would last a lifetime. "4-H" Roy concludes, "teaches you that you have to work for what you get. It teaches you to be responsible and it gives you the kinds of experiences that develop leadership."
The film was aired in 49 states, Canada and Mexico. It was produced through funding grants from John Deere, Eastman Kodak Company, Kraft, Inc., Ortho Consumer Products Division, Chevron Chemical Company, and The Quaker Oats Company.
1986 4-H Promotional Package: A Year For Presidents
It may be seldom that you can get the president of a major auto manufacturer and the president of the United Auto Workers to agree on anything... but it happened in 1986; and, it was about 4-H! One of the 4-H TV promotion spots features Harold Poling, Ford Motor Company president and Owen Bieber, president of the United Auto Workers together. And, best yet, they were both former 4-H'ers.
Other spots in the promotional package in 1986 featured President Ronald Reagan, NASCAR racing legend Richard Petty and country-western singer Reba McEntire. Their connection to 4-H? In addition to Poling and Bieber, McEntire was also a former 4-H'er; Petty is a former 4-H volunteer leader; and, President Reagan was honorary chairman of National 4-H Council. The PSA's were developed jointly by the Extension Service, USDA, and National 4-H Council.
1987 4-H Public Service Ads Focus on Extension Initiatives
The first package of television public service announcements in 1987 began airing during National 4-H Week in October on stations around the country. The six 30-second and one 60-second package focused on the eight initiatives for national priority by the Cooperative Extension System. One PSA explored the many facets of agriculture: competitiveness and profitability, alternative agricultural opportunities and revitalizing rural America as it showed 4-H members in a grocery produce section learning how food is shipped, cleaned, priced and displayed.
A second PSA showed a 4-H club working on a substance abuse education program with local merchants and stressing the CES initiative in building human capital.
Conservation and management of natural resources, and water quality are the two initiatives targeted in a third spot, showing a 4-H teen leader working with a club taking water samples from a stream. A fourth PSA focuses on the conservation and management initiative, showing a club working to repair foot bridges in a wooded area.
A baseball game is the focus of the PSA addressing nutrition, diet and health. Two of the public service announcements were released to states in November: one focusing on the role of the volunteer in 4-H and another on the role of the Extension professional. The latter spot debuted at the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents' convention in San Diego.
Radio spots focusing on identical themes were distributed to all county 4-H offices in July. Print public service ads (like the one shown here) focused on teen issues and volunteers. These were distributed to county 4-H offices and directly to 600 national magazines.
Clover Country - Songs From Famous 4-H Alumni
In 2008 National 4-H Council partnered with EMI Music to create "Clover Country: Songs from Famous 4-H Alumni" -
the first-of-its-kind country music compilation CD featuring famous 4-H alumni. This extraordinary
blend of country music showcases the benefits of 4-H through talented 4-H alumni.
The project had several purposes. The CD's were sold through National 4-H Council's 4-H Mall as a fund raiser to further
support 4-H youth development programs through Council. The CD's provided valuable visibility to the 4-H program and highlighted the continuing value of 4-H alumni.
The 4-H alumni who participated, and the songs which were selected include:
Stronger (Live Version)
I Walk the Line
You're Gonna Be
My Home's in Alabama
My Tennessee Mountain Home
I Still Believe in You
We Rode in Trucks
North Dakota 4-H Promotion Takes to the Sky and the Gridiron
Local television stations in North Dakota in 1987-88 were airing a 4-H promotional video provided by a former North Dakota 4-H member: Commander Gil E. Rud of the Navy Blue Angels. The visually exciting video begins with Commander Rud standing beside his sleek jet aircraft and immediately switches to the Blue Angels streaking across the skies and flying in close formation.
Another 4-H promotion video being used throughout the state involved Rocky Hager, football coach of the 1987 Division II National Champion North Dakota State University Bisons. Coach Hager talks about pride, teamwork and setting goals, relating both to football and 4-H. Both videos were part of a media outreach campaign to promote opportunities for participation in 4 H.
Frequently, states produced 4-H promotional packages of their own with state "celebrities" to supplement what came out of the national offices. The North Dakota package is a good example.
Garfield Promotes 4-H
Who doesn't love that spunky cat, Garfield? Through special arrangement with Paws, Inc. (Owned by Garfield creator Jim Davis, an Indiana 4-H Alumnus) the "Garfield connection" with 4-H actually began as a 1987 4-H promotional program in Indiana using the Garfield image on 4-H posters, place mats and stickers to attract attention to 4-H in Indiana.
Later on, in 2001, Garfield items were handled by the National 4-H Supply Service on a nationwide basis after Edwin M. Gershon, senior vice president of licensing and merchandising for National 4-H Council, visited with Davis at a trade show in New York which resulted in a licensing agreement for the Supply Service to handle a Garfield 4-H product line.
There was a wide array of 4-H Garfield products which were popular with the customers – everything from Garfield 4-H T-shirts, stuffed animals and bean bag 4-H Garfields to Garfield cookie jars, coffee mugs and limited edition Garfield 4-H holiday ornaments.
4-H Unveils Special Precious Moments Figurine
In 2003 Precious Moments produced a special exclusive figurine, 4-H - The Power of YOUth - created to commemorate 4-H's centennial. Not available in stores, the figurine could be purchased from the Precious Moments website as well as through National 4-H Council's 2003 4-H Source Book.
TY Beanie Babies - CLOVER 4-H the Bear (4-H Exclusive)
In late 2004 and early 2005, in keeping with the Beanie Babies craze which was sweeping across the collectors' world, Ty Beanie Babies produced Clover 4-H the Bear as a 4-H Exclusive, sold only through the 4-H Mall and not in retail stores, and as an internet exclusive . The toy bear prominently featured the bright green and white 4-H emblem on its chest and a matching green ribbon tied into a bow around his neck. A Ty paper tag is affixed to the right ear. Inside the tag reads: "Heads together to think things through, Hands that will work hard for you, Healthy living that we share, Hearts that show how much we care" The beanie stands approximately 8-1/2 inches tall.
The 4-H bear was available in gold fur, white fur, and light brown (traditional teddy bear color) fur. A separate Ty Beanie Babies project was Ty Beanie Baby Johnny the John Deere Bear, which was also a 4-H exclusive. The emerald green fur bear had a yellow and green John Deere logo on its chest, a yellow visor cap on its head with a green and white 4-H emblem on the front, and a matching yellow ribbon tied into a bow around his neck.
4-H Brand Network
National 4-H Council created the 4-H Brand Network in 2006 and embarked on a market research program that would provide dynamic and useful information to inspire more people to actively promote 4-H within their communities. The 4-H Brand Network was the first community of its kind where 4-H advocates at the grassroots level joined together to strengthen the 4-H image. The first phase was the creation of 4-HbrandNetwork.org, a secure website where 4-H agents, volunteers and youth could learn about the 4-H brand, share tips and ideas with National 4-H Council and each other, and apply what they had learned with ready made resources.
National 4-H Council conducted two market research surveys to collect data to improve 4-H message development and provide information to local and state 4-H programs in support of their marketing efforts. One thousand Americans, 18 years and older, were represented in each survey. The survey results provided valuable information pertaining to public awareness and perceptions of the 4-H brand, what 4-H represents, who it seeks to serve, and its place in youth development. Two of the more significant recommendations generated from the surveys were to:
demonstrate how 4-H has re-positioned itself to meet the diverse needs and challenges that youth face today in rural, urban, and suburban communities, and
develop targeted messages that highlight the qualities of 4-H Youth Development programs and activities that are closely aligned with what Americans believe is most important to youth in their communities.
Rotary Club Honors National 4-H Center With Strong Partnership
During the decades of the 1970s, 80s, and into the 90s, Bob Lindstrom, manager of the National 4-H Center, built a strong relationship with the local Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rotary Club. The local Rotary club contributed to Council's programs and occasionally held their meetings at the 4-H Center and both Rotary International and National 4-H Council benefitted.
4-H was always proud to have a visible presence on the local club's banner by way of an image of the National 4-H Center right along side the images of the National Institutes of Health and the National Naval Medical Center. In recent years the local club has provided some funding for the "National 4-H Center Student Forum." Rotary is one of the oldest, largest and most influential international service organizations in the world with 33,000 clubs in over 200 countries.
National 4-H Center Marketing Thrust of 1983
Located in suburban Washington, D.C. just minutes from the nation's capital, the National 4-H Youth Conference Center is well established as a facility ideal for educational conferences and meetings. While the primary purpose of the Center is to serve the needs of 4-H and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Center often has the capacity to serve other educational groups as well.
During early 1983 one of the largest efforts to promote the National 4-H Center was planned and orchestrated. Council staff developed a variety of new marketing tools (and messages) to inform groups about the exceptional facilities available at the Center. A variety of marketing brochures, releases and other aids were produced by the Communications Division with the intent of informing multiple audiences about the opportunities of using the Center. Council also engaged a consultant to assist the marketing staff in developing new approaches for reaching appropriate Center users.
Grant Shrum, Council's president, wrote to all U.S. Senators and Congressmen encouraging them to recommend use of the National 4-H Center by constituent youth groups. Secretary of Agriculture John Block, as a former 4-H'er, gave his enthusiastic leadership in promoting educational use of the Center to other cabinet members, informing them of the facilities available for their conference needs. (The convenient location of the 4-H Center and free parking were major draws with this audience for one-day meetings.)
State 4-H leaders worked cooperatively with their state superintendents of schools to increase participation in Washington Focus, a year-round program for youth groups to help teens develop leadership skills and learn about their federal government.
Grant Shrum, president, National 4-H Council, welcomes (l. to r.) Elizabeth Dole, Secretary of Transportation; Richard Schweiker, former Secretary of Health and Human Services; and Margaret Heckler, Secretary of Health and Human Services, to the Conference for Youth on Drinking and Driving, held at National 4-H Center. During the conference, Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell described 4-H as the greatest out-of-school youth education program in the country.(From Summer, 1983 National 4-H Council Quarterly)
Similar efforts were made by State Extension directors serving on Council's board of trustees to encourage land-grant university staffs to use the facility for educational needs in the Washington area.
To create greater public awareness of National 4-H Center locally, appropriate Washington area constituencies were invited to visit the Center on special occasions.
A 6-minute slide/tape presentation on Center facilities was developed by Council and available for use by all of these groups.
National 4-H Council Creates PR Advisory Committee
In early 1983, the National 4-H Council established a public relations advisory committee to determine ways to increase 4-H visibility and strengthen understanding and support of the youth program. The committee focused on needs for audience and message identification, media relations, identifying and using 4-H alumni and other ways of giving 4-H widespread visibility, particularly in support of The Campaign for 4-H.
The high level committee included: Margaret P. McKimm, vice president, public affairs, Dart & Kraft, Inc.; Chester K. Lasell, vice president, corporate relations, Deere & Company; Charles W. Parker, Jr., corporate vice president, Allis-Chalmers Corporation; Andrew J. Schroder III, senior vice president, administration, General Foods Corporation; Robert T. Crosby, manager, public affairs operations, Standard Oil Company (Indiana); George H. Kyd, division vice president, public relations, Ralston Purina Company; David J. Metz, vice president and director, corporate communications, Eastman Kodak Company; Peter Allan, public relations, R. J. Reynolds Industries, Inc.; Trecie Fennell, assistant manager, Corporate Communications, General Foods Corporation; James D. Schwaninger, manager of corporate responsibility and community relations, J. C. Penney Company, Inc; William E. Duke, manager, National Programs, Atlantic Richfield Company; Tina Santi-Flaherty, vice president of public affairs, GTE; James A. Fyock, group public relations director, R. J. Reynolds Industries, Inc; and David W. Scott, director of public affairs, North American Automotive Operations, Ford Motor Company.
A wide variety of ideas and suggestions came out of this committee for strengthening and broadening the visibility of 4-H, identifying and making use of alumni and enhancing and expanding the operations of both the National 4-H Center and National 4-H Council. Some ideas were put into operation immediately, while others evolved into marketing programs and 4-H public relations projects that were initiated over the following 2-3 years. Council's Communications Division worked with and "staffed" the committee and was responsible for initiating many of the projects, working with the Resource Development Office.
The 'Campaign for 4-H' Celebration
The climax of National 4-H Council's $50 million "Campaign for 4-H" was celebrated on December 6, 1988 during the 67th National 4-H Congress in Chicago.
The 1,600 teen delegates to 4-H Congress were joined at the Tuesday night gala by nearly 1,000 guests representing leadership of the public-private partnership of 4-H support. Many corporate executives, university officials, government representatives, leaders from cooperating organizations and associations attended.
From the opening ceremonies with the U.S. Navy Color Guard and the National 4-H Congress Chorus singing "America the Beautiful," to the closing with the music group Three Dog Night playing their hit song, "Celebrate," the recognition event, "America's Youth: The Challenge and The Opportunity," was something special.
Major Campaign donors were honored and revered with standing ovations as young delegate advisors boomed out their names to come on stage. Videos shown on large screens reflected the dramatic impact the 5-year funding effort would have on youth education. As special effects video were used to visually build to the final Campaign total and the emcee announced $58 million – $8 million over the Campaign goal – celebrating was in order!
Campaign Chairman Robert B. Gill, vice chairman, J.C. Penney Company, Inc. and vice chairman of Council's board of trustees, stated, "the fact that 4-H was successful in meeting, and surpassing, the Campaign goal clearly signals that this youth development program has a constituency and a support base that is strong and deep across America."
Board Chairman Lawrie Thomas, president, Amoco Oil Company, in publically thanking Bob Gill for the leadership he had provided over the five years of the Campaign emphasized, "this has been a volunteer driven campaign and we are proud of the corps of volunteers from both the public and private sectors that have made this campaign a success."
"Success of this largest fund-raising effort in 4-H history," Thomas said, "has greatly enhanced the ability of the Cooperative Extension System to play a key role in addressing societal problems that threaten our youth and indeed the very fabric of America."
All 37 major donors giving one-half million dollars or more to the Campaign were present and individually recognized on stage.
A highlight of the program was the premiere of three video programs designed to strengthen and broaden the land-grant universities' Cooperative Extension System youth outreach mission. This major project, "America's Youth: The Challenge and The Opportunity," was produced by J.C. Penney Company, Inc. in cooperation with the Cooperative Extension System and National 4-H Council.
Several major corporations made special gifts to support the Campaign success celebration: Amoco Corporation, Inc.; Coats & Clark; Deere & Company, Eastman Kodak Company; Ford Motor Company Fund; The General Foods Fund, Inc.; International Paper Company Foundation; Nabisco Brands; J.C. Penney Company, Inc.; Ralston Purina Company, Purina Dog Foods Group; and Unocal Corporation.
Youth Voices and Action Ad Council Campaign
In mid-1997, and running through 1998, a national 4-H media campaign was conducted, called "Youth Voices and Action." The campaign was all about asking kids to volunteer in their communities; and, having fun at the same time. It was created by "design teams" of 4-H members, volunteers, media people and staff at the county, state and national levels, including National 4-H Council, The Ad Council and Bates USA (advertising agency).
The "Youth Voices and Action" national public service advertising campaign '4-H Are You Into It?' addressed identified problems of today's youth. The campaign encourages youth to become involved in issues in their community and to volunteer. Kids who see the PSA's call a toll-free number and get a free brochure containing community service ideas. Then local 4-H'ers call them back to get them involved in their county. The campaign was launched during National 4-H Week in 1997.
The 1998 National 4-H Council Annual Report states that after just eight months, the '4-H Are You Into It?' campaign garnered $36.2 million worth of media placements – $9 million more than the typical Ad Council campaign earns in an entire year. All this exposure generated more than 4,000 calls to 4-H's toll-free number and over four million hits to the 'Are You Into It?' website.
The 1999 Annual Report announced that '4-H Are You Into It?' campaign ranked in the top five of all Ad Council campaigns in 1998, earning $64.1 million in estimated donated media placement. More than 11,744 calls were received at the toll-free number and 5,621,615 individuals sought information from the website.
Kathleen's Room 4-H History Exhibit
4-H celebrates the legacy of "the First Lady" of the National 4-H Center with Kathleen's Room, featuring the 4-H History Exhibit photo mural. With generous gifts from many friends, Kathleen's Room was planned and dedicated in 2008. A team comprised of Sue Benedetti, Eleanor L. Wilson, Sue Fisher and Gwen El Sawi planned the room and secured the funding to make it possible.
Kathleen's Room is dedicated to the foresight... the vision of Kathleen Flom, longtime staff member of National 4-H Council who continued to be involved in 4-H Center activities on a daily basis for years, even after retirement. She was key to maintaining historic records, working with commemorative gifts, and conducting tours of National 4-H Center for visiting groups and new staff.
The history of 4-H is one of the most significant and far-reaching stories in America: a story of youth education, community pride and responsibility, personal leadership, and volunteerism. Truly unique – born at the grassroots level and involving special public-private partnerships at the local, state and national levels – it represents the very essence of America's growth. This is what is captured in this large photo mural covering over a century of 4-H history.
Kathleen's Room, right off the main lobby of J. C. Penney Hall at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center, is highly visible, presenting the history of 4-H to the tens of thousands of visitors to the Center each year.
Collecting 4-H Memorabilia - National 4-H Collectors' Club
The main reason people collect is for enjoyment. You collect in a category that you like. Perhaps your collection brings back pleasant memories of your childhood - in this case, maybe that first 4-H ribbon or the first pie you baked. You remember the nostalgia involved - going to the 4-H fair, the smell of the cotton candy, the midway, the livestock arena - fun with friends and family. Your 4-H club meetings were special events on your calendar - perhaps the very first group you belonged to at this young age. 4-H camp may have been the first experience away from home. Accurately maintaining a 4-H record book, while not the most pleasant task at the time, was probably a new experience of accountability. All of these things are memories and one of the best ways to preserve and relive memories is to collect the artifacts associated with those memories.
Thousands of current and past 4-H members, 4-H club leaders and professionals are already collectors - they just may not know it! Many 4-H participants, when through with their 4-H years, packed away their ribbons and buttons and other 4-H items in a shoe box or manila envelope and it ended up in the closet, in a trunk in the attic or basement or some other place where you put this sort of thing. This is a collection of memories.
The National 4-H History Preservation Program receives a number of queries from current and past participants who indicate they have a wide variety of 4-H collections - 4-H photographs and scrapbooks, buttons, medals, ribbons, 4-H stamps and covers, sheet music, 4-H posters and dozens of other areas. All of these are forms of 4-H visibility.
National Conversation On Youth Development In The 21st Century
The most succinct explanation of this program appears in the 2001 Annual Report of National 4-H Council. It states:
"No program or project that Council has undertaken in 2001 better illustrates how Council is living its mission than its work on the "National Conversation on Youth Development in the 21st Century – 4-H's gift to the nation to commemorate its Centennial. This initiative consists of Conversations, hosted by 4-H, with youth and adults in every county in the nation, followed by State Conversations in each state, the District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and five territories, and culminating with a National Conversation in Washington, D.C. Through these Conversations, 4-H will build an action plan for positive youth development at the national and community levels and present it to President Bush, his Cabinet, and Congress. Building upon these Conversations, 4-H intends to engage the nation in positive youth development programs, continuing to address youth challenges, build youth skills, generate civic involvement, and create better communities. A schedule of all Conversations, Power of YOUth Pledge campaign statistics, and all 4-H Centennial information are available at 4hcentennial.org
"As a trusted representative of the 4-H movement on the national level, Council has been a key force in efforts to secure Public Law 107-19, which authorizes $5 million dollars in Federal funding to support the 4-H Centennial Initiative. Council has taken the lead in raising funds to match those monies provided by the government. This effort has been well received by those on Capitol Hill.
"When it launched its work on this project, Council used its role of generating big 'out of the box' ideas to help create a unique model of working with a former congressman and a well-respected Agriculture lobbying firm to open many doors on Capitol Hill. This team was able to tap into an overwhelming groundswell of support for 4-H and its Centennial Initiative. As a result, Public Law 107-19 passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate and was signed by President George W. Bush. Acting as a facilitator for the 4-H System, National 4-H Council was also pivotal in securing support from former Senator Bob Dole, and former Speaker of the House and Ambassador to Japan, Tom Foley. Dole and Foley have agreed to Co-chair the 4-H Centennial Initiative."
Programmatically, no project National 4-H Council took on in 2001 in preparation for the 4-H centennial illustrated how Council was living its mission than its work on the "National Conversation on Youth Development in the 21st Century."
The National 4-H History Preservation team is attempting to document the history of the 4-H Centennial year, but undoubtedly, this part of the celebration – the "National Conversation" – generated much exposure and visibility and certainly belongs in the history of 4-H promotion.
[4hcentennial.org no longer exists; the URL automatically transfers visitors to the 4-H history preservation website.]
First National 4-H Telecommunications Program
An article entitled "National 4-H Council Phone/Mail Test Program" appears in the Winter 1990 National 4-H Council Quarterly:
National 4-H Council and Institutional Development Council (IDC) joined forces this past Fall  to test the first National 4-H telecommunications program. The Phone/Mail technique (a registered trademark of IDC) is a simulation of modified face-to-face solicitation, integrating two personalized letters and a follow-up telephone call to secure a gift.
Amoco Oil was very helpful in updating names, addresses and phone numbers of 2,800 4-H alumni. These alumni were contacted between October 1989 and January 1990; each received an introductory letter from Richard J. Sauer [president, National 4-H Council]. Orville Redenbacher, a successful 4-H alumnus and strong supporter of 4-H, signed the second letter explaining current 4-H objectives and the need for continued support from former 4-H'ers. Telephone contact was made by one of 12 outstanding college-aged 4-H alumni from the St. Louis IDC Center.
The Council Quarterly article reported that the results of the Phone/Mail program had been positive in several ways. The giving-response rate was 27 percent of actual contacts. The monies generated by this test program would come to Council over the next three years.
National 4-H Alumni Surveys - 1985
The year 1985 was a significant year for National 4-H Council regarding how former participants of the 4-H program felt about the program... the impact. At that time 4-H had 40 million living alumni. This is an overwhelming figure, but yet remained basically meaningless... valueless... without some further explanation or documentation. Who are these alumni? What do they think about their 4-H experience? Was it of any sustaining value to them?
Several projects were done during the first seven or eight months of the year. Over 50,000 alumni were identified through these projects. Most of these projects were done by National 4-H Council's Communications Division in partnership with Council's Resource Development Office.
Donors assisted with some surveys, carrying an alumni query response card as an insert in their house organ. Others placed an alumni identification "stuffer" in with their monthly customer credit card mailings. Direct mail appeals... one over Roy Rogers' signature, were done.
In some cases, responses were tremendously high. For example, a survey done by 4-H Council of 4,300 state and national awards winners from 1965-75 – 10 to 20 years ago – using 10 to 20 year old addresses and a 7-page narrative paper survey, resulted in over 2,000 respondents, a 50% return!
Additionally, responses from the alumni were traditionally very positive relating to their 4-H experiences. Many 4-H alumni credit 4-H with selection of their career. The skills taught in 4-H relating to public speaking and record-keeping also were mentioned over and over again. And, third, many respondents continued to be involved, either as local leaders or 4-H parents.
Results of all of these surveys became a strong part of a promotion program, keeping alumni informed and engaged and ultimately as resources for knowledge, as well as dollars!
Although the actual results of the surveys completed in 1985 have not yet been located, the best record of this effort is a copy of a speech given by Council's Communication Division Director Larry Krug at the 1985 National 4-H Donors' Conference in Chicago entitled "An Investment Report: Allegiance of Former Participants." This will soon be digitized and placed in the Books and Printed Materials Archive on the 4-H History website.
