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Wartime 4-H Support - World War II


December 7, 1941 —  A Date That Will Live in Infamy
4-H Members Support the War
4-H'ers Active on the Battlefields
National 4-H Mobilization Week
    Press - Releases and letters from Federal Extension Service to newspapers and magazines.
         Exhibits and Posters
National 4-H Goals for Victory Breakfast
"Feed A Fighter" Campaign
Food for Victory, Food for Freedom, Food for Defense Campaigns
The Popular Victory Gardens
Victory Farm Volunteers & The U. S. Crop Corps
On the Clothing Front
4-H's "Fleet" of Liberty Ships
Warships Named for 4-H Heroes
4-H Ambulance Fund Drive
4-H Raises Money To Purchase Planes, Too
Oklahoma's 18 Bomber 4-H Liberator Squadron
New York's 4-H War Bond Drive Results in a Fleet of 25 Fighters
4-H Clubs Raise Funds for Other War Equipment
Collecting Scrap Metal and Other Re-Usable Items
Gathering Milkweed Pods
War Bonds and War Stamps
Money-Raising Benefits and Other Activities
National 4-H Supply Service Supports the War Effort
National 4-H Awards Contests Support 4-H War Programs
National 4-H Club News —  A Conduit for 4-H War News
War on the Home Front —  4-H & Extension Support Farms & Families
4-H War Songs and Poems
         Victory Garden Song
         Victory Pie Song
         A Modern War Song
         Dig! Dig! Dig!
         4-H Victory Club
         Bond Booster Song
         4-H Crop Song
         Canning for Victory
         Spirit of the "V" Gardners
         What America Means to Me
         Calling Our Youth
         Freedom of Speech
         12 Americans
         The 4-H Spirit
         The 4-H Way — A Home Front Poem
         Save the Cans
The Plough and The Sword
Community 'War Service Honor Rolls'
4-H's Guideposts —  Goals for the Future
Post-War Activities
In Closing...


As explained by Franklin M. Reck, author of "The 4-H Story" in 1951, "the rise of aggressive expansionist governments in Europe in the 1930's, culminating in the outbreak of war in 1939, caused the American people to examine the values of a free, representative government... For nearly two years before the United States was plunged into the war by the bombing of our warships in Pearl Harbor, the army of 1,400,000 4-H members pondered the meaning of democracy in a world engulfed by chaos. A flood of citizenship material was issued from national and state Extension offices. In discussions, pageants and ceremonies, in solemn pledges of allegiance, 4-H Clubs everywhere pondered their coming duties as free citizens in a democracy.

"In their club meetings they studied their local and state governments, re-read the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, and laid plans for cooperative action in case war should come.

"At the National 4-H Club Camp in Washington and in the various states, the 4-H Citizenship Ceremonial focused the thoughts of the membership on their duties in the uncertain years ahead. By 1940, 4-H had a body of ritual... the beautiful Candle Lighting Ceremony in which the member solemnly passes on his talents to others; the Initiation Ceremony, with its theme of working together; the impressive Sunset Ceremonial with its thoughtful appreciation of the out-of-doors, of the smell of flowers, and of the good brown earth... All of these helped dedicate the 4-H Clubs to the service of their country, but none more effectively than the 4-H Citizenship Ceremonial, first held at the National Camp in 1939. This ceremonial, simply written, quoting parts of the Declaration of Independence without embellishment, factually describing the government, and pledging the member to the ordinary duties of a citizen, is a condensed description of a dynamic democracy. For 4-H Clubs everywhere, it highlighted the meaning of the coming struggle."


While America was still at peace, war preparations during 1939, 1940 and 1941 were a growing part of the 4-H and Extension "planning process." For example, war preparation was reflected in the North Carolina State Fair's 4-H slogan for 1940: "The Best National Defense for Farm People is to Grow the Necessary Foods for Family Health - 4-H Club Members Do Their Part."

December 7, 1941 —  A Date That Will Live in Infamy

At 7:02 a.m., December 7, 1941, an Army mobile radar unit set up on Oahu Island in Hawaii picked up the tell-tale blips of approaching aircraft. The two privates operating the radar contacted the Army's General Information Center, but the duty officer there told them to remain calm; the planes were probably American B-17s flying in from California. In fact, they were Japanese aircraft that had been launched from six aircraft carriers 200 miles north of Hawaii.

At 7:55 a.m., the first Japanese bombs fell on Pearl Harbor, the main base of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Moored in the harbor were more than 70 warships, including eight of the fleet's nine battleships. There were also two heavy cruisers, 29 destroyers, and five submarines. Four hundred airplanes were stationed nearby. Japanese torpedo bombers, flying just 50 feet above the water, launched torpedoes at the docked American warships. Japanese dive bombers strafed the ships' decks with machine gun fire, while Japanese fighters dropped high-explosive bombs on the aircraft sitting on the ground. Within half an hour, the U.S. Pacific Fleet was virtually destroyed. The U.S. battleship Arizona was a burning hulk. Three other large ships —  the Oklahoma, the West Virginia, and the California —  were sinking.

A second attack took place at 9 a.m., but by then the damage had already been done. Seven of the eight battleships were sunk or severely hit. Out of 400 aircraft, 188 had been destroyed and 159 were seriously damaged. Altogether, 2403 Americans died during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; another 1178 were wounded. Japan lost just 55 men.

Militarily it was not a total disaster. Japan had failed to destroy Pearl Harbor's ship-repair facilities, the base's power plant, and its fuel tanks. Even more important, three U.S. aircraft carriers, which had been on routine maneuvers, escaped destruction. But it was a devastating blow nonetheless. That same day, Japanese forces also launched other attacks throughout the Pacific, striking Guam, Hong Kong, Malaya, Midway Island, the Philippine Islands, and Wake Island.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt appears before the U.S. Congress asking for a declaration of war against the Empire of Japan.

The next day, President Roosevelt appeared before a joint session of Congress to ask for a declaration of war. He began his address with these famous words: "Yesterday, December 7, 1941 —  a date which will live in infamy —  the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan." Congress declared war on Japan, with only one dissenting vote.

The above haunting photo taken on December 3, 1941 shows the smiling group of delegates to National 4-H Club Congress in Chicago posing in front of the International Harvester Company following a tour. Little did they realize that a short four days later - before many of them even got home - their ambitious plans, their lives, would be changed forever. For nearly four years America would be at war... absolutely nothing would matter except winning the war.

Not only would this spirit; this sacrifice, embrace the nation, but it would become a driving force for 4-H, as well.

