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4-H Contemporary History

4-H history isn't always old. Sometimes a current event is history-in-the making; sometimes the significance is a link between past events and a new situation which highlights the importance of tracking 4-H History.

A couple of examples:

4-H International:
The Washington Post recently reported that Mary Kerstetter, a USDA employee stationed in Baghdad, started 4-H clubs in Iraq, the latest country - as far as we know - where 4-H has been introduced. Definitely history-in-the-making! As of November 2010, there were four clubs with 124 members. "[The kids] are very quiet and shy when you start with them" Kerstetter says, "and then they become more confident. They're learning responsibility; they're learning leadership." Yousif Manhammed Na'amh, 13, was elected News Reporter for one of the clubs. "The first think I learned from the 4-H club is how to work as a team" he said. They voted to name their club "Al amal" which means "hope" in Arabic.
4-H Alumna:
The Commonwealth of Virginia's first female Chief Justice of the Supreme Court sworn in on February 1, 2010, Cynthia Kinser, was a 4-H member in Lee County, Virginia. "Her most influential activity," reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch "might have been her involvement in the 4-H youth organization. She raised steers and researched nutrition, but also developed leadership and speaking skills." As a high school senior, her first airplane ride was to National 4-H Congress in Chicago. "The 4-H motto - `To make the best better' - serves as a mantra for her approach to life" says the newspaper. She still farms in Lee County.
A Model 4-H'er:
Norman Rockwell painted his iconic "The County Agent" for a July 24, 1948 Saturday Evening Post cover, and in 2010 Jama Fuller, the model for the 14 year old 4-H girl in the painting, recalled the experience in an interview with Portland, Indiana's The Commercial Review. Jama, now 73, a resident of Redkey, Indiana, and her sister, Sharon Smith (also a former 4-H'er) are the only two surviving models portrayed in the painting. Jama's brother, Larry Steed, is in the painting, as is County Agent Herald Rippey and hired hand Arlie Champ. All three Steed children were active in 4-H, members of the Jefferson Livewires 4-H Club. The original painting is housed at University of Nebraska, Lincoln. The National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland, has a numbered print of the much reproduced painting.

While it is important for past history to be saved, to be documented, and to be preserved and made accessible for users today and for generations to come, it is also important to continually be aware of and alert to current programs, activities and events that are important enough "not to be lost." This is contemporary history... or current history.

Contemporary History Display at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center

At the suggestion of Jennifer Sirangelo, Executive Vice President, Resource Development, National 4-H Council, and the assistance of other Council staff members, the National 4-H History Preservation team planned and had constructed a 4-H Contemporary History display in the hallway across from Kathleen's Room just off the main lobby in J. C. Penney Hall.

The team determined that anything of interest "historically" during the past decade would qualify to be represented in the display. While this will be a permanent Contemporary History Display location, the items in the display will periodically change.

Some of the items represented in the display currently include:

  • The 2002 4-H Bicentennial postal cover
  • Garfield 4-H items produced in cooperation with Jim Davis, creator of Garfield... and a former 4-H'er
  • A script signed by staff of The Simpsons TV show which featured 4-H
  • Items representing the National 4-H Science Experiment and National 4-H Youth Science Day
  • The 4-H Heritage Club created in 2009 which honors personal donors who make planned estate gifts to 4-H Council
  • The CD Clover Country - Songs from famous 4-H alumni including Sugarland, Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, Martina McBride, Hillary Lindsey, Faith Hill, Vince Gill, Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Luke Bryan and Alabama.
  • Items from Charlotte’s Web, which had the 4-H name and emblem scattered throughout the film
  • Containers for Bluebell Ice Cream featuring the celebration of 100 years of 4-H
  • Photos and models showing the DuPont and Pioneer Hi-Bred sponsored 4-H emblem on the Jeff Gordon NASCAR car
  • Buying a Paper Clover Campaign items
  • Photos featuring the famous Times Square electronic sign showing the 4-H emblem.

Comments on Contemporary History can be sent to:

Compiled by National 4-H History Preservation Team.

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