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4-H Television Series

4-H television programming began in the 1950's when county and state Extension Service staff provided educational information on local television stations and state university educational TV stations.

Local stations were very receptive to Saturday and Sunday morning and noon programs by agricultural, home economics and 4-H agents. Children's programming such as Mr. Rogers and Captain Kangaroo were beginning to be popular but time slots were also available for local programs. 4-H members and volunteer leaders were sometimes included to tell about county programs, giving demonstrations and reporting on upcoming events. These Extension Service connections with local stations and university public TV established a relationship for the evolvement of 4-H TV series development with both commercial and educational television stations in the early and mid 1960s.

In an article in the May 1959 National 4-H News magazine, K. Russel Bjorhus, assistant county agent, tells how the TV teaching tool is doing the job in Alexandria, Minnesota.

4-H is reaching into 124,000 households, 44,000 of which are farm families, through television. Bjorhus says, "Recently Alexandria acquired a television station - channel 7. Some time ago we had thought of having a half-hour program to promote 4-H club work. We checked with the station and had an opening for one half hour at a cost of $150. We got Runestone Electic co-ops to sponsor the program which included a simulated 4-H Club meeting with flag and 4-H pledge, a demonstration and project talk. Two musical numbers were included and there was a panel discussion on the purposes and objectives of 4-H Club work. Panel members included state 4-H Club leader Leonard Harkness, county agent Eldon Rost,and two adult leaders, Mrs. Olander Sletto and Mr. Lewis Hillesland."

"We received fine comments from businessmen as well as farm families as to how much they enjoyed the show. Many said it was the first time they really knew what 4-H'ers did at their meetings or even the fact that 4-H'ers held meetings. Viewers who looked on as the 4-H meeting progressed got an actual play-by-play demonstration of some of the local problems and plans - including speakers for meetings, demonstration values, community improvements in the planning stages and the roles of junior leaders. Coupled with the panel's answers to leading questions, the result was a half-hour of power for furthering the 4-H way in Minnesota."

Other states were also experimenting with 4-H appearances on local television programs during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Shirley McLenon, assistant Otsego county, New York extension agent, working with WNBF-TV made good use of 4-H'ers providing demonstrations on television programs.

In the mid 1960s 4-H at the national level decided it was time for 4-H to get serious about exploring the use of television in teaching young people. As a programming model, this perhaps, had the potential of being one of the most significant changes from the traditional programming in 4-H to come along in decades. And, opinions ran the entire spectrum... from television programming being a wave of the future that 4-H should embrace... to the blunt fact that 4-H has absolutely no business "doing" 4-H television series. Production of television series can be expensive... will it take away funding from traditional 4-H programming? Are 4-H TV members REAL 4-H members, or not? And, the list goes on.

Informal research conducted by the Extension Service and National 4-H Service Committee indicated the validity of the concept that 4-H produced television series can reach more young people, especially those not previously enrolled in the program. Larry Krug, radio-television editor, National 4-H Service Committee, recalls that during this period 4-H met with many people who were getting involved in children's television programming to discuss 4-H's plans and to seek out their advise. He recalls meetings with Joan Ganz Cooney and Peggy Charrin of the Children's Television Workshop who spearheaded Sesame Street in 1969, as well as sessions with Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers Neighborhood) and Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo). These were exciting times and the idea of 4-H television series sparked the creative interests among staff in a number of states.

In 1966, the Extension Service, USDA and the National 4-H Service Committee both ventured directly into television program distribution, although early series were all produced at the state level. Prior to that, most of the TV series efforts had been both produced and distributed at the state level, state-by-state. Ralston Purina Company underwrote the cost of video taping television programs in a series called, "Dog Sense." Produced by Colorado State University, this was the first private donor support for 4-H television series at the national level. The National 4-H Service Committee arranged for promotion and distribution of the dog series on a nationwide basis.

Before the end of the decade, other series were being discussed or planned including photography, conservation, nutrition and emergency preparedness.

In the Beginning

Perhaps the best record of how 4-H television series evolved in the mid-1960s can be found in a speech delivered before the 20th Annual 4-H Donors' Conference at the Conrad Hilton Hotel in Chicago on September 20, 1967.

by Larry L. Krug, Radio/TV Editor
National 4-H Council

Right now 4-H is like a young couple with their first bouncing baby. We want to tell everyone about it. We think it's going to grow into something big, and strong, and fine of which we'll be very proud. But right now sometimes we don't know what we are supposed to do with it and, in fact, once in a while we even find ourselves getting into quite a mess!

Anyway, our bouncing baby I'm referring to is our group of 4-H television series. I say group of series because to date there has basically been four series produced. These have all been produced in different ways, with different objectives and consequently, with different results.

Our 4-H television series have usually been composed of eight to 10 programs, beginning with an introductory program, which explains what is going to be covered in the series, and then several programs with educational, instructional value and finally a wrap-up type of program with each series. In other words, a neat little package which is supposed to leave the viewing, participating members with a completed learning experience.

Usually there has been a piece of accompanying literature that goes along with the series which emphasizes what is being covered. There is good reason for having this piece of literature. First, boys and girls who join as 4-H television members this way receive something tangible when they enroll in the series. Another reason for the literature is that it basically covers an outline of what is to be taught in each week's program reemphasizing important parts and aiding the 4-H TV member which might happen to miss a particular program.

Now, how does a series operate? First, when a series is brought into a certain locality by either the state or local extension 4-H staff, a promotion campaign must be launched and contacts must be made with first, the person who handles the distribution of the series, and secondly, with the television station on which the series is to be viewed. These points are important. You cannot run a television series if there isn't a set of program films or tapes available at the time you plan to run it.You cannot run a series if there isn't a cooperative station on which to present the programs. Then a promotion campaign follows to recruit the 4-H TV members. In the meantime the corresponding literature, membership cards, and anything else that is to be offered to those enrolled should be ready to go. Finally the series is ready to be run and this is actually the easiest job of the whole production. The third, and often most neglected step, is to conduct a follow-up campaign, trying to keep as many of these 4-H TV members enrolled in regular, year-round 4-H as possible.

To briefly run through the four TV series now existing, the oldest one is entitled 4-H TV Science Club. It consists of 10 half-hour black and white programs produced at Michigan State University under the direction of Dick Arnold, Extension TV Specialist. The programs cover the science of fire, animal skeletons, astronomy, plants, archeology, physics, behavior, microbiology, meteorology and chemistry. The series rents for $250 for one showing, $350 for two showings, and so on.

The second series is entitled 4-H TV Action Club, also produced at Michigan State University, directed by Dick Arnold, in cooperation with the Federal Extension Service and Department of Civil Defense. It, too, is a 10-program, black and white series centered on emergency preparedness. The series takes up scientific causes of such things as tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, fires, nuclear accidents, blizzards and cold. It discusses living outdoors and indoors under emergency conditions. At present, the Division of 4-H and Youth Development, FES, is handling the series which is loaned to stations through state extension offices at no charge.

A third series is entitled Dog Sense, which covers a basic course in obedience training. It consists of eight, black and white, half-hour programs produced by the Colorado Extension Service at Station KRMA in Denver. Mrs. Edna Travinek, Dog Editor for the Rocky Mountain News, is the series authority and teaches the basic obedience maneuvers--sit-stay, heeling, down-stay, and so on. Ralston Purina Company purchased the prints and turned them over to the National 4-H Service Committee. Release prints have now been produced and the series rents for $200 for one showing, $300 if used on two stations and an additional $50 for each additional use over two showings. Rental fees were necessary to defray the expense of a film distributor and the costs of the release prints.

A fourth existing series was produced by West Virginia Extension and entitled "Teen Mobile Club." It was a 10-program series in black and white and covered the areas of auto maintenance, how a car functions, how to service a car, motor mechanics, rules of the road, driving safety, emergencies, car ownership and insurance. The series was basically produced for the Virginia-West Virginia region and has not been offered nationwide, although several states have auditioned it.

Most of these are relatively new with little documented results as yet. The Dog Sense series has had two showings--Denver and Las Vegas. An additional 18 states have previewed an audition print and many will run it this winter. The Automotive series was viewed on only two stations - both were commercial stations in West Virginia - resulting in 9,000 enrolled members in West Virginia and Virginia. The TV Science Series has been shown in several states this year with around 500,000 4-H enrolled members.

This, in essence, is how our 4-H TV series is now operating. I'm sure by this time you already have a few questions and if I can try to outguess you, I will attempt to answer some of them.

Perhaps you are wondering if these viewers are really considered 4-H members, or more specifically, are the participating viewers primarily composed of youth who already are 4-H members? First, yes these TV participants are 4-H members. They are the proper 4-H age and they complete enrollment by filling out enrollment cards. They do what is expected of them during the series and complete their TV project. And, often there is a local completion activity of some sort. With the Dog Sense series if could be a dog show. The TV automotive participants in Virginia were offered a 3-day tour including a trip through an auto assembly plant in Norfolk. The TV Science Club might offer some sort of demonstration or exhibit competition. Yes, they do fulfill the requirements to be a 4-H member in good standing.

As far as whether or not many of them are already regular 4-H members or not, the only good statistics we have on this are from the West Virginia Automotive Series. In West Virginia 80 to 85% of the 9,000 boys and girls enrolled in the TV series had not been previously enrolled in 4-H.