4-H Members Support the War

When the United States entered the war, 4-H was well prepared to make its contribution to ultimate victory. With their youth and idealism, club members were a potent force in unifying farm effort in support of the war.

In the January 1942 issue of National 4-H Club News " less than a month after Pearl Harbor " Editor Guy L. Noble, writing from Washington, states that "to gain our goal " Victory " every 4-H'er will do his part. This means leaders, parents and members. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has outlined general plans for procedure... which are now in the hands of State club leaders for consideration... Ample production of "Food for Freedom" is one of the first essentials. The National Victory Garden Conference just held here has a goal of 5,760,000 gardens in 1942. 4-H members can guarantee 1,000,000 of these gardens. The preservation of the food produced is the next step..." Noble goes on to elaborate about older 4-H boys needing to learn how to operate and repair farm machinery, to not throw anything away but to cut back and save.

How quickly everyone across America got into the war mode is almost unreal. Within days... perhaps even hours, after Pearl Harbor it seems like everything was in motion.

The Federal Extension Services's preliminary figures released on work of 4-H Clubs at the close of 1942 are impressive. Some of these figures include: 3 million bushel of garden products were produced; in poultry 6.5 million birds raised; 85,000 head of dairy cattle; 300,000 head of swine; 146 million pounds of scrap metal collected; 23 million pounds of rubber collected; 24 million pounds of paper and burlap; $6 million in War bonds or stamps purchased; over one-half million girls and boys remaking or repairing clothing; 25,000 engaged in air-raid activities and 450,000 engaging in other defense activities. The collections of scrap metal alone total an amount equivalent to 20 trainloads each of approximately 100 average cars.

During the first months of the war, 4-H boys in North Branford, Connecticut became watchers in the Aircraft Warning Service. County commissioners and merchants of Gainesville, Florida created a program of providing seed from which 4-H and FFA members were able to keep a steady flow of vegetables for WPA-sponsored school lunchrooms. Schools for older boys were scheduled in many New York communities to teach adjusting of plows and repair needs of farm tools. Broome county, New York held machinery clinics on drills and harrows in 1942 with others planned on planting and mowing implements. Information was placed in the hands of Illinois 4-H Clubs showing how fuel consumption of faulty tractors may be reduced 10 gallons per day.

One young 4-H boy in West Kingston, Rhode Island is a prime example of how youth were willing to get involved in new activities in the goal for victory. Allen West, as a war time 4-H member, in the early months of 1942 after Pearl Harbor, geared his living to winning the war. If work is a whole arsenal of weapons in this fight for freedom, 4-H'er Allen West is a good example. Here is his report of how he spent a typical Sunday " morning, 6 to 8, airplane spotting; home in time to care for chickens and get ready for church; usher at church; home for dinner; soliciting for Red Cross in early afternoon; home in time for more work with poultry before supper; evening youth people's group at church, then acting as courier in blackout test. (Reported in July 1942 National 4-H News by one of Allen's neighbors, Nicholas Murray Butler, president of Columbia University and a Nobel prize winner.)

The 4-H campaign consisted of salvage —  " collecting paper and scrap metal and saving fats; of conserving machinery, clothing and food; of selling and buying War Bonds; of supplying hours of labor, and of undertaking enlarged crop and livestock projects to increase the production of food and the raw materials supplied by the farm. Some of these activities were new to 4-H members. Some were merely an intensification of what they had already learned to do as good farmers and homemakers. But, their continuing efforts went beyond all expectations. Here were nearly a million and a half boys and girls, almost 10 million former club members, 150,000 local leaders, and a capable Extension staff, all committed to the doctrine of farm efficiency.

Being mindful of the drop in enrollment following World War I, the leaders of 4-H both nationally and in the states carried a dual commitment " support the war effort in every way possible, while keeping the regular 4-H program strong and moving forward. As one New York local leader put it, "The most important defense work I'm doing is my 4-H Club work."


Delegates and leaders numbering 1,235 posed for this huge "V" in a patriotic demonstration at the Kansas 4-H Roundup held June 1-6, 1942 in Manhattan, Kansas.

In 1943 the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work released a new enlistment poster, titled "Be A Volunteer 4-H Leader," printed in red, blue and black, encouraging patriotic rural men and women who are eager to do a challenging wartime job on the home front, to become 4-H leaders.

Although there were ongoing 4-H projects not directly related to the war effort, some of the new projects still aided in that effort. New state and national programs in safety were started in 1943. In a related matter, for example, 4-H forest patrols, more than 100 of them, were formed to protect timberlands in North Carolina.

State reports on both war activities and membership at the close of 1943, at the height of the war, were impressive. California, for example, reported a 50% increase in membership over 1942, and their members produced and conserved 20 million pounds of food. North Carolina's enrollment also increased by 50%, reaching 97,313. Louisiana's enrollment grew 25 percent over the 1942 figure. Maryland's members concentrated on Victory Gardens, bringing in many more boys and girls, resulting in a 366 percent increase in membership over pre-war enrollment. Minnesota's 49,000 members produced 15,284,000 pounds of livestock, grew 20,000 Victory Gardens, processed 770,000 quarts of food, and made or remodeled 81,112 garments. Montana's 7,500 members contributed 500 hours each to produce bumper crops in the state. Ohio's 46,246 members did 495,022 10-hour days of labor and collected 2,805,428 pounds of salvage material. Out of South Dakota's 8,810 members, 6,250 of them were enrolled in the Jobs for Victory program. Likewise, of Utah's 4,586 members, more than 3,000 of them enrolled to help with farm labor. Indeed, 4-H's "youth army" on the home-front was an impressive force to help win the war, duly noted from rural communities all the way up to the national leaders in Washington, D.C.

4-H'ers Active on the Battlefields

While this history relates many of the impressive projects and responsibilities of the current 4-H members and leaders during the war years of 1942, 1943, 1944 and 1945, it is important not to forget the former 4-H members or 4-H alumni, many who were actively serving on the battle fields of the war... an estimated 800,000 of them.

Not surprisingly, many of these young men and women who had grown up on farms and experienced the "can do" attitude of successful 4-H projects and activities also became some of the heroes of the war. A few are highlighted here:

Knocking out Japs at Saipan and Tinian won promotion to Marine gunnery sergeant for Marion J. Franklin, former 4-H Club president at Mount Vernon, Illinois. As scout with the Fourth Marine Division artillery, he served with forward observer parties throughout the Marianas campaign, and was a crack shot, specializing in hunting snippers. Fighting throughout the war, Marion became old enough to vote on November 11, 1944... near the end of the war.