The National 4-H Alumni Program history is on the 4-H history website at:
Also in 1985 as a companion program to the efforts identifying alumni, National 4-H Council and 4-H Extension was reaching out to individuals as part of a nationwide fund raising effort to strengthen the 4-H program at all levels from the grassroots level up. Called the Alliance for 4-H, it was a cooperative effort between National 4-H Council, Extension Service staff and 4-H volunteers at the local and state levels, a nationwide individual giving campaign to significantly increase the fund raising capacity of the 4-H system and expand the outreach of 4-H programs.
The major goals of the Alliance were to build a stronger partnership between local, state and national fund raising planning and solicitation programs and to mobilize a network of individuals at all levels who would become advocates and supporters of 4-H on an ongoing basis.
Friends and supporters of 4-H, who have donated time and money to the program either as corporate or foundation sponsors, recommended that the estimated 45 million 4-H alumni, parents, relatives, community leaders and business leader, whose lives have been touched by 4-H and who have directly benefitted from 4-H would be a valuable source of funding and support.
Volunteers would be leading the Alliance effort as they identify prospective donors and solicit them on a personal basis to make a gift to 4-H. Arizona served as the first pilot state for the Alliance. A model for planning, organizing and conducting the solicitation program was created to assist in carrying out the program. Council provided staff support through Pete Williams, project director, and former deputy administrator, 4-H, Extension Service, USDA. Council also provided support for staff and volunteer training, materials, program development and evaluation.
While the Alliance for 4-H was strictly a fund raising project, it brought with it a considerable amount of 4-H promotion, particularly at the state and local levels that were participating in the activity.
Public Relations Ploy Sways American Banking Executives
In the spring of 1923, the tiny National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work, still only in its second year of existence, was busy bringing club work to the attention of business groups as one of the year's main objectives. According to Reck's "The 4-H Story," Guy Noble, as director, pulled off one of the most dramatic bits of public relations work with the American Bankers' Association. Already Noble had interested J. H. Puelicher, Milwaukee banker and then president of the ABA, a self-made man who had made his first money getting up at five o'clock in the morning to clerk in a store, and had a soft spot in his heart for the farm boy who understood early rising and manual labor.
Noble arranged with two state leaders to have 4-H members give club demonstrations before the executive council of the ABA in order to let the bankers see with their own eyes what club work was all about. The event took place at the swank Rye-Biltmore Country Club in the metropolitan suburb of Rye, New York. About 300 banking executives were present. To this august meeting Miss. Elsie Trabue, assistant state club leader in Connecticut, brought a team of two girls – Marion Eggleston and Elizabeth Perkins. As they rode into the grounds, their taxi driver asked them dubiously, "Front or rear door?"
The girls went in the front door, and in the large lounge with its velour drapes and paneled walls, the young ladies went to work cutting up chicken and canning it over an oil stove.
Nobody left the hall. This was a floor show with a different touch. The bankers looked on, fascinated. One of them was over-heard murmuring, "My daughter is getting a fancy education at Vassar but, you know, I'd like to think that somewhere along the line she would get some of this kind of education."
Two young Pennsylvania club boys, selected by A. L. Barker, state club leader, introduced the bankers to the masculine side of club work. On the immaculately tailored and landscaped grounds of the Rye-Biltmore, they stood beside a purebred Ayrshire calf. After the manner of demonstrations, one club member introduced himself and his partner, then told in confident tones how he had bought the calf at what seemed to his neighbors an extravagant price, but how the calf's mother had set a milk record, with the result that the young owner had already been offered three times the purchase price of the calf.
After giving his simple tale of the profitableness of good stock, he yielded the floor to his partner, who proceeded to tell his audience what points of conformation and temperament to look for in a milk cow.
To dramatize club work further, Noble had worked up beautifully done charts – one of them patterned after a bank statement – showing the activities and profits of club work.
Following the Rye-Biltmore demonstrations, the ABA endorsed club work as its top agricultural project and later, when the Capper-Ketcham bill was before Congress, gave its unqualified support to the legislation.
4-H Legacy Awards Gala
In 2010 National 4-H Council hosted the first-ever 4-H Legacy Awards Gala in Washington, D.C. The awards honored extraordinary individuals and corporations whose efforts to elevate America's 4-H youth development program have made a lasting impact. This first year's Gala raised $400,000 for 4-H.
Three awards were presented at this first Gala. The Abraham Lincoln Vision Award to Dan Glickman, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The 4-H Corporate Leadership Award honored J.C. Penney for more than 50 years of partnership with 4-H and was accepted by Myron (Mike) E. Ullman III, chairman of the board and CEO of J.C. Penney. Samantha Jo Ridley, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and a member of North Dakota 4-H, was the deserving recipient of the 4-H Youth Action Award.
The 4-H Legacy Awards Gala has now become an annual highlight on the national 4-H calendar. Although it is, by intent, an important annual fund raiser for National 4-H Council and provides an opportunity for recognizing and honoring deserving recipients of the Gala awards, it also is a very effective promotion event with high visibility. More information on the 4-H Legacy Awards is located on the 4-H.org website.
"Share And Care" Program Captures The Imagination Of Young 4-H’ers
In 1951 the Chevy Chase Junior College in Chevy Chase, Maryland, sold the college property to the National 4-H Foundation for $376,356.03 including most of the necessary furnishings and equipment. The property was to become the future home of the National 4-H Center. On Valentine's Day of that year the Foundation dedicated the campus to the service of 4-H but held the keys for less than half an hour. The nation was gearing up for the Korean conflict and the Defense Department, as arranged, asked to lease the buildings for an Operations Research Office operated by Johns Hopkins University. The Defense Department held the property until near the end of the decade. The Army leased the property from the 4-H Foundation for $43,000 a year. The lease receipts constituted a major portion of the mortgage payments.
During this period, the National 4-H Foundation set out to raise the rest of the funds to pay off the mortgage and then, once 4-H could occupy the property, to renovate the buildings, add more dormitory space and landscape the campus. In what was called the "Share and Care" program, 4-H'ers were asked to contribute 10 cents per member. Each local club that contributed at least 10 cents per member with a $1.00 minimum would be listed as an associate founder and would be eligible for a modified copy of the Founder's Scroll. In a short period of time, 4-H raised $250,000... mostly 10 cents at a time from young boys and girls. Impressed with this interest and commitment from the grassroots level, the Ford Foundation and the Danforth Foundation then gave significant private contributions, as well. The royalties from the sale of national 4-H calendars also contributed to purchasing the Center. Opportunities to name rooms at the Center and to establish memorials were also offered to the states and others. But it was the dimes from the girls and boys that made this campaign so special. The new National 4-H Center had suddenly become "their" 4-H Center and their 10 cents was important in helped the cause and reaching the goal.
How the Popular Character 'Chris Clover' Evolved
As relayed by Kathryn (Cox) Pepple, Ohio State University Extension 4-H Specialist Emeritus, the idea for Chris Clover originated in a series of seven cartoon strips titled "Cliff Clover and the Seven Fashkins" developed in the early 1970's by Ohio State 4-H Fashion Board and their advisors Norma Deyo Pitts and Orena Haynes. Those original cartoon strips were offered free to local newspapers throughout Ohio, and were printed by several as a weekly feature. Their purpose was to promote 4-H clothing project opportunities and to increase awareness of the seven clothing program objectives (aka "seven clues to a total look" - fashion, design, fit, construction, grooming, posture and poise, and personable qualities). Cliff Clover was the large clover-shaped narrator character in each strip, and the seven clues were depicted as smaller clover "faskins".
The Cliff Clover series proved to be pretty popular and well-received, and it occurred to Fred Bruny (Assistant State 4-H Leader in Ohio's State 4-H Office), Chuck Lifer (Ohio's State 4-H Leader), and Paul zumFelde (4-H Agent in Fulton County, Ohio) in late 1976 that the idea could be expanded and developed to promote the overall 4-H program. Kathy relates that she was beginning her Msc. Studies at OSU after returning from being an IFYE, so Dr. Bruny invited me to be involved and take leadership for part of the expansion effort as an independent study project within my master's program - an opportunity which I gratefully accepted.
We (Fred Bruny, Paul zumFelde, Ben Mahan [the artist who drew the cartoon strips], and I) had several meetings in early 1977 to develop plans. It was during one of those early meetings that the more gender-neutral "Chris Clover" name was suggested and adopted for the lead character. I then worked the remainder of that spring to write 52 scripts promoting various aspects of the 4-H program for the initial series of cartoon strips drawn by Ben Mahan. Dr. Bruny and Dr. Lifer copyrighted the Chris Clover image for Ohio 4-H, and also obtained a grant through the Ohio 4-H Foundation to pay the artist to draw the strips and to print camera-ready copies. Copies of the camera-ready strips and related news releases were then distributed to local newspapers and other media for weekly publication beginning during 4-H Week.
The initial Chris Clover series was very well-received, so in 1978 we produced a second series of 52 camera-ready cartoon strips which were distributed and published throughout Ohio. That year's Ohio 4-H Week promotion packet included the new strips plus Chris Clover bumper stickers, small 1" Chris Clover stickers, and several news releases which could be edited and adapted for local use by 4-H agents and local editors.
Kathy says, also by that time I had become the 4-H agent in Monroe County, Ohio and worked with the county's 4-H Junior Leaders and my father (Forrest Cox) to develop the first "Chris Clover Walking-Talking Mascot Figure". The Chris Clover figure was introduced by The OSU Marching Band at the 1978 State 4-H Advisors Recognition Banquet during 4-H Week. The first costume figure was made available for loan to counties after that, and was used to promote 4-H in parades, at numerous county fairs and 4-H banquets, and at many other events over the next few years.
Although the first Chris Clover mascot figure was very sturdy, over time it became apparent that its plywood construction was a bit heavy for younger 4-H'ers to manage. So 4-H advisors with sewing skills in a few counties adapted the original pattern and made lighter-weight fabric-over-foam versions that were also used in local 4-H promotional activities in the early 1980's.
Kathy says, we also introduced and offered Chris Clover for use nationwide at the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents conferences in 1979 and 1980. 4-H professionals who wished to use Chris Clover in promoting their programs received camera-ready copies of the cartoons strips and directions for constructing a Chris Clover walking-talking mascot figure during the NAE4-HA workshops, and were able to order bumber stickers, one-inch stickers, and other items at cost.
Then in the mid-1980's Coca-Cola featured a talking robot promoting the 4-H areas they sponsored at another national 4-H event (probably National 4-H Congress). That sparked the idea in Dennis Elliott (OSU State Extension 4-H Specialist) for a new generation "Chris the Clover Rover" robot to promote 4-H. He obtained funding through the Ohio 4-H Foundation and worked through staff at Coca-Cola to contact the manufacturers of the robot, and worked with them to develop a remote-controlled green and white R2D2 type of robot with interchangeable magnetic 4-H photo signage and a remote microphone. He developed scripts and provided training for 4-H student assistants and Collegiate 4-H members to travel and appear with the robot to promote and increase awareness of 4-H at numerous county, state, and national events through the late 1980's and early 1990's.
Early Children’s Educational Television And 4-H
Mr. I. Magination in New York City, Engineer Bill in Los Angeles, and the Land of Ziggy Zoggo in Chicago were all programs created to entertain children across the country in the early days of television with humor and a few tidbits of education. There were a number of local programs produced for children – usually airing early in the morning before school, late afternoon after school, and on Saturday mornings. Most of the early shows had a colorful host who often came close to being considered "goofy." Many assumed roles of clowns, magicians or sea captains. Cartoons were used heavily, along with studio "chatter," almost as if they were making the program up as they went along, i.e. no script. Indeed, a number of these shows absolutely did function totally with no script. One of the most popular of these, which started in 1947, was "Kukla, Fran and Ollie," starring Fran Allison, a radio comedienne, and a group of puppets. The program was totally ad-libbed. And, coming a little later was one of the most popular children's shows – Bozo's Circus – produced both nationally and with local franchises.
Although most of the children's programs were for the young audience of 6-10 years old, historically there was one tremendously successful exception – the long-playing series, "Romper Room," targeting preschoolers, which began in 1953.
So, where does 4-H fit into all of this? You guessed it... at the beginning. Back in the early and mid-50s, it seemed to work this way: whenever a city starting broadcasting from their very first TV station, Extension was there. County and state Extension staff provided educational information to the station relating to agriculture, home economics, family living, gardening... and, of course, 4-H. Local Extension produced and hosted programs didn't appear until the mid-1950s to late 50s. 4-H television series started in the late 1950s, the first programs produced by Michigan State, but used not only throughout Michigan, but in a number of other states. The 4-H TV Electrical Series and 4-H TV Science Series were the first of these projects.
By the mid-1960s Extension indicated that they wanted more. 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 could reach more young people, especially those not enrolled in the program, and that if planned and produced correctly, learning would take place. Extension Service, USDA supported the production of additional series and named Eleanor L. Wilson as the national 4-H TV coordinator. The National 4-H Service Committee also was committed to educational television for children and partnered with the national Extension office. Larry Krug, radio-television editor, National 4-H Service Committee, says that during this period 4-H met with many people who were getting involved in children's educational television programming to discuss 4-H's plans and to seek out their advise and to exchange ideas and concepts. He recalls while attending the first national conference on children's educational television, having a breakfast session with Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo) and Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers Neighborhood). The following month Krug journeyed from Chicago to Boston to have a more in depth session with Joan Ganz Cooney and Peggy Charrin of Children's Television Workshop who were working on Sesame Street.
During the decade of the 70s, and into the early 80s, a number of 4-H television series were produced nationally, and by states for multi-state use. These included Mulligan Stew, Blue Sky Below My Feet, Dog Sense, TV Action Club, Teen Mobile Club, 4-H TV Fun on Wheels Club, 4-H Photo Fun Club, Living in a Nuclear Age, and perhaps more.
Millions of new 4-H members were enrolled... most from urban areas. The era of 4-H educational television series was an exciting one, and the visibility the different series produced for 4-H was impressive on a number of fronts.
Playing Tennis At The White House
From the National 4-H Council publication The Fifth Leaf, Summer 1991
Maryland 4-H'er John DiBenio plays tennis at the White House with Pam Shriver, with
President H.W. Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger serving as their tennis partners.
There must have been a lot of pressure for Maryland 4-H member John DiBenio, shown here demonstrating his tennis ability as he returns Pam Shriver's volley as his tennis partners, President George H. W. Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger look on. The Maryland 4-H'ers were participating in the 1991 Great American Workout on the South Lawn of the White House. (from the 5th Leaf, National 4-H Council)
J. C. Penney And First Lady Patricia Nixon Co-chair Fund Raising Campaign
The Nation's First Lady, Mrs. Patricia Nixon, and J. C. Penney, meet at the White House to discuss their role in 4-H as honorary 4-H co-chairmen of the National 4-H Club Foundation's Advisory Council. With them is Barbara Evans, 4-H'er from Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Mrs. Richard M. Nixon and J. C. Penney were named honorary co-chairmen of the National 4-H Club Foundation Advisory Council in 1968. The announcement came from Howard C. Harder, chairman of CPC International, Inc. (formerly Corn Products Company) and head of the Advisory Council. Harder explained that the council's first task would be to raise $8 million to expand the National 4-H Center.
The First Lady, who was a 4-H'er in Los Angeles County, California, said "America has always been a land rich in constructive youth leadership. Today the need for this is greater than ever."
"I shall always be an enthusiastic supporter of the fine work of 4-H," Penney, the 93-year-old department chain store founder said.
Mrs. Nixon and Mr. Penney certainly exemplify the use of highly recognizable people to bring added visibility to a major 4-H project.
RCA National 4-H Program On Social Progress
In July, 1936, while most of the country was still wrestling with the Great Depression, the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work, in partnership with the Extension System, announced a new awards program quite different from any that had preceded it. Called the National Program on Social Progress, the new program was sponsored by the Radio Corporation of America, through its services, RCA Victor and the National Broadcasting Company (NBC).
Inspired by 4-H, the President of RCA, Mr. David Sarnoff, worked personally with 4-H to create the program to energize rural communities and simply help young boys and girls feel better about themselves and their future. It was a broad program encouraging community parties and cultural events where youth could expand their horizons, conservation activities, discussions and debates, volunteer programs and personal growth opportunities. The awards structure for the program was generous, including both individual and club awards along with county, state, sectional and national recognition. The top 4-H boy and girl in the United States were awarded $500 scholarships at National 4-H Congress, plus a trip to New York City (each with chaperon) to personally meet with Mr. Sarnoff and tour RCA and NBC facilities. Both an appreciation for music and the hands-on use of radio broadcasting were integral parts of the program.
The National 4-H Program on Social Progress was of great assistance in many rural communities which were experiencing low morale due to the Great Depression, and also was a highly visible program for 4-H. David Sarnoff served as a member of the board for the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work for a number of years.
The "Riding It Forward" Cross Country Tour
This is a story from 2014 of endurance and pride. It's about how Joe Ostaszewski, a season 14 Biggest Loser TV finalist and former Florida State University football player partnered with National 4-H Council to promote better health and physical fitness and to fight obesity.
Joe says, "the 'Riding It Forward' Cross Country Tour was an opportunity for me to set my life aside, and dedicate myself to something that was bigger than me. It started out as an idea that kept running through my mind and turned into something that allowed me to connect to the unlimited power known as inspiration. When I reached out to National 4-H Council to participate on the tour, it was because 4-H was the oldest and most established youth organization in America, whose sole purpose was based on the same principle that helped me reclaim my life. The 4-H's: Head, Heart, Hands, Health.
"After several conference calls, and many questions on what the tour looked like, the green light was given and the plan was in motion. The plan was to stop in 42 cities and seven major markets across the U.S. and end at the 'Biggest Loser' Ranch, the place where I took back my health. In these cities, 4-H would schedule programs with local schools, health organizations, parades, health fairs, and healthy cooking challenges, coast-to-coast.
"Looking back 55 days, 2,972 miles to the kick-off, August 31, 2014, in Chevy Chase, Maryland at the National 4-H Council headquarters, I was in complete awe, absolute veneration of the 'Riding It Forward' Cross Country Tour benefiting the Wear Your Soul Project and National 4-H Council. Putting all the pieces together, connecting the dots, and reviewing in my head the thousands of lives that were inspired to take the 'Health Pledge' was beyond what I imagined. Children across America signed the Big Red RV stating that they will be 'Change Agents' in their communities, live by example, and help inspire Americans to live active, healthy lives.
"The 'Riding It Forward' message is simple. It is to believe in yourself and live the life you were born to live. We will have to play our part, and living in a healthy, fit, active body allows us to not only chase our dreams, but to also make them reality. What we captured through Riding It Forward is the voice of America's youth, and that voice was loud and clear, Our youth, the future of America, do not want to be trapped in their unhealthy, unfit, inactive bodies in the freest country in the world. Those one in three that suffer with childhood obesity want out, they want to have a healthy start in life, and it's our job to help them, inspire them, teach them. And show them by example that they can take back their health."
4-H Paper Clover Campaign
For several years, starting in 2010, National 4-H Council has partnered with Tractor Supply Company (TSC) for a national in-store fundraiser called the 4-H Paper Clover Campaign. This fall event benefits state and local 4-H programming in each of the communities where a TSC or Del's Farm and Feed Supply store is located. The 12-day program supports 4-H in 1,200 communities. When shoppers choose to purchase paper clovers for a $1 or more at checkout, funds raised are donated to 4-H.
During 2013 the 4-H Paper Clover Campaign provided more than $1.4 million to 4-H across the country, providing direct support for local camps, after-school programs and other activities, and has granted scholarships to these events that youth can explore their interests in everything from animal science to robotics.
4-H'ers Star At World's Ag Fair
Eight 4-H Club members represented American young people at the first World's Agriculture Fair in New Delhi, India, running from December 11, 1959-February 4, 1960.
The group was accompanied by a county agricultural agent, a county home demonstration agent, and a state 4-H club leader. Their major activities at the Fair were to show and tell about their farm, home community, other projects, and the part young people could play in improving family living and furthering the economic development of their countries. In addition, the 4-H'ers entertained at various times with American folk dances, vocal and instrumental music. One of the 1960 4-H calendar paintings hung on the model county agent's office wall at the Fair in New Delhi. The framed reproduction was presented by Brown and Bigelow, Inc., St. Paul, Minnesota, expressly for the event.
The group went through an orientation program at the National 4-H Center prior to traveling to India.
Detroit Free Press's Noteworthy Special
It is not uncommon for daily or weekly newspapers to do special features during National 4-H Week or during the 4-H fair, however this story certainly exemplifies "how to do it right."
On February 19, 1987, the "Detroit Free Press" – the nation's eighth largest daily newspaper – ran a special eight page section. It was particularly "special" to those associated with 4-H because the entire section was about Michigan 4-H Youth Programs.
A total of 19 feature articles extolled the virtues of 4-H and the benefits of 4-H programs to kids. They were written by Michigan's Governor James Blanchard; Michigan State University President John DiBiaggio; Ford Motor Company President and Chairman of National 4-H Council Harold Poling; and by Orville Redenbacher and Bob Evans. In addition to other features by key leaders in the state of Michigan, features were included by two other National 4-H Council trustees, Philip Smith, president, General Foods Corporation, and Donald Keough, president, The Coca-Cola Company.
How did it happen that a major daily newspaper with circulation of more than 645,000 devoted eight pages to Michigan 4-H programs? Two important factors were involved.
First, luck. Michigan 4-H was fortunate to have Brenda Schneider on their side. Schneider is vice president and director of community relations for Manufacturers National Bank in Detroit. As a community service, the bank frees her to edit special sections for Detroit Free Press on a regular basis. This was the first time a non-profit youth organization was spotlighted in a section of this kind in the Free Press. Here's where the luck comes in.
Schneider is a big supporter and a great advocate of 4-H. (She also happens to be married to 14-year veteran 4-H agent, Tom Schneider!) Once she got one 4-H foot in the door, Mike Tate, Director of 4-H in Michigan, and others made a presentation to about 125 Detroit Free Press staff members using a six-projector multi-image slide presentation called "Take a look at us now!" The goal of the presentation was to help the Free Press folks see that the Michigan State University's Extension 4-H program is for kids in all areas of Michigan – helping them explore careers, learn to understand and accept themselves and have some fun along the way.
Once the support of the newspaper staff members was garnered, Schneider contacted all the writers featured in the section and asked them to write an article about how they felt about 4-H.
A second factor in the Detroit Free Press success story is the continued excellence of 4-H programs in Michigan and across the nation. It's that fine reputation, the testimonials of successful former 4-H'ers and the continued impact 4-H programs make on kids and communities that helps glean the enthusiasm of the right people at the right time. This time the result was a fantastic and invaluable way to increase public awareness of 4-H programs.
4-H At A Century Of Progress World’s Fair
A Century of Progress World's Fairs held in Chicago operated for two years – 1933 and 1934 – and were two of the most successful, largest world's fairs in history. 4-H, with the strong backing of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work which was based in Chicago, had a strong presence at these fairs.
This 8-horse team of ton-weight Clydesdale geldings was widely known as the "4-H Hitch." The team, composed primarily of horses owned by The Union Stock Yard and Transit Company of Chicago, headed the 4-H Club parades at the leading fairs and livestock expositions and were frequently seen roaming the grounds of the Chicago World's Fair. The owner of the team operated the largest live stock market in the world where nearly $2 million worth of living property were sold and delivered every business day of the year in the 1930's.
In the Spring of 1933, due to the number of requests coming in from county agents across the country regarding the upcoming World's Fair, the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work created a 4-H World's Fair Tour Department. The department offered to arrange accommodations for lodging, parking, admission to the fair, meals, guides... the total package! A souvenir 4-H badge was also given to each participant. To stay one day and one night (including hotel room, 3 meals, admission, sight-seeing motor tour of the world's fair grounds) cost $5.55 per person. Longer stays were proportionately less. Most groups were housed at the Auditorium Hotel on Michigan Avenue, right across the street from the World's Fair.
The official badge was a ribbon that had a large 4-H clover at the top, "4-H Tours" in large lettering, then the official "A Century of Progress" logo, and finally "1933" at the bottom.