Another question might be then, "Well, do THEY consider themselves as regular 4-H members?" Let me just quickly read a couple of short letters to TV club Leader Dick Arnold, affiliated with the TV Action Club series:

"Dear Dick Arnold - I am sorry but I don't know whether to keep doing all those things. Because my mother and father don't know how to speak English and I have so many small brothers and sisters at home and I have been trying to show them all those things. But I have to help my mother to take care of my brothers and sisters. Tell my friends down there in TV land that I want to learn more because so many things have happened to us. Thank you. Linda Chevez."

"Dear Dick - Would you tell me what lesson you are on please. I did the first one at grandma's house and made some posters. I don't have a TV, so will you tell me what lesson you are on so I can get caught up with you. I don't want to be too far behind the rest of the club. Thank you. Sally Barlette."

Again, I ask the question, "Do these TV 4-H members consider themselves as regular 4-H members?" Well, what do you think?

Another vital question might be, "Will these 4-H TV members remain in regular 4-H participation after the series has reached completion?" This is perhaps our most important question. Here's Virginia's experience after the Automotive series was shown: Over 5- percent of the members returning questionnaires after the series was completed indicated they definitely wanted to continue in the automotive program. This is significant because 40% of those enrolled in the Automotive series in Virginia had never before had any contact with 4-H!

A state 4-H leader in Kansas, which has run the 4-H TV Action Club Series on most of the stations in the state, writes, "We have recommended strongly to our county extension agents that they follow up on this 4-H TV Action Club series by inviting these boys and girls to participate in other 4-H experiences. First, we have suggested they invite these boys and girls to organize a new 4-H Club or to join existing clubs. Secondly, we have suggested that county extension agents provide exhibit days or special classes at the county fair for the 4-H TV Action Club boys and girls. Thirdly, we have urged the county extension agents to provide an opportunity for these 27,000 new Kansas 4-H members to participate in camping experiences under the sponsorship of the county extension program. The program, at this point, is so new that the success or lack of success of these follow up programs has not been ascertained."

Still, this is the area most delinquent so far in the 4-H TV series story; that of a proper follow through to keep these TV enrolled members interested in 4-H. Many states have had no follow-up whatsoever! Of course we must remember, that although one of the basic purposes of a 4-H TV series is a compact little unit of it's own and if half a million youth are reached who may never again have a thing to do with 4-H but who have at least gained from participating in a series, then this at least is something!

Another legitimate question might be, "What is the general thinking around the country on these 4-H TV series - they cost money - it takes a lot of work to run a series - are they worthwhile?

I think it is remarkable that this is one of the few things that we in 4-H can certainly term completely new which is receiving terrific support from practically all circles. State 4-H leaders and extension agents who have been involved with the running of some of these series are enthusiastic:

One state leader, after completing the TV Action Club series, stated, "We have been so impressed with the results... that we are planning a year-round TV program." Here's a different reaction: "4-H TV series broaden the image of 4-H and give others a better idea of the scope of 4-H activities." Still another: "Many parents watch the series with their children. The fact that the series is received in the home is of considerable value." Another view point is that since television knows no state boundaries, often several states must work together on promoting and running a series, hence better understanding between states. One state has their tentative TV schedule Ok'd with stations in the state already up through 1972 and a state extension director recently termed 4-H TV series as the greatest thing to happen to the Extension Service in many years! Yes, extension is enthusiastic!

What do the television station personnel think about all this? When the National 4-H Service Committee explored the feasibility of offering the Dog Sense series nationwide, I polled 120 TV stations at random by simply taking every so many stations from the Broadcasting Directory, and I asked how many would be interested in a TV series on dog training. Results: Well to begin with, the simple fact that over 60 stations - in fact 53% of them - took time to reply by letter, as there wasn't any nifty card to fill in, indicates interest. Still more interesting is the fact that 83% of the stations replying including commercial as well as educational stations, said they definitely were interested in the series.

Here's a few station replies: From WISH, Indianapolis, "I'm delighted at the possibility of receiving the series... put me down as a firm commitment" - from KETC in St. Louis, "We are most interested in the series... we have aired your other 4-H TV series and think it is one of the best children's programs to come along for many years" - From KAIL, Fresno, California, "We would be very interested in this series. I think this would be a very good series not only for children but the general public" - From KATU, Portland, Oregon, "Yes, we would be interested in the series... sooner the better, sounds very interesting."

The station manager at WTEV in New Bedford, Massachusetts, an ABC network station, says "We'll give 4-H the prime time to reach youth - 9-9:30am on Saturday morning 52 weeks of the year, if you supply us with good programs." And, in Las Vegas, a city known for many things - 4-H usually not being one of them - I quote from the Las Vegas TeeVee Magazine an article on 4-H television series at KLAS, a CBS network affiliate station: "Here's a chance for every youngster to view what I believe could be the best show on TV for them... this is a show that every parent should urge their youngsters to watch, and, as a matter of fact, it wouldn't be too bad an idea for all of us to sit in on it. In the opinion of this writer, the 4-H does more for our young people than any other organization... If you've been griping about TV, and rightly so, here's an opportunity for your offspring to watch something that is both educational and interesting." Yes, TV stations are enthusiastic over 4-H television series, regardless of commercial or educational - network or non-network.

The National 4-H Club Foundation in Washington is enthusiastic - already hoping and planning to produce a TV series on the 4-H International programs.

And, the National 4-H Service Committee is enthusiastic or I wouldn't be standing here today.

This briefly brings you up-to-date with what is going on in 4-HTV series. We feel that our new baby has just began to creep with one-half million members. Everyone is looking toward a sunny future and if I can elaborate a little on some of the thinking that has been going on this past summer as to the future of 4-H TV series, first, new TV series WILL be developed. In what areas remain to be seen however if we can dream a little - here's some of the plans.

1 - New Mexico is interested in doing a series entitled, "Clothes, Money and You," and already has one or two programs completely outlined.

2 - Massachusetts has plans on doing three series with Station WGBH in Boston, one of the top production studios in the country. One is entitled "4-H TV Electric Club" series. They are working in cooperation with the Electric Council of New England and to some degree with the Edison Institute. This proposal is complete for 10 color programs. The general program subject matter is already outlined along with the supporting materials and a $131,000 budget. It appears that they plan to dwell a lot on electrical power of the future along with the practical aspects involved with everyday use. A second Massachusetts proposal calls for a "4-H TV Conservation Club." This, again, will be a 10-week series. A third Massachusetts proposal is for a 4-H TV Humane Education Series," developed in cooperation with The American Humane Education Society. Main objectives of this series is to create an increased awareness of the need for humane treatment of all animal life, particularly among young people in the informative years.

3 - The National 4-H Club Foundation in Washington, as I mentioned earlier, is interested in cooperating with Michigan State University in doing a 4-H series on their International programs.

4 -The University of Nevada and the local Las Vegas Extension office anticipates doing some TV programs in the area of lawn planning and care and perhaps one on career selection.

5 - Also, in Washington there's interest in a new series on automotive safety, perhaps doing the whole series behind the wheel as you would look through the windshield of a car.

A survey of state 4-H leaders done this summer by the Extension Service in Washington indicated their suggestions for having series produced in the following areas: Plant growing and science, entomology, photography, and bicycle safety. I'm sure some of these will eventually become realities.

A second prophesy for the future other than subject matter, will be that any additional series will be in color. This is a demand from television stations and a fair one if we are to compete with other programs in the time slots that we prefer.

Another point in discussing future 4-H TV series is that the entire program needs to be coordinated. Planning new series and determining what goes into them must become standardized. We can no longer let an isolated group or a state produce a series on their own with the intentions of later offering it nationwide. Proper content; proper professionalism must be stressed if we are to expect to get these series on television. Film distributing techniques will need to become standardized. Guidelines on how to conduct a TV series must be prepared to include launching a promotion campaign, running the series, and conducting a proper follow-up after the series has been completed. Guides to financing new series, from planning and production through distribution and follow through, needs to be explored. These are but a few areas that concern us who have been involved with the present series now in the offering.

To help curb some of these concerns, new committees are being appointed out of Washington.

Being so new, these committees and their responsibilities are still rather unknown. The Federal Extension Service appointed a committee highly composed of State Extension directors, who met in late May to discuss the expanded use of TV for Extension Programs. Out of this came a recommendation that ECOP establish an adhoc committee to: 1) obtain program content of high quality, 2) obtain high quality production at reasonable costs, 3) devise effective ways of distribution, and 4) determine how TV programs can be financed. This ad hoc committee was approved last week on September 13th with minor variation.

Another committee, to actually do researching and work with the specifics of each TV series will be an ECOP subcommittee on television. This committee will draw heavily on all types of professionals in an advisory capacity depending upon the situations that arise.

If these points about the future of 4-H television series come to reality, and it appears that they will since the ball is now rolling, we will some day only look back smile at the time our baby crept at the 500,000 member stage. When our baby begins to stand on his or her own two feet and begins walking - then we can foresee 4-H television future enrollment reaching annual proportions of five million members - maybe more. And if our baby learns to stand and walk, I'll bet that he can even learn to run!

The following year, 1968, saw a feature in the National 4-H News magazine authored by Eleanor L. Wilson, Program Leader, 4-H and Youth Development, USDA relating to 4-H television series.