American boys of Japanese ancestry born in Hawaii made up the celebrated 100th Hawaii Infantry Division of the United States Army and one among them was Kenneth Otagaki, former 4-H Club member with a 7-year record of poultry project experience on the Island of Molokai. A graduate of the University of Hawaii, he was assistant in the University's dairy department before enlisting. He closed out the war at the Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. because of combat wounds received at Cassina, where he lost a leg, an eye, and several fingers.

Winner of the 100th Congressional Medal of Honor, Sgt. Oscar Godfrey Johnson, from Foster City, Michigan, was a member of the Sturgeon River Dairy Club 5 years and the Felch forestry and handicraft clubs each several years. Sgt. Johnson's citation tells a story of supreme courage. Detailed to a forward scouting battalion, his party was ambushed by Germans. All others were killed or wounded. He himself was responsible for killing 40 Germans, silencing six machine gun nests, and caring for the wounded. Later he was wounded and received the Purple Heart. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor from General Mark Clark.

The October 1945 issue of National 4-H Club News announces that Col. Creighton W. Abrams is now home in triumph in Agawam, Massachusetts. Abrams was a 4-H'er for several years, raising baby beef. During the war he served as tank battalion commander with Gen. Patton's army, covering 1,500 speedometer miles in a scant seven weeks. Much of western Massachusetts turned out for the hero's welcome home. [Later, the United States Army General commanded military operations in the Vietnam War from 1968-72, which saw U.S. troop strength in South Vietnam fall from a peak of 543,000 to 49,000. Gen. Abrams served as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army from 1972 until shortly before his death in 1974.]

One young man particularly stands out... Major Richard I. Bong, who grew up on a farm in Poplar, Wisconsin, as one of nine children... a member of a strong 4-H family. While at Superior State Teachers College, Dick Bong enlisted in the Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet Program. One of his flight instructors was Capt. Barry Goldwater (later U.S. Senator from Arizona). He received his wings and commission as a second lieutenant on January 19, 1942, only a few weeks after the U.S. declared war on Japan. Dick became the United States' highest-scoring air ace, having shot down at least 40 Japanese aircraft during World War II. [Surpassing Eddie Rickenbacker's American record of 26 credited victories in World War I.] Dick Bong was a fighter pilot in the U.S. Army Air Forces and a recipient of the Medal of Honor, receiving the medal at a special ceremony in December 1944 from General Douglas MacArthur. Bong also had received the Silver Star and the Distinguished Service Cross.

Near the end of the war, Major Bong became a test pilot assigned to Lockheed's Burbank, California plant, where he flew P-80 Shooting Star jet fighters. On August 6, 1945 his plane's primary fuel pump malfunctioned and Dick Bong was killed, news of his death sharing the headlines in newspapers across the country with the bombing of Hiroshima. The war was over! Mission accomplished.


Bong is well remembered with the Richard Bong State Recreation Area on the old site of Bong Air Force Base in Kenosha county, Wisconsin... also, the Richard I. Bong Memorial Bridge in Duluth, Minnesota; Richard I. Bong Airport in Superior, Wisconsin; Richard I. Bong Bridge in Townsville, Australia; Richard Bong Theater in Misawa, Japan; Richard I. Bong Veteran Historical Center in Superior; streets and avenues in his name in Glendale, Arizona, Anchorage, Alaska, Spokane, Washington, San Antonio, Texas, Mount Holly, New Jersey, and Okinawa, Japan to name just some of the honors.

National 4-H Mobilization Week

Poster promoting 1942 National 4-H Mobilization Week


It was decided to postpone holding the National 4-H Camp in Washington, D.C. until the cessation of hostilities. W. H. Palmer, State 4-H Leader in Ohio, soon after announced plans for a State 4-H Mobilization Week for Ohio as a means of focusing the attention of 4-H members on what they might do for national defense. This idea met with favorable response by State leaders throughout the country. [This all happened within just a few weeks after the Pearl Harbor attack.] As a result, the Federal Extension Service initiated National 4-H Mobilization Week which was observed annually in 1942, 1943 and 1944. The following year, 1945, and each year since, it has been observed as National 4-H Week.

The focus during National 4-H Mobilization Week was on encouraging 4-H members to produce foods needed by rural men and women in the armed services; enlist as many young people eligible for membership as possible in all rural areas, particularly those living on farms, in some phase of the 4-H Club war program; to report on 4-H Club work which had already been started in terms of how it would contribute to family production and conservation goals and how it would contribute toward the total amount needed by rural men and women now in the armed services. A second important goal was to recruit new 4-H members to help replace many of the older members who had joined the armed forces and defense industries. The first National Mobilization Week was tremendously successful with 650,000 new members as reported by M. L. Wilson, Director of Extension Work at U.S.D.A.

In announcing the first National Mobilization Week —  April 5 to 11, 1942 —  President Franklin Roosevelt said:

"To the 4-H Club Members of the United States:

"In an hour when our nation needs the active support of every group of its people, it is gratifying to learn that the 4-H Clubs will hold a National Mobilization Week, to rally the million and a half members and spur them to greater efforts in the cause of freedom. It is to be hoped that the National 4-H Mobilization Week also will bring more rural young people into active participation in the useful work in which 4-H Club members engage.

"Your activities in producing, preserving, and preparing food; in making clothing; and your other practical experiences in farming and homemaking have prepared you for many tasks important in peacetime and indispensable in wartime. No other group of rural young people anywhere else in the world has so much worth defending, or is better prepared to help defend what it has.

"Your 4-H Club pledge embodies the obligation which rests upon every Club member as a young citizen. Repeat it, study it, make it part of your very being. Let your head, heart, hands and health truly be dedicated to your country, which needs them now as never before."

-Franklin D. Roosevelt

The first National 4-H Mobilization Week was promoted by a special 45 second trailer available in both 35 mm. size for local motion picture theaters and 16 mm. size for use on smaller projectors, plus a National 4-H Mobilization Week 11" x 16" poster. Both the trailers and posters were distributed by the National 4-H Supply Department, National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work, in Chicago. Also available from the Supply Department in time for the special week were 4-H Club Victory buttons.

At the closure of 1942, President Roosevelt again addressed 4-H members relating to plans for the 1943 National Mobilization Week. In a letter from The White House dated December 29, 1942:

"To All 4-H Club Members of the United States.

The turn of each year is symbolic of youth and renewed confidence. Never before has a New Year presented to all youth a greater challenge to do their part in a democratic world. The whole nation recognizes your self-reliance, your steadfast determination to attain your goals, and your patriotic devotion as individuals and as a group.