In addition to the National Committee's 4-H World's Fair Tour Department, the formal World's Fair Visitor's Tourist Service, Inc.
Robert McCurdy, 4-H'er of Oskaloosa, Iowa receives his new Plymouth DeLuxe sedan in the Chrysler grandstand at A Century of Progress. With him is Barney Oldfield, one of the greatest race car drivers of all time, who made the presentation. McCurdy was one of five winners in a 4-H story writing contest sponsored by Chrysler Motors Corporation through the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work. All won automobiles!
which handled tourist accommodations for out of town fair visitors, also had an actual 4-H Dept. and advertised heavily in National Boys and Girls Club News for 4-H members and leaders to become their local representatives promoting the fair in their local towns and communities and earning commissions.
An article in the June 1933 Boys and Girls Club News highlights the impressions of the fair by delegates going to the National 4-H Camp in Washington, D.C. who stopped by Chicago to see the fair on the way. The bus load represented South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and New Mexico. They were staying at the Auditorium Hotel and having a great time.
During the early winter months of 1934 the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work joined the Agricultural Council of the Chicago Association of Commerce, the National Livestock and Meat Board, and the Agricultural Department of the National Broadcasting Company in advising the Century of Progress planners in making the huge agricultural area of the fair more accessible for farm families to park, enter and be entertained. Most of the major exhibitors in this area were strong 4-H donors with their corporate executives sitting on the National Committee's board. The Armour exhibit dramatized the packing industry with huge dioramas. Thos. E. Wilson's six-horse team performed regularly at the Wilson exhibit and roof gardens. International Harvester's huge exhibit portrayed the advancement of agriculture by means of power and modern machinery. Swift and Company presented the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the Swift "floating" theatre with stage terraces and restaurants of unique design. A streamlined dairy barn outfitted with DeLaval's equipment, allowed for two cows in the exhibit to be milked every 15 minutes, the milk passing through glass tubes to a weighting jar, then carried through vacuum pipes over a cooler and into the bottles without being exposed to air.
4-H World Broadcast
On August 30, 1945 4-H Club work got into the spotlight during the broadcast of the College All-Stars vs. Green Bay Packers' annual football classic known as the College All-Star game. The game was aired over Mutual's coast-to-coast network of 239 stations, and short waved to the Armed Forces over the world.
The broadcast was a service of Wilson Sporting Goods Company. It included a short talk by Thomas E. Wilson. While Mr. Wilson, long time chairman of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work (now National 4-H Council), was widely known as chairman of Wilson Meat Packing Corporation, one of the top meat packers in the country, it was much less known that he was also the founder and chairman of Wilson Sporting Goods Company.
In paying tribute to the nation's youth and to the benefits of competitive sports during the broadcast, Mr. Wilson said: "I have seen America's youth in competitive action many times. I have seen them in the 4-H Clubs where, in friendly but spirited competition, they fight for leadership in farm and home projects.
"I have seen them on our play fields and in our stadiums, engaged in the rugged sports and games of our country. I have seen them at work and at play in modern industry. And I, for one, have supreme faith in them."
[It may also be noted that the game ended as Green Bay Packers 19, College All-Stars 7.]
International Harvester Offers 100 4-H Scholarships
The year was 1931. During the International Harvester Luncheon at the Tenth National 4-H Club Congress, the company made a huge announcement. Cyrus McCormick, Jr., Vice President, announced that International Harvester would make a gift of $50,000, the largest ever made by a single organization to further the 4-H movement. The gift would be made in the form of 100 scholarships worth $500. each during the coming year to most outstanding 4-H Club boys and girls in the United States and good in any agricultural college. [$500. in 1931 would be equivalent to nearly $8,000. in 2015.]
The purpose of the award, according to Mr. McCormick, was two-fold – to commemorate the centennial of the invention by his grandfather, Cyrus Hall McCormick, of the first successful grain reaper in 1831 and to contribute substantially to the onward march of scientific agriculture. The scholarships were geographically distributed and a committee of representative club leaders, the chairman of the Committee on Organization and Policy and a representative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, would meet in the offices of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work early the next month to set up the machinery to make it possible for the Extension Service to select the most worthy 100 contestants. The judging committee for the scholarships was announced in April and included: Secretary of Agriculture Arthur M. Hyde, chairman; E. J. Bodman, senior vice president of the Union Trust Company, Little Rock, Arkansas; Carl R. Gray, president of the Union Pacific Railroad, Omaha, Nebraska; Frederick E. Murphy, publisher of the Minneapolis Tribune, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Melvin a. Traylor, president of the First National Bank of Chicago, Illinois.
Over the years a number of other major national 4-H donor corporations celebrated special anniversaries by funding special projects, including major events at National 4-H Club Congress, however the International Harvester Company's centennial celebration of 100 4-H scholarships announced in 1931 it is believed is the first such significant celebration of a donor milestone.
James Cagney's Fondness for 4-H
Academy Award winning actor James Cagney, considered one of the top film actors of all time, had a fondness for 4-H and particularly the area involving soil and water conservation.
Cagney was born and raised in New York City, however a lecture on soil conservation that his mother had taken him to when just a child sparked a life long interest in farming and conservation. In later years he spent parts of the year on two farms he owned, one in Dutchess County, New York and the other his Martha's Vineyard farm.
The actor promoted soil and water conservation wherever he saw an opportunity. In 1956 he appeared in a 4-H film encouraging young people to take care of their natural resources. The previous year James Cagney attended the 1955 National 4-H Club Congress in Chicago. He related to the delegates how he had gotten interested in conservation at the age of 11 when his mother took him to a lecture on conservation in New York City. Cagney related to the delegates his favorite line from the movies, from "Dead End." It was, "Look Mom I'm dancing." He said this reminded him of 4-H'ers who are always energetic and dancing and hold much of the promise for our nation's future.
4-H Fruit Clubs Initiated With A Flurry Of Nationwide Support
During the Mid-West Horticultural Exposition held in Des Moines, Iowa in December 1918, the fruit growers, members of college Extension staffs and others, met at the offices of Successful Farming magazine for a day's conference on horticultural matters.
At that meeting there was a good deal of discussion regarding boys' and girls' fruit clubs, and before the day ended those present decided to inaugurate boys' and girls' fruit clubs throughout the country. For a decade there had been corn clubs, cotton clubs, pig clubs, tomato clubs, canning clubs, and other specialty clubs for rural boys and girls… so why not fruit clubs? A committee of 10 was appointed representing the farm magazine and newspaper publishers, nursery interests, spray manufacturers, college men, producers and two state club leaders (to be added later). E. N. Hopkins, with Meredith Publishing, director of boys' and girls' club work for the Successful Farming magazine, was made chairman of the committee. Some of the other members included Samuel Adams of Chicago; Mrs. Nora Dunlap of Savoy, Illinois and Cyrus Harvey of Altoona, Iowa, representing producers and growers; college men, V. C. Holsinger of Ames, Iowa, and C. L. Burkholder of Lafayette, Indiana; H. C. Lisle of Hudson, Michigan and E. H. Favor of Galva, Illinois, representing manufacturers of spraying machinery; and nurserymen, P. C. Stark of Louisiana, Missouri and Earl D. Needham of Des Moines, Iowa.
During that first year the committee gathered up as much information as they could find about boys' and girls' fruit clubs. They developed a draft plan for each state which recommended that whatever was undertaken would be along practical lines and have the supervision of the state and county club leaders of the various states. Parents were encouraged to support their children by turning over 10 trees to the boys and girls, and to help them get started with some bush fruits and strawberry plants. The committee was also exploring a competition and awards system to support the young members of fruit clubs. (from January 1919 issue of Junior Soldiers of the Soil)
Popular TV Show Honored 4-H Annually
The Lawrence Welk Show - aired nationally for nearly 30 years on the networks and in syndication - was one of the most popular entertainment shows during the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Bandleader Lawrence Welk grew up in rugged North Dakota, his parents having been original homesteaders, and he never forgot his rural roots. The same can be said for a number of the band members and entertainers on the show.
During many of these years during National 4-H Week, Lawrence Welk paid tribute to 4-H and to the special week being celebrated. Often Myron Floren, the popular accordian player in the orchestra, and a former 4-H'er, would give the tribute and play a special song, or it could just as well be another member of the Welk musical family.
4-H members and their families always enjoyed this recognition. Welk, in his home-spun manner, had a way of making people feel special... and, it worked with 4-H every year.
Peter Max And 4-H
Peter Max, one of America's most renowned pop artists, known for his use of psychedelic shapes and colors, partnered with 4-H in the mid-1970s to create a Peter Max scarf designed exclusively for 4-H. The colorful design represented love, joy and health through the symbols of head, heart and hands in peaceful motion capped off with four-leaf clovers. The 28" x 27" scarf was made of Polyester and sold through the National 4-H Supply Service. Virginia Ogilvy, Extension clothing specialist with USDA and Fern Kelley, from the federal 4-H Extension staff, worked directly with Peter Max on the project.
4-H Promotion Success Stories
Looking at 4-H promotion and visibility over the decades, what worked best? What was creative... unique? Or, even, what promotional project did we just plain "luck out" on? Some stories are anecdotal. There obviously are many more than what is listed here. We'll consider adding them as they are brought to our attention. Write: Info@4-HHistoryPreservation.com
4-H Clover Emblem
Granted, perhaps everyone cannot explain exactly what that green 4-leaf clover with the white H's stands for... but they recognize it, and they think favorably of it. This is the greatest promotion tool we have. It should be embraced and central to any marketing or promotion campaign.
The 4-H emblem was patented in 1924, and a 1939 law protects the use of both the 4-H name and emblem.
Use Of The "4-H" Name
The familiar clover symbol of the club movement had a long history by the 1920s. The term "4-H," however, was more a shorthand name than the identification of a particular national movement. Probably more than anyone else, Gertrude Warren of the national staff for boys and girls club work at Extension, USDA was responsible for giving the name "4-H" to Extension's youth program in a formal manner.
Throughout the early 1920s she used the name in brochures and releases from the Washington, D.C. office. Indeed, Warren deliberately had used the name in a 1918 publication. At a conference of Extension youth leaders held in Washington shortly after the end of the war, Warren had the opportunity to promote the term 4-H as the official name of club work. Some at the meeting preferred the name "Junior Extension Work," but Warren's perseverance and the fact that the term 4-H had become a part of common usage for club work prevailed. By 1924, 4-H was recognized universally as the name of club work in the United States. The use of the name 4-H and the clover symbol gave individual members a sense of belonging to an organization that reached beyond their immediate area. And, like the emblem, the name is one of the best visible "tools" we have in promoting and publicizing the entire movement.
A Simple Sign By The Gate
From a promotional standpoint, perhaps the most effective item the National 4-H Supply Service (4-H Mall) has ever offered is the small, rectangular sign which simply states "4-H Club Member Lives Here" – seen across America on fences and gates and posts by the driveway for decades... and still tremendously effective. It simply conveys that a 4-H kid lives in this house... and that is good; the home of a 4-H family.
In addition to the "4-H Club Member Lives Here" driveway signs, welcoming signs were prevalent across America... and still commonly seen in rural areas today. These vary in wordage but always carry the 4-H emblem and a message. Upon entering a town or village the sign might read "4-H welcomes you to Crescent City" or if it is located at a county line it might say "Rock County 4-H Clubs Welcome You – Drive Safely" or something similar.
National 4-H Youth Conference Center
During the decade of the 1950's the National 4-H Club Foundation was on a mission. Both the Foundation's Board of Trustees and the Extension leadership had a united goal to have a 4-H conference center in the nation's capital to be used primarily for citizenship and leadership training. When they heard that the Chevy Chase Junior College campus on Connecticut Avenue was up for sale, it undoubtedly seemed like the perfect home for a national 4-H center.
The decade of the 50's was filled with challenges but finally, the National 4-H Center had been "born" and when President Dwight D. Eisenhower cut the ribbons to open the facility in 1959. It was a 4-H milestone. Looking back now, over a half century later... and having played host to hundreds of thousands of visitors, we can easily say that the National 4-H Youth Conference Center without a doubt is one of 4-H's greatest promotion or visibility tools. For those living in the greater Washington, D.C. vicinity, nearly everyone knows where the 4-H Center is located... they have driven by it and have noticed it. They may not know what goes on there but they know it is 4-H.
To mark the 50th anniversary of 4-H, a commemorative three cent stamp was produced. The stamp went on sale at Springfield, Ohio on January 15, 1952. An initial order of 110 million stamps were authorized.
The central design of the stamp depicts a group of typical farm buildings at the left, while in the center appears the symbolic four leaf clover, with the letter "H". Directly below the symbol is inscribed: 'The 4-H clubs'. Dominating the right side of the design are a teen age boy and girl, facing the club symbol. At the top of the stamp are the words "To Make the Best Better."
This stamp is the only officially produced U.S. postage stamp in 4-H's long history. For additional information on the stamp, the commemorative event, and other stamp efforts, visit:
Hundreds of 4-H delegates, jubilant from a successful National 4-H Congress, started heading back home from Chicago on December 5, 1941. Little did they know that two days later their world would be turned upside down – December 7, 1941 – brought America into the war. Food became an important weapon in the hands of America's fighting forces, her allies and the liberated peoples. The youth in 4-H stepped up to help feed and supply the free world.
Shortly after Pearl Harbor, it was decided to postpone holding the National 4-H Camp in Washington, D.C., until the cessation of hostilities. W. H. Palmer, State 4-H Leader in Ohio, soon after announced plans for a State 4-H Mobilization Week for Ohio as a means of focusing the attention of 4-H members on what they might do for national defense. This idea met with favorable response by state leaders throughout the country. As a result, the Federal Extension Service initiated National 4-H Mobilization Week (or National Mobilization Week for Farm Youth).
National Mobilization Week for Farm Youth, April 4-11, 1942, focused attention on the nation's need for food and fiber and the role youth could play, through 4-H, in meeting that need. National 4-H Gardening Programs inspired thousands of young people, and adults, too, to plant "Victory Gardens" in every free field and vacant lot. Women and children mobilized to do the work of men now overseas. Victory Farm Volunteers were organized as the youth branch of the U.S. Crop Corps – national volunteers to help harvest needed crops. Town and city youth over 14 years of age worked on farms under the direction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, proudly wearing a VFV emblem offered through the National 4-H Supply Service.
At the request of the Federal Extension Service, the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work helped Extension promote adult participation too, by merchandising a Women's Land Army uniform through the 4-H Supply Service.
National 4-H News, in a single campaign, helped meet the nation's need for machinery and materials – a drive to raise funds to buy ambulances for the Army and the Red Cross. Money for the ambulances was secured primarily through scrap drives of badly needed materials.
During the 1942 National 4-H Congress in Chicago – the first wartime Congress, when U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Claude R. Wickard told delegates that "Every farm boy and girl in America has a man's part or a woman's part to play in helping to win the battle of production," his audience responded with both enthusiasm and confidence. They were sure they could do the job.
"Feed a Fighter in '43" became the theme for that year's 4-H membership drive. Statistics were distributed showing how much was needed of each commodity to feed a serviceman for one year. The National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work developed member and leader recruitment posters. How successful was 4-H in meeting national goals during World War II? The nation's 1-1/2 million 4-H'ers produced or preserved enough food to care for a million fighting men for three years. In Georgia, club members raised almost $10 million in war bonds and produced enough food in one season to fill a 10,000-ton ship. Similar results were achieved by club programs in other states. Du Page County, Illinois, 4-H'ers harvested enough milkweed floss to make 1,100 life jackets.
For three years, 4-H nationwide had one key commitment – help win the war in any and every way they could. National Mobilization Week was held in 1942, 1943 and 1944.
U.S.'s Highest Scoring Air Ace During World War II was a 4-H'er
Major Richard I. Bong grew up on a farm in Poplar, Wisconsin, as one of nine children, a member of a strong 4-H family, as noted in a feature in National 4-H Club News. While at Superior State Teachers College, Dick Bong enlisted in the Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet Program. One of his flight instructors was Capt. Barry Goldwater (later U.S. Senator from Arizona). He received his wings and commission as a second lieutenant on January 19, 1942, only a few weeks after the U.S. declared war on Japan. Dick Bong became the United States' highest-scoring air ace, having shot down at least 40 Japanese aircraft during World War II. [Surpassing Eddie Rickenbacker's American record of 26 credited victories in World War I.] Bong was a fighter pilot in the U.S. Army Air Forces and a recipient of the Medal of Honor, receiving the medal at a special ceremony in December 1944 from General Douglas MacArthur.
Near the end of the war, Major Bong became a test pilot assigned to Lockheed's Burbank, California plant, where he flew P-80 Shooting Star jet fighters. On August 6, 1945 his plane's primary fuel pump malfunctioned and Dick Bong was killed, news of his death sharing the headlines in newspapers across the country with the bombing of Hiroshima. The war was over! Mission accomplished.
Bong is well remembered with the Richard Bong State Recreation Area on the old site of Bong Air Force Base in Kenosha county, Wisconsin. Also, the Richard I. Bong Memorial Bridge in Duluth, Minnesota; Richard I. Bong Airport in Superior, Wisconsin; Richard I. Bong Bridge in Townsville, Australia; Richard Bong Theater in Misawa, Japan; Richard I. Bong Veteran Historical Center in Superior; streets and avenues in his name in Glendale, Arizona; Anchorage, Alaska; Spokane, Washington; San Antonio, Texas; Mount Holly, New Jersey; and Okinawa, Japan.
4-H "Name-A-Ship" Campaign Helps the War Effort
Midway in the 2nd World War, the Extension Service in cooperation with the Maritime Commission worked out a unique incentive to 4-H achievement on the home front. It was proposed that states be permitted to name Liberty ships after a 4-H or Extension pioneer as a reward for bond sales and exceptional service in food production and conservation.
Liberty ships were the cargo carriers of the war. They were standardized freighters, 441 feet long and of 10,800 tons capacity. They carried food stuffs and war materials abroad, and brought back such scarce items as chrome ore, balsa wood, copper, rubber, ivory, manganese, jute, burlap, hides, tea, coffee and quinine. They cost about $2 million apiece and this was the goal of 4-H bond sales.
In response to the name-a-ship campaign, the state 4-H youth intensified their war activities. Georgia club members raised almost $10 million in a war bond campaign and produced in one season enough food to fill a 10,000 ton ship. Their ship was launched and duly named "Hoke Smith," in honor of the co-sponsor of the Smith-Lever Act.
In South Carolina, similar efforts resulted in the launching of the "A. Frank Lever," thus commemorating on the high seas the other congressional sponsor of the original Extension Act. The Axis, sighting these names through submarine periscopes, may have wondered who these men were. Military heroes? Presidents? No. They were men with a dream of an independent, satisfying farm life, heroes of a working democracy.
4-H boys and girls in Washington State were credited with selling $3,370,000 worth of bonds in a single campaign. Their ship was named the "E. A. Bryan," after the late president of Washington State College.
World War II Liberty ship SS Jeremiah O'Brien at Pier 45, Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, California
The names of other 4-H and Extension pioneers went to sea with these ships, including Otis E. Hall, George L. Farley, Will B. Otwell, and O. B. Martin, among others. In all, 40 ships were christened in these 4-H "name-a-ship" campaign. In the cabin of each ship was placed a plaque stating that the ship was named by 4-H Club members of the state, and near the plaque was a history of the man for whom the ship was named, written on parchment and mounted under glass permanently.
4-H Raises Money to Purchase Planes, Too
While the Liberty Ships garnered much of the visibility of 4-H's war bond contributions to the war effort, there were other vessels named, including the carrier named by Washington State and a series of military ambulances. And, then there were the planes - bomber planes, Boeing B-17 flying fortresses, at least one P-51 Mustang, and others - with costs covered by 4-H bond sales.
Winding up 1943's outstanding war services, Ohio 4-H members and leaders purchased $510,041 in war bonds for which a four-motored flying fortress heavy bomber aircraft was purchased and christened "Buckeye 4-H" at Lockbourne Air Base.
An impressive story out of Boussard, Louisiana... A single club, the Senior 4-H Club in St. Cecilia High School, had a war bond drive during the winter months of 1944-45 and raised enough to purchase a Pursuit plane. The Modern Mohawks 4-H club of St. Johnsville, Fort Plain, New York, had raised enough funds by their 4th war bond drive that they, too, were able to have a P-51 Mustang fighter plane named for their work. The name - "St. Johnsville 4-H Club Special."
According to a feature in the November 1943 National 4-H Club News, in an impressive ceremony before the grandstand at the Oklahoma State Fair, a squadron of 18 Liberator 4-motored bombers, purchased through the sale of war bonds by Oklahoma 4-H members, was presented to the U.S. Army Air Corps on September 28 of that year. The 4-H war bond program, chaired by Governor Robert S. Kerr, had raised over $11 million during the previous five months, representing an average of $10,450. per club and $169.96 per member. "They have given to America something that is a part of themselves... something that is a part of their hearts and their souls," Governor Kerr told the 4-H group in complimenting them upon their magnificent accomplishments.
The Ninth 4-H Capital Day program in Albany, New York was an impressive event. 4-H State Leader Albert Hoefer and 150 4-H members presented Lt. Colonel John R. Shields enough war bond funds raised by New York 4-H'ers to purchase a fleet of 25 fighter planes. Suffolk county generated the most sales; enough to purchase four fighter planes, apply named Suffolk 4-H, Suffolk North Shore 4-H, Suffolk South Shore 4-H, and Suffolk Middle Island 4-H. More than 600 members took part in the project according to County 4-H Club Agent Wilbur F. Pease.
Flagship of the 18 bomber Oklahoma 4-H "gift" squadron shown with some of the folks most active in raising the funds for its purchase.
The names of the other 17 bombers were: Canadian County: 4-H Liberty Ship, Carter County: Spirit Carter County of 4-H Clubs, Cleveland County: 4-H Clubber, Creek County: "Porky", Garfield County: 4-H Clubs Sooner Spirit, Grant County: Osage 4-H Thunferbirf, Jackson County: Jeanette, Muskogee County: 4-H Queen, Ottawa County: Ha-D-Ska, Pawnee County: 4-H Clubs, Payne County: 4-H Bumble Bee, Pittsburg County: Spirit of Pittsburg County, Pontotoc County: 4-H Bombadier, Texas County: 4-H Bomber, Tillman County: 4-H Tokyo Express, Washington County: Wash-Co-Homa
Goecke "Takes" International
From National Committee on Boys & Girls Club Work 1928 Annual Report
Clarence Goecke, a 12-year-old 4-H member from State Center, Iowa exhibited the grand champion steer at the 1928 International Live Stock Exposition – the largest livestock show in the world. This is the first time a 4-H member's animal had topped the show – the first such victory in history – causing headlines across the country.
Adult showmen used to give their junior rivals a patronizing glance, but after Goecke's win, they eyed them with concern. Not only did Goecke's steer – named "Dick" – win the show, but the animal was knocked down on the auction block for $7. a pound. The previous high price, paid in 1926, was $3.60 a pound. The purchaser in 1928 was the J. C. Penney Company, New York. The youthful owner saw his pet, which he had raised from a calf, auctioned off with solemn face despite the fact that the price paid meant he would receive more than $8,000. in addition to over $1,000. prize money he already had received. The below photo shows young Clarence Goecke on the left, James C. Penney in the center, and Emma Goecke, Clarence's sister and an employee of the local Penney store in Iowa, on the right.
Texas Boys go to England
In 1920, perhaps a little earlier, livestock judging was not only becoming popular, but serious. Teams would travel to multiple states judging livestock at the state colleges of agriculture and other locations. After several months of hard work, the lucky Texas team of boys won the International judging honors at the Southeastern Fair in Atlanta, Georgia in 1920.