TV and 4-H - Popular Combination

Eleven-year-old David Rock in Larksville, Pennsylvania, credits the 4-H TV Action program with saving the lives of his family when fire extensively damaged their home. "I quickly and calmly aroused my parents and my brother. Then I called the fire department, and we all escaped safely from the burning building," reported David to his classmates at St. Stephens School in Plymouth, PA. When asked how he knew what to do, his reply was, "From the 4-H TV Action program - `The Friendly Enemy' and my TV Action project book."

David is one of nearly a million young viewers enrolled in 4-H TV Action clubs throughout the United States. He views a series of 10 half-hour programs teaching 9 to 12 year olds and their families about natural and nuclear disasters and what to do if one should strike.

Each program simulates a 4-H club meeting, taking place in volunteer leader Dick Arnold's basement which has been converted into an emergency preparedness headquarters. Five club members, ranging in age from 10 to 12, meet weekly to learn what to do in such emergencies as tornadoes, earthquakes, fires, nuclear explosions, over-exposure to heat, blizzards and cold.

Each week the meeting is started by one of the club members inviting the youngsters at home to join them for the day's meeting. The president of the TV Action club calls the meeting to order and the secretary reads the minutes. After the business session members give poster demonstrations, participate in quiz games, prepare emergency kits or work on various projects. Special field trips are featured in five of the meetings, and are reported by members. Dick Arnold demonstrates some phase of medical self-help at the close of each meeting.

As a 4-H leader, you will be interested in observing the leadership role Dick Arnold portrays during each program. The variety of learning experiences offered may suggest new ideas to you.

Each young viewer is invited to join the club by sending a card with his name and address to the TV station, or filling out a 4-H TV Action enrollment card provided through extension offices. The enrolled TV member receives a project book outlining several activities that he can do at home. After viewing the first program, for example, he can make a list of emergency telephone numbers from the instructions provided in the TV project manual.

The series has been shown in 45 states on more than 120 commercial or educational stations. For the majority of TV members, 4-H is a new experience. Surveys indicate 80 to 85 percent have not belonged to 4-H before.

Letters and informal studies indicate youth do enjoy the club. They are identified as 4-H TV members, and they learn.

"Would you tell me what lesson you are on please?" wrote one 4-H TV member. "I did the first one at Grandma's house and made a poster. I don't have a TV, so will you tell me what lesson you are on so I can get caught up with you? I don't want to be behind." Another wrote, "I like TV Action club because they do lots of exciting things and many experiments, too. They try to live up to their pledge."

The 4-H TV Action club was the first 4-H series designed for multi-state use. It was produced in 1965 by Michigan State University's Cooperative Extension Service teamed with the Federal Extension Service, the Office of Civil Defense, and WMSB-TV, Michigan State's educational TV station.

Michigan pioneered in the development of the TV series idea in 1957 by producing the "4-H Electrical Series." They also produced two science series; one in 1959; the other in 1963. Although 4-H TV Science series was designed for use in Michigan, it has been and is being shown in 15 to 20 states. This series deals with the science of fire, astronomy, plants, archeology, animal skeletons, physics, microbiology, Meteorology, behavior and chemistry.

Automotive care and safety, dog care, room improvement and leadership are topics of other 4-H TV series produced by several states in the past five years. Their local use proves to be an effective educational method for 4-H, especially in urban areas.

Praise from Station Managers. Typical of the response of television managers to 4-H TV Action are these excerpts from the Las Vegas TV magazine.

"Here's a chance for every youngster to view what could be the best show on TV for them. It's one every parent should urge their youngsters to watch and it would not be a bad idea for all of us to sit in on it."

"If you've been griping about TV, and rightly so, here's an opportunity for your offspring to watch something that is both interesting and educational."

The enthusiastic endorsement of 4-H TV Action by television managers and producers suggests that 4-H can make an important contribution to children's programming. Watch for "4-H TV Action Club," "4-H TV Science," and new 4-H TV series on your local stations.

By promoting membership in these clubs, you, as local leaders, can help more boys and girls have new opportunities in 4-H.

(from July 1968 National 4-H News)

4-H Television Series Get Some Structure

After a decade of 4-H television development at the state level, and usage of these series nationwide, this area of delivering the 4-H program had grown significantly and it was clear that the federal 4-H office needed to do something about coordinating the development of 4-H television. At the request of the 4-H subcommittee, ECOP created an ad hoc 4-H television committee in 1968. Eleanor L. Wilson, on the 4-H Extension USDA staff, was appointed national 4-H TV coordinator. A year later, the National 4-H TV Review Board was organized. Having gone from no structure to three different levels of structure in a few months inevitably created overlap and confusion. Basically, the review board and the TV coordinator worked together as a clearinghouse for new TV series and encouraged treatment of 4-H subjects that would be suitable for nationwide use. The board also planned to develop cost-sharing techniques that would build funds for future series. The ultimate aim was to provide a nationwide distribution scheme that would make it easier for programs developed in one area to be shared by all. As national 4-H TV coordinator, Wilson was put in the classic Extension position of trying to get everyone to work together toward common goals without having authority over anyone. It proved to be an exceedingly difficult task which never was accomplished completely (from "4-H: An American Idea").

One other significant thing happened during this time period. 4-H began counting its television participants in 1969. Although this was a controversial decision in some circles, television programming was now a part of 4-H and had to be acknowledged as such.

The Major 4-H Television Series:

4-H TV Electrical Series

By the mid-1950's, many state Extension services had added television specialists to their communications staffs, and by 1957, Michigan State University was at work on the "4-H TV Electrical Series", 13-half hour shows designed for 9- to 11-year-olds. The producers simulated a 4-H club meeting with youngsters and a volunteer leader who knew something about electricity. The series was an aid to leaders who could get 4-H clubs together in their homes and watch their counterparts on TV. This may sound like a rather boring approach, however pre-dating "Sesame Street" and "The Electric Company", these early efforts had great success.

4-H TV Science Club

Michigan State University's first science television series in 1959, was followed by a second in 1963. The "4-H TV Science Club" was used in a number of other states as Extension agents began to realize television's unequaled ability to hold children's attention. Rhode Island's State 4-H Leader Ken Coombs reported on the success of the 4-H TV Science Club in his state in 1965: "When it went on the air on December 19 (1964), we had some 1,500 enrollments and our figures now exceed 3,000. In the electrical series last spring, 1,750 Rhode Island boys and girls enrolled and nearly 800 from Massachusetts signed up. We are convinced this is an important Extension method."

The 4-H TV Science Club series, which was used for more than a decade eventually enrolled over 4 million 4-H'ers. 4-H television experts worked out a system so that young viewers could join the 4-H TV club by calling or writing their county Extension offices. They received an enrollment card and a workbook or program guide to the series. Participation counts were based on the children who made contact. No doubt, thousands of others tuned in at random and learned something, too.

The June 1959 issue of National 4-H News carries a feature on the 4-H TV Science Club entitled "SCIENCE... New Dimension in 4-H."

4-H TV Action Club

Based on the success of the science programs funded by the U.S. Office of Civil Defense, Michigan State University received an FES contract to produce another 4-H series, this one on emergency preparedness. Produced in the mid-1960s in the television studios at Michigan State University, the 4-H TV Action Club was hosted by Dick Arnold, Farm Radio Director at Michigan State University station WKAR. The 4-H TV Action Club prepared young people to deal with tornados, fire, atomic attack and a host of other disasters. It also taught the potential of nuclear power to provide electricity. Like its predecessors, it was built around the club scenario. The series was black and white, and low budget, yet during the first four years after production some two million youths were 4-H TV Action Club members across the nation. The series was used by 125 television stations in 45 states.

Dog Sense

In the mid-1960's, Colorado produced a 4-H series called "Dog Sense." Dog Sense was a 4-H series of eight half-hour television programs produced at KRMA-TV, Denver, an educational television station, with the assistance and supervision of Colorado State University and Denver area Extension agents. Just as nationwide project literature created problems in the diverse world of 4-H requirements and structures, television was destined to make mistakes, as well. The teacher/trainer who hosted the program evidently knew a good deal about dogs, but as Eleanor Wilson, National 4-H TV Coordinator, described it years later, the woman did not know enough about 4-H. In the midst of a demonstration on using patience in dog training, she advised her viewers to take a break for a relaxing can of beer if the dog did not appear to be responding. Although it may have been good advice for the troubled pet owner, it was bad public relations for an organization like 4-H that served minors almost exclusively. Wilson, in the book "4-H: An American Idea," described Dog Sense as an interesting series that did not go far.

Ralston Purina Company, donor of the 4-H Dog Care & Training Awards Program, underwrote the cost of having the Dog Sense series transferred to videotape which was then distributed through the National 4-H Service Committee.

Teen Mobile Club

In the Autumn 1967 4-H AUTOMOTIVE Bulletin, published by the National 4-H Service Committee in cooperation with The Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., donor of the National 4-H Automotive Program, there is a lead feature on the "Teen Mobile Club" 4-H-produced television series:


Last spring approximately 9,000 boys and girls in southern West Virginia and southwestern Virginia enrolled in a 10-week television series on the automotive safety project. The half-hour programs entitled "Teen Mobile Club" were primarily for pre-drivers.

The programs were produced and hosted by William Clark, the 4-H Extension agent in Raleigh County, West Virginia, with the assistance of the state 4-H staff and Frank Blake, extension television specialist. Clark states that teaching via television has a real potential for reaching youth as long as you can offer them something in which they are interested. The automotive series was promoted by way of news releases, television announcements and through the schools.