"At this time it is particularly gratifying to learn of your extensive mobilization plans for 1943 to help the farmers of America to bring about still greater food production. May the observance of National 4-H Mobilization Week, February 6 to 14, reach into every rural home. We have faith in your ability to render a great service in this way. We know that you, like your brothers and sisters in the Service, have the spirit and perseverance that will bring victory in the fight for human freedom and a world of peace."

- Franklin D. Roosevelt

In announcing the dates for the National 4-H Mobilization Week in 1943 -February 6-14 - the stated purpose was to enlist every available rural boy and girl in the 4-H Victory program, to establish record-breaking wartime objectives, and to intensify all efforts which will help to win the war.

In a three-fold Production-Conservation-Service job, Production stands out as most important in 1943 according to Secretary of Agriculture Claude Wickard. He said "Every farm boy and girl in America has a man's part and a woman's part to play in helping to win the battle of production... I want you to know that you are truly in the fight when you help produce food, fibre and oil."

Two million or more boys and girls was the national membership goal for 1943. Reuben Brigham, assistant federal extension director, put this challenge up to 1943 members: "Get one additional member —  if possible get two. This is your job." New volunteer local leaders were also needed —  at least 100,000 of them. Those who felt they did not have the time to assume the full responsibility were urged to offer their services to 4-H leaders now active.

The following WARTIME 4-H "MUSTS" were announced in early 1943 by the Federal Extension Service:

  1. We must raise and conserve more food needed for our armed forces, Allies and civilians.
  2. We must conserve essential materials and equipment.
  3. We must participate in all wartime activities.
  4. We must be ready for more rationing.
  5. We must manage our money wisely and buy only what is absolutely necessary.
  6. We must buy more war stamps and bonds.
  7. We must carry on as never before if mother is needed to do farm work or is employed.
  8. We must assume more farm labor responsibilities.
  9. We must collect more scrap.
  10. We must ask ourselves before deciding what to do, "Will it contribute to winning the war?"

Like in 1942, the national plans for the 1943 National 4-H Mobilization Week were extensive. Some of them, as announced in the January 1943 issue of National 4-H Club News follow:

Press - Releases and letters from Federal Extension Service to newspapers and magazines.


  1. "Kickoff" national 4-H mobilization broadcasts February 6 on Farm and Home Hour, Blue Network, 12:30-1:00 p.m. Eastern war time and CBS Country Journal 1:00-1:30 p.m. Eastern war time. Includes presentation of 4-H ambulance to U.S. Army on Farm and Home Hour.
  2. "Plugs" over Farm and Home Hour during week.
  3. 4-H "plugs" on radio network.
  4. Distribution of 15 minute transcripts of "Plough and Sword" by National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work.

Exhibits and Posters

  1. Production of two recruiting posters by National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work —  one for members and the other for leaders.
  2. Large organizations having retail stores throughout the U.S. will have window displays.


  1. Talks on 4-H in Senate and House of Representatives.
  2. Raise funds for 4-H ambulance for U.S. Army.
  3. Offer colorful sticker giving dates of Mobilization Week for use on letters, envelopes, menus, etc.
  4. Offer V-5 Victory pins approved as official enlistment button.
  5. New 4-H cap offered for nationwide use.
  6. National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work will provide Mobilization Week posters to a number of national concerns.
  7. Develop food goals around theme "Feed a Fighter in '43."
1943 national recruiting poster for increasing 4-H enrollment.

The 1944 National 4-H Mobilization Week, held March 4-12, was used as a national drive to intensify the wartime programs of 4-H Clubs, directed particularly toward recruiting additional members and leaders. Highlight of the week's radio activities was a Blue network 4-H broadcast on March 4, presented in cooperation with the U. S. Department of Agriculture, National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work, and WLS-Prairie Farmer, Chicago.

President Roosevelt prepared a special message to the 4-H audience which was presented by Marvin Jones, War Food Administrator. The message, in part, follows:

"Today America relies on the determination and courage of our youth to see us through to Victory. In the years to come, we shall look likewise to our youth for leadership in building a world of peace. The boys and girls in 4-H Clubs have demonstrated that they are a powerful influence in this direction. I trust that rural boys and girls everywhere will respond to the 4-H mobilization roll call this week. I, personally, wish to commend each one of you 4-H members and local 4-H leaders listening in tonight. We are counting on each 4-H member to meet the new war challenge of "feed a fighter or more in 1944."

— Franklin D. Roosevelt

From the battle front, General Dwight D. Eisenhower cabled a message to Thos. E. Wilson, Chairman of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work, which Mr. Wilson presented. The General said: "I have an abiding faith in the 4-H Clubs and a deep respect for their influence on American life. I send greetings to the 4-H Club members throughout America. On behalf of the uniformed men and women in my command, I extend grateful appreciation for the significant contributions members of the Clubs are making to the winning of this war. Particularly, I hope your program in Food Production will be completely successful, because everyone who does his utmost in producing food is contributing to ultimate victory just as surely as is the fighting soldier. In this war the soldier's battle dress and the farmer's and workmen's overalls are equally entitled to a respectful salute."

Following the 1944 4-H Mobilization Week, R. T. Glassco, county agent from Janesville, Wisconsin, stated, "We secured 822 members during National 4-H Mobilization Week, and expect to round up 1,400 by May 1. We went over our record books very carefully and found that the value of projects carried by members last year was $109,000. One of our families with seven children had five in 4-H canning who put up 1,800 quarts of fruits and vegetables. We had some wonderful Victory gardens and a large number of pigs were raised."

In 1945 the week of recognition was changed from National 4-H Mobilization Week to National 4-H Club Week. In a poignant message from The White House, dated February 15, 1945, President Roosevelt once again sent his greetings:

"To All 4-H Club Members in the United States:

"This year the Nation again reviews with pride the war services of its 1,700,000 4-H Club members. Wherever you 4-H members live and work and share responsibilities, there is convincing evidence of your efforts in achieving your seven wartime goals. Nowhere are these services more appreciated than among our fighting forces.

"Final victory of our armed forces is still to be attained. Your efforts must be carried forward with even more momentum in 1945. To this end may National 4-H Club Week, March 3 to 11, result in a rededication by all 4-H Club members of their heads, hearts, hands, and health to full-hearted endeavor in all that makes for victory. Such rededication is significant, especially in this crucial war year 1945.

"Here, in a free country, you are accustomed to take your inspiring pledge, of your own choosing, knowing that it stands for ideals that have made you and your country strong. In great contrast stands the blind vow of allegiance which youth in enemy countries are forced to give to a way of life that leads only to human suffering and death.

"The degree to which we can make victory last and build an enduring peace will depend upon our loyalty to the ideals we hold. We proudly believe that when the cause of democracy finally wins history will record that American youth played a decisive role."