The team, comprised of Gilbert Wieting from Falls County, Jack Turner of Hill County, and Alva Debnam, Dawson County, Texas won first place. Their prize – eight weeks of touring England in the summer of 1921 – including participating in the Royal Livestock Show against their British counterparts. The boys were sent off with appropriate fanfare, stopping in Washington, D.C. on their way to England where they met their Texas Senators and Congressmen and were greeted by both Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace and President Warren G. Harding.
The prize for the competition was a Gold Challenge Cup offered by Lord Northcliffe, publisher of the "London Daily Mail." The Texas team captured the cup by defeating the British team. A team from Maryland won the following year, and again defeated their English competitors. With a few missed years, this event continued up to 1939, when the impending war called a halt on international club judging.
Texas livestock judging team receives congratulations from President Warren G. Harding enroute to England in 1921.
E. T. Meredith - Early Supporter of 4-H Brings Visibility
As a teenager, Edwin Meredith worked for his grandfather's newspaper, "The Farmers Tribune." It was heavily in debt and the grandfather gave young Meredith controlling interest in the publication as a wedding gift, which he turned around and sold for a profit. With the proceeds, in 1902, at the age of 25, he started E. T. Meredith Publishing Company with his own publication, the "Successful Farming" magazine. Meredith Publishing Company became a publishing empire including such magazines as Better Homes and Gardens," "Ladies Home Journal," "Country Life," "Family Circle" and "Parents," plus owning a string of both radio and television stations across America.
E. N. Hopkins joined Successful Farming magazine in 1916. Already a committed enthusiast for boys and girls club work, by 1917 Hopkins had inspired E. T. Meredith to offer a $250,000 loan fund [value of over $5 million in 2015] to farm youngsters to start a business for themselves. Over the years, Meredith made over 10,000 loans to club members so they could buy purebred livestock or hybrid seed corn or any number of other farm and home project requests, pledging only their character as collateral. These low rate loans for $10, $20 or $50 were almost always paid off by the due date, if not before. The loans were always made directly to the boy or girl, not to their parents, and were officially set up as a contract between the youth and Mr. Meredith. The hundreds of stories and testimonials Mr. Meredith received from the loan recipients made him a strong supporter of boys and girls club work and its potential. Additionally, it brought the parents "on board" and served as an example picked up by hundreds of local bankers and other businessmen across the country who also started making loans directly to 4-H members.
Also, with the urging of E. N. Hopkins, Meredith Publishing started a national monthly magazine "for farm boys and girls and the federal club work," expanding upon a youth section that had been initiated during 1916 in "Successful Farming." Originally called "Junior Soldiers of the Soil," the name of the original 1916 column, the new magazine's volume 1, number 1 was issued in January 1919. The publication name quickly was changed to Farm Boys and Girls Leader and Club Achievements" by the July 1919 issue, and later on to just "Farm Boys and Girls Leader." The subscription publication was billed as the only paper published exclusively for farm boys and girls. The publication carried many local news stories, excellent features, and hundreds of testimonials from the young Meredith loan recipients, or from their parents, letting Mr. Meredith know what a value the loan had meant. It is believed that the September 1922 issue may have been the last one published. However, if it had not been for these issues of the Meredith Publishing magazines, much of the history of 4-H for these years would, indeed, be unknown.
Edwin T. Meredith was always interested in politics, running for statewide office in Iowa twice. During the same period as the issuing of the "Farm Boys and Girls Leader" publication, in January of 1920, Meredith became President Woodrow Wilson's Secretary of Agriculture.
Edwin T. Meredith was a strong supporter for the creation of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work to help supplement public dollars for Extension with funding and programs from businessmen in the private sector. He served as the first president of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work, predecessor to National 4-H Council, from 1921-1924. Meredith continued to serve as a member of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work until 1927. Early in 1924 Meredith allowed his name to be put forward as Iowa's favorite son at the Democratic Convention. Early in 1928, he was considered as a Democratic nominee for President, however his health began to fail and he died that same year, at his home on June 17 at the age of 51.
Edwin T. Meredith, with support from staff member E. N. Hopkins, provided the young 4-H movement tremendous visibility over a relatively short period of time, and opened up doors for other support that otherwise may never had been opened. Between the Meredith loan fund and the creation of the first national publication for rural boys and girls club work, plus being Secretary of Agriculture and the first president of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work, he brought public relations and visibility of 4-H to a whole new level. The Meredith Foundation and the Meredith family continue support of 4-H today at state and national levels.
Photos to accompany E. T. Meredith story:
Ralph "Buster" Conrad, an Iowa farm boy, who operates Dad's tractor. Ralph, like thousands of other farm boys, agrees that the tractor and other power machinery make farm work more interesting, increase production per man and have come to stay. In fact, it would be hard to keep boys on the farm if they could not "step on the gas" occasionally.
The Little Girl That Won the Car
In 1910 the REO Motor Company of Lansing, Michigan offered a touring car to the young farmer who could raise the best corn in the state, judging to be held on the Michigan State campus. At the time, Florine Folks was living on a farm with her parents near Hanover, Michigan. Her father had become interested in corn breeding. Since Florine had no brothers, she asked her father if she could enter the contest.
Her father plowed the land for her to use. She did the rest, planting and caring for the crop until finally she harvested it for the county corn contest in Jackson. "The time of the county show was a great day for me," Mrs. Florine (Folks) Plumb says in the MSU Magazine 50 years later. "I remember it well because the men running the show took the club members to dinner. It was the first time I went out to eat."
During the county contest Florine's corn took first prize. The next step was to enter the state contest to be held at the East Lansing campus, where the sumptuous prize of a REO touring car would be given to the winner.
The competition at Michigan State had been urged by Prof. J. A. Jeffrey. He and other interested men wished to sponsor a statewide organization for rural boys and girls, to give the youngsters more social life while also training them for agriculture... their efforts later becoming 4-H.
In contacting Mr. R. E. Olds, the pioneer auto-maker, he thought the professor had a fine idea, and offered to give a thousand-dollar automobile to the farmer under 20 who could raise the best 10 ears of corn in the state.
Mrs. Plumb said that her father took the corn to East Lansing and entered it for me. "I stayed home and did the chores. Going that far in those days would have meant missing two or three days of school, something my family wouldn't hear of."
The farmers assembled on campus undoubtedly were surprised when they learned that the prize-winning corn had been grown by a little girl, age 11.
The media immediately picked up on the story far and wide. One newspaper editorial extolled the young girl for having "done something of more substantial benefit to mankind than the average senator, to compare the work of our kings of politics with that of our queen of corn growers."
Although the contest had been held during the winter months, it wasn't until the spring 1911 that the prize could be delivered to the Folks' farm because of the condition of the roads.
It was 1911 and Flrine sat behing the wheel of her new REO touring car.
In the back seat were her grandmother, mother and father. Next to her sat a visiting friend, Charles Burnett.
"A neighbor and my father took the train to Jackson to get the car," Florine says. "I got permission to finish school early and then ran home to meet them."
There were only two cars in the nearby town of Hanover when Florine won her REO. One belonged to the grocer and the other was the property of an undertaker. Her car was a snappy model in jet black with red wheels, a lot of brass trim and a side crank.
Florine's father quickly taught her how to operate the two-cylinder touring car and she began to use it frequently around the farm. There was no driver-licensing in those days and it's a safe bet that there wasn't another farm girl in the country wheeling around in a flashy REO, top speed 17 MPH. Soon she was driving around town and to school, her shiny face peering out from the folds of her automobile scarf.
While the REO car is long gone, the strain of corn her father perfected became known as Folks' Whitecap Yellow Dent, an open pollinated variety, which still exists today.
"The Patriots" - Representing 4-H Talent Shows
The Patriots – a 4-H quartet from Washington County, Kentucky made quite a name for themselves, starting out in the county 4-H variety show. A couple of years later, in 1968, and still young teenagers, the quartet was featured in National 4-H News having just completed a 3-continent, 37-day tour taking them to Paris, Rome, the Holy Land, Athens and the Congo displaying their singing talents.
So, what is so special about this group? The four boys – Jerry Lester, Tony Royalty, Terry Lester and Sammy Bodine – obviously are talented. They even had a record out. But the Patriots are not that different from scores of other 4-H individuals and groups who are brimming with musical talent. For decades, starting as early as the 1920s, county and state music competitions were some of the most popular events in 4-H. No matter whether they were called variety shows, talent shows, share-the-fun festivals... or, any other name, they helped young boys and girls with musical talent display their skills and gain self-confidence.
There were full fledged 4-H marching bands in full uniform, 30- and 40-piece 4-H orchestras, dance and swing bands. Many of them toured, reaching large audiences, like at the 1933 World's Fair, or appeared on network radio and television shows (including Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour). They sang and danced and played their instruments with the very best musicians of the day. And, they always let people know that they were 4-H'ers.
These local county talent shows are how some groups got their start, like the group "Alabama" for example. The National 4-H History Preservation team hopes to document and write this story about 4-H musical talent in the near future. It certainly is one more aspect of 4-H promotion and visibility.
The National 4-H Club Song Book
If the gate sign "4-H Club Member Lives Here" was one of the most popular items offered through the National 4-H Supply Service, the National 4-H Club Song Book was in that same category. 4-H songs had traditionally been offered through the annual 4-H Handy Books issued by the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work since the mid-1920s, however only included the words to the songs. Now, in 1929, the National Committee issued the first National 4-H Song Book that also included the music to the songs as well as a much broader selection.
4-H songs in this first edition included: Dreaming, Boys' and Girls' Clubs for Me, Bring the Good Old 4-H Sign, Club Work, Conference Song, The Country's Faith, A Plowing Song, The 4-H Clover, 4-H Clubs for All, 4-H Will Shine, Greeting Song, Hail! Hail! The Clubs All Here, O Me! O My!, Parting Song, Song of Health, and Speed Away. A variety of other songs popular with 4-H groups were also included: Abide with Me, All Through the Night, Anvil Chorus, Billy Boy, The Boll-Weevil, All God's Chillun Got Wings, Day is Dying in the West, Dixie, Dogie Song, Follow the Gleam, Levee Song, Oh Susanna, Old Dog Tray, and Old Zip Coon plus others. The song book was comprised of 64 pages and was an immediate hit. Through the decades several editions of the National 4-H Club Song Book were published, each just a bit better than the previous one, but probably none topped the enthusiasm of members and leaders that was garnered by that first 1929 edition.
President Eisenhower Opens National 4-H Center
June 16, 1959 – a date etched high up on the calendar of 4-H history. It was on that day that President Dwight D. Eisenhower stepped onto the portico of Smith Hall and cut the green and white ribbons hanging between the two center pillars, officially opening the National 4-H Club Center.
He had just finished addressing an audience of more than 800 people, including delegates and leaders attending the 29th National 4-H Club Conference, at which time he said, "I am here just because I like the 4-H'ers."
"...because they are dedicated to do things better. As long as we have young people of these characteristics, devoted with their hearts and their heads and their hands and their health to doing these things, America cannot be anything but successful."
The President was assisted in cutting the ribbon by Miss Anita Hollmer, 4-H member from New York, and Larry Dilda, 4-H member from North Carolina. Miss Hollmer presided during the morning ceremony and Dilda gave the invocation.
For a history of the National 4-H Center, including more information on the ribbon cutting, go to the National 4-H History section on the 4-H history website and check out "National 4-H Center."
President Nixon Addresses National 4-H Congress In Chicago
President Richard M. Nixon helped make the Golden Anniversary of National 4-H Congress in Chicago very special by attending and addressing the entire delegation on December 1, 1971. Most of the entire Presidential press corps accompanied the President to Chicago. He personally presented the Presidential trays to the six Presidential tray winners as Honorary Chairman of the National 4-H Service Committee. In addition to the delegates, leaders, sponsors and other invited guests, some 700 media reps covered the event.
Nixon's speech can be found in its entirety on the 4-H history website section on National 4-H History under the heading: "U.S. Presidents and 4-H."
Canning Girls Head For France 1923
In 1922 Guy Noble, director, National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work, and Bernice Carter Davis, educational director of the Hazel-Atlas Glass Company, arranged a trip to France for the national champion canners of the United States, the expenses of the trip to be donated by the American Committee for Devastated France, a committee headed by Anne Morgan, sister of J. Pierpont Morgan.
Five sectional contests were set up, and the first and second place winning teams in each section were to compete at the International Live Stock Exposition as part of the 1922 National 4-H Congress. Out of the 10 finalists, the first and second place teams would be sent to France.
The nationwide canning demonstration contest was held in the old International building at the end of the cattle barn. Only a board partition separated the demonstrators from the cattle. Despite their surroundings, the contestants, dressed in plain cotton uniforms, worked skillfully at tables, canning one fruit by either hot water or steam bath, and one vegetable by either hot water or steam pressure. The roving public, strolling past this spectacle of intent industry, noting the array of foods, kettles, and cookers, could hardly have suspected that this was a part of a nationwide system of practical education. To them, it must have seemed to be an advertising stunt. But the girls were eager to compete for the prize – a two months' trip to Europe. The winning Iowa and Colorado teams toured France in June and July, 1923, giving demonstrations of their skills, attending French schools of home economics, and sightseeing. Their trip, which was highly publicized, did much to interest Europe in the new kind of youth Extension education being conducted in the United States.
Bound for Europe! In 1923, the Iowa and Colorado canning teams won trips to
Europe. Pictured with the group and their chaperones is Secretary of Agriculture
Henry C. Wallace.
This photograph appeared on page 183 of "The 4-H Story" by Franklin Reck.
Early Motion Pictures In 4-H Club Work
In Louisiana, club work was promoted by one of the earliest known instances of the use of motion pictures. In Baton Rouge, the enterprising E. S. Richardson, who had succeeded V. L. Roy as state club leader, braved the office of Thomas D. Boyd, president of Louisiana State, with an idea.
At that time – 1914 – there were few gas buggies in Baton Rouge. President Boyd had recently taken a trip by auto to Shreveport, and the journey, interrupted by tire changes and mechanical troubles, had taken three days. As a result, the president took a dim view of the future of the automobile age.
To the president, Richardson proposed a novel and untried scheme involving extensive use of an auto. He wanted to rig a generator to the engine of a flivver. The generator would provide current to operate a motion picture machine and lantern slide projector. With this outfit, plus a couple of shovels to dig the car out of the mud, he proposed to travel the gravel and gumbo roads of the state, bringing pictures of club work to one-room schools. Much to his surprise, the president gave his assent, no doubt with certain mental reservations.
Richardson bought his car, dynamo, and projection equipment. With the help of Dean W. T. Atkinson of the college of engineering, he perfected the device, adding that marvel of modern inventions, an electric stove, with which to give cooking demonstrations in the schools.
Bravely the visual-education automobile set out on its journey with a young photographer named Jasper Ewing at the wheel. Arriving at a country school, Ewing and Richardson, with the help of the local teacher and eager students – many of whom had never seen a motion picture – took the dynamo from the car and staked it firmly to the ground with long metal pins. They jacked up the rear wheels and slung a belt drive between generator pulley and axe.
This is one of the first-known visual education trucks. It was used in Louisiana to bring the story of club
work to rural schools. The Model T engine ran a dynamo that generated current for the movie machine.
This photograph appeared on page 130 of "The 4-H Story" by Franklin Reck.
Meanwhile, inside the school, others were hanging heavy curtains over the windows to keep out the light. Ewing then set up his movie projector and screen, and presently the hushed and awed youngsters were seeing with their own eyes the miracle of motion pictures.
The pioneering venture in visual education was a success from the start. "Louisiana School Work" reported in 1915 that "This contrivance combines two of the latest inventions – namely, the moving picture machine and the automobile."
As for results: "During the first seven months of 1915, the Junior Extension Service of the Louisiana State University visited 140 schools in 17 parishes and rendered programs with autostereopticon and moving picture machine to an estimated attendance of 23,340 school children, school patrons, and farmers. In addition to educational movies, there were shown at each school stereopticon slides depicting the various phases of corn, pig, poultry and canning club work.
4-H Hijacking - A Promotion Program
Technically, this wasn't a national promotion program, but doing research on 4-H promotion history, the story was featured in the June 1953 issue of National 4-H News, so it did get nationwide exposure. It was a creative way to teach hospitality and promote the local Georgia 4-H program at the same time. Actually, creative may not exactly be the correct word – "bizarre" might be more fitting. But, remember, this was over 60 years ago. Life was slower. Things were different.
The way the story goes... minding their own business, admiring Georgia's pine trees, cotton fields and magnolias, and looking forward to two weeks in Florida, Mr. and Mrs. E. F. Brooks of Veedersburg, Indiana, were driving peacefully along U.S. Hwy 1 when a policeman's whistle frightened them to a stop near the city limits of Swainsboro, Georgia.
"What have we done wrong now?" they wondered aloud. Nothing! Emanuel county 4-H'ers just wanted to practice their good neighbor policy on them. It was Saturday and time for another good neighbor night program at the county's new $25,000 clubhouse.
Mr. and Mrs. Brooks were the nineteenth couple to be guests of the local 4-H Clubs. The youngsters, getting good neighbor training, and promoting 4-H at the same time, had hosted tourists from 10 states and Canada over the course of several months. 4-H'ers compete to get the opportunity to play host and hostess each week. For Mr. And Mrs. Brooks, Sara Ellen Phillips, 15, and Loy Cowart, Jr., 17, were the lucky hostess and host. They showed the tourists to their room, reserved in advance at a motor court, and then they began a tour of interesting local points. (Apparently, the visiting Brooks couple were spending the night in Swainsboro whether they wanted to, or not.)
The visitors saw 27,000 barrels of resin at the processing plant and heard explanations of other pine tree uses. They appeared on a radio program over station WJAT, and Mr. Brooks was even a disc jockey for a while. Then they toured the new hospital, saw the livestock auction barn, and took a look at some cotton gins, though Mrs. Brooks had already picked a boll of cotton for herself. And they ate steaks at a local restaurant. At the 4-H Clubhouse that night the guests received a box of Emanuel county products – canned goods, pecans and articles made by home demonstration clubsters. Other features of this regular Saturday night good neighbor event sometimes included a talent show.
For Mr. And Mrs. Brooks the whole thing was something they never expected to experience on their way to the "Sunshine State." And when they left Swainsboro after Sunday breakfast, they were probably tempted to spend the whole two weeks right there with the 4-H'ers who had been so nice to them (the article said).
4-H Photo Fun Club
In 1970, Eastman Kodak Company, sponsor of the National 4-H Photography Awards and Recognition program, with the help of the Extension Service and National 4-H Service Committee, produced the first national 4-H television series on videotape rather than film. The series of six half-hour programs was designed for 9- to 12-year olds and takes place in photography project leader Dick Arnold's rec room (on the TV studio set).
The series introduces young people to cameras, film, picture composition and turns common errors into learning situations. They learn to tell stories with photos, and how photographs can help record progress made in 4-H projects.
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 over 70% of the stations programming the series were commercial stations, most of them using the series in what was considered prime viewing hours for the targeted audience - 44% programming the series on Saturday mornings; 27% on weekday afternoons after school; and 18% on weekday evenings during the early hours. Stations in Chicago, Baltimore, Boston, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Orlando, Sacramento, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Honolulu and Raleigh were some of the cities showing the series. Studies showed that 70% of the young viewers enrolled in the series had no previous experience with 4-H and two-thirds of these youth wanted to stay a part of 4-H after the series was completed. The series was successful and a strong visibility plus for 4-H.
Elbert and Maria, members of the 4-H Photo Fun Club television series, demonstrate during the first program two of the things needed to take a picture -- light and subject.
Members of the 4-H Photo Fun Club television series listen to photography project leader Dick Arnold explain the meaning of good composition when taking pictures.
4-H'ers Give Demonstrations at Landmark 1940 American Negro Exposition
Something very special was going on during the summer of 1940 in Chicago - the landmark American Negro Exposition celebrating 75 years of Negro achievement. The exposition ran from July 4 to September 2 at the Chicago Coliseum, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and highlighting African Americans accomplishments and contributions to American life since the end of the Civil War.
Extension had a prominent spot for the duration of the exposition with 4-H members giving demonstrations on projects and skills they were learning. The August 1940 issue of National 4-H Club News carried a photo feature entitled "4-H Helps the Negro," on the American Negro Exposition and the young 4-H'ers showing off their skills. Parts of that feature are given below:
"What the Negro as a race is achieving to obtain freedom from conditions adverse to a wholesome social and economic outlook is being graphically portrayed this summer until September 2 in the American Negro Exposition in Chicago. It marks the diamond jubilee of the emancipation of the race from physical bondage in the United States.
"Eleven southern states and the U. S. Department of Agriculture are cooperating with the enterprise in demonstrating activities of the Extension Services in behalf of the colored race.
"Made possible by $75,000 appropriations each by the Illinois legislature and Congress, the exposition is presenting in highly artistic and effective educational exhibits and demonstrations the history and upward march of the Negro, totaling 10,000,000 persons, roundly, in the cooperating States and over 16,000,000 in the Nation as a whole... Dr. Frederick D. Patterson, president of Tuskegee Institute, Alabama, heads the federal commission to the exposition appointed by President Roosevelt. The exposition is the dream of James W. Washington, former Tennessee extension agent and now a Chicago real estate man, who worked five years with the backing of influential Negroes among Chicago's 350,000 members and others elsewhere to obtain support for the project.
"Featuring the educational program in charge of Negro agricultural specialists of the Extension Services are demonstrations on housekeeping aids, mattress making, low cost housing, food conservation, table service and meat production. Early in July specialists from Alabama and Virginia held forth followed by others from Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina with Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas and again Alabama scheduled for the closing weeks.
"Colored 4-H Club members brought to the exposition to take part in the demonstrations spoke with unconcealed pride of their projects and of being chosen to do a service for their race. Maryland Tyner, Auburn, Alabama, told between the big stitches she was taking on a mattress of having canned 25 quarts of food before leaving home and of her 13 pullets which had begun laying. She had bought the flock as chicks and carefully reared them. She also told of a fine big mattress she and her mother had recently made. Asked how it slept she said it was put in the front room for special guests. She is 16, and there are 10 in her family.
"Zepherine E. Tate, 13, of Tuskegee, has been in club work three years and has some hens, is learning to make clothing and raises peanuts which she sells to pay school tuition.
"Columbus Meadows, 17, Milstead, Alabama, is growing an acre of corn to feed a pig he hopes to grow into a brood sow. He lives with his family on a 30-acre rented farm which runs two milk cows with calves they are raising. Columbus is one of 10 children and hopes to be a farmer.
"Arthur James Johnson, 17, also of Milstead, Alabama, belongs to the Cotton Valley 4-H Club having 70 members. He lives on a farm, with 80 acres under cultivation and during his two years of club work has carried poultry, swine, corn and peanut projects. This year Arthur is raising two acres of Hasten Prolific corn and has an acre of peanuts, on which he expects a yield of about 35 bushels."
A 'Night To Remember' Resulted In Decades-old Tradition
The famous International Live Stock Exposition in Chicago was the largest expo of its type in the world. The event coincided with the National 4-H Club Congress in Chicago, planned and coordinated by the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work... later known as National 4-H Council.
The National Committee was organized in 1921. Guy Noble, who worked for Armour & Co. Became the first director. He was the only staff person, working at a borrowed desk loaned by the National Farm Bureau Headquarters, along with a part-time secretary... also on loan. 1921 is also considered the first National 4-H Congress.
In 1924 – three years later – a few weeks before the Livestock Expo and National 4-H Congress were scheduled to begin, Mr. Parkhurst, the president of the Stock Yard Company which managed the Expo, called Guy Noble into his office. He asked if Noble would consider having the delegates to Congress form a parade in the arena one evening of the expo, directly following the horse show. Noble – who was always a promoter – agreed.
Noble composed slogans for signs to be used in the parade, telling about the overall achievements of 4-H and listing the principal projects. Signs were made for each state. The signs were built and painted, the larger signs measuring four feet by 10 feet with a standard at each end so they could be held aloft when carried.
The night the parade was to be staged, the 2,000+ boys and girls and their leaders were being entertained by Thomas E. Wilson at his meat-packing plant a mile from the Amphitheatre where the horse show was taking place.
Noble recalled that when he emerged from the Wilson auditorium his heart sank. He said, "It was drizzling and miserably cold – December in Chicago. There was no means of transportation to the International Amphitheatre, yet he had promised the parade and he wanted to deliver." Noble rounded up a few state 4-H leaders who agreed to hold the club members in line and march to the Exposition through the freezing rain along poorly lit streets.
As the 4-H'ers stood shivering outside waiting for the horse show that was going on to come to a close, the signs were quickly passed out and as the doors opened, Noble led the group into the arena.
Noble recalled, "All was hushed and quiet for the first minute – it seemed to me an hour – then the exposition band struck up a march. I circled the arena at the head of the group, marching four abreast. The group went around the arena once, and upon reaching the point of entrance, to my amazement the group was still coming in. Mr. O'Connor, assistant manager of the Stock Yard Company, jumped down from the judges' box and headed me back. So we went around a second and a third time until the entire arena was filled with the fresh young faces of the boys and girls."
The event was totally unscripted, but by then delegations had taken things into their own hands and were singing and giving State yells. The 8,000 spectators from many states – there to attend the Livestock Exposition, not Club Congress – responded by yelling and cheering back at the young people, and soon the Amphitheatre rocked with noise.
The spectacle was climaxed by the 4-H parade and audience standing to sing The Star Spangled Banner. It happened to be the Silver Jubilee Anniversary of the International Live Stock Exposition and President Calvin Coolidge was in the audience. Earlier that year Coolidge had become the first President to accept the Honorary chairmanship of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work, a tradition that continued on through the 1990s.
4-H Congress delegates in the Arena of the International Livestock Exposition during a later year.
It was reported that the President was seen to enjoy one of his few hearty laughs in public as the club members were parading carrying a sign reading "We like Coolidge 'cause Coolidge likes us."
After the event Barney Heide, manager of the Exposition came racing into the press box with unashamed tears streaming down his cheeks and told the media, "Gentlemen, this is the greatest thing that has ever happened at the International."
The next morning 4-H got its first headlines – the front page of the conservative Chicago Tribune. It told about the march in the rain and waiting to get in – and the songs and yells. Never again were reporters to look blank when they heard "4-H." Club work had become big news.
Likewise, the tradition of the 4-H Congress delegates parading in the Arena during the International Live Stock Exposition continued the following year and annually for nearly half a century more.
Thousands of 4-H Congress delegates over the years recall their marching in the arena during the Live Stock Exposition, but probably few realize the significance of the story behind the very first parade in 1924. And, yes, it really was a great marketing event – 90 years ago.
President Coolidge was very much involved with the 1924 4-H Congress. In addition to viewing the parade in the arena of the Live Stock Show, history tells this story: Anna Obrecht and Helen Hartwig of Franklin County, Iowa comprised a bread-baking team, showing off their skills in a demonstration at the National 4-H Club Congress. Apparently their bread was good... President Coolidge ate their loaf of bread for breakfast the following morning! After the President returned to Washington he sent the girls a note of appreciation. He also sent a similar to note to Geneva Amundson of Galesville, Wisconsin, who had won the first National 4-H 'Style Show' at Congress in 1924. And, it can be assumed that he may have sent similar notes to other top winners.
Thomas E Wilson Day
This picture really tells the story. DiAnne Mathre of Illinois and Dwight E. Nelson of Iowa, top Citizenship boy and girl at the 1949 National 4-H Congress stand with Thomas E. Wilson. The awards were made in honor of Mr. Wilson. The deep admiration of Thomas E. Wilson by the Congress delegates for four decades is reflected in the faces of these two winners.
For tens of thousands of 4-H delegates who journeyed to Chicago for National 4-H Congress and the International Live Stock Exposition, you needn't say anything more by way of explanation. Thomas E. Wilson Day says it all. The much anticipated annual event was unique. It was thrilling. It lived up to all expectations. And, no one enjoyed it more than Thomas E. Wilson - the man who planned it. The man who paid for it.
Thomas E. Wilson Day actually started before National 4-H Congress. The very first one - held by happenstance - occurred on December 6, 1916 during the International Live Stock Exposition - the largest livestock show in the world, held annually at the Chicago Union Stockyards. During that year's Exposition Thomas E. Wilson had come to view the cattle. He owned one of the top herds of Shorthorns in the country. He happened to see a group of club boys examining the exhibits and stopped to talk to them. He saw that they were keenly interested in what they were viewing. Years later, Wilson recalled, "I thought perhaps I could help them in some way." He started that very day by inviting the 11 boys and their leader to lunch with him.
Little did he anticipate that these few boys and their leader, breaking bread with him over lunch, would grow to an annual event with well over 2,000 in attendance and continue for over 40 years. So who was Thomas E. Wilson? In 1917 he was hired to take over the management of a failing meat packing company in Chicago, which was subsequently named after him, making Wilson and Company the third largest meat packing company in the country. In 1926 he created one of the most recognizable brand names in the world, known as Wilson Sporting Goods. He served as President and Chairman of the Board of Wilson and Company for 35 years. He was one of a small group of businessmen who created the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work (forerunner to National 4-H Council) in 1921 and served as the National Committee's president for 34 years, from 1924 to 1958, the year he died. He was one of the greatest friends in the long 4-H history.
The first Thomas E. Wilson events were very low key. The January 1919 issue of "The Wilsonian," the Wilson & Co. employee newsletter, reports that 76 boys and girls from Oklahoma, Mississippi, Indiana and Wisconsin were guests of Wilson and Co. on December 4, 1918 to celebrate their success in winning trips to th International Live Stock Exposition.
"Mr. Wilson was host to the boys and girls at a luncheon in the company's restaurant. Many of the youthful livestock raisers were attending the convention at the expense of the packing company. The boys and girls were taken through the various departments of the packing plant and were told of methods of handling food products. They were interested in noting the slaughter, dressing, chilling, cutting and shipping of beef. When Mr. Wilson explained to them the different cuts of beef and told them how certain breeds of animals produced certain grades of beef, they listened attentively and made many notes."
By 1921 National 4-H Club Congress was established, held at the same time as the International Live Stock Exposition, and Thos. E. Wilson Day became a key event of the Club Congress. Mr. Wilson thrilled in being the special host to these boys and girls from across America and he wanted to give them new experiences for them to remember for many years to come. The dissertations on meat packing evolved in a Thos. E. Wilson Day of tours and a huge banquet, music and entertainment, and was especially noted for its guest appearances — people like Explorer Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Amelia Earhart, Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Bears Quarterback Johnny Lujack, professional golfer and Olympic gold medalist in track and field Babe Didrickson Zaharias, Hollywood stars Dennis Day and James Cagney and others. One of the highlights of the 1948 Thos. E. Wilson Day party was the first national preview of Walt Disney's new motion picture, "So Dear to My Heart" with the personal appearance of the boy star, Bobby Driscoll. In later years an impressive Thos. E. Wilson Day printed program was distributed. Several copies of these have been digitized and are in the Print archives on the National 4-H History Preservation website.
"Yard-long Photos a Popular 4-H Souvenir
Panoramic pictures - commonly called "yard-long" photos - became popular in the early 1900's and were a World War I craze. They were popular through the 1950s and are still being made today. Scenic panoramas were not the best seller. All commercial panoramic photographers specialized in pictures of large groups. (People bought pictures in which they were included, so the more people in the shot, the better the sales.)
The photos were made by a large Cirkut camera which sat on a platform on a tripod. Both the camera and the film moved in such an ingenious, synchronized way as to create a yard-long image.
Delegates to National 4-H Camp on the Mall and to National 4-H Congress in Chicago often posed for the long pictures. Normally there was no attempt to identify the individuals in the photos, however most of them were amazingly clear and people could readily identify themselves and their friends.
A few examples of 4-H "yard-long" photos are shown here and others are being posted in the National 4-H Photography Gallery soon to be added to the National 4-H History website.
Harry Truman Breakfast 1945
In March 1945, the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work sponsored a National 4-H Goals for Victory Breakfast in Washington, D.C., in connection with National 4-H Club Week. Present were representatives of Congress, the Army, War Food Administration, War Production Board, the FBI, and Vice President Harry Truman.
It was a fortunate meeting. Mr. Truman recalled his early experiences with 4-H. During breakfast he laid claim to organizing the first 4-H Club in Western Missouri and to leading a fund-raising venture to send 4-H'ers to state round-up.
Three months later when long-awaited legislation for 4-H expansion came to the White House for signature, Mr. Truman, who had then succeeded Roosevelt as President, signed it into law.
The Bankhead-Flanagan Act as it was called, authorized nearly $8 million of a total appropriation of over $12 million for furthering 4-H Club work.
"Greatest Jockey' Started Out In 4-H
Like many other kids, when Steve Cauthen turned nine years old he joined the local 4-H club.
He and his family lived on a small 40-acre horse farm in the small Kentucky town of Walton.
His main 4-H project was horses, showing at 4-H exhibitions and placing in the top three each year.
He stayed in 4-H until he was 16 and then, being small in stature, he started racing.
Cauthen's first race was at Churchill Downs in May, 1976; he came in last. A week later he came in first.
His rise to prominence was meteoric. He was the nation's leader in horserace wins in 1977 with 487.
His riding excellence was widely recognized: Steve was Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, Sporting News Sportsman of the Year, and Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year.
Even the December, 1977 issue of National 4-H News featured Cauthen on its cover. The editor had traveled from Chicago out to New York to interview the young 17-year-old at the race track. In the 4-H News interview, Steve says that "4-H has been a part of my learning. The thing I can say for it is that it helped me see how groups work together. My friends were in 4-H and we did things together. We had duties and responsibilities in the club." When asked what advice he could pass on to others his own age, the young man stated, "When you find something you want to do, nothing's going to stop you from doing it, if you want to do it bad enough. It's just important that you do your best at all times. That's one thing I try to do. Whenever I do anything, I try to do the best I'm able. I work hard at whatever it is I do. Not just riding, but also just being a nice guy. I try to do my best. All through my career I've had good people around me. I've had my parents behind me all the way. You know, I've been lucky."
Apparently, luck stayed with Steve Cauthen. The next year, 1978, "The Kid," as he was affectionately known, won the Triple Crown riding on 'Affirmed.'
Since 1978, no other horse has won the Triple Crown for 37 years until American Pharoah, with Victor Espinoza as jockey, won the cherished Triple Crown in 2015.
Steve Cauthen's success story... and the role that 4-H played, is certainly noteworthy.
A Place In The Sun - Its First Performance!
When the girls attending the 1948 National 4-H Club Congress in Chicago boarded buses to travel up to the famous Edgewater Beach Hotel on Chicago's Lake Shore Drive for the luncheon sponsored by Montgomery Ward they really thought that was a special treat. But the treat was yet to come in a thrill of a lifetime.
There to entertain them was Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians, in person. Every one had heard – or heard of – this master radio showman, but to actually see him lead his 69 musicians was one of the top-flight experiences of the crowded Congress week.
But, Mr. Waring had a special purpose for entertaining these Congress delegates as part of the program was the first performance of a very special new 4-H song written by Fred Waring himself – "A Place in the Sun." The whole of the 4-H world would soon hear this music in days to come, but these privileged girls can always say "we heard its first performance!"
John B. Clark Friendship Party - Making a Dance Something Special
Of course, the entire week on National 4-H Congress in Chicago was always something special, but there were traditional Congress events each year which somehow outdid themselves. One of these was the John B. Clark Friendship Party sponsored by Coats & Clark, Inc.
Just how cool is dancing under the stars in a ballroom with a floating dance floor and designed to accommodate 8,000 people? Now, really, this is something the delegates did not have back in Montana or South Carolina or Vermont. But it was something they would certainly tell their friends about once they got home. During the decades of the 40s, 50s and 60s the 4-H Club Congress delegates were treated to these special dancing parties, earlier on at the Trianon Ballroom on the South side of Chicago, and later - starting in 1954, at the Aragon Ballroom on the North side. Each of these ballrooms were built during the 1920s by the same family at over one million dollars each. Elegant doesn't really seem to be a big enough word to describe either of the locations. Add to this the special music, refreshments and party plans by Coats & Clark and it traditionally became a night to remember.
During the 1920s dance crazes were sweeping the nation. Hoping to capitalize on this trend, entrepreneur Andrew Karzas sank $1 million into the construction of a new dance hall on Chicago's South Side. Opening in 1922, its spacious dance floor with Louis XVI-style decor could accommodate up to 3,000 dancers, while the ballroom's alcoves and upper level could hold just as many. The ballroom was closed in 1954 and demolished in 1967 for urban renewal.
Trianon Ballroom dance floor, circa. 1935. During the 1920s dance crazes were sweeping the nation. Hoping to capitalize on this trend, entrepreneur Andrew Karzas sank $1 million into the construction and promotion of a new dance hall on Chicago's South Side. Located at Cottage Grove and East 62nd Street, Karzas' Trianon Ballroom was Chicago's most expensive and most extravagant dance hall when it opened in 1922. Its spacious dance floor with Louis XVI-style decor could accommodate up to 3,000 dancers, while the ballroom's alcoves and upper level could hold just as many. Declining interest in public dancing prompted the closure of the Trianon in 1954 and it was demolished in 1967 by urban renewal authorities.
The enormous and extravagantly decorated Aragon Ballroom opened in 1926 in the heart of Chicago's booming Uptown district. The owners, brothers Andrew and William Karzas, who had built the Trianon four years earlier, really outdid themselves. The second-level dance floor was reached by assending a thickly carpeted grand staircase guarded by large plaster dragons. Once upstairs, patrons entered another world. The ballroom was designed to resemble the courtyard of a Moorish castle. Palm trees and twinkling lights resembling stars in the blue ceiling were added to give dancers the feeling they were spending the night under a clear, Spanish sky. Built to hold nearly 8,000 people, the all-maple dance floor rode a cushion of cork, felt, and springs that vibrated to the music of the Aragon's big bands. The Aragon's proximity to the Chicago 'L' train provided patrons with easy access, and often crowds in excess of 18,000 would attend during each six-day business week, with weekly attendance regularly topping 81,000. Regular dance schedules at the Aragon ended in 1964 and the last John B. Clark Friendship Party was held in 1966. ( Today, the Aragon has reopened for dancing and special concerts.
Aragon Ballroom dance floor, circa. 1935. The enormous and extravagantly decorated Aragon Ballroom opened in 1926 in the heart of Chicago's booming Uptown.
4-H U.S.- Soviet Union Exchange
During the mid-1970s, while 4-H international programs in the Latin American countries were evolving, attention switched to programs with Eastern Europe. Although the eventual 4-H U.S. – Soviet Union exchange was the most visual and perhaps captured the attention of more people, the 1975 successful exchange negotiated with Poland through the Polish Society of Agricultural Engineers and the Polish National Council of the Union of Socialist Rural Youth, became an immediate success involving 100 Polish older farm youth visiting the United States for a year and young American farmers traveling to Poland later in the year.
The ice was finally broken in 1975 for an exchange with the Soviet Union as well. After years of talking, in 1974 the Chase Manhattan Bank indicated an interest in helping organize an exchange with the Soviet Union. Since Chase Manhattan had business agents in Moscow, it was possible to use their offices to make contact with the appropriate Soviet agency. The State Department encouraged using private avenues for discussions with the Soviets and indicated that it would assist when it appeared appropriate. Francis Pressly from the National 4-H Foundation, went to Moscow and negotiated a preliminary agreement in May 1975, 4-H reaching a final agreement with the Soviet Union later in the year for an exchange to begin in 1976. International Harvester Company provided $125,000 to conduct training programs at the National 4-H Center for the Soviet exchanges. The exchange with the Soviet Union proved a success with 15 young Americans heading to the Soviet Union. Most were recent or near college graduates. The 4-H exchange was a significant departure from previous exchanges with the Soviet Union – the Soviets generally preferred to keep foreign visitors in a group under the control of guides. The 1976 exchange was the first time they housed American visitors with Russian farm families. It proved to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the participants, most thoroughly enjoying the close relationships they developed with Russian farm families.
The exchange produced a great deal of promotion and visibility including a major feature article in the "National Geographic" magazine on the experiences of the American young people in the Soviet Union, bringing the program to the attention of thousands of Americans.
State 4-H Foundation Promotional Fund-raising Events
For the past couple of decades or more, it has become common to see State 4-H Foundations sponsor some impressive fund-raising events that serve the purpose of generating promotion and visibility, as well.
Golf tournaments, for example – Alabama's 4-H Golf Classic or the annual Clover Classic benefiting Missouri 4-H or Annual 4-H Golf Open, now over 25 years old, sponsored by the New York State 4-H Foundation, are all "big" deals! Another big deal... the annual 4-H Night at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville when the hometown Tennessee Volunteers play to a packed stadium. There are many, many of these special 4-H events year-round across the country... great ways to raise money, to recruit new members and leaders, to build teamwork, to promote 4-H – and, to have fun!
4-H Council's Board Visits The White House
The annual board meeting of National 4-H Council in 1984 was a special day with multiple highlights. Harold A. Poling, executive vice president, North American Automotive Operations, Ford Motor Company, was elected the new chairman of the board of trustees of National 4-H Council on May 31, 1984. Laurie Thomas, president, Amoco Oil Company, was elected a new vice chairman.
The major highlight of the day occurred when the entire board went to the White House for a session with the honorary chairman of National 4-H Council, President Ronald Reagan. The President told the group: "Today's 4-H is built on the experience of an impressive past. I am proud to commend the large numbers of volunteers who are involved in the 4-H program and committed to its goals. Their efforts serve as an inspiring display of the American spirit."
Council's new chairman lived with his family in Virginia during most of his childhood and participated in 4-H there. Harold Poling not only was a 4-H member, but also a winner as part of the first place demonstration team at the National 4-H Dairy Show in 1940. During the board meeting he relived that experience when Tom Tuton, vice president, sales, Elgin Watch International, Inc., presented him with a special 4-H gold watch to replace one he had won 44 years previously at the dairy show. In reminiscing about that experience, Poling recalled that it was the first time he had traveled alone, out of state. Staying in a large hotel in Harrisburg was an experience of a lifetime for himself and Lester Harris, his teammate. The two-hour winning demonstration given by the two boys was titled "Making American Cheese on the Farm." Poling recalled how impressed he was with the hospitality of the two donor companies involved, the Elgin Watch Company and Kraft Cheese Company.
4-H Supply Service Helps Out The United Nations
The 1950s had barely begun when hopes for world peace were shattered. North Korea attacked South Korea on June 25, 1950. The decisive action taken by the United Nations aroused the interest and support of many Americans who had previously been unfamiliar with the fledgling world organization or who had felt it to be unworkable. Suddenly, communities wanted to fly the United Nations flag in observance of the fifth annual UN Day.
The National Citizen's Committee for United Nations Day was overwhelmed with requests for flags. Hampered by an inadequate supply and by authorization of only two flag manufacturers, the UN Committee, working through the federal Extension office, turned for help to the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work (later National 4-H Service Committee and National 4-H Council). Would the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work make available materials and patterns for sewing the UN flag? Would 4-H encourage women and girls to make and display the flag as an expression of hope for the world? The National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work would... and did!
The flag kits were available on September 1. And, by October 12, 35,000 orders had been received. The UN flag kits were priced at 50 cents each and contained two hot-iron transfer patterns of complete design; a center design (exclusive of wreath) printed on blue cloth, and directions for making the 3 foot by 5 foot flag.
Eighty patriotic, civic, religious, farm and youth organizations sponsored this modern-day Betsy Ross project and two 4-H girls presented to President Truman the first UN flag made by farm women and girls. All other work of the Committee's small staff had been postponed for a period of six weeks to fill the orders that poured in at a peak rate of over 1,000 orders per day. This project of accepting and successfully filling a request from the United Nations is perhaps one of 4-H's "finest hours" and generated much good will and publicity. For the complete story on 4-H and the UN flag visit:
September 7, 1950 was a momentus day in the history of the United Nations and 4-H when
4-H Club members Mary Ann Long, 19, of Shelby, Virginia and Charlotte Ingram, 15, of
Ellendale, Delaware, present a United Nations flag to President Harry Truman as Mrs.
Eleanor Roosevelt looks on.
This photograph appeared in the October 1950 edition of National 4-H News (Vol. XXVIII, No. 10.)
Fannie Buchanan - Writer of 4-H Songs
Fannie Buchanan earned a degree in music from Grinnell College, Iowa. During World War I, she organized music and recreation activities with War Camp Community Service. Eventually she joined the Victor Talking Machine Company as a Rural Specialist. As she traveled, she came in more contact with 4-H members and leaders and became involved in the 4-H music program and the needs of 4-H members.
She strongly felt that one of these needs was an appreciation for music and singing. During the early 1930s Miss Buchanan authored a column on music appreciation in the National 4-H Club News magazine. She became the first Iowa State Music Extension Specialist in 1930.
Fannie Buchanan wrote the words to five 4-H songs, set to music by her college friend Rena Parish, including "The Plowing Song" dedicated to farm boys and "Dreaming" that captured the daydreams of 4-H girls that she met during her cross country travels. These two songs were introduced at the National 4-H Club Camp in 1927.
These two songs were followed by "A Song for Health" in 1929, the "4-H Friendship Song" in 1932, and "The 4-H Field Song" in 1933. The National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work (now National 4-H Council) published all five of Miss Buchanan's songs. The members of the Federal Extension Service and National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work helped to carry her songs throughout the country and encouraged their singing by 4-H clubs. In 1941 Fannie Buchanan authored an Extension music publication entitled, "Music of the Soil." Miss Buchanan received a citation for distinguished service at the 1941 National 4-H Club Camp and recognition at the closing assembly of the 1944 National 4-H Club Congress.
Miss Buchanan lived in Grinnell, Iowa where she died in 1957 at the age of 82.
From the mid-1960s up through the mid-1980s, 4-H television series was a major form of programming, particularly reaching new audiences not familiar with 4-H before. Some of the series were state-produced, but used nationwide; while a few were produced at the national level.
The most successful of these programs was produced in 1972 and made available in 1973. It was called "Mulligan Stew," and centered around a five-piece kid's 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 plans and design proposals by Developmental Committees and Iowa State University Extension Service 4-H Nutrition Televison Programs. The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) provided a grant to produce the series. Eleanor Wilson, national 4-H TV coordinator, represented 4-H Extension as technical advisor on the series, working with Ira Klugerman who was hired to direct the series. Klugerman came from a background of children's television in Pittsburgh. Wilson remembers 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.
And, it was most definitely successful. Geared to 4th, 5th and 6th graders with special emphasis on low-income urban youth, the series reached millions of new 4-H'ers. It was well received by the television station programming directors, by the schools... and by Extension. 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 story of printing the member comicbook which supported the series. When Krug contacted the comicbook printer, Shaw-Barton, in Ohio, the 4-H printing rep hesitated when an initial order for one million copies was produced. 4-H had never ordered more than a 50,000 run of any literature. The rep questioned the number but went ahead preparing the print run. "Before we got the comic book off the presses, I had to call back and order another one and one-half million," Krug says. Before the series was completed over seven million Mulligan Stew comic books had been sold... the largest volume distribution of any single piece of sales literature in the history of 4-H.
Another TV series which merits attention here is "Blue Sky Below My Feet – Adventures in Space Technology." Although not as popular as Mulligan Stew. Produced in 1986 by National 4-H Council, Extension 4-H USDA, NASA and Arthur Young and Company, it provided an opportunity for a strong, lasting relationship between 4-H and NASA that remains to this day.
The Greatest Story Ever Told
This traditionally is not a story about 4-H promotion. But it conveys the impact a story can have. Printed, and reprinted, in the national 4-H magazine, National 4-H News, not once but three times over the course of several years, with the heading at least once as "The Greatest Story Ever Told," it represents a certain type of 4-H-related story that has appeared from time to time throughout 4-H's long history.
Eugene Evers grew up on a farm in Forest Grove, Oregon. An 8-year 4-H'er, his father was the club leader. His 13 brothers and sisters were all members.
Eugene's main project was his Holstein dairy herd. He milked 30 cows a day and was assistant secretary of the Oregon State Holstein Association, although still in his teens. With these qualifications he won a trip to the 1949 National 4-H Congress in Chicago where he was selected a national dairy winner, winning a scholarship.
A year later Eugene Evers enlisted in the Air Force and was sent to the Orient. He was reported missing in action over North Korea in July, 1952, being captured after volunteering for a mission.
Airman Evers became a prisoner 36 hours after his plane went down and was placed in solitary confinement for seven months. He was then transferred to Mudken, China, and again placed in solitary confinement, allowed to leave his 9 x 12 foot cell only twice during the next 7 months... for interrogation.
The 14 months Eugene was in solitary confinement was not at any time in a prison camp, a fact considered by the military as meted out only to prisoners deserving the most severe treatment.
His family received no word about the young man. His sister recalls that late every afternoon as they were milking cows, the radio would announce the names of any prisoners of war which had been released. The young brothers and sisters would sit on the bales of straw and anxiously listen to the report... but never any mention of their brother.
Then, one day the announcer casually read off the name of Eugene Evers from Oregon. His sister said "it was like the 4th of July as they all hugged each other and cried, before racing to the house to inform their parents.
After getting home, one of Eugene's best buddies, who had also been to National 4-H Congress with him... Bill Headrick, asked a pointed question: "What did you do to occupy your mind during those 14 months all by yourself? Eugene Evers had a ready answer:
"I relived my trip to the Chicago 4-H Club Congress. I recalled all the experiences and discussions we had during that trip. Sometimes, in my mind's eye, I got as many as five or six people in on the discussions, talking all at once."
This is how Airman Eugene Evers kept his sanity... reliving his experiences and those discussions at 4-H Congress – over and over and over again.
We often hear delegates to Congress, to 4-H Conference, and other 4-H events describe their experience as "A Precious Lifetime Memory." More so than we realize. But national dairy winner Eugene Evers from Forest Grove, Oregon's story undoubtedly must be near the top of the list. In some ways it really may be the greatest 4-H story ever told.
An Arabian Tale
Kenny Rogers congratulates Jeff Bray, Georgia 4-H'er, on his winning bid. (From Summer 1984 National 4-H Council Quarterly)
The fast-paced sing-song voice of the auctioneer... a scream... a cheer... and the winning bidder is announced. A lucky 4-H'er will go home with a dream horse, as another fine Arabian gelding is sold at a unique auction held at entertainer Kenny Rogers' Beaver Dam Farms in Georgia.
At the 1984 sale, only 4-H members had the privilege to bid. They had the opportunity to purchase animals at well below their real value, since all the horses offered for sale had been donated to the Georgia 4-H Foundation by Rogers and several other Arabian owners. Proceeds of the sale went directly to the Foundation.
Arabian horses are important to Kenny and Marianne Rogers and so are young people. Its position as the largest youth organization in the state made 4-H the perfect means for channeling Rogers' interest in providing opportunities for youngsters.
"It's our way of giving something back," said Rogers. "We are glad we can support 4-H in this way. It is a worthwhile organization that deserves support." The sale provided 4-H'ers an opportunity to buy horses at prices they could afford, and, for Rogers, it also was a way to encourage youngsters to develop an interest in the breed. There were 18 geldings for sale at the auction and more than a hundred young 4-H'ers bidding on the animals, and hundreds of others cheering them on, so competition was stiff. Based on the responses from the horse breeders, this first sale of its kind will probably not be the last in Georgia; and, perhaps some other states.
Letter To Ann Landers
A simple letter to the famous advise columnist, Ann Landers, probably generated more publicity than any other single letter written in 4-H history. For years it was reprinted in various 4-H publications because of the good advise it presented, primarily around achievement days and following National 4-H Congress.
The letter, under the heading "A Precious Secret Few People Learn," which appeared in January 26, 1959 newspapers across the country follows:
Dear Ann Landers: I am 11 years old and I won a 4-H County Home Economics award at our Achievement Day celebration. My mother wants me to write a whole big letter to Montgomery Ward because they donated the pins.
I have talked this over with several of my friends who also won pins and nobody else has to write a letter. I seem to be the only kid with this kind of a mother.
I told her that a big company like Montgomery Ward doesn't give a hang if kids write in and say thank you for a little pin. My mother says this is not the point. She is pretty set in her ways so I thought I had better write to you for your ideas.
Please print your answer. My mother always reads your articles and she says you sure do know your onions. D.B.
DEAR D.B.: Give your mother my love. I think she knows HER onions, too – and I hope you'll listen to her.
Never mind about the other youngsters. Go ahead and write that letter to Montgomery Ward. Of course it's a big company, but big companies are made up of human beings and everyone likes to get a thank-you letter.
Your mother is trying to teach you a precious secret that most people NEVER learn in the journey from the womb to the tomb. The one who goes out of his way to do something that is not required or expected will shine like a diamond in a coal bin. Why? Because most of us are pretty lazy and unimaginative. A.L.
P.S. – Write to John A. Barr, who is chairman of the board of Montgomery Ward, and I'll bet you get a nice letter in return. (Permission granted for reproduction.)
4-H'er Created NASA's 'Chix in Space' Project
The Challenger disaster of January, 1986 was a tremendous loss for NASA and for the United States in many ways. The science project of 4-H alumnus (and Purdue University senior) John C. Vellinger was part of the payload aboard the ill-fated space craft. The science project, "Chix in Space," was lost.
Vellinger had been working on the chick embryo project since he was a ninth-grade 4-H member. The experiment consisted of a special incubator designed to cradle the fertile eggs during their journey. Vellinger's experience in wiring and building circuits as a 4-H electric energy project member was valuable in his work designing and building the incubator.
The idea for the space chicks project began to take shape when Vellinger was a student at Tecumseh Junior High School in Lafayette, Indiana. He entered a national contest sponsored by NASA and the National Science Teachers Association while still in high school as an eighth grader. Not winning that first contest, Vellinger redesigned the project several times before succeeding in getting it selected at the national level on the third try in 1983.
After his first year at Purdue in 1985, NASA arranged for mentorship by Mark Deuser, an engineer who was working for Kentucky Fried Chicken, the corporation that sponsored the $50,000 incubation project. On the challenger flight, the experiment was to be monitored in-flight by S. Christa McAuliffe, who would have been the first schoolteacher in space. The project consisted of carrying chick embryos at two different stages of development into the weightlessness of space and comparing them against a control group.
STS-29 Mission Patch
John Vellinger (from Summer 1989 National 4-H Council Quarterly)
Vellinger, pre-flight, with his incubator. (Photo: Courtesy John Vellinger)
After the shuttle accident, Vellinger and Deuser carried on with NASA on development of the hardware and integration for Student Experiment (SE) 83-9 Chicken Embryo Development in space a.k.a. "Chix in Space." The experiment finally reached its goal when it went into space on a Discovery Mission STS-29 in 1989.
Of those incubated for the full term, in the young embryo group, not a single egg hatched, while all of the eight more mature eggs, subjected to the nine-day pre-incubation on Earth, hatched and proved to be viable. Dissection revealed that in the younger embryos, development ceased at varied stages during exposure to microgravity conditions aboard the space craft.
After this pilot experiment, NASA scientists launched chicken embryos again in late 1992 aboard Endeavor STS-47 for collaborative study with Japan, and the research of chicken embryos in space is ongoing worldwide. For NASA, the "Chix in Space" hardware served as the prototype for additional space embryotic studies.
John Vellinger and Mark Deuser later went on to co-found IKOTECH, a company with design teams which develop and provide equipment for life science experiments on space shuttle missions and other commercial and government applications.
A Gift To Care
During the 1947 National 4-H Congress delegates were divided into discussion groups on Monday morning to begin talking about issues of the day, with the groups reporting back at a General Assembly on Thursday morning to the complete assembled Congress delegation. The general theme for that year's Congress was "Working Together to Build Better Home and World Community."
Near the end of the "give and take" of the reporting panel (also popularly termed the "Fight for the Mike" session) something special happened in almost less time than the story can be told.
It started when the 4-H'ers were discussing what they could do to speed the building of a better world community and the many who were starving in Europe. Robert Bull of Maryland challenged, "Why can't we do something right here and now." Suddenly the boys from Texas, out in the audience, sprang to their feet in unison and started passing their big 10-gallon hats along the rows for contributions. The panel members jumped off the stage to help with the collection. The answer to Bull's question was swift and real. $662.35 was piled on the front of the stage. As soon as the assembly was over some of the panel members rode away in a police car to a local bank and sent the $662.35 at once to CARE. A message, penned by the panel while at the bank went with it: "From the Heart H of the 4-H's of America to the hungry urban boys and girls of Europe."
As the discussion panel was gathering up the pile of contributions near the end of the assembly, John Cornah, a boy from England, sprang on stage and going to one of the microphones, speaking for the hard hit youth of Europe, thanked American 4-H'ers for their generosity.
A girl's state 4-H leader, standing in the wings, said "tears rolled down over my cheeks and my eyes blurred so I could hardly see." She went on, "I turned around to ask something of Earline Gandy, a farm paper correspondent. Writers are supposed to be hardened. She couldn't even speak to me. She was all choked up."
The best of moments often seem to be those which aren't even in the script.
While this story may not have generated a lot of publicity at the time, it is simply one of those stories about 4-H history that we cannot afford to lose. [CARE, founded in 1945 for this exact purpose, continues today to help fight poverty and provide emergency relief for children and families around the world.]
The Beginning Of Ifye
A somewhat similar event to the one above had actually taken place the year before. As reported in the Wessel book, "4-H: An American Idea," in the fall of 1946 Ed Aiton had been assigned to look into the possibility of international farm youth exchanges. At nearly the same time, O. T. Norris of the Young Farmer's Clubs of Great Britain was visiting in Washington. Prior to the war, the United States and Great Britain had exchanged dairy judging teams and Norris was interested in seeing the exchange renewed. Very quickly the two ideas coalesced into a general exchange of farm youth.
Until more plans could be made, the two agreed that a visit of several young English farmers to the National 4-H Congress in Chicago would be a good interim idea. The young men traveled to Chicago and were very much impressed with the Congress and discussed the idea of a general international exchange. At the Stevens Hotel (later Hilton), Aiton invited the gathered state 4-H winners to donate funds in order to send seven American farmers to Great Britain the next year. The delegates were enthusiastic with the suggestion and started taking up a collection right there during the assembly; from the balcony surrounding the auditorium 4-H'ers from across the country were dropping dollar bills, showering down on the delegates below, supporting the effort. The generosity of the 4-H delegates provided the initial contribution for sending the Americans to Great Britain in 1947, starting the international farm youth exchange.
Delegates at 4-H Congress assembly are shown on the stage in a "fight for the mike" session.
Here are the British visitors. From left, 21-year-old Hywel Evans; Stanley A. B. Gray, 20; William Edge, 21; group leader John L. Cornah, 23; Kenneth J. Osborne, 21 and Alexander Campbell, 20.
Danforth Court Boy And Girl Statues
In the Danforth Courtyard directly behind the central part of J. C. Penney Hall at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland resides two large, life-size bronzed statues on marble pedestals facing one another across the courtyard – often referred to as "The Typical Farm Boy" and "The Typical Farm Girl."
Gifts to the National 4-H Center by the Danforth Foundation, the two statues were created by sculptor Carl C. Mose. Now, well over 50 years old, this pair of statues, facing each other, continue to have a commanding presence in the Danforth Courtyard. The Art Inventories Catalog of the Smithsonian American Art Museums, in their "The Outdoor Sculpture of Washington, D.C., A Comprehensive Historical Guide," lists the twin statues.
For additional information on the Danforth Courtyard statues see:
The "I Dare You" Award was first offered in 1941 by businessman and philanthropist, William H. Danforth, who dared young people to achieve their highest potential and to influence others through lives of service. The founder of Ralston Purina Company and a successful entrepreneur and civic leader, Mr. Danforth believed that a balanced four-fold life of mental, physical, social, and spiritual development sustained individuals for the demands of leadership.
The "I Dare You" Leadership Award is not a contest or competition. School principals or county agents are asked to select two nominees annually. The "I Dare You" book proudly sits on the shelves of hundreds of former 4-H'ers who have been fortunate enough to have been selected for the award.
Rockwell's 'the County Agent'
Norman Rockwell painted his iconic "The County Agent" for a July 24, 1948 SATURDAY EVENING POST cover.
In 1948 when Norman Rockwell created the famous painting, "The County Agent," depicting Extension agent Herald Rippey as he explains to 4-H member Jama Fuller how he is checking a calf, while other members of the Fuller family of Redkey, Indiana look on, his creative genius was at its best! The painting had captured the spirit of rural America, the Extension Service, and 4-H all in one memorable scene.
The original painting today is housed in the Kellogg Conference Center at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. The painting, a sentimental favorite of 4-H enthusiasts everywhere, was transferred on to a pair of limited edition collector plates offered through the National 4-H Supply Service. In 1989, David L. Litten, vice president, Midwestern Region, Westinghouse Electric Corporation, a member of National 4-H Council's board of trustees, presented a signed original Rockwell print of "The County Agent" to 4-H Council President Dick Sauer to be hung at the National 4-H Center.
For more information a section on 'The County Agent' is available in the National 4-H History area of the 4-H History Preservation website.
Gracing the spacious lobby of J. C. Penney Hall at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland is the 8 ft. by 16 ft. mural – Head-Heart-Hands-Health. Painted by the eminent muralist, Dean Fausett, in the American genre, the mural captures the evolution of 4-H and the J. C. Penney Company during the 20th Century. Prominent in the mural is James Cash Penney, founder of the company that bears his name. He stands with a youth and his blue ribboned dairy heifer, reflecting Mr. Penney's benevolent support of 4-H and the 4-H tradition of recognizing effort.
Coming into the lobby of J. C. Penney Hall, the central building on the 4-H Center campus, one cannot help but observe this stunning mural. It nearly fills the entire wall to the right as you enter from the columned front of the building.
Visitors – no matter whether having 4-H backgrounds or no connection with 4-H whatsoever – are intrigued by the mural and the story it tells.
For more information on the Head-Heart-Hands-Health Mural visit:
National 4-H ‘style Show’... Becomes A Lasting Tradition
Geneva Amundson of Galesville, Wisconsin, was winner of the first 4-H style show at the 1924 National 4-H Club Congress. Her dress was navy blue pin-striped wool serge with red collar, cuffs, piping and buttons. Her hat was navy blue, trimmed with red.
The 1924 Club Congress witnessed the first national 4-H "style" show, as it was called. Maude E. Wallace, then in charge of 4-H girls work in North Carolina (and later Home Demonstration leader in Virginia), was in charge. The girls modeled on the marble steps leading to the balcony in the ballroom of the Drake Hotel. Geneva Amundson, later an assistant State leader in Wisconsin, was named winner. Years later she made a facsimile of that first dress and appeared in the revue program again.
Some of Extension's women leaders at the state level felt the style show event might be undignified, but it caught the public fancy and not only continue for decades, but became a highlighted event at the state level during state fairs, and in many counties. In later years the national event was referred to as the National 4-H Dress Revue and the National 4-H Fashion Revue. Particularly during the earlier years, this event was also a "pleaser" to the media reps who were keen in showing the stylistic accomplishments of rural girls as another side of the growing list of 4-H projects.
A few day following the close of the 1924 National 4-H Club Congress Geneva Amundson received in the mail from Washington a copy of the Declaration of Independence, 29" x 33" in size, accompanied by an engraved appreciation note: "Presented to Geneva Amundson of Galesville, Wisconsin, winner of the trip to the International Livestock Exposition, Chicago, 1924, for Creditable Work in the National Boys' and Girls' Club by the President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge."
Miss America And 4-H - A Tradition
For decades the reigning Miss America traditionally attended National 4-H Congress each year, always a highlight of the 4-H delegates. For many of these years, during the 1950s, 60s and 70s, she appeared at the Thursday noon All-Congress Luncheon sponsored by General Motors Corporation in honor of the state and national 4-H safety program winners. Often part of the routine during Miss America's luncheon performance, she would select one of the safety winners... always a young man, to come up on stage in front of the 2,000+ audience where she would perhaps sing directly to him, much to the delight of the audience and to the red-faced embarrassment of the "chosen one."
Miss America then also appeared individually with the national safety winners in television interviews to send back to hometown stations. It was always a special delight when the current Miss America was a former 4-H member.
Miss America still occasionally appears at National 4-H Congress today, and former Miss Americas can often be found on state 4-H programs as speakers.
The Pig That Went To Sunday School
Although technically perhaps not fitting the true definition, this
story can come close to being called folklore. The feature, as written by
Minnie E. Porter in the June 1919 issue of "Junior Soldiers of the Soil,"
the monthly magazine published by E. T. Meredith and Successful Farming "as
a service for Farm Boys and Girls and the Federal Club Work," documents the
story that had been passed from word of mouth throughout the township of
Dover, the entire Tuscarawas County and many points beyond. Major segments
of the story are being related here:
On a still Sunday morning in late Summer, the children were gathered
for Sunday school at the little country church of Ruslin Hills, near Dover,
Ohio. All ready for his Sunday school lesson Henry Maurer joined the little
group. All at once Henry heard a familiar grunt outside and he knew well
enough what it meant. Henry's pig had followed him to Sunday school.
But a moment and all was confusion in that quiet church yard. The
children flocked around that pig and all thought of that Sunday school
lesson was forgotten in the excitement. The pig did not mind it at all. He
seemed quite content to have so much fuss made over him. But for Henry it
seemed different. He must take the pig home, the teacher said, and the pig
wouldn't go. It was some distance across the fields to his home. Henry
coaxed and the children shouted and the pig wouldn't go. Finally Henry
walked away for some distance. The pig suddenly missed him. When the pig
caught sight of Henry in the field, away he went.
The story of the pig that went to Sunday school spread from one end of
the county to the other. Henry's pig became the best known pig club pig in
all the country 'round.
Henry Mauer on the way to Sunday school with his pig.
And this Sunday school pig had a fine chance in the world to be a
winner. When the country club leader enrolled Henry as a pig club member in
the Oak Grove Club it required many explanations and some persuasion before
Henry's father gave his consent. But the father is a thoro going farmer who
believes in doing things right. He hunted up the best pig he could find for
Henry. This Sunday school pig was the finest one in a litter of pure bred
Ohio Improved Chester Whites.
The judge who made it possible for Henry to attend Farmers' Week.
From the time that it was brought home to Henry, this pig received the
best care and every attention. Henry's father is known among the farmers of
the region as a man who knows how to feed. Henry's feeding methods were the
result of his father's advice as well as his instructions from the
university. This Sunday school pig, so round and sleek, was fed on milk
with a small quantity of middlings mixed with it, from the time that it was
brought to the farm. The amount of milk was increased until the pig had one
quart three times a day. Henry was watching his cost. To the milk and
middlings he added in increasing amounts some chop made from oats and corn
ground together. As the chop was mixed with the milk Henry was quite carful
to see that all the feed was consumed by his pig and not one bit wasted.
Very little corn was fed until the last days before th exhibition at the
fair. The pig roamed about the farm and had his choice of pastures all
One other factor in the happy life of this Sunday school pig on the
Maurer farm was his regular bath, which usually came on wash day. The pig
made some objections at first but grew to like it. He even knew that wash
day came the day after Sunday school... When the club pigs were exhibited
at the fair, Henry's pig attracted considerable attention. "Where is the
pig that went to Sunday school?" was the query heard again and again as
visitors from all parts of the county filed thru the exhibit. When the
judges made their report it was found that the Sunday school pig had won
second prize with a score of 92.3, a very close second to the winner of
first place with 93 as the score. Henry was a proud boy, for his prize was
to be a trip to Farmers' Week at the university...
It was just a short time before Farmers' Week at the university that
Henry's father appeared at the office of the Farm Bureau with the
announcement that, as he had been summoned on the jury, Henry would not be
able to leave home to go on the prize trip. Henry's only brother was in the
service and there would be no one at home to do the feeding and the chores
for the mother.
As the county club leader was leaving the office one day with this
message, the juryman Maurer appeared on the street just as the jury was
adjourned for dinner. "What is to be done about Henry?" the club leader
inquired. "Nothing at all," replied the father, "unless you can get me
excused from the jury. Judge Mitchell can do it and he's up there now." And
the father pointed knowingly to the windows of the jury room in the court
house. It took but a few minutes for the club leader to lay the case of
Henry and his pig before the grave and dignified judge, whose kindly eyes
reflected a heart filled with human sympathy. "Have you not heard about the
pig that went to Sunday school?" "Oh, yes," replied the judge," everybody
in the county knows about that pig." And when the club leader had finished
with an eloquent plea for Henry and his pig, the judge announced his
decision with great dignity. "The pig that went to Sunday school must be
represented at Farmers' Week and Henry shall go to the university. His
father is excused from the jury for one week."
And Henry went. This trip opened Henry's eyes wide. It was his first
trip away from home by himself and the longest journey he had ever made on
the train. At the university Henry was known as the boy whose pig went to
Sunday school. And there wasn't anything that Henry missed in the entire
week. A happier boy could not have been found than Henry, when it was all
over and he was ready to take the train for home. His big brown eyes looked
so very much larger. It seemed that if he should ever close them he might
forget something that he had seen.
The Pig That Went to Sunday School
by Mrs. Shafer
Henry Mauer had a pig
And it was fat as butter,
And everywhere that Henry went,
The pig went and not a mutter.
He followed him to Sunday school
All on a summer's day.
This very fat and saucy pig
Made the children laugh and play.
So he was promptly turned outside,
For 'twas against the rule
For even a pig club pig
To attend the Sabbath school.
But he just hung around
Until Henry came out, too–
Now this is not a frame up
The tale is really true.
What makes the pig love Henry so?
Do you ask the reason why?
Oh, Henry loves the pig you know
and fumigates his sty.
Henry is an Ohio pig club boy,
His pig, an O.I.C.
To beat it Mary's little lamb
Must go some, all agree.
The Moses Trophy - Top Leadership Award
Horace A. Moses
Beginning in 1924 the top 4-H Leadership award, winner of the prestigious Moses trophy, was considered the top award in 4-H. Presented at National 4-H Congress, initially there was a single winner, however after three years, there was both a boy winner and a girl winner selected. The annual announcement of these winners brought national promotion to 4-H from coast to coast with coverage in movie newsreels, on national radio broadcasts and in newspaper and magazine features.
The Moses trophies (there were two) were travelling trophies with each of the annual winners getting to retain the trophy for one year before it was traditionally passed on to the new winners. The trophies were presented in the name of Horace A. Moses, President of the Strathmore Paper Company and a member of the board of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work.
He also sponsored the 4-H Leader Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts and funded the Horace A. Moses Building at the Eastern States Exposition. Beginning in the 1930s, the winners also received scholarships provided by Edward Foss Wilson, the son of Thomas E. Wilson. In approximately 1961, the top winners received trays presented in the name of the President of the United States instead of the trophies. But... one of the mysteries of 4-H history continues to remain today – what happened to the two prestigious traveling Moses trophies? The National 4-H History Preservation leadership Team continues to search for these trophies so they can once again be displayed at the national level.
For more information on the National 4-H Leadership Program and a listing of all winners at
A notable "first" in 4-H history is the very first winner of the famous H. A. Moses trophy, awarded in the National 4-H Leadership program to Ford Mercer of Wellston, Oklahoma.
Sir Thomas Lipton Honors Top 4-H Achievement Winners
In parallel to the top National 4-H Leadership boy and girl awards, in 1928 a top 4-H boy and a top 4-H girl were selected at National 4-H Congress for overall high honors in 4-H Achievement.
The program was created by the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work in consort with the 4-H Office of USDA. It was sponsored by Sir Thomas Lipton, a Scotsman who was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1898, had become a multimillionaire tea merchant, emigrating to America and establishing his business in New Jersey. He died in 1931 at the age of 81, however Lipton Tea was to become the tea trade's largest worldwide success throughout the course of the twentieth century. After the death of Sir Thomas Lipton the award for the top boy and girl in the National 4-H Achievement Awards Program became recipients of the President's trophy, given annually in the name of the President of the United States with each winner also receiving a scholarship. In the beginning this trophy was referred to as the Roosevelt trophy, however during the 1940s it became known as the President's trophy. Like the Leadership top honors, the two top annual 4-H achievement winners garnered much media coverage and publicity.
Sir Thomas Lipton, c. 1909
For more information on the National 4-H Achievement Awards and a listing of all winners, see the National 4-H Presidential Winners segment on the 4-H history website at
Remember The Cartwright Family? - Of Course You Don't
No, we're not talking about Ben, Adam, "Hoss" and "Little Joe" Cartwright of Bonanza fame. We're talking about Mr. And Mrs. Cartwright and their two children, Edward and Jennie from over 80 years ago.
The Cartwrights were a popular "soap opera" segment on a weekly 4-H radio program aired over the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) starting in early 1931. Naturally, Edward and his younger sister were both young 4-H members on the show which aired from 12:35 to 12:55 Central Standard Time each Saturday.
People tuned in by the thousands to hear the adventures of this radio farm family. 4-H'ers across the country were encouraged to send in short stories to be used in the episodes of the Cartwright family. Each week those submitting the 20 top suggestions were offered an attractive prize.
The CBS 4-H show also carried a music appreciation segment and the latest 4-H news flashes direct from the field... but, it was the Cartwright 4-H Family that made the show so popular.
Gallup Poll Shows Public Likes 4-H
Young people doing constructive things in 4-H have what it takes for widespread appeal and the public's favorable response, according to a 1976 Gallup poll. People know about 4-H and they like it.
The Extension Service was invited by Gallup pollsters to participate in a survey of national youth-service groups. Gallup's statistics revealed that: 77 percent of the people interviewed were aware of 4-H. Of those, 91 percent had favorable attitudes toward 4-H. Almost none of the interviewees held unfavorable attitudes toward the organization. More than three out of four persons aware o 4-H believe its work is worthwhile or even essential. The reasons the public gave for its favorable attitude toward 4-H: "It's good for young people... "it provides constructive attitudes"... "it teaches youth good skills, develops character and makes good citizens."
"Somebody Was Inspired When They Founded The 4-H Club
The above quote is from Will Rogers in 1934. Known worldwide as a humorist, a social commentator, performer and motion picture actor, he was one of the best known American's of that decade. The best paid actor in Hollywood, making 71 movies. He traveled around the world three times; and, as a syndicated columnist, he wrote more than 4,000 columns.
The people adored Rogers and listened to what he had to say... and, he had a lot to say. Here is what he had to say about 4-H:
"With all the haywire ideas we have, ever once in a while we hit on a good one. I was down to the Los Angeles livestock show, and I saw these hundreds of farmer boys that had fattened and cared for a calf, or pig, or sheep, themselves. It's a thing called the 4-H Club. Somebody was inspired when they founded that. It's all over the country. By golly, they are a great bunch of kids, and they have some fine stock."
4-H Pigs Visit South Pole
According to a brief news article in the January 1929 National Boys and Girls Club News, a herd of 4-H club pigs are now dining aboard one of Commander Richard E. Byrd's South Pole expedition vessels. The herd consists of six gilts and one boar which are kept aboard the ship for breeding purposes in order to supply the pork needed for the expedition party during their stay in the South Pole region. The 4-H club boys who sold the hogs to the Byrd purchasing agent are Prior and David Gimbert of Princess Ann County, Virginia.
Two years later, now a Rear Admiral, Byrd paid a visit to the National 4-H Club Congress in Chicago. He is shown here presenting medals to the meat project winners in the program sponsored by Wilson Meat Packing Company. Thos. E. Wilson is standing at the left and his son, Edward Foss Wilson, is pictured beside his father and behind Rear Admiral Byrd.
Boy Sends Calf To Egypt
Not trying to top the pigs to the South Pole story, or anything, however later that year, in the November 1929 issue of National Boys and Girls Club News there is a brief story about Thomas Rich, from Hobart in Delaware County, New York, who has the distinction of being the first person in the United States to introduce a purebred calf into Egypt. His 4-H calf, "Sophis Sons Viola," was purchased by Professor M. C. McFeetra. Professor of Agriculture at Assuit College, American mission at Assuit, Egypt. It was necessary to secure a special permit to make the importation into Egypt, as formerly all livestock was slaughtered at the docks.
4-H Club Members In Spokane, Washington Become Radio Pioneers
Club members from the Sunset community, Spokane County, Washington, organized the first radio club in the state with Claude Senge local leader. The Sunset Radio Club was composed of 12 members including Jack Adams, Gordon Brown, Helen Brown, Edward Gassman, Maude Hamilton, Halbert Hewett, Elsie Johnson, Jack Stainer, Harold Stoll, Martin Tuttle, and Mark Wells.
In writing about the club in the September 1922 issue of Farm Boys and Girls Leader, Mr. Senge states: "Some people think we can't make a success of the club, but I believe that it can be put over all right. Altho the club may not be a money making proposition at present, we will be able to get farm reports, weather reports and news out to our community."
1922 seemed to be a key year for getting radio on its feet. A station in Atlanta in March of that year became the first radio station in the entire South. Operated by the Atlanta Journal, it was the first station in America to adopt a slogan - "The Voice of the South." Station WEAF in New York City broadcasted the first radio commercial in 1922... starting the birth of commercial radio.
A complete section on the National 4-H History Preservation website is devoted to 4-H and Radio... Early Days, Growing Up Together. It is located at http://4-HHistoryPreservation.com/History/Radio/
President Woodrow Wilson Comments On 4-H Bread-making
Fifteen-year old Margaret Lofgren of the village of Ulen, Clay County, Minnesota, was thrilled to be in Washington, D.C. on June 20, 1914, as the first state champion bread-maker in the history of the 4-H clubs. Margaret met President Woodrow Wilson on her visit to the White House. He grasped her hand and said, "Margaret, what have you done to be entitled to represent the great State of Minnesota at the nation's capital?"
Embarrassed to be thus addressed by the President, Margaret bravely suppressed the tears she felt coming. "Mr. President, I have only learned to bake good bread," she said.
"Margaret," President Wilson replied, "the girl who has learned to make good bread has learned one of the greatest accomplishments of an American woman. In America we have only one title to nobility and that is achievement. You 4-H'ers have won that title." (This story was related by T. A. "Dad" Erickson, State 4-H Leader, Minnesota)
4-H And A Sick Baby
In his July 1960 Washington News and Views column in National 4-H News, Ed Aiton, Director, 4-H Club and YMW Programs, Extension, USDA, writes: "4-H pops up in the most interesting places! Now its in the big time motion picture business. I'm writing this article from Hollywood, California. Tomorrow morning we give a final review and approval to a feature-length movie that's all about a 4-H community in Katy, Texas. The title is "Tomboy and the Champ." You'll see it soon in your neighborhood theatre.
"While flying here to filmland this afternoon I was reminded of an almost forgotten contribution of 4-H to the Stars. Once long ago our small town family doctor telephoned and said 'Ed, We have a mighty sick little baby here. We can't find any food that agrees with her. Will you take real special care of some low-butterfat milk and bring it in twice a day. Strain it, and cool it carefully and...'
"So 'Toots' - my Holstein 4-H heifer - became an experimental foster mother for about six months. The whole town was mighty pleased that the tiny girl began to feel better right away. At three, she started singing with her father on the stage at the local theatre, between the first and second shows. And later, she changed her name to Judy Garland, whom you know as the film and TV star.
"I hope that every 4-H boy and girl can experience a similar thrill by making someone happy or healthy, producing something, being somebody or doing something useful and worthwhile. That's why we use the term 4-H Club work. It implies service and usefulness. Also, that's why 4-H should be kept flexible - so that local leaders, parents and 4-H members can shape and fit it to local needs and problems. How fortunate that our 4-H project outline and requirements for the heifer program was flexible enough to market the milk from 'Toots' in a very unusual way for six months. That's the way it must always be in 4-H, so we can always say 'When a Star is Born' - 4-H helped to raise it to the sky."
4-H Girls Exhibit at First Woman's World Fair in 1925
On April 25, 1925, the First Woman's World Fair closed a successful 8-day run at the Furniture Mart on North Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. The fair, which highlighted women's achievements in art, commerce and industry, attracted more than 200,000 visitors. The fair was the brainchild of Helen Bennett, author of "Women and Work," and a pioneer of the women's movement. In an age when women in the workplace were still considered a novelty, she was demanding comparable pay for comparable work. In the Women's Republican Club of Chicago Bennett found kindred spirits to support her pioneering ideas - including the Woman's World Fair. The fair was officially opened by President Coolidge by radio, at that time an almost unheard of feat.
The 4-H Club Girl's exhibit at the Woman's World Fair was in the form of a miniature household worked out in accordance with 4-H standards for Home Decoration. Miss Maude E. Wallace, Asst. State Home Demonstration agent, North Carolina, was in charge and Inez Harden, National 4-H health champion from Mississippi, Veva Divan, Wisconsin's champion club girl and third in the national Leadership contest, and Beulah Rogers, member of the National Champion Canning team who won the trip to France in 1922, were present to demonstrate what 4-H Girls' club work means to American farm womanhood. The exhibit was made possible by courtesy of Montgomery Ward & Company.
What the fair proposed - that women question their traditional role in society, discover themselves and seek employment if they so desired - may be commonplace today, but to the women of the 1920's, it was quite new and radical. For 4-H to have been involved is just another one of those little nuggets of history that always comes as a surprise.
Florida 4-H Club Boys Start Oyster Project
4-H has always prided itself in being flexible enough to pretty much allow members to carry projects they may be interested in that may not always fit in the "mainstream" of project offerings. This is one of those stories... from over 60 years ago.
Five Florida 4-H Club boys leased an acre of water for the first 4-H oyster project in the nation. The boys, under the leadership of Gorge H. Toepfer, Florida conservation agent, salt water division, and Bay County Agent J. A. Sorenson, signed a lease with the state for one acre of East Bay near Panama City in which they will plant, cultivate and harvest oysters for a potential market.
According to a story in the August 1954 issue of National 4-H News, the lads who are launching the project are: Donnie Wildman, Albert Hogan, Marshall Gore, Fred Waters, and Bobby Seaborn. Mr. Sorenson conceived the idea to interest boys who, like their fisherman fathers, look to the sea rather than the land for a livelihood. They will receive training in all phases of oyster production and enjoy other advantages of being 4-H Club boys.
4-H A 'Career Starter' For TV Program Host
During a major 4-H push with urban programming in the 1960's, a local television station in Indianapolis, Station WLWI (now WTHR) created a weekly 4-H Saturday morning show called "Clover Power"... the show host was a young David Letterman, later to become a late night network talk show host.
Their Fightin'est Indian 4-H Club Called The Most Patriotic Outfit In Oklahoma
Riverside Indian 4-H Club members rehearsing for one of their dance
numbers. L. to R. Beatrice Tahmalikera, Billie Tonpahhote, Lucy White
Horse, Lee Monett Tsatoke, Myrtle Ann Beaver and David Joinkeen. (National
4-H News June 1943)
This is one of several feature stories in the June 1943 issue of National 4-H News4. "One fourth of the 52,000 youth enrolled in Oklahoma 4-H clubs in 1943, according to State Leader Paul G. Adams, are Indian youth. Some of the finest state winners Oklahoma has sent to the National 4-H Congress have been of Indian descent, he adds. 'Win the war now, smoke the peace pipe later,' is the slogan of 4-H Indians in the Sooner State.
"According to county agent L. I. Bennett, they're the hardest fighting group of warriors in the country. All members of the Indian Riverside 4-H Club – the largest all-Indian 4-H Club in the state – with their 4-H club projects, they're helping Uncle Sam furnish food to the boys on the firing lines. They have a keen interest in seeing that food gets to the front because 18 Club members of their fellow tribesmen have joined the Army, Navy or Marines since Pearl Harbor. "You'll never find a more patriotic group of young people than these 4-H club Indians," contends Bennett. As the older boys join the armed forces their projects have been taken over by younger members of the club and carried to completion. The girls can foods produced in the club's Victory gardens.
"In addition to growing food, members of the Riverside Club are just as active in other 4-H project areas. At the State Round-Up Andrew Pahmahmie placed in the blue ribbon class in the State 4-H Style Dress Revue contest. Bernice Paddlety and Alva Mae Tapdo won a gold medal with their dairy demonstration at the State contest, Ruth Sardongei and Alva Walker won trips to the American Royal at Kansas City for placing first with their paint demonstration, and Luke Tainpeah and Tom Kauley were blue ribbon winners in the poultry demonstration contest. At the Caddo County Fair 53 of the clubs girls made exhibits, winning a total of 82 ribbons.
"'Thanks for America' was the main theme of their Achievement Week last December to climax the year's work. Instead of holding an achievement banquet as many clubs stage at the end of the year, this Indian Club celebrated their 1943 achievements in typical Indian style by setting aside an entire week for their achievement program. Each of the five daily programs staged were centered around one of the "H's" in the club emblem, and one for home. One day the training of the head was stressed, another day, the heart, then the hands, health, and then the home."
A Dinner To Remember… Words Never To Forget
This story was published in National 4-H News following the 1947 National 4-H Club Congress, written by Robert Chesnutt, Assistant Extension Editor, Alabama.
The theme of this story about our Alabama delegates could be repeated over and over by others struck with the eagerness of youth to accept new ideas, encouragement, strong leadership.
Our boys and girls hadn't missed a session, not even a word uttered by outstanding speakers. They absorbed the entire program. I know. They talked with me about every meeting.
Then at one of the dinners given by a generous sponsor, their enthusiasm was fired higher and higher. It reached the bubbling-over point. At this event rumor got around that top-flight athletes would appear on the evening program. Immediately every member of our group wanted autographs. They soon located Charlie Trippi, Chicago Cardinals, and Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox (both later Hall of Famers) at the table across the spacious Stevens Hotel Ballroom.
They got the signatures and then said they would be ever-grateful if the stars would pose for a picture with them. True sports that they are, Trippi and Williams laid down their forks and obliged. That was the happiest bunch of boys I ever photographed.
After dinner, the two stars, plus a dozen more in all fields of sports, talked to the Congress folks. None hung more closely to their words than did our Alabama delegates:
"Fair play"… "Play to win"… "Be a good looser; a gracious winner"… "Practice, practice, practice"… "Keep working, keep trying"… "Study and plan; use your mind as well as your muscles"… "Practice, and then keep practicing."
Upon receptive, eager ears fell these lines that had followed other inspiring words of a dozen speakers of previous days. They were drunk, deeply drunk, by kids who would hold on to them forever. Those words and those boys and girls became inseparable. Neither could escape from the other.
The ringing challenge would return later down in some Alabama cotton field. It would come again to haunt and inspire a boy who found his beef cattle project heart-breakingly tough. It would sound again and thrill a wisp of a girl whose eyes were filled with sweat from standing over a red hot stove, canning food for winter. Yes, some words never die. They become as much of the one inspired as he is of himself.
Deeply moved, the boys and girls questioned me: "I've heard the same words before – but this week they really did something to me"… "Everybody's got a chance to do big things, they said, and I believe it"… "The only person who can stop you is yourself," said another. "That's what those speeches meant to me"… "I'll never forget – and I'm going to make more out of myself. I'm going to be a winner."
Those were some of the things the sincerest kids I ever knew told me that night.
Couple of days later 14-year-old Nimrod Garth looked at the international's grand champion steer and unwaveringly volunteered, "I can grow out one just as good. It may take a long, long time, but I am going to do it."
Nimrod, already a State champion, was echoing the spirit he found at the Congress. Perhaps he would have said the same, Congress or no Congress, but I can't think so.
Making the last lap of the journey home by car, I was seated next to Lucille May, from the red hills of remote Randolph county. She was quiet, weighing something in her bright, energetic mind. Then Lucille turned to Mary Dell McCain, State girls leader. "Some day I am going to be the national achievement winner," she announced quietly. "I've worked hard for nine years to be State best record winner. Now I'm aiming for what I think is the greatest 4-H honor. I'm going to help younger girls with their 4-H work and make myself a winner."
Lucille said it in a matter-of-fact way. But meant every word. Knowing how far down the line she started and how high she's climbed, I say she'll do it, too.
The words and inspired faces remind me over and over that at every crossroad are growing our future wealth.
How well we succeed lies in how well we kindle in our youth the fire that keeps them pushing towards new victories in the smaller accomplishments in life: Sewing a better dress, canning a better jar of food, growing better corn, taking a fuller part in leadership.
Inspiration may come at a National Congress – but just as surely it may come in the smallest 4-H meeting; or at a home visit by the county Extension agent; or when an older member helps a beginner.
When or where youth is inspired is not important. The fact that they can be as inspired as their leaders have the vision to make them is the secret to better 4-H work – and a better world.
Paul Harvey News… And 4-H
Paul Harvey News, popular across the country on the American Broadcasting Co. (ABC) Radio for five decades, offered the following commentary on the network on November 25, 1956 during the National 4-H Congress.
This is Chicago.
This is the week of the International Live Stock Exposition.
And the 4-H champions are in town for their National Congress.
It is an annual custom by the Central Church of Chicago to welcome them to Sunday Service… in the Hilton Hotel.
At the invitation of Pastor Kenneth Hildebrand, it's also been an annual custom for Paul Harvey to read the scriptures at this service.
So I was there this morning.
4-H winners from every state and every territory.
And they get better looking every year.
Whooeee, we're raising a fine crop of young folks on our farms!
Sometimes because the headlines get preoccupied with the weeds we forget to give thanks for the harvest.
We can get rid of most of those weeds, with a good threshing.
But more important, we mustn't let them discourage or dishearten us.
For every young hoodlum hiding a switch-blade knife, I can show you ten ridin' tall on the tractor.
For every young rascal sowing wild oats, I can name ten planting the tame kind.
For every one who makes of himself an enemy of men…
Ten make friends with them… and with the God of the sun and the soil.
As the big live stock show displays the best animals our farms have produced…
So we here display the best young men and women our farms have produced, too.
And I tell you, we're going to be all right.
After this morning's service I stood talking to young Rodney
Henderson, Hereford farmer from Jackson, Mississippi.
I'm six feet two, but I had to look up to this towering lad. Both ways.
And he can advise you on whitefaces, but he can talk to you about anything.
It's a fine crop of youngsters our farms are turning out.
One of the things I miss most about the automatic washer and
drier in the basement is the way a pillow case used to smell when it had been sun dried.
And talking to these future leaders of the croplands, you recall that sun-washed freshness in the way they talk and the way they look and act and easy way they laugh.
All of us who participate in that annual church service for the 4-H'ers figure it'll inspire them…
And every year it's we who end up getting inspired.
Recent years the farmer has been getting the short end of the stick, you know.
He's had to dig and scratch and plow close to the hedgerows.
Because it wasn't easy, he had to be strong.
He had no choice.
He had to get smart.
Well, sir, every nation and every generation has made the greatest advances when it had to.
And in order to hold our agricultural family together in recent years the farmer has needed strong sons and capable daughters…
Well, he has them.
I spent the morning peeking over a pulpit at the finest cash crop this country has EVER produced.
I mean ever!
So if you read of some misfit young product of our big city prosperity shooting up a tavern for kicks…
It's just because his one gunshot made more noise than two thousand prayers.
But it wasn't really more important. Not really.
Blue Sky Below My Feet
"Blue Sky Below My Feet - Adventures in Space Technology" was the name of a popular 4-H television produced in 1986 by National 4-H Council, Extension 4-H USDA, National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) and Arthur Young and Company. It provided a strong, lasting relationship between 4-H and NASA that remains to this day.
(See the section on the 4-H History website on Astronauts, Space and 4-H.)
Some of the segments in the series included four astronauts who were 4-H alumni - Don Williams, Mack Lee, Bob Crippin and Ellison Onizuka - filming in Houston at the Johnson Space Center. The three programs focused on gravity and forces, fiber and fabrics, and food and nutrition. Impulse, an animated satellite, was used throughout the series.
Dexter Dickinson, famed space artist, created a special set of six futuristic space art posters to accompany the Blue Sky series. Mr. Dickinson personally presented the original artwork for the posters to the National 4-H Center during the Blue Sky premiere on February 11, 1986 at the National 4-H Center.
One of the series of six posters created exclusively for the Blue Sky Below My Feet 4-H television series by famed space artist Dexter Dickinson
4-H'ers Love for Western Movie Stars and Vice Versa
While it perhaps wasn't as easy for rural youth to get into town to see the latest matinee performance of their favorite western idols at the local movie theater as it was for their big city cousins, they were true fans nonetheless. And, the western movie stars of the 1940s and 1950s seemed to be well aware of this. For many of the western stars, if not most of them, there was a direct connection with 4-H. Some grew up on farms or ranches. Some had been 4-H members. All of them made regular appearances at horse shows, state fairs and county 4-H fairs.
A few of these western idols and their 4-H connections are documented below:
Roy Rogers was a huge star during the 1940s and 1950s, known as the "King of the Cowboys." He was one of the singing cowboys which was prominent in western movies at that time, appearing in over 100 films between 1935 and 1984.
Rogers (born Leonard Slye) was born in Cincinnati but grew up on the family farm in Duck Run, Ohio, having a pig as a 4-H project. The April 1957 National 4-H News, p. 18, has a photo of Roy Rogers w/alumni plaque awarded as state 4-H alumni winner in Ohio. He was honored as a national 4-H alumni recipient in 1958.
Roy Rogers appeared in a 1984 promotional film, "4-H is More," creating public awareness for 4-H. He also assisted National 4-H Council through a national direct mail letter over his name which went to alumni as a fund raising appeal in 1985. Roy Rogers (and his wife, Dale Evans) attended National 4-H Congress in Chicago several times. Their famous theme song, "Happy Trails," was written by Dale Evans.
Gene Autry was known as America's favorite singing cowboy. "Back In The Saddle Again" was Autry's signature song which he co-wrote with Ray Whitley. "Here Comes Santa Claus (Down Santa Claus Lane) was written and originally performed by Autry.
Gene Autry was one of the top money-making western stars in film history. Autry's film and recording careers, along with wise investments, made him extremely wealthy. Gene Autry sponsored national 4-H scholarship awards at National 4-H Congress for several years during the 1950s. He entertained at National 4-H Congress in 1945 as part of the WLS Barn Dance Show for the Congress delegates.
William Boyd (Hopalong Cassidy)
The small town of Hendrysburg, south of Piedmont Lake in Ohio, is the birthplace of William Boyd who portrayed Hopalong Cassidy in western movies during the 1940s and 1950s. Hopalong Cassidy was one of the "good guy" western stars to dress in black. Boyd made 66 films as Hopalong Cassidy. Unlike the other two major western stars of the 1940's-50's, Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy's character did not sing and, in fact, Boyd disliked Western music. Like Rogers and Autry, however, Boyd licensed much merchandise supporting the Hopalong Cassidy brand, a wise move which made all three stars extremely wealthy.
Hopalong Cassidy attended the Thomas E. Wilson Day dinner at the 1955 National 4-H Club Congress in Chicago where he entertained the delegates.
Duncan Renando (The Cisco Kid)
Duncan Renando was an American actor best remembered as The Cisco Kid in films in the 1950's and the TV series, "The Cisco Kid." He attended the 1955 Thomas E. Wilson dinner at National 4-H Congress in Chicago, entertaining the 4-H Congress delegates at the height of his popularity.
Rex Allen was a film actor, singer and songwriter born on a ranch in Mud Springs Canyon, Arizona. He became a rodeo rider and then headed to Chicago where in the 1940's he was a performer on the WLS program, National Barn Dance (with 4-H Congress delegates as one of his audiences). Beginning in 1950 Rex Allen became a film star for Republic Pictures in Hollywood, making 19 Western movies, becoming one of the top 10 box office draws of the day.
Rex Allen starred in Universal Pictures 1961 4-H film, "Tom Boy and the Champ," produced in honor of 4-H Clubs across the country. Allen also entertained 4-H delegates at the National 4-H Congress in Chicago in 1945 at the Thomas E. Wilson Day banquet.
Johnny Western (born Johnny Westerlund) is an American country singer, songwriter, musician and actor. He was born in 1934 in Two Harbors, Minnesota and began recording at his local 4-H Club singing Gene Autry's "Riding Down the Canyon" and other songs. He was in several movies and performed with Gene Autry and was part of the Johnny Cash Road Show for a 40 year period. In 1958 Johnny Western wrote and performed the theme song, "The Ballad of Paladin" for the CBS television program "Have Gun - Will Travel" with Richard Boone. Through the shows 225 episodes, and reruns, the show has technically never been off the air. Western's last tour and performance was in 2013, the 4-H alum retiring from show business except for doing one or two planned projects a year.
Tom Mix and Clayton Moore (The Lone Ranger)
Tom Mix was the first movie superstar and was paid an enormous salary. He established the form of the western movies for decades to come by making western movies flamboyant and action oriented. He appeared in 291 films between 1909 and 1935... mostly silent.
Clayton Moore was an American actor best known for playing the fictional western character the Lone Ranger and it became his life-long occupation. In addition to a number of films, "The Lone Ranger" TV series became the ABC network's first true hit program.
Both Tom Mix and Clayton Moore exemplify the western stars who appeared over the years at country events at state and county levels including many 4-H fairs and horse shows.
Randolph Scott, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster, Henry Fonda, Joel McCrea, Lee Marvin, James Arness, Walter Brennan and dozens more all made western films during this 1940s-1950s era but are also known in a much broader context than the "cowboy movie stars" listed above.
Living in a Nuclear Age
"Living in a Nuclear Age" was the first national 4-H television series designed specifically for youth in their teens. It became available early in 1973. The high energy six half-hour shows featured animated cartoon characters and the atomic sounds of Herbie Mann, Ray Brown and Barney Kessel (Columbia Studios, Hollywood) in original music compositions such as "Neutron Analytics," "Pieces of Atoms," and "Isotope Walk." The animated character "Ion" was voiced by Mel Blanc (also the voice of Bugs Bunny).
The series was designed to explore not only the scientific information but the problems resulting from our move into the "Nuclear Age." The show titles included: Discovering the Atom, Power from the Atom, Radioisotopes, Nuclear Energy and Living Things, Society and Things Nuclear, and Bombarding Things. A members' manual and leaders' guide accompanied the series along with other supportive materials.
The series was planned and designed by the National 4-H TV Development Committee on Civil Defense, and The Kansas State University Development Committee. Films were produced by Extension Film Production, Kansas State University and promotional materials by KSU Extension Service. The film crew traveled to many sections of the country shooting the series, including the Atomic Energy Research Labs of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The series was distributed by the National 4-H Service Committee, Chicago. The series fit well with the school system's curriculum relating to atomic energy and also supported the growing national energy crisis, however never reached the viewership numbers of the earlier 4-H nutrition series, Mulligan Stew. A more thorough history of the Living in a Nuclear Age series can be found on the 4-H History website in the segment on National 4-H Television Series in the National 4-H History Section.
Father Flanagan's Boys' Town and 4-H
Father Edward J. Flanagan, the founder of what's known as Boys Town, had a dream that every boy could be a productive citizen if given love, a home, an education and a trade. Father Flanagan, a Roman Catholic priest, firmly believed, "there are no bad boys. There is only bad environment, bad training, bad example, bad thinking."
In December, 1917 Father Flanagan opened his first Boys' Home in a run-down Victorian mansion in downtown Omaha, Nebraska, accepting all boys, regardless of their race or religion. Four years later, in 1921, the operation had grown so large that a move was made to Overlook Farm, outside of Omaha, where it continues today. Father Flanagan accepted boys of every race, color and creed. While Boys' Town continued to grow, it became internationally known with the help of a 1938 movie, "Boys Town," starring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney.
During this same period, Father Flanagan's Boys' Town 4-H Club was an active part of the activities. The 1939 National 4-H Club News magazine lists Denny O'Brien as president of the club and also herdsman of 60 Brown Swiss dairy cattle. Teams from Boys' Town judging or showing beef and dairy cattle often won the competitions at state and county fairs and even at nationally known livestock expositions. Those boys graduating from Boys' Club during these years, in the yearbook... even the star football and baseball players, often listed that they belonged to the Boys' Town 4-H Club.
Popular Dyeing Projects Are A Hit!
During the First World War… and for several years thereafter, dyeing projects were very popular, teaching young girls how to be practical in the re-using of their articles of clothing by freshening them up… almost making them new again!
The Wisconsin girls' Dyeing Song made a hit at the banquet and was sung at every demonstration. Here it is:
The Dyeing Song (Tune - "Jada")
Everybody's dyeing now!
We are going to show you how.
The object now is to make things new
Colors that will appeal to you,
Everybody's dyeing now!
The girls got interested in dyeing and demonstrating how the faded clothes could be made to look like new again and ready for another season's wear. In the early spring of 1919 everyone in and around Ellsworth, Wisconsin was getting interested in their dyeing story. "Let's go to the state fair, girls!" This was the greeting Mr. L. W. Fulton, the leader of their dyeing club, gave them one morning. "Oh, could we?" "What'll we have to do to get there?" Oh, we'd never be good enough. Why, just imagine a team from Ellsworth at the state fair?"
"Why, of course, we could! Why not?" returned Mr. Fulton. "Let's make up our minds to go to the interstate fair! Don't forget that you are club girls and all real club boys and girls earn what they get. Why not earn a trip to the state fair?" So his Ellsworth team worked its way not only to the state fair but also to the interstate fair by successfully competing with many other sewing demonstration teams. "We were so surprised to win out at the district contest and get the chance to go to the State fair," we heard Edith exclaim. This was the first big surprise although not the last one for the girls. "This team was chosen to represent Wisconsin after competing with the nine winning dyeing teams from other sections of Wisconsin and then with the winning teams in each of the other three demonstration projects–poultry, potatoes and canning.
"Dyeing is the most practical, economical, and simplest means of making new clothes out of old ones!" This was the statement made by the captain, Dorothy Doolittle, and so successfully demonstrated by the team that Wisconsin was given first place in the Interstate demonstration team contest. The competition was between the champion demonstration teams from Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas and Wisconsin. Wouldn't you like the chance to be part of this audience for a few minutes, listening to the demonstration from nearly 100 years ago?
"Dyeing," the captain began, "is one of the most ancient arts. The colors that were used up to the discovery of artificial dyes in 1856 were the natural dyes. These were obtained from vegetable, animal, and mineral matter. You can see from the samples which Deborah is showing that they do not produce as bright colors as our coal-tar dyes of today. Before the war we depended almost entirely on Germany for our dye supply. But when forced to fall back on our own resources, America was equal to the task. Now we have dyes which are as good – no, much better – because they are American dyes and we are glad of the opportunity to demonstrate their use."
"The first step in the dyeing process," Dorothy explained, "is to see that your garment is clean. Maybe some of you think, 'oh, what's the use of removing all those spots and stains; it takes too much time, the dye will cover them up anyway.' But it won't. The spots will remain and after the garment is dyed it is too late to remove them without danger of destroying some color. So be sure that all stains are out before starting to dye…" and, thus, the demonstration continues on to its conclusion: "This completes our demonstration and we hope that we have interested you in the art of dyeing as well as to have shown you the main steps of the process." The girls then end up by singing another one of their dyeing songs.
American Dairy Association, 4-H And Walt Disney Studios Team Up
The American Dairy Association sponsored a serial shown on the "Mickey Mouse Club's" second season called "Adventure in Dairyland." The series starred Disney actors Annette Funicello, Sammy Ogg, and Kevin Corcoran and also featured Midwestern actors Glen Graber, Fern Persons, Herb Newcomb, and Mary Lu Delmonte, as the McCandless family from Madison, Wisconsin. It was filmed on location at the Dr. Ira Sisk dairy farm in Verona, Wisconsin, while the cast and crew stayed at a hotel in Madison. Filming took place during June 1956, and when it was completed, Annette, Sammy and Kevin returned to California to start work on "Further Adventures of Spin and Marty."
The eight episodes of the series are titled: "Off to Wisconsin," "Moochie's Escape," "The Trouble with Pigs," "The Runaway Tractor," "The Case of the Deadly Paint Brush," "The Turning Point," "The Kids Take Over," and "The Storm." The Wisconsin filming involved 29 cast members which included 14 local 4-H members.
The advance crew, with four large trucks from the Burbank studio full of generators, cameras, kleig lights, costumes and props, arrived at the Sisk farm, overlooking the Sugar River, on June 4, 1956. Filming for the farm scenes commenced the second week of June, and wrapped up June 29.
In the series, Jim McCandless and his wife have two teenagers, Jimmy and Linda, and little Moochie, plus their handyman, Paullie, who's a bit of a character. Sammy and Annette take to their hosts right away, and soon settle into the routine of farm life. They meet Moochie's pet chicken, admire Mrs. McCandless's flower garden, and are amazed to see how Paullie yodels to call the cows into the barn for the night. Jimmy shows Sammy the machinery used for automatic cow milking, and they watch the local veterinarian cure a calf made sick by eating paint from Moochie's forgotten brush. At a local 4-H meeting they try dancing the polka and enjoy the European folk singing.
The 8-program series originally ran on Disney in November of 1956, during the second season of The Mickey Mouse Club. Touting educational programming, one of the program features was to be an ongoing set of serials examining future careers for kids and the daily lives of those following such careers. The first series was about airline careers, "American Pilot, Airline Hostess," sponsored by TWA. The American Dairy Association sponsored the second series. At the behest of the ADA the series was filmed in color, the only original production for the Mickey Mouse Club that was.
Disney stopped showing the series on The Mickey Mouse Club after the 1958-59 season and the film rights then transferred to the American Dairy Association, who made the series available to schools, 4-H and other interested groups through the Education Film Library Association for several years.. ADA also published a 16-page, color, storyboard booklet, "Adventure in Dairyland," which was distributed free of charge.
Another Walt Disney Film
"So Dear to My Heart" by Walt Disney Productions rightly belongs in our 4-H film history archive. No, "4-H" is never mentioned in the full-length feature film... but, for good reason. The time period of the story presented was the year 1903 – long before the term "4-H" was being used. But the film tells the story of a young rural boy and his pet lamb and his goal of taking his project to the county fair and winning a blue ribbon. It parallels the stories and goals of thousands of young boys and girls across rural America shortly after the turn of the 20th Century in a movement that would later on be called "4-H."
Bobby Driscoll plays the part of young Jeremiah Kincaid who lives with his pious, hard-working grandmother, played by Academy Award-winning actress Beulah Bondi, on their farm near Fulton Corners, Indiana. Jeremiah was a young orphan. Burl Ives plays the part of "Uncle" Hiram Douglas, the village blacksmith, who often has to support young Jeremiah in easing the firm hand of Granny. Luana Patten plays the part of Tildy, Jeremiah's young friend. Harry Carey is the head judge at the fair. Granny allows young Jeremiah to raise and look after a black lamb when its mother rejected it; a lamb which seems to have a way of getting into more trouble than necessary. It's a good story with quality actors and music. A gem that should not be forgotten!
Although the official world premiere of "So Dear to My Heart" took place on January 19, 1949 in Indianapolis, Indiana, a special premiere showing of the film took place nearly two months earlier, on November 29, 1948 when it was shown to the delegates of National 4-H Congress in Chicago. Bobby Driscoll was there at the Congress to greet the delegates.
Driscoll was a tremendously popular child star in the late 1940s and early 50s. He was the first actor Walt Disney put under contract to play the lead character in "Song of the South," Disney's first film that combined animation and live action. Now, he was starring in the second such film, "So Dear To My Heart." He also starred as Jim Hawkins in Disney's "Treasure Island" and was the voice of Peter Pan in the movie by the same name.
There were plans for "So Dear to My Heart" to be the first all-live-action Disney film, however in the end the full length film (1 hour; 22 minutes) featured approximately 12 minutes of animation, primarily of the "Wise Old Owl" as he sings stories about David and Goliath, Christopher Columbus and others in order to encourage "Jeremiah" in his efforts to make his lamb a champion.
The film was the last screen appearance of longtime western actor Harry Carey, who died in September 1947, before the film was released.
The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Song for the adaptation of the English folk song "Lavender Blue (Dilly Dilly)." Other songs in the movie included: "It's Whatcha Do with Whatcha Got," "Ol' Dan Patch," "Stick-to-it-ivity," "County Fair," "Billy Boy," and "So Dear to My Heart." The film's popular songs were recorded by a number of well-know singers, including Dinah Shore, Peggy Lee and Mel Torme. And, child actor Bobbie Driscoll received a special Oscar as the "outstanding juvenile actor" of 1949 for his work in this film and the RKO production "The Window."
The film was based on the book, "Midnight and Jeremiah" by Sterling North, written in 1943. "So Dear to My Heart" was the film that directly inspired the creation of Disneylandia and, eventually, Disneyland.
In addition to the National 4-H Congress premiere showing, the film was featured in advertisements in National 4-H News, the national magazine for volunteer leaders, for several issues around the time of its premiere. The film is available today on DVD.
Glenn McCarthy Productions films The Green Promise
"The Green Promise," was co-produced by wealthy Houston oilman Glenn McCarthy and leading man Robert Paige in 1948 to display the concept and meaning of the 4-H Club and highlight farming issues such as soil erosion, government programs, and individual enterprise. Goldwyn Studios in Hollywood helped to produce some of the footage. The film was the first independent project selected for distribution by entrepreneur Howard Hughes' new R-K-O Radio Pictures.
This was Glenn McCarthy Productions' initial film, the idea selected as a way to bring the world a picture of the real America, of the true greatness of this country and of the nature and character of the people who made it great. The Green Promise is a saga of America's youth, a story of the great 4-H organization which has done so much toward making this country the most powerful among the nations of the earth.
The film featured child stars Natalie Wood and Bobby Ellis, along with Marguerite Chapman, Walter Brennan, Robert Paige, Milburn Stone and Jeanne LaDuke (a 10-year-old 4-H girl from Mount Vernon, Indiana). The title refers to a scene where the local preacher gives a sermon on a story from the Book of Exodus of God's "green promise" to lead Moses into a land of milk and honey. The preacher reminds his congregation that the fulfillment of the promise requires faith, difficult journeys and open-mindedness. Jeanne LaDuke was chosen through a national 4-H contest and was selected from 12,000 4-H youngsters to play a featured role in the picture. Although only 10 years old, in addition to having acting talents, Jeanne had already established herself as one of the finest cooks in all Indiana. Baking was her particular project and she was the winner of the drop biscuit contest.
The Green Promise tells the story of a farmer, Matthews (played by 3-time Academy Awards winner Walter Brennan), his son and three daughters. Leaving behind a failing farm, the family travels to pastures new. Help is proffered by county Extension agent, David Barkley, who is immediately attracted to Matthew's eldest daughter, Deborah. Needing Deborah to run his house, and fearing David may take her away, Matthews refuses David's advice and help. He is pig-headed and sleeps through the pastor's sermon on education, understanding and tolerance.
It is Susan's (Matthew's youngest daughter, played by Natalie Wood) yearning ambition to raise lambs. Though only 10 years old, she joins the 4-H Club, secures a loan from the bank and buys two lambs. She cares for them like she is a mother. Barkley strongly advises Matthews against chopping down the forest atop a hill on his land. Matthews goes ahead and sells the land to a logging company. The forest gone, a great storm comes and washes the mud down the incline towards the homestead. Fearful for her beloved lambs, Susan braves the dangerous conditions to rescue the lambs. David returns and rescues both Susan and the lambs. Deborah is atop the hill trying to move rocks in order to build a dam to save their home from the torrent of water. David arrives and pulls her back just as the land falls away. Realizing how close to harm his daughters have come because of his ignorance and selfishness, Matthews apologizes to his family and welcomes David into their home. The community of 4-H members arrive to help them clean up the land following the storm damage.
The Green Promise had its' world premiere at the final banquet of the National 4-H Congress in Chicago on December 2, 1948 and was released on March 22, 1949. Producer Glenn McCarthy, and child stars Jeanne LaDuke and Bobby Ellis were all present. Bobby Ellis appeared in a number of films during the late 1940s and 1950s but perhaps is best known in the role of Henry Aldrich in The Aldrich Family television series.
The film is in the public domain and is offered in DVD format.
Universal Pictures Distributes 4-H Film, Tom Boy and the Champ
"Tom Boy and the Champ," a 1961 Signal Pictures' production and released by Universal International-Films, starred Candy Moore, Ben Johnson, Jesse White and Rex Allen.
Tommy Jo, a 13-year-old Texas ranch girl, wins a calf at the county fair and names him "Champy." While training the animal, Tommy Jo gets caught in a storm and develops polio. With the help of her aunt and uncle and her parson, Tommy Jo learns to walk again and discovers that the secret of training Champy is to soothe him with music. She enters her pet - now grown - in the Houston Fat Stock Show, but loses when her radio breaks down and no music is available. The parson encourages her to persevere, and with the help of the local 4-H Club, Tommy Jo is able to enter Champy in the International Live Stock Exposition in Chicago. They win the grand championship when the parson sings a song to Champy. Tommy Jo's happiness is short-lived, however, as she learns that all champions are auctioned off for beef. Unable to raise the $30,000 auction price, Tommy Jo has a relapse and is rushed to the hospital with pneumonia. Fred Anderson, a kindly meatpacker, saves Champy from the slaughterhouse and reunites him with Tommy Jo at the hospital. During the International Exposition segment, the film shows the National 4-H Congress parade in the Arena.
Advertised through National 4-H News, "the intriguing 'feel good' entertainment was produced in honor of 4-H Clubs across the country."
Music from the film includes:
Get Ready with the Ribbon, Judge Written by Tommy Reynolds and William Lightfoot
Who Says Animals Don't Cry Written by Tommy Reynolds and William Lightfoot
Barbecue Rock Written by Elsie Pierce Wilkes
The film is available in DVD format.
Twentieth Century-Fox Produces 4-H Film - Young America
"Young America," a Twentieth Century-Fox film produced in 1941, was dedicated by the studio to "the thousands of 4-H Club leaders throughout the country." It was considered the first major motion picture ever produced portraying the objectives of Club work.
Another thing which made "Young America" special - the premiere showing was held during National 4-H Congress in December, 1941 (probably on December 2 or 3). Little did these 1,600 delegates know that four days later - before most of them even got home - the Empire of Japan would bomb Pearl Harbor, drawing the United States of America into the second world war. The January 1942 issue of National 4-H Club News, coming out less than a month later, carries a large feature on the premiere and the film, plus a full page advertisement for "Young America" carrying a "support the war effort" theme. (Bob Cornell, one of the film's stars, had already joined the Army by this date.)
The feature film stars Jane Withers, Jane Darwell, William Tracy, Robert Cornell, Roman Bohnen and Ben Carter.
While the movie follows a rather predictable script, 75 years ago the 4-H Congress delegates, 4-H leaders, and Extension at all levels loved it. Miss Gertrude Warren, from the 4-H Club office at USDA in Washington,, D.C. said, "We feel grateful to 20th Century-Fox for its fine portrayal of the ideals and objectives of the 4-H Club movement in 'Young America,' and know that it will be enthusiastically received throughout the country."
Maynard H. Coe, chairman of the National Extension Committee on 4-H Club Work, sent a telegram to 4-H Congress which Wayne Thorndyke, national 4-H leadership winner, read to the delegates the day following the premiere. The telegram, addressed to Mis Jane Withers, stated that the 4-H members and leaders assembled at the 20th National 4-H Club Congress have today unanimously voted you a Special 4-H Award of Merit in recognition of the fine way you portrayed the ideals of the 4-H Club movement in "Young America." It stimulates a feeling of pride for our heritage in a nation where youth is permitted to train itself in a truly democratic way in the skill and understanding needed to assume its responsibility in perfecting and preserving the American way of life. Miss Withers sent a telegram back to the delegates: "Please accept thanks from the bottom of my heart for the great honor you have conferred upon me. The 4-H Club means more to me than just a movie that I appeared in, and I will try always to be a credit to our club..."
The "Young America" film's story is about a spoiled city girl Jane Campbell (played by Jane Withers) who is furious when her widowed father sends her to the rural town of Button Willow Valley to live with her grandmother, Nora Campbell (played by Jane Darwell). Jane and her black servant, Abraham, loathe their new surroundings, and while Abraham copes with Nora's helper, Pansy, Jane begins attending school. Jane's arrogance drives away all potential friends except for young David Engstrom, who nominates her for membership in the local 4-H Club. Jane, who has never heard of 4-H, is unimpressed when she learns how it promotes agricultural skills and good citizenship. Jane declines membership but changes her mind upon discovering that handsome Jonathan Blake is the club's president. Jane's interest in Jonathan dismays quiet Elizabeth Barnes, who is in love with him.
Elizabeth's weak-willed father tries to comfort her by promising to buy her a purebred Hereford calf for her 4-H state fair project, but he instead loses her money in a poker game held by shady entrepreneur Earl Tucker. When Barnes tells Earl about his dilemma, Earl obtains a mixed-breed calf, then forges papers certifying its lineage. Elizabeth is delighted with her calf, which she names "Royal Jonathan II," and happily tends to him as the months pass. Jane also chooses a calf for her project and names it "King Blake the First." Pansy and Abraham, who have struck up a quarrelsome friendship, know that Jane is interested in 4-H only as a means to ensnare Jonathan Blake in a romance, but Jonathan still courts Elizabeth. On the day of the fair, Jane has lunch with Earl, who intimates that she will win the contest because Elizabeth's calf is not purebred. Jane refuses to believe him but promises to buy his tractor with her prize money if she wins. Elizabeth wins, but Earl, desperate for the money, sends a telegram to the judges challenging Royal Jonathan's lineage. The calf's phony papers are exposed and Jane is declared the winner, but she is horrified by the proceedings, as Earl signed her name to the telegram. Barnes confesses all to his daughter, who protects him by refusing to explain the situation to the 4-H officials. Soon after, Elizabeth is suspended from the club, while Jane is ostracized by the other members for getting Elizabeth in trouble. Jonathan stands by Elizabeth, and the despondent Jane decides to return to the city. Before leaving, she sends Abraham to Earl's office to pay a bill, and while there, Abraham overhears two government agents question Earl about a man who is wanted for draft evasion. Abraham also overhears when a drunken Barnes tells Earl that he wants to reveal the truth about Elizabeth's calf. Abraham repeats the information to Jane, who captures the fleeing Earl and forces him to write a confession admitting full responsibility for the forged papers. The government agents then apprehend Earl, who is the draft dodger. Soon after, Elizabeth represents the club at a national 4-H meeting held in Washington, D.C., and says a fond hello to Jane and her fellow 4-H members during a radio broadcast.
"Young America" was released nationwide in early 1942. [Note: There are at least three other films produced over the years with this same title "Young America," one as early as 1897. When searching for information on this film, be sure to include the date 1942.]