The West Virginia TV series ran along these lines: A different guest instructor appeared on each program, along with 14 youngsters appearing as teen mobile club members. These members took part in the programs in various ways such as by question-answer participation and working with visual aids and demonstrations.

Some of the subject areas included in the series were: auto maintenance, how a car functions, how to service a car and motor mechanics, rules of the road, driving safety and auto statistics, emergencies, car ownership and insurance. Most of the material was localized to the Virginia-West Virginia area.

The series was viewed on two West Virginia stations: WHIS-TV, Bluefield and WOAY-TV, Oak Hill, which are both commercial stations with network affiliation. The programs were videotaped and presented at 7 p.m. Tuesdays by one station and replayed the following Saturday on the other station at 12:30 p.m. right before American Bandstand.

In West Virginia 80 to 85% of the TV members had not previously been enrolled in 4-H. Thirty-five percent of the participating members turned in completed project circulars for which they received a certificate for recognition. One county had a 56% completion rate. Since the series was called Teen Mobile Club and not 4-H, other organizations accepted the idea and also became involved.


Although produced in West Virginia, television knows no state boundaries and the series was also received by residents of Virginia. Glenn Snyder, West Virginia 4-H program leader, alerted the Virginia 4-H staff that the series would reach their state and explained the contents. Three Virginia counties accepted the challenge to locally coordinate the project and over 1,500 boys and girls enrolled in the program.

E. B. Hale, associate extension agricultural engineer at Virginia Tech., coordinated an evaluation of the 10-week period after the series was completed. The results of the survey from 628 returned questionnaires indicated that the TV programs served as a very substantial part of the participants over all 4-H automotive training.

A significant response indicated that well over 50% of those returning questionnaires planned to continue in the program next year by enrolling in Unit II (over 40% of those returning questionnaires in Virginia had never been in 4-H before). A trip through an auto assembly plant in Norfolk was offered to those completing the project. A total of 118 members and leaders made the 3-day tour which also included stops at several famous Virginia landmarks.

The general opinion of the extension workers involved in the 4-H TV series in both Virginia and West Virginia is that television is a good teaching method in this type of project if (1) the viewers are organized, (2) the leadership is developed to supplement this type of teaching method, (3) more program activities and better accompanying manuals are developed and (4) the TV programs are of top quality and have the right viewing time. All people involved thought the 4-H image had been improved because of the series.

4-H TV Fun on Wheels Club

A 4-H TV Fun on Wheels Club had its premiere on station WTEV, New Bedford, Connecticut, and Providence, Rhode Island, on January 17, 1970 at 8:30 a.m., as reported in the Winter 1970 National 4-H Service Committee COMMENTS newsletter.

Part of the 4-H Bicycle project, the 13-program series was telecast on successive Saturdays through April 11. This 4-H TV Club series was developed by the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Connecticut at Storrs, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the University of Rhode Island at Kingston, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The TV programs were correlated to material in a bright well-illustrated 20-page manual and a leaders' guide.

Literature was compiled and edited by John F. Farrell, county Extension agent in 4-H Club Work, Bristol County, Massachusetts, who also spearheaded the planning and production of the series.

Material in the literature was supplied or suggested by Dr. Paul Dudley White; the National 4-H Service Committee; The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, national 4-H bicycle program donor; the safety department of the Allstate Insurance Companies; Bicycle Institute of America, Inc.; American Youth Hostels, Inc. and National Safety Council.

The TV program titles include: Wonderful World of Bikes, What's a Bike?, Does Your Bike Fit You?, Is Your Bike Ready to Go?, Keep Your Bike in Good Condition; Customize Your Bike; Learn to Ride; Ride It Right; Road to Adventure; What Shape is Your Bike In?, Fun on Wheels; Bike Safety Test; and Bike Riding Test.

It is not known if the bicycle series was used in other states besides the three cooperating states which produced the series.

4-H Photo Fun Club

During the spring of 1970, Eastman Kodak Company, sponsor of the National 4-H Photography Recognition program, with the help and guidance of the Extension Service and National 4-H Service Committee, produced a television series - 4-H Photo Fun Club.

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 centers around a TV photography club with Arnold as the leader, Marcia Conrad as junior leader, and six club members--Elbert, Maria, Tom, Brian, Mary and John--who meet each week to learn about their cameras and how to take better pictures.


The series introduces young people to cameras, film, picture composition and turns common errors into learning situations. The members learn how to use a camera to take clear, sharp pictures which convey a message or preserve a memory and how photographs can help record progress made in 4-H projects. They learn to tell stories with photos and to record events, ideas and situations that surround their daily activities. The TV club members were selected through an auditioning process involving over 70 current Milwaukee area 4-H members. The auditions were set up by Carl Smith, Milwaukee County 4-H Youth Agent.

A nationally appointed 4-H Photography TV Series Development Committee assisted in the planning of the series and development of the supplemental materials. E.C. Ferringer, head, Agricultural Information and Audio Visual Production, Purdue University, chaired the committee with Eleanor L. Wilson, national TV coordinator, Extension Service, USDA, providing overall coordination.

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 Photo Fun Club was produced by WMVS-TV, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for 4-H in cooperation with Eastman Kodak Company and the Extension Service of the U.S.Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service of the Land-Grant Universities and National 4-H Service Committee, Chicago. Frank Pallo, Jim Healy and Robert Fordyce, Eastman Kodak Company, supervised production of the series, working with Ron Salek, producer-director, WMVS-TV. Larry Krug, Information Associate-TV, National 4-H Service Committee acted as technical advisor representing the photography development committee.

Interestingly, although Eastman Kodak Company is a film manufacturing corporation, the 4-H Photo Fun Club was the first 4-H TV series produced on videotape. There was a series of educational and promotional materials produced to accompany the series including a members manual, leaders guide, button, poster, leaflet and more.

Premiered at a national television workshop in Colorado in mid-1970, 4-H Photo Fun Club was shown on more than 90 commercial and educational stations during its first several months.

During the first year and a half the series was shown on over 120 television stations in half the states - cities including Baltimore, Boston, Providence, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Sacramento, Orlando, Honolulu, Roanoke, Hartford, Raleigh, Asheville, Des Moines, Wichita, San Francisco, Syracuse, Buffalo, Fairbanks, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Over 70% of the stations programming the series were commercial stations. Some 89% of the programming at these stations took place in what was considered prime viewing hours for the targeted audience - 44% programmed the series on Saturday mornings; 27% on weekday afternoons after school and 18% on weekday evenings during the early hours.

Junior leader Marcia Conrad points out various parts of the basic camera to two members of the 4-H Photo Fun Club.   Tommy explains the planning cards he used to photograph his picture story as the rest of the 4-H Photo Fun Club members look on.

Studies on 4-H Photo Fun Club by the Extension Service, National 4-H Service Committee, and Eastman Kodak showed some 70 percent of the young viewers who enrolled in 4-H Photo Fun Club had no previous experience with 4-H and that two thirds of these youth wanted to become affiliated with the 4-H program after the series was completed. Other information derived from the study demonstrated the success of television as a teaching medium as more than half the viewers surveyed improved skills and increased knowledge of photography.

Being the first 4-H television series produced at the national level in cooperation with a business sponsor - Eastman Kodak Company - this gave Extension opportunities to work with the donor affiliates at the local level in helping promote and support the TV series. Many Kodak distributors and processors across the country took an active part in aiding with the local plans for organizing the series, and then also became involved in the regular ongoing 4-H Photography program at the local level. Many states reported examples of county Extension personnel getting the support of adult camera clubs, school photography clubs and photography shops. Illinois, for example, sent county 4-H TV coordinators a list of Illinois Kodak dealers who expressed an interest in helping with the 4-H photography project. In West Virginia, the state 4-H staff and radio-TV specialists conducted 4-H agent training meetings in four of the state's six Appalachian Center areas using a 30-minute video tape of the history of 4-H television programming as well as the audition print for Photo Fun. In California a local show was aired on KVIE-TV in Sacramento the week before the series started, introducing 4-H Photo Fun to potential enrollees. Working with the Boy Scouts, the series also qualified Scouts for the photography merit badge in the Sacramento area.

Follow-up activities in various states after the series was completed also show local creativity and effort. There were numerous examples of conducting photo exhibits at shopping center malls, museums, schools, teen centers and photography shops. Most states conducted drives to move the 4-H TV photography members into an ongoing 4-H photography project for year-round activities. Florida provided an opportunity for all series participants to enter their best snapshots and picture stories at the Central Florida Fair. South Dakota used specific Photo Fun classes at their county fairs and state fair. Some states conducted photography contests immediately after series completion with prizes awarded by local photo dealers and processors. Tours through photography processing plants were offered. In North Carolina three 4-H Photo Fun camps were scheduled for July and August, involving outside resource people in instructing youth attending the one-week-long camp where technique was taught and film processed and critiqued right at the camp. Virginia invited 4-H TV members to attend the regular summer camping programs conducted by 4-H. Connecticut station WENB-TV added an additional 30-minute program to the series featuring six local youth who formed a viewing club and followed the series through to completion. Massachusetts and Rhode Island scheduled an additional half hour after the series was over to tell about 4-H in their states and how to join an on-going project.

A national survey showed the majority of 4-H Extension personnel, school officials, television station managers and program directors, Photo Fun Club enrolled members... and their parents, seemed to be complimentary of the series. The program quality was said to be good, the series fulfilled its goal to teach Unit I of the 4-H photography manual and having six programs seemed to be a desired length. The nationally produced promotion kit for the series was used by every state programming the series, many of them adapting the materials to their own local situations.

The 4-H Photo Fun Club series provided a number of "firsts"...

  • It was the first television series produced by a 4-H donor from the private sector for nationwide distribution.
  • It was the first series approved by the National 4-H TV Review Board. It was the first series produced under a 4-H TV development committee structure.
  • The series was the first offered nationwide in a specific 4-H program subject matter area.
  • It was the first 4-H series offered in color.
  • It was the first series arranged through a National 4-H Service Committee-Extension Service, USDA partnership.
  • It was a pilot attempt in many regards... an attempt that apparently was successful.

4-H Photo Fun Club Member Manual   A Resource Guide for 4-H Photo Fun Club   4-H Photo Fun Club Button flier   4-H Photo Fun Club Cast Photo Album

Living in a Nuclear Age

"Living in a Nuclear Age" is a 4-H television production which became available early in 1973. The series of six half-hour full color, animated television programs targets seventh and eighth graders - a slightly older audience than previous 4-H television series - explaining the atom and its effect on our lives today.

The "star" of the series is Ion, an animated character featuring the voice of Mel Blanc (of "Bugs Bunny" fame) and created by John Stockard. The series features atomic sounds of Herbie Mann, Ray Brown, and Barney Kessel (Columbia Studios, Hollywood) in original music compositions such as "Neutron Analysis," "Pieces of Atoms," "Isotope Walk," "Irradiation Waltz" and other new releases.

"Living in a Nuclear Age" was produced in cooperation with the Extension Service, United States Department of Agriculture; Department of Defense, Office of Civil Defense; and State Extension Services of the Land Grant Universities. A National 4-H TV Development Committee on Civil Defense and The Kansas State University Development Committee planned and designed the series. The series was produced by Extension Film Production, Kansas State University, who also developed the supporting educational and promotional materials.

The film crew traveled to many sections of the country shooting for the series. Visits with scientists from the Atomic Energy Research Labs in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and at other locations give the series depth.

The National 4-H Service Committee was responsible for the distribution and promotion of the series. which was launched in late 1972.

The six programs included:

Discovering the Atom
The secrets of atomic structure, unstable atoms, fission, and shielding, plus a study of career opportunities and historical development of atomic and nuclear knowledge.
Power from the Atom
Ecology, the atom, fusion, uses of nuclear power, elements of a power plant, safeguards in a power plant, desalination, and possibilities of agri-nuclear complex.
Definition and uses of radioisotopes including tracing, dating, half-life and decay, and Systems for Nuclear Auxiliary Power (SNAP).
Nuclear Energy and Living Things
Sources and uses of radiation with living things, discussion of individual radioisotopes, natural radiation, useful and damaging aspects of radiation, somatic and genetic effects, and applications in agriculture and medicine.
Society and Things Nuclear
Civil defense procedures, necessity for planning and group action, results of a nuclear blast, effects of distance on radiation, principles of shielding, fallout shelters (home and community), and waste disposal procedures.
Bombarding Things
Effects of radioactive materials--alpha particles, beta particles, and gamma rays--safeguards and shielding requirements for each, beneficial uses of gamma irradiation, and neutron activation analysis.

The series was accompanied by a members' manual and leaders' guide, plus promotional pieces including a poster and leaflet.

Some 10,000 promotional kits were produced by the National 4-H Service Committee and several power suppliers aggressively helped to spread the word about the series during the first year. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association distributed 650 kits to its field representatives, urging them to help promote the teen-oriented production in their states. Other energy groups promoting the series included the American Public Power Association, Electric Energy Association and the Farm Electrification Council. The Defense Civil Preparedness Agency, U.S. Department of Defense also promoted Living in a Nuclear Age through various internal channels. One example is their Information Bulletin No. 270 which explains the series and encourages nationwide cooperation between extension offices at the state and local levels and local civil preparedness agencies.

The National 4-H TV Review Board endorsed the full use of Living in a Nuclear Age and became actively involved in seeking ways to promote the series. At a spring 1973 meeting of the Advisory Group to the National 4-H Electric Development Committee, a program from the series was shown. The group is composed of young people representing 17 states. Their recommendation was that 4-H'ers throughout the nation should conduct an awareness campaign on electricity and the energy crisis and that utilization of the 4-H television series, Living in a Nuclear Age, be a part of this campaign.

"Living in a Nuclear Age" was also featured on the front cover of the August issue of GPN Newsletter, the monthly publication of Great Plains National ITV Library, series distributor - one of the largest distributors of instructional television series in the country.

The series was initially used in very early spring 1973 in four states - Colorado, Michigan, North Dakota and Pennsylvania. Nearly 50,000 youth were enrolled in these states. The ratio between boys and girls enrolled was nearly split, two states reporting 49% boys and 51% girls and one state showing 50% enrollment for both boys and for girls. A large number of metropolitan youth enrolled in Living in a Nuclear Age, figuring as high as 72% (cities of 50,000 and over and suburbs) of the state's total enrollment in one state. Twenty-seven stations programmed the series in the four states carrying the series in spring, 1973. The 27 stations were located in 14 different market areas containing over 5-1/2 million TV households and reaching nearly 17 million total population. Of these 27 stations, 17 were commercial, network affiliated stations and 10 were educational stations. The series was carried in such market areas as Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Lancaster, Scranton, Denver, Grand Rapids and Fargo.

Commercial stations scheduled Living in a Nuclear Age during weekend programming hours in 88% of the cases with Saturday afternoons ranking first, Saturday mornings rated second and Sunday mornings third. Educational stations used the series most on weekdays with only two of the stations showing it on the weekend (Saturday afternoon) and in both cases the series had also been telecast earlier in the week.

Gearing up for using Living in a Nuclear Age in fall 1973, upward of 4,000 supportive kits of promotional and educational material were distributed through the National 4-H Service Committee. As of December 1, 1973 UMC/Colson Co., distributor of the series members manuals and teacher/leader guidebooks, had sold 196,000 manuals and 26,720 guidebooks for the series.

A number of states planned on using the series in fall/winter 1973 and in 1974, however final statistics have not been located in the 4-H archives.

According to the 1975 report on distribution of the series, 14 states programmed the series during 1975, reaching 80,000 youth and paralleling the age of the intended target audience. The highest enrollment was that of 13-year-olds, followed by 12-, 14-and 11-year olds. Stations were located in 19 different market areas serving over seven million TV households. The fact that the series seems to fit well into the school science curriculum of the target audience has aided its use. State 4-H TV coordinators report that Living in a Nuclear Age has increased the rapport between 4-H and science teachers/school administrators. Local and state civil defense officers continue to be of great assistance in helping coordinate and finance the series in several areas of the country. The four states which were given national grants to develop training models for the series - Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Kansas and West Virginia - continue to work in their respective area of study.

It was stated in 1973 that the fact the series seems to fit into the school science curriculum of the target audiences and that portions of the subject matter have a direct relationship to the current energy crisis should enhance the use of Living in a Nuclear Age. Coupled to these factors is a current national promotion campaign of Extension Service, USDA and the National 4-H Service Committee to promote better and continued use of the series.

The key to the amount of success experienced by states using Living in a Nuclear Age seems, as in past series, to be closely correlated with the amount of resources that go into the preparations for utilizing the series... training; contacts with schools, television stations, other organizations; use of promotional and educational supportive material; available fiances and time and manpower allotted to the effort.

In 1973 the average child watched 24 hours of television a week, or more... a longer period than they spent in school. Television has the greatest, most profound impact of any mass medium in history and it can be one of the most positive forces in our children's lives. "Living in a Nuclear Age and other 4-H series," according to Eleanor L. Wilson, National 4-H TV Coordinator, "are helping to support the cause for learning by offering creative youth television programming. As Living in a Nuclear Age is used more and more during the months ahead, it will be interesting to observe the impact it has on the intended target audience (13-to 15-year olds), an age group seldom considered in television production."

Living in a Nuclear Age was a very creative production, however never reached the success level of the 4-H nutrition series, Mulligan Stew, which was developed during the same period. One reason, probably, was that the nutrition series related to one of the era's politically and socially "hot issues," whereas Nuclear Age was before its time - prior to the energy crisis and prior to Three Mile Island, it seemed to recede into the category of a civil defense pep talk.

Living in a Nuclear Age Promo Flier   Living in a Nuclear Age Poster   Living in a Nuclear Age Guide for Teens   Living in a Nuclear Age Leader/Teacher Guide

Mulligan Stew

A 1972 production made available in 1973, "Mulligan Stew" centers around a five-piece kids' rock group that turns on to good nutrition by solving a different type of nutrition problem in each of the six half-hour TV programs. The series was developed by Extension Service, USDA and filmed by USDA Motion Picture Service. It was developed based on plan and design proposals by Developmental Committees, Iowa State University Extension Service 4-H Nutrition Television Programs. The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) provided a grant to produce the series.


Eleanor Wilson, national 4-H TV coordinator, recalls that once the EFNEP funds were secured, her office subcontracted with Iowa State University to develop an outline of educational concepts for the series. The 4-H TV developmental committee responded favorably to what Iowa State did with nutrition content, but the series did not emerge as a creative whole until Extension hired Ira Klugerman to direct the series. Klugerman, who came from a background of children's television at WQED in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, came up with the title and general treatment for the series.

Production began on location in southeast Washington, DC in 1971. Wilson remembered that the project consumed her and whatever staff she could involve. The budget, always a precarious item, had to be watched with dogged attention. On the other hand, the nutrition subject matter had to meet the standards of a host of home economists who did not always agree. Klugerman insisted that the production be entertaining as well as educational, but was unwilling to let pedantics dominate the series. The child actors were sometimes difficult and Wilson recalled that when she was not juggling columns of numbers, she was settling arguments on the set or haunting the local produce markets looking for just the right shade of green vegetables for the next day's shooting. Wilson herself was without much direct experience in TV production but she did know about Extension and she was convinced that if the show was to be a success it would have to be a compromise effort.

Mulligan Stew premiered on October 4, 1972, during the National 4-H Week at the National 4-H Center, but it was already a winner. Advanced information on the series had enticed the states and they were lining up their viewing schedules and stockpiling materials. The series included the six half-hour films, leaders' guides, and a Mulligan Stew comicbook developed by Michigan State University.

The Mulligan Stew series was being promoted and distributed through the National 4-H Service Committee, and the Committee's Television Specialist Larry Krug recalls the comicbook printer, Shaw-Barton's reaction to the series, "We placed an initial order for one million copies of the comicbook and before they got them off the presses I had to call back and order another 1-1/2 million. They thought I was crazy, but it continued. Before the series was completed we had printed over seven million copies of the Mulligan Stew comicbook."

In all, the Cooperative Extension Service invested $716,000 in Mulligan Stew. That amounted to about $1 per child enrolled, compared to the $10.48 cost of enrolling a child in a single 4-H project. A 4-H member from McConnelsville, Ohio, summed up the series' appeal when he wrote, "Dear Mulligan Stew, Thank You for putting on the show. It taught me a lot about nutrition. My little brother watched it and is eating better now. I hope you will show it again next year. It was funny too." From letters like that it was apparent that "Stew" had succeeded in combining the often-dry concepts of good nutrition with the sometimes too-flamboyant airs of television.

The "good nutrition" series was designed for 4th, 5th and 6th graders with special emphasis on low-income urban youth. The fast moving scene changes and techniques utilizing animation, puppets, and music throughout the sequences are similar to "Sesame Street" and nutrition assignments tackled in each program by the Mulligan Stew force are reminiscent of "Mission Impossible" or "Mod Squad." Wilbur Dooright brings assignments from "upstairs". The group does fun one-liners like Laugh-In. Oh yes! There are some of our great astronauts as well as world famous food authorities and scientists. Each show is "way-out" in entertainment while teaching exciting things about feeding yourself for a healthier you.

One program deals with poor breakfasts, another with fad diets and still another with overall poor eating habits of a whole town called "Lazy Susan." An international program in the series brings in kids representing many foreign lands and Mulligan Stew shows them that no matter where in the world they live, they can find native foods that fit into the basic four food groups and they can have a well-balanced diet. Foods of the future are featured in a program filmed at the Houston Space Center.

The six programs included:

The Great Nutrition Turn On
Mulligan Stew tackles a "Mission Impossible" waking up a sleeping town -- moms 'n dads, firemen, a milkman, barber, bank robber and a cop (lucky for the robber the cop was sleeping), and, would you believe, a cow too tired to give milk? All this in.... THE GREAT NUTRITION TURN ON
Look Inside Yourself
The Mulligan's rock music and songs beat out why "ya gotta eat breakfast". A high school gal is no longer "up-tight" and gets lots of dates, while her brother again becomes a star athlete after being revived in... LOOK INSIDE YOURSELF.
The Flim-Flam Man
A culprit is foiled by Wilbur Dooright when he tries to sell fad diets and food pills to the Mulligan Stews. The mission has intrigue and physical competition as the far-out diets are proven taboos and lose out in... THE FLIM FLAM MAN.
Getting It All Together
Maggie, Mike, Manny, Micki, and Mulligan (the Mulligan Stews) plan, shop, and prepare a dinner for a world population. Hundreds of guests in native costume offer their kind of entertainment and fun in... GETTING IT ALL TOGETHER.
Count-Down... 4 4 3 2
The Mulligans get help from our astronauts at NASA as well as famous research scientists when their mission involves saving their pal, Wilbur Dooright, from a life or death fight with the elements of old Mother Nature in... COUNT-DOWN... 4 4 3 2.
The Racer That Lost His Edge
A fat race car driver (who keeps losing) and his new bride, who keeps stuffing him with "goodies," learn why a healthy body is for champions. They learn you are what you eat... and ya gotta plan right, buy right, and prepare right, in... THE RACER THAT LOST HIS EDGE.

A wide assortment of educational and promotional materials by Michigan State University Cooperative Extension Service accompanied the series. The Mulligan Stew television series was distributed by the National 4-H Service Committee and a colorful, professional promotional kit included a whole cafeteria of materials for 4-H agents, teachers and others to utilize the series. These materials included:

These materials included:

  • Mulligan Stew member book in full color comic book format, 56 pages of comic stories and games supporting each of the six programs.
  • 24-page Mulligan Stew Guide Book for Teachers/Leaders/Aides.
  • General Announcement Brochure
  • Member Announcement Brochure
  • Mulligan Stew Promotional Poster
  • Member Certificate
  • Songs from Mulligan Stew Vinyl Sound Sheet
  • Mulligan Stew logos
  • Mulligan Stew Sheet Music
  • Glossy Photos
  • Preview Telecast Request
  • Series of order forms for ordering the series, member book, brochures, posters, repro proofs, slide/tape presentation, 4-4-3-2 Magic Formula buttons, sound sheets and assorted materials.

The Mulligan Stew series was available for rental on film or videotape from the Great Plains National ITV Library at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. Cost for renting the series on film with TV rights for on week per program was $225; rental of series on film with TV rights for one month was $450 per program; with additional sets rented by the same state at th same time for a lower fee; rental on film WITHOUT TV rights for one week was $90. per program. Costs for rental on tape was slightly higher - $285 for the entire series with TV rights for one week per program; rental on tape with TV rights for one month was $570 per program with extension beyond initial one month period at $65 per week. Total costs for series rental (10 months with option to buy) on Sony U-matic cassettes without TV rights - cable or broadcast, was $442.50.

The support materials through the National 4-H Service Committee, produced in quantity, were unbelievably reasonable.

The Mulligan Stew comic book members manual soon became the biggest selling members’ manual in 4-H history. The 4-color, 56-page comic book sold for 8 cents each available in quantities of 200. During the series well over seven million copies were sold.

The colorful 4-page member announcement brochures sold for $12.50 per 1,000 available in quantities of 1,000.

Colorful 16-1/4" x 12" wall posters were available for $5.00 per 100 available in quantities of 100.

The bright orange and white attractive 4/4/3/2 Magic Formula pinback buttons sold for $7.75 per 100 for 1000 or more.

The double vinyl Mulligan Stew sound sheet, including the 11 Mulligan Stew songs - music composed and arranged by Paul Brier & performed by “The Eye” sold for 17 cents per package, available in quantities of 100.

The series was promoted by the Food Council of America and several other youth groups indicated interest in the series. Program No. 3, “The Flim Flam Man,” received a Golden Eagle Certificate from the Council on International Non-Theatrical Events (CINE) in 1972. The certificate is evidence of the suitability of this film for International Festival use.

Blue Sky Below My Feet

In “Blue Sky Below My Feet,” NASA and 4-H joined together to explore space technology and how it related to life on earth.

The series, produced in the mid-1980's, consisted of three half-hour television programs featuring:

  • NASA shuttle astronauts
  • Impulse - the animated satellite
  • Members of the Blue Sky 4-H Club
  • Actual scenes of astronauts in space and training for space at the Johnson Space Center.

The television series was a joint effort between Arthur Young International; Extension Service, United States Department of Agriculture; State Extension Services of the Land Grant Universities; National 4-H Council; and National Aeronautics and Space Administration cooperating. Programs were produced by The Production Center at Arthur Young, Reston, Virginia in partnership with 4-H Youth and Home Economics & Human Nutrition, Extension Service, USDA. Educational and promotional materials were produced by staff at Arthur Young, National 4-H Council, Extension Service, USDA and the Cooperative Extension Service, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Some segments in the series involve four astronauts who are 4-H alumni - Don Williams, Mack Lee, Bob Crippin and Ellison Onizuka - filming in Houston at the Johnson Space Center. Additional segments were filmed at the Philadelphia School of Textiles and Design and at Campbell Soup Company in Camden, New Jersey. 4-H members from Maryland, selected through an audition process, participated in filming of additional segments.

The three programs in the series included:

Show #1 - Mission: Gravity and Forces
Discover what gravity is - what it"s like to be weightless - how to work in space - how to eat in space - how to sleep in space - how gravity affects our lives on earth.
Show #2 - Mission: Fiber and Fabrics
Find out how space suits are made - how the different layers of fabric work - if astronauts wear the same fabrics in space that we wear on earth - why we wear certain fabrics for sports, others for our jobs, others at home - the difference between man-made and natural fibers.
Show #3 - Mission: Food and Nutrition
Explore how food is prepared for space - how astronauts eat in space - what kinds of foods astronauts eat in space - how good nutrition affects health and the ability to perform various tasks.

To complete the "Blue Sky" missions a full payload of activities were created:

  • Mission Manual - comic book format depicting learning activities for each of the three programs. This workbook for young people reinforces major concepts, enlarges upon subject matter areas and makes learning fun!
  • Leader/Teacher Handbook - help for the adult educator in expanding the knowledge base for young people, using accompanying teaching tools, and planning for extensive learning activities.
  • Facilitator"s Guide - a brief look at ways to use the "Blue Sky" programs and accompanying materials.
  • Membership Card - participating youngsters become members of the Blue Sky 4-H Club!
  • Certificates of Completion - recognize your Blue Sky members with certificates, upon completion of the various program missions.
  • T-Shirts - every club has their own T-shirt complete with the club emblem, and the Blue Sky club is no different!
  • Blue Sky Shuttle Models - a special model for club members to assemble themselves.
  • Space Posters - famed futuristic space artist Dexter Dickinson created six posters depicting life in space. Each poster is backed with an explanation of featured scenes. Posters were designed especially for the Blue Sky project!
  • Blue Sky Below My Feet Promotion Brochure
  • Buttons - club members will want to have their own Blue Sky 4-H Club emblem buttons.

Blue Sky TV Series Premiere

"Blue Sky Below My Feet - Adventures in Space Technology" premiered before 300 people at the National 4-H Center on February 11, 1986. Grant A. Shrum, president, National 4-H Council, and Dr. Donald Stormer, deputy administrator, 4-H/Youth, Extension Service, USDA, recognized the efforts of NASa and Arthur Young and Company in making the production a success.

Robert Brown, NASA director of educational affairs, addressed the group, pointing with pride to the agency"s record of educational efforts and applauding their new relationship with 4-H to reach the nation"s young people.

Arthur Young and Company was represented by Thomas Farley, a partner in the company and head of The Production Center which coordinated and produced the entire project. Mr. Farley spoke of the private sector initiative and the strong bond the private and public sectors must form to insure continued support to programs like 4-H.

Dexter Dickinson, who created the special set of six futuristic space art posters for the series, presented the originals of the posters to the National 4-H Center.

In September of 1986, four regional training workshops were held for state 4-H staff, Extension media specialists and educators on the use of the "Blue Sky" series. The workshops were held in Portland, Oregon; Atlanta, Georgia; St. Charles, Illinois; and at the National 4-H Center. Over 100 participants representing 44 states, plus the District of Columbia, participated in the workshops.

States started using the programs and accompanying materials with 4-H and other youth groups that fall and started working with the public schools in the spring of 1987. New York and Pennsylvania were exploring ways to collaborate on their Blue Sky efforts. New York is investigating funding sources to support a statewide publicity effort. The state has developed a supplemental guide for teachers and leaders which focuses on hands-on activities for youth. Pennsylvania is developing a fact sheet set to supplement the club approach to the program and has scheduled the series to run on the Pennarama TV system in 1987 and 1988. The Bank of Hawaii made a significant gift to fund Hawaii"s Blue Sky effort and has enclosed a flyer in their account holders" statements. Oahu county has a Teacher in Space participant in residence who has been working with the project in schools. Teachers across the state of Tennessee will receive a Blue Sky how-to kit complete with an instructional video on how to use the Blue Sky program in the classroom. California is incorporating Blue Sky into a part of their food-nutrition program at the state level with hands-on activities including: Topsy Turvy (eating in a gravity-less state); Germs, Boogers and Bacteria; Mars Mission; Trip to Lowfaturn; How Plump Are You (dehydration and rehydration).

Blue Sky Receives Raves

According to an article in the Summer, 1986 National 4-H Council Quarterly, the Dade County, Florida school system"s educational television testing unit reported that the "Blue Sky Below My Feet" 4-H Television series received rave reviews from test participants.

Every program scored high in the measurement areas of attention, entertainment and educational value. In fact, interest levels among 4th-6th graders rose throughout each half-hour segment of the series. The mission manual for young people and the teacher/leader guide also tested very favorably.

"Blue Sky Below My Feet" On Mission of Success
(from Winter 1989 issue of National 4-H Council Quarterly)

The Blue Sky television series, developed jointly by Arthur Young, NASA, and 4-H, helps youth explore space technology and how it relates to life on earth. States used the program in various ways during 1988, complementing their individual curriculum design and educational needs.

In Kentucky, Blue Sky contact Anna Lucas reports that more than 15,000 youths participated in Blue Sky in half the Kentucky counties this year and the potential is even greater.

The Supplemental Material Booklet produced in 1987 has been a successful companion to the BS-102 Mission Manual and BS-103 Leader/Teacher Handbook. The 40-page, one-color guide includes a pre-test/post-test; expanded background information in foods, fibers and gravity/forces; discussion questions; some Toys That Teach exercises from Young Astronauts program and shuttle model patterns and instructions developed by NASA. They have also duplicated the model patterns for multiple distribution.

In Kansas, Blue Sky contact Steve Fisher reports successful use of Blue Sky as a latch-key project involving small groups of 3rd graders who met after school on school property. A second Blue Sky pilot project carried out in a rural area allowed 4-H to reach a new audience.

Money to provide Blue Sky materials to counties has been granted by the Blue Sky Advisory Committee of the Kansas 4-H Foundation for the third year. The $4,500 grant exceeds the amount given last year, and is double the first year"s allowance. Some 53 of Kansas" 105 counties now have their own Blue Sky visuals.

Blue Sky receives visibility through a "Featured Six" promotional program. The campaign offers six "self-contained" projects that are compatible with school curriculum and easy for teachers to implement. Steve reports high use and acceptance--especially as a school enrichment project.

In New York, Blue sky contact Lois Chaplin reports that New York City launched their Blue Sky program in style at a dynamic Seminar to Promote Aerospace Curriculum for Educators, held at the Intrepid Sea Air Museum. The seminar was jointly sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extension, the Museum, NASA Young Astronaut Council and the NYC Board of Education.

A new publication, "A Supplement To Blue Sky Below My Feet For Teachers And 4-H Leaders" has been developed to provide additional hands-on activities. The three chapters relate directly to the video series and have information for the teacher, classroom activities and worksheets for use by youth. The guide design permits pages to be easily removed and duplicated.

Of much interest to states are the Outlines for Teacher/Leader Training which include two training options to help agents plan and implement a Blue Sky workshop in their county. New York has also developed a summary sheet of program materials, a description of Blue Sky objectives and a state syllabus.

In Arkansas, State 4-H Leader LaVerne Feaster reports that a 12 percent increase in 4-H enrollment can be directly attributed to the Blue Sky program. Lynn Horton says that nearly 7,000 4-H members learned about space technology through in-school 4-H clubs, special interest workshops or meetings and county camps. Blue Sky was used on cable television and aired on AETN, the state"s PBS Station. The state 4-H office notified county offices of the broadcast schedule and they, in turn, promoted the program and supplied materials to local teachers.

To supplement their program, raw video footage of space missions and technology was acquired from their NASA regional education center.

Arkansas "Teacher in Space," Mary Beth Greenway, spoke at the State 4-H Award Winner Banquet and Tenn Leader Conferences.

In Iowa, Jean Ann Carrigan, Extension Agent in Woodbury County, reports that 321 youth in grades 5 and 6 participated in Blue Sky School Enrichment. The average post-test over pre-test was 19.34 percent. Teachers stated how beneficial it was to have research-based information on fibers, forces and nutrition that was tied to a subject that was extremely interesting to children. Teacher Jane Muller of Sioux City found the video "highly motivating" and the teacher manual "an excellent guide - I especially liked the discussion questions that were provided." Principal Lon J. Stuhr said, "It almost made me feel like I was in space."

In Texas, San Antonians observed "Blue Skies Day" at Lackland Air Force Base on June 4.

Some 182 youth and 57 adults participated in the special event conducted by Bexar County 4-H and the U.S. Air Force Office of Youth Relations.

Youth involved in the day represented 4-H, Scouting, Camp Fire Boys and Girls and Young Astronaut Clubs. The program featured lessons from "Blue Sky Below My Feet." Personnel from local Air Force bases conducted the educational workshops.

Actual flight suits and a space suit, along with a robot named "Tomy 2000" and a laser, were the center of attention in the session on Forces and Gravity.

Youth sampled space food in a nutrition less and learned how food is tested and prepared for space.

The goal of "Blue Skies Day" was to introduce the new project and demonstrate effective use of available resources from the U.S. Air Force.

Environmental Conservation 4-H TV Series

Following the appointment of the TV review board in 1969, Eleanor Wilson, the national 4-H TV coordinator, and 4-H Division Director E. Dean Vaughan, barnstormed the nation in an attempt to set up the cost-sharing fund and to gain acceptance for nationwide 4-H TV coordination. At the same time, a 4-H TV development committee identified conservation as the priority topic for the next series. The development committee spent considerable time laying out all aspects of what the series would cover:

"Man"s relationship with his environment," was the central focus of a 4-H series on Environmental Conservation. The theme is "A Perspective for Decision Making," with emphasis on the following core concepts: Life has requirements, life has order, life is interdependent, life is change and life is energy flow.

The series of 10 color half-hour programs, was planned for 9- to 13-year olds. The development committee completed the plan for the series, which includes the subject matter content and guidelines for production and the promotional materials for use with prospective donors.

The Federal Extension Service requested the National 4-H Service Committee to "take the lead with the National 4-H TV Coordinator to obtain the financial sponsorship of the 4-H TV Conservation series." The fund raising campaign begins in February and a production unit was be selected shortly thereafter. It is expected to be completed so that the series may be in use during 1971.

The proposal was sound. To produce a 4-H TV series on environmental conservation for 9- to 13-year olds to create an awareness of the environment around us; and, to involve youth in activities which will promote understanding and develop the tools and attitudes for action. Man can and should manage the natural resources for a healthy, attractive, and productive home and community--now and for the future.

Man is the only animal with the ability to consciously manage the elements of his environment. We do this based on values--economic, human, aesthetic and others.

Our growing concern regarding air and water pollution, technological ability to make drastic environmental changes, preservation of a genetic pool, population pressures, demand for leisure activities, wildlife management, outdoor aesthetics, wilderness areas, depletion of natural resources... have focused attention on man"s trained relationship with nature"s world. We have not answered the question "What is Man"s relationship with his environment?

It was projected that the series would be used on over 250 stations on first use. That at least 5 million youth will be enrolled in the special series, joining forces with the over 300,000 youth already enrolled in the "4-H Conservation of Natural Resources" program. That the series will reach 1/4 to 1/3 of all youth in 9- to 13-year age bracket.

The series was a natural for 4-H, fitting right in with one of the traditional long-time program areas - conservation. The series was a natural following earlier series of Mulligan Stew and others. The series would place 4-H and Extension on the cutting age of an ecological movement... 30 years before Global Warming!

Unfortunately, the environmental conservation series was never funded - conservation was a controversial topic in the early 70"s. The whole environmental movement was on the ascent and it simply was not possible to find a private sponsor willing to pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into a television production over which there would be little corporate control. Conversely, it was clear that many states would refuse to air a 4-H TV series with a potential corporate bias. There seemed to be no room for compromise, just as there seemed to be little chance that the-cost-sharing system would ever accrue enough money for Extension to produce its own series. It required many months of frustration before Wilson and the others working on the development of 4-H television admitted to themselves that cash availability in all likelihood would determine subject matter and that their roles really would be to assure quality production adaptable to all fifty states.

Blue Jeans Baby TV Series

When Mulligan Stew was at its peak in 1974, 4-H officials began to plan for its replacement. The review board had determined that a series showing how agriculture fits into the nation"s market economy should be the next priority and like "Stew" the series would have the best chance of funding through government channels. National 4-H Service Committee Director Norman Mindrum wrote to North Carolina"s Extension Director George Hyatt, Jr., who was then chairman of ECOP, asking for TV support. Mindrum wanted ECOP to earmark $600,000 of a $30-million request on agricultural improvement for a 4-H TV series.

ECOP approved the request in February, 1975. During that year"s federal budget hearing, both House and Senate committee reports strongly recommended funding of a series on the Production, Processing and Distribution of Food and Fiber in America. Later in 1975 both the U.S. Congressional House and U.S. Senate budget committee reports strongly recommended the funding of programs similar to "Mulligan Stew" on the "Production, processing and distribution of food and fiber in America." Dr. E. Dean Vaughan, assistant administrator, 4-H - Youth, ES, USDA announced that the next 4-H TV series funded for development would be in the area of food and fiber production.

Building on a plan that had been worked out two years earlier by the Pennsylvania Cooperative Extension Service, the review board and the development committee outlined a proposal to award a contract to the Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Service to do the basic pre-production work on the series. The schedule called for production to begin in 1977, with the program ready for broadcast in 1979. The "Write on 4-H" newsletter of October 1977 reported that the production contract for the 4-H food and fiber TV series had been awarded to the Battelle-Columbus Laboratories. The funding called for the production of a pilot film which began under the working title of "Blue Jeans Baby".

The lead article in the National News and Views section of National 4-H News in March 1978 announced the highly anticipated series:

New 4-H TV Program. Where does milk come from? What do comic books and blue jeans have in common? What am I paying for when I buy a milkshake and a hamburger? Can 4-H"ers you know answer these questions?

Many 4-H projects and activities relate to production of agricultural products. Others relate more to consumer aspects of food and fiber. But probably few 4-H educational experiences help our young people really understand what it takes to get food from farm to supermarket. That"s why the new 4-H TV program on food and fiber is now in production at Battelle Institute in Columbus, Ohio, in cooperation with-ES-USDA. This new program, designed for 9-12 year olds, will be a helpful tool for you as a volunteer leader. The program is a followup of "Mulligan Stew" and will include six films, a guide for parents, volunteer leaders and teachers, and a book for youngsters that provides learn-by-doing activities.

The purpose of this program is to help youth make better consumer and nutrition decisions based on facts--about what it takes to produce, process and market the food and clothing products familiar to them. A catchy title, youth involvement in the films, music, fun new experiences such as games and puzzles, all combine to make the film and member"s book a lively, interesting way to learn. This program will relate to many current 4-H projects and activities on nutrition, agriculture and consumer emphasis. It should be an educational package for the whole club and 4-H families.

Watch for it next fall.

Unfortunately, fall came and went... and the new series never appeared.

As with Mulligan Stew, there were disagreements among those concerned with subject matter and those concerned with producing acceptable television, only this time, compromise did not emerge and neither did "Blue Jeans Baby". A terse notation in the June 28, 1978, minutes of the 4-H subcommittee signaled problems: "A program report indicated dissatisfaction with the pilot phase done by Battelle. Phase I must be improved and completed. The series will be delayed."

Within a few months the delays turned into the death of the series. Wilson, who said the production became a political football, confirmed disagreements among the members of the developmental committee over the wisdom of exposing youngsters to agricultural policy issues that sometimes were controversial. Wilson also expressed concern over production problems and friction between her office and other offices in the USDA. As late as 1980, the 4-H subcommittee was still listing the food and fiber series status as uncertain. Larry Krug, who served as the National 4-H Service Committee"s liaison with Battelle for the series, says, "the concept for the food and fiber series was brilliant. The pilot - Blue Jeans Baby - was based on how a pair of blue jeans is made and the history behind jeans... how the miners during the California Gold Rush needed more durable pants that would also have some give to them and how denim became the successful result. The entire series was a pleasant mix of food and fiber information mixed with entertainment geared to the youth audience. It is sad the series was never completed, however like with Mulligan Stew, it sometimes is difficult to get approval on the mix of educational concepts and entertainment that was necessary for children"s television, only this time, unlike Mulligan Stew, it didn"t work."

End of an Era

Despite the success of 4-H television series in the 1970"s with millions of youngsters participating and having strong support from nearly everyone in the Extension hierarchy, 4-H television series by the 1980"s was basically dead.

It had become a very costly undertaking requiring nearly $1 million to put a series on the air. Granted, spending $1 million to bring in three or four million TV members still sounds like a fabulous deal. But, without Extension follow-up, 4-H television often was seen as a brief exposure to educational concepts. Television was also separate from "regular 4-H", which meant that while nearly everyone instinctively supported more television, there was really no constituency to fight for it.

Wilson stopped using the title of 4-H TV coordinator in 1980 because there was really no 4-H television to coordinate.

Nevertheless, she and others who worked on the ill-fated project remained convinced that effective 4-H TV programming was important to Extension.

In reflecting back, Krug says, "We can ask ourselves why would something so successful as 4-H television come to a halt, particularly at a time when it had raised the 4-H membership to an all-time high? There may well be a number of answers... most of them not making a lot of sense. Perhaps the overriding problem with 4-H television series was that the concept of 4-H television was too successful; had too much potential... was a threat to the traditional 4-H program. This may or may not be true, but it almost seems like the only answer that makes any sense."

Wilson adds, "the years ahead still provide an opportunity to develop multi-media productions to educate youth and volunteers. A more recent proposal included nutrition education, physical fitness and understanding where food comes from and how culture influences food choices. This plan includes video, interactive and computer learning for youth and similar media to teach volunteer leaders and teachers how to work with youth on this program effort."

Present and Future Opportunities

Wilson and Krug both agree that many issues facing youth and families today could be addressed creativity by multi-media educational programs - bringing the concept of 4-H television series into the 21st Century by incorporating both television and the Internet in reaching the huge youth audience. For example, a present urgent problem is obesity - perhaps the most serious health issue facing youth and their families today.

Wilson feels that the Extension Service has the best research and educational staff to take the lead in the development in creating a program to address this health issue, in cooperation with other youth organizations and the schools. She says, "Michelle Obama and the Surgeon General have publically announced their concern and support for making youth obesity a top priority. The YMCA is already focusing on the physical fitness component with the Surgeon General"s endorsement. The 4-H Cooperative Extension Service programs of the Land-Grant Universities are currently offering strong programs working with the military families on bases across the country, and with after-school programs. The Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Program continues to successfully work with low income members. The leadership expertise and resources of the Land Grant University Extension offices should be challenged to move promptly to develop a comprehensive plan for a multi-media production on nutrition/physical fitness education by seeking funding from public and private sources."

Krug adds, "while there certainly is opportunity for new programming utilizing television in 4-H, it will be (and should be) unlike the programs of the 1970s... it will be better! ...more interactive... more 21st Century."

Compiled by National 4-H History Preservation Team.

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