—  Franklin Roosevelt

One of the highlights of this first National 4-H Club Week in 1945 was a National 4-H Goals for Victory Breakfast held at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work. Thomas E. Wilson, chairman of the National Committee and one of the most active supporters of 4-H Club work for more than 20 years, presided. A full accounting of this important breakfast event appears below.

National 4-H Goals for Victory Breakfast

On March 6, 1945, during the first National 4-H Club Week, a memorable breakfast —  called the National 4-H Goals for Victory Breakfast —  was held at the Willard Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C. The coverage of this significant event by the National 4-H Club News in their April issue is provided here in its entirety:


A MEMORABLE BREAKFAST —  Top Government Officials and Other Distinguished Leaders in Public Affairs Confer on National 4-H Goals for Victory in Washington, D.C.

by Arthur B. Heiberg

More than 50 top Government officials and other distinguished leaders in public affairs were guests at an event in Washington, D.C. March 6, which was conspicuous among the many meetings held throughout the nation in observance of National 4-H Club Week (March 3-11). The event was the National 4-H Goals for Victory Breakfast, held at the Willard Hotel. Announced purpose of the meeting was "to hear what 4-H Clubs and members are doing, to learn of the national wartime needs, and to counsel together on the year's plan of work."

The guests heard direct from outstanding club members present what the 1,700,000 farm boys and girls in 4-H work have done, and will do to contribute to the war effort. Speakers who followed the "keynoters" not only praised the 4-H Club organization for its splendid wartime achievements, but credited its membership with being the most important factor in the development of American life.

Among those present at the breakfast-meeting were the Vice President of the United States, Harry S. Truman; Secretary of Agriculture Claude R. Wickard, Senator Arthur Capper, members of the House of Representatives, high ranking Army officers, and officials of the War Food Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and War Production Board. Others included officials of the National Education Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, U. S. Department of Agriculture, and Extension Service.

The event will be recorded as one of the most historic meetings ever held by the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work in the interest of the 4-H program. Thomas E. Wilson, chairman of the National Committee and one of the most active supporters of 4-H Club work for more than 20 years, presided.

"4-H Clubs and their State and national supervisors already have made far-reaching plans for 1945," Mr. Wilson stated, in opening the meeting. "Goals have been set up for the remaining months of the year, which include: Enroll 200,000 more members and 20,000 more leaders of 4-H Clubs than in 1944; raise 50,000 more acres in 4-H Victory gardens than the 326,000 acres cultivated last year; also 40,000 more acres in food crops, 1,350,000 more chickens and turkeys, and 55,000 more meat animals; can 1,900,000 more quarts of foods; plan, prepare and serve 700,000 more home meals according to dietary needs, and continue heavy production of milk, as well as collect all the scrap, and buy and sell all the War Bonds possible."

Following the announcement of the 1945 goals, Anne Lee Tipton, an outstanding 4-H Club member for 10 years in Montgomery county, Maryland, was called upon to express her views on the value of 4-H Club work.

"Let me tell you what the 4-H Club girls are doing," declared Anne before her distinguished audience. "Throughout the entire nation the 4-H girls canned nearly 20 million quarts of food last year. The girls planned, prepared and served many, many family meals according to dietary needs. They helped to produce food, and conserve materials. It has been the experience of 4-H'ers to work together in planning for recreational gatherings of the community's young people in healthful and wholesome activities. They are accepting community responsibilities in the school, the church and the home (the three units that go to make up any community), laying the very foundation of tomorrow's leaders."

Donald Sullivan, of Potsdam, New York, who was National 4-H Leadership boy winner in 1944, followed Miss Tipton with an impressive word-picture of 4-H Club work.

"Four-H Club work builds sound youth and strong leaders," Donald said. "Every part of the 4-H program is aimed toward emphasizing practices that will be of use to the boys and girls when they are on their own. Briefly, 4-H Club work teaches the individual how to do his work more efficiently, how to keep accurate records, and make exhibits of work that has been well done. It teaches him how to think clearly, especially in working out his own problems. It develops character, as well as leadership ability, in the individual.

"Perhaps an example would illustrate this best. Three years ago, a 10-year-old farm boy joined our 4-H Club. He was quite interested in poultry, so the first year, with money that he had earned by drawing wood to the house in his hand-wagon, he bought 25 chicks. He took care of them himself from the very start —  saw to it that they had the proper food, good housing, etc. Of course, he asked advice from his parents and 4-H leader occasionally, but he did all the work himself.

"When it came time for the county fair, he exhibited, and was thrilled to win a blue ribbon on one of his pullets. This spurred him on, and the second year he quadrupled his project to 100 chicks, and also had a garden and a dairy project. That year he won several awards at the fair, and also received honors at the county Achievement day, where 4-H boys and girls who have done outstanding work in their projects are given recognition. Last year, his third, he raised 300 chicks, added another calf to his growing herd, and of course, had a garden. He manages his own projects, and is putting away a little money for good use later on.

"At the tender age of 13, this boy has practical experience in three lines of farming, through which improved methods have taught him how to do some kinds of work better than men twice or three times his age. He truly is learning by doing, but his work is not spectacular. It is only typical of that being done by the 1,700,000 4-H members in the United States.

"Although the problems we will face are great," Donald concluded, "opportunity lies ahead. It only remains for us to develop those opportunities, and become better farmers, yes, better Americans."

That the talks of these two 4-H'ers greatly impressed the guests was evidenced in the comments of the distinguished speakers who followed. Some of the comments were startling in their disclosures concerning American youth; others embodied challenges to the 4-H'ers, but all paid tribute to the club boys and girls for their "tremendous" contributions to speed Victory.

Vice President Truman sprung a surprise by stating that as a young man he had the privilege of helping organize the first 4-H Club in western Missouri.

"After listening to these young people," the Vice President said, "we needn't worry about the future of the United States, because it is right here —  it is in good hands. I spent the first 10 years of my life on a farm. A good agricultural background makes a safe republic, and when we cease to have a good agricultural background we cease to have a republic. There are great opportunities ahead of us, and we must be ready to take advantage of them. We, in the United States, have been forced to take leadership beyond our boundaries. This time we must take the leadership. We have a great responsibility in helping to create a world program which will prevent at least for some generations to come all such wars as this, and those of other generations. As Don (Sullivan) so well said, this time we are going to meet the situation now and are going to come out the greatest republic that has ever been known." [Vice President Truman became President of the United States just 37 days after this breakfast when President Roosevelt died.]

Major General Lewis B. Hershey, director of the Selective Service System, gave a new definition of th four H's, and challenged 4-H Club leaders to increase the present membership to five or six million.

"When I look at the last H that stands for Health, I think of the 4-1/2 million young men who did not pass when examined at our induction centers," Gen. Hershey asserted.

"Five hundred thousand were turned down not because of any organic ailment, but presumably because of emotional maladjustment. The 4-H Clubs are developing an all-rounded personality in each individual that comes within the sphere of their influence. These individuals are integrating as their H's indicate: their heads where their brains are; their hands where their skill is; their hearts where courage and character are, and altogether they add up to healthier living beings.

"We should have not just 1,700,000 members; I am asking for five or six million. If you would extend to that number, 25 years from now we wouldn't find 500,000 males under 26 years of age emotionally unstable, but without anything organically wrong with them."

Secretary of Agriculture Wickard declared that young people trained in 4-H Clubs create an influence for good not only in their homes but in their entire communities.

"Their influence nearly always goes far beyond the families of which they happen to be a member," the Secretary said. "We ought to be planning for the expansion of 4-H Club work when peacetime activities of the country will permit. If there was nothing else accomplished by the Extension Service other than the leadership which 4-H Club work is developing, it has well paid its way —  it is undeniably worth while. We should all get behind 4-H Club work in making possible this larger scope. I assure you that we of the Department of Agriculture will cooperate in such an effort."

Senator Arthur Capper, a member of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work, and co-author of the Capper-Ketcham Act, the first Extension legislation to specifically mention youth work, stated: "I am happy to say that I introduced in the Senate the first 4-H Club Bill, and I consider it one of the most worthwhile things I ever did in my life."

Assistant War Food Administrator Grover B. Hill praised 4-H Club members for the "tremendous contribution" they have made to this war.

"4-H'ers are the link of the present with the past and the future, Mr. Hill said. "No one will have to do much postwar planning for these 4-H boys and girls. Thy have their minds made up. They know what they are going to do. The year ahead will be most trying from the production standpoint —  it is going to take more food. Every prisoner we take calls for more food. Also, we must help feed the people behind the lines and in liberated areas. Th role of the 4-H boys and girls will be more important than it ever has been before. They need our undivided support."

Director of Extension M. L. Wilson pointed out that there is something in 4-H Club work which develops the personality and the real, deep spiritual side of life in young people, that makes them capable and efficient farm men and women and the kind of citizens that insure a continuing, strong democracy.

"For this development on the part of these 4-H boys and girls," he said, "we are particularly indebted to the farm men and women who serve year in and year out as local volunteer leaders. I think that in the contribution of this great army of voluntary leaders who have such a deep interest in their community, and its young people, there is a precious thing that cannot be bought with money. But it can be passed on through the kind of people who volunteer their services because they want to help.

"Among these volunteer leaders we count you distinguished people who are here in our Nation's Capital; also members of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work, we count you among our great army of volunteer leaders. We appreciate especially what you are doing to help the 4-H Club members comply with the request of our great President in our services towards winning the war."

J. J. McGuire, of the FBI brought out the startling fact that 50 percent of the young people who commit crimes come from rural sections. "We feel that had there been more activity —  more of the missionary zeal such as the young people in our 4-H Clubs have —  we would not have so much crime," he asserted. "We need the wholesome type of work that builds up work habits and leadership, and spirit of loyalty to our country and that insures the future of democracy. I bring you assurance from J. Edgar Hoover, of the FBI, that we who have to help enforce the laws will be happy to cooperate any way we can in the wholesome type of work you do through the 4-H Clubs. Too many people caught in the backwash of the last war became criminals. We must protect our country against such conditions this time."

Mrs. Frances P. Bolton, member of the House of Representatives, disclosed that it was brought home to her recently that farm children are as susceptible to crime as city children when she met with a group of farm mothers in Ohio, who were quite distressed over the juvenile delinquency situation.

"The mothers turned first to 4-H Club work," Mrs. Bolton said. "For 4-H boys and girls know the joy that comes from work well done. They would often surprise us if we could read their thoughts for they take up where we leave off. They come through us but not essentially of us. We are the bows and they are the arrows. It is for us to see that the arrows are made of strong wood, with sharp points, shooting straight. Remember that destiny may take them to places of responsibility far beyond that we may ever dream. They possess a treasure chest filled with the precious things of life. It is for us to see that they make the best possible use of this inheritance."

Congressman Clifford R. Hope stated that no one can have any knowledge of what the 4-H Clubs have accomplished "without being sold on the fact that this great educational movement —  the greatest in the country today —  has achieved results that cannot help but captivate all of us. The results speak for themselves. There is no money being spent by State or national governments in better value received than this great educational movement. As soon as the war is over and we can assume our normal activities then we should expand and further develop this great activity."

(from April 1945 National 4-H Club News)

"Feed A Fighter" Campaign

Food was the first all-important goal of the young 4-H'ers. This was an ongoing vital need of the war. Not only did the people in the United States have to be fed, but also the fighting forces of all of the Allies. As countries were liberated, vast tonnages of food would be needed for the people of those countries. Furthermore, these needs must be met in the face of a labor shortage, as young men and women off the farms were called to the armed forces and the hired men which many farms had traditionally employed; and, there was a machinery shortage as farm equipment manufacturers converted the bulk of their production to war material. Creativity had to be in play as machinery repair totally replaced buying replacements.

That our food goals were reached in spite of these handicaps is a tribute to American Agriculture, and 4-H and Extension were entitled to much of the credit.

To dramatize food production, the Extension Service started a 4-H campaign to "Feed a Fighter." To measure the club member's production, a system of tables was worked out showing how much of any commodity must be produced to feed one fighter for a year. A boy engaged in poultry raising could reach his objective by producing 500 broilers or 250 baking chickens. A meat-animal member could "feed a fighter" by producing four nine-months-old steers, a potato raiser by harvesting four tons of potatoes, a dairy member by producing 2,500 quarts of milk. A girl who tended a one-acre garden of mixed vegetables or put up 829 pints of food was also feeding a fighter. Measured against these standards, according to Z. L. Galloway, economics section, Extension Service, U.S.D.A., it was estimated that 4-H boys and girls during the war produced or preserved enough food to care for a million fighting men for three years.

Some states organized Victory 4-H Pig Clubs with money and initial stock supplied by Sears, Roebuck & Co.

Raising chicks to boost the poultry and egg supply was a popular project in many states and often organized at the county level. For example, in Logan county, Kentucky in 1943, chicks were supplied through a cooperative plan set up between the Swift hatchery in Russellville and 4-H Club members resulting in members taking 4,200 chicks to raise to rooster size. Under the plan, the club members received from 50 to 200 chicks and 100 to 400 pounds of feed. Later, in October the 4-H'er delivered all the roosters to the hatchery, the hens being kept on the farm for layers. Any amount above the cost of the chicks and feed was paid back to the club member.

In Pittsburg county, Oklahoma, roundly 36,000 blood-tested chicks were booked for delivery to farm boys and girls in the Spring of 1943 in one of the largest projects of its kind in the country. The chicks were bought on loan from local bankers, all coordinated by county agent D. B. Grace. The chicks were the best available, coming from Oklahoma Poultry Improvement Association member flocks. Nine breeds were represented in the 1943 order. The purchases were financed by a revolving fund provided by the banks... to obtain funds a youth filled out a note for eight percent straight interest, and a mortgage at the county agent's office, had his father co-sign and the agent issued a deposit slip on one of the banks. The note was for $27.50 and payed for 500 pounds of "all-in-one" mash for each 100 chicks, plus the chicks. Seventy percent of the youth in 1943 used the loans, which were not compulsory. This was a much expanded program to the 10,400 chicks delivered to the 4-H'ers in Pittsburg county in 1942, however that initial effort generated a tremendously successful program with 100 percent payback on the bank loans by the participating boys and girls.

During the war, the farm labor shortage was acute, and here 4-H members did important service for their country. In Texas, for example, it was estimated that in one year 26,640 boys performed emergency farm labor beyond their regular duties. Missouri boys and girls volunteered to donate nine days of work per year on neighbors' farms and in their homes during rush seasons. In one year, 1942, this contribution of voluntary help added up to 43,490 days. In Michigan, and some other states, 4-H Clubs enrolled village and town youth in farm labor battalions to help with the harvests. In all states, 4-H boys and girls and affiliated town young people rode hayracks and combines, wielded pitchforks and tended canners... their labor helping to save the bumper crops of the war years. One of the biggest successes was in Georgia where more than 115,000 Georgia boys and girls signed 1943 pledges to produce "food for fighters."

Food for Victory, Food for Freedom, Food for Defense Campaigns


Nationally, 4-H canning jumped from some 12 million jars in 1942 to nearly 25 million in 1943. In Massachusetts, alone, 1,301 members were enrolled in 4-H canning in 1939, producing 71,798 jars. By 1942 these numbers had jumped to 2,652 members in canning and 188,000 jars. In 1943 the Massachusetts numbers were 4,168 canning members and 310,000 jars canned.

"Food for Victory," "Food for Freedom," and "Food for Defense" were all popular slogans with similar aims as the "Feed a Fighter" campaign. Extension in various states, or even down to the club level, sometimes used the terms interchangeably. Regardless of what it was called, 4-H'ers delivered. With the military and defense industries draining older youth from the farm, younger 4-H members took on added responsibility. In nearly every project category, 4-H'ers recorded impressive increases in levels of agricultural production from the previous year. In 1942, 4-H'ers were directly responsible for over 77,000 head of dairy cattle, 246,000 swine, and 210,000 head of other livestock. Field crops also increased. 4-H contributed over 40,000 tons of forage crops and 109,000 bushels of root crops. In Texas alone, it was estimated that 4-H members produced enough to keep 17,000 fighting men in food and fiber for a year.

Several state Extension services produced leaflets with the title, "Food for Victory." These were targeted primarily at audiences in an attempt to enroll them in the Victory Home and Garden program. The program had two major focuses —  growing a home garden to insure your family would have an adequate supply of home produced foods; and, preserving enough food for good health during times of war. "One of the most important things families can do in the present emergency is to keep physically fit. Nutrition is a fundamental factor in physical fitness. Those families who are making a conscientious effort to improve their food habits are lining up for the nation's defense and ultimate victory," states a Nebraska "Food for Victory" publication.

"Food for Freedom" was a slogan being used in Britain in 1939-1941 and "picked up" by the U.S. in the 1940's to not only help provide food for America, but also the British people. Operated out of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a "Food for Freedom Information Handbook" prepared in 1943 was designed as a source of information materials and references for use by U.S.D.A. workers and others in support of the Food for Freedom program. [There was a World War II civilian relief organization directed by Harold Weston called Food For Freedom, Inc. This effort was not associated with 4-H or Extension, U.S.D.A., however 4-H groups could have possibly supported it at the local level.]

Both "Food for Defense" and "Food Gardens for Defense" were popular slogans. It is not believed that there was any type of structured program backing up these slogans... only the promotion of Victory gardens and food preservation in general.

Extension and 4-H were also major players in helping to inform the public of ways to both conserve food and ideas for "food replacements." For example, macaroni and similar foods could be substituted for potatoes. Cold beverages can be sweetened with fruit juices, and a simple syrup made from hard candies for use on pancakes and French toast. Instead of using butter on bread, many "spreads" were devised including one of carrots and raisins. Citrus and other fruit peelings can be used in marmalades and jellies, and left-over vegetables ground with pickles to make a sandwich spread. Coffee was stretched by substituting one-fourth parched whole wheat. Carrots can be used alone, or with grapefruit for pies and cake fillings. Plain carrot pie tastes like the pumpkin variety.

End of "Hitler" —  There were always some humorous stories that accompanied the youthful efforts during the war years. This is but one example, as reported in the February 1944 issue of National 4-H Club News. Bobby Karg not only had a good record and a fine poultry flock, but also a good story. The Barred Rock hens in Bobby's yard were formerly ruled over by a strutting big rooster named Hitler because of his arrogant attitude. The club leader and other friends advised Bobby repeatedly to eat the tyrant, pointing out that eggs keep much better if unfertilized. But Bobby had plans of his own, and a purple ribbon in view. He kept his rooster until May and entered him at the fair, sure that Hitler would be grand champion male of the show. But the judge's first choice was another Barred Rock rooster, a youngster by the name of Fidel Alvarez entered. So into the pot went Hitler.

The Popular Victory Gardens

Victory gardens —  also called War gardens or Food Gardens for Defense —  were a natural "help win the war" project for many 4-H boys and girls as they were already involved with helping with the family garden. Many urban youth also took up the charge, planting Victory gardens in backyards, vacant lots, parks, apartment building rooftops, baseball fields, school grounds, and anywhere space was available... even window boxes. The gardens were used along with food stamps to reduce pressure on the public food supply. During the war years, around one-third of the vegetables produced by the United States came from Victory gardens. Besides indirectly aiding the war effort, these gardens were also considered a civil "morale booster" in that gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce grown. This made Victory gardens a part of daily life on the home front.

Much information was provided by U.S.D.A, land-grant universities, Extension Service, seed and farm implement companies, and others on what vegetables, fruits or herbs to plant; and, how to plant, fertilize, weed, and water the gardens in order to harvest an abundance of food stuffs. Along with this, information on proper canning procedures, freezing and drying fruits and vegetables was readily available. In 1943, families bought 315,000 pressure cookers (used in the process of canning), compared to 66,000 in 1942.


It is estimated that nearly 20 million Americans planted Victory gardens during the war. And, again, 4-H youth certainly did their share.

In Iowa, the State's 285,000 rural and small town youth were mobilized in special garden clubs under 4-H leadership. Each member was given a 4-H Victory pin to wear. Vegetables suited for canning and storage were recommended. Plots less than 300 square feet were discouraged.

Garden 4-H'ers Parade. Extension Editor A. L. Higginbotham, in the October 1942 National 4-H News, reported that "Ely, Nevada was treated to a fine 4-H demonstration in its July 4th parade when clubsters of White Pine and Eureka counties marched in a huge V led by the American flag. Following came a new 4-H flag at the point of the V formed by boys in white shirts and Levi overalls each shouldering a garden tool. Next in line came the Ruth Grade School Band of 50 players numbering about one-third 4-H'ers, which rates at the top of the State in music and marching. Highlight was the Ely Silver Sage 4-H Girls frilly white Victory float bearing a large 4-H emblem on each side and seating a beautiful blonde and brunette clubster symbolizing youth in all its glory. Girls in white blouses and dark skirts followed bearing pennants with various inscriptions."

Victory Farm Volunteers & The U. S. Crop Corps

Victory Farm Volunteers (VFV) was a tremendously successful program during the war years. Young people 14 years of age or older were recruited into the VFV, a program ran by the Federal and State Extension Services to help meet the need for emergency farm labor. It was a youth branch of the United States Crop Corps and the largest single group in the Emergency Farm Labor Service work force. [A parallel program for adult women was called the Women's Land Army.]

Many high schools also organized Victory Farm Volunteer groups with a school teacher in charge of the volunteer recruitment. County agricultural agents, with help of local volunteer committees, arranged for the placement and supervision of the boys and girls on farms.

A 1943 Victory Farm Volunteers (VFV) recruitment leaflet states: "Why the farmer needs your help. The farmer has one of the Nation's most important jobs. Uncle Sam has called on him to raise food for our fighting men, our war workers, and our Allies. His sons and hired men may be in the armed forces or working in war plants. More food than ever must be produced with fewer people to do it. Everybody who can must help." The VFV program was calling for 500,000 boys and girls in 1943 [final total approached the 900,000 figure].

By 1944, Uncle Sam was looking for 1,200,000 boys and girls to work on farms during that year.

Training for VFV participants was provided in early summer after the youth were organized into platoons of 20 to 50 youth. Each platoon was placed under the supervision of an adult, often a member of the Women's Land Army. Parental consent and a physical fitness check were required of all youth placed by the Emergency Farm Labor Service. Farmers would work with their county Extension office's emergency farm labor assistant to get the necessary workers required. Youth also worked on a day-haul basis, and were normally limited to a six or eight hour work day. Occasionally, schools would close during harvest periods so that the youth could help with harvesting.

A full line of VFV emblems, arm bands, caps, short and long sleeved shirts, jackets and overalls were available only from the National 4-H Supply Service.

On the Clothing Front

The nationwide enrollment in 4-H clothing projects in 1941 engaged over 500,000 club members. 1942 was expected to surpass this number as more girls became involved in clothing as part of the war effort.

As soon as the war started, 4-H girls in Massachusetts started working, contributing some 6,000 articles of clothing for war relief which included bomb bags to carry supplies to shelters. The 1942 clothing contest had a Victory class stressing stocking repair and use of old garments. The number one priority in Minnesota's clothing program was sewing machine repair and cleaning, since new machines would be difficult to come by.

Marion Meerdink, a 4-H junior leader in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin reported in a 1942 issue of National 4-H News that in her club clothing was made to go further by doing more mending and patching and learning to do it right. Also, in the Fall of 1941 the club had collected Bundles for Britain, sending clothing overseas, and "we noticed it made a kindlier feeling towards others." Our leader gave each girl who did any war work a Victory pin and the girls are proud to wear them. It seems to make members take more responsibility. We also plan to do Red Cross work. In that same issue, a Maryland leader, Mrs. Edwin Fry of Laytonsville, reported that her club members learned to knit, and blocks for afghans were turned in to the knitting chairman for Bundles for Britain.

Mrs. John G. Davis, leader of the Happy Hearts 4-H Club in Auburn, New Hampshire, reports in the February 1943 issue of National 4-H Club News that in 1942 her girls completed 250 articles of clothing for the Red Cross, such as bed jackets, night dresses, mittens, shirts, sleepers and slips. While doing this they were also busy with collecting paper, magazines, rubber and iron for scrap drives, worked in neighbors Victory gardens and still had time for their regular 4-H projects, like canning 1,580 jars of fruits and vegetables!

Mrs. Lewis A. Smith, 4-H Club leader of the Walbert's 4-H Ambitioners Club near Allentown, Pennsylvania, tells about the girls in her club in the June 1943 issue of 4-H News —  the 34 girls in the club have made and folded 24,884 bandages for a local hospital and have been working on quilts donated to the local Red Cross chapter.

The Perry 4-H Club of Melrose, New Mexico held a contest on creative clothing made out of feed sacks. The leader, Mrs. C. C. Franklin in the July 1944 issue of National 4-H Club News, says, "One of the best meetings we had last year was so good, we plan on doing it every year. A week before the meeting I went to the members' homes and distributed feed sacks to each girl. They were to make something useful from the sacks, and exhibit them at the next club meeting. The best article was to win a prize. To make the contest fair to all, there was a prize for first and second year girls, and another for third and fourth year girls. As the girls came in, they put their exhibit on the back porch. The articles were displayed just as they are in the county fair. There were dresses, blouses, a dress cover, aprons, pillow cases, towels and one shirt. Some were dyed, some were trimmed in tape, crochet and embroidery. One thing that made our day a success was the presence of Aubrey Reid, our former county extension agent and now a WAC, who was furloughing and helped with the judging."

4-H's "Fleet" of Liberty Ships


Midway in the war, the Extension Service in cooperation with the Maritime Commission worked out a unique incentive to 4-H achievement on the home front. It was proposed that states be permitted to name Liberty ships after a 4-H or Extension pioneer as a reward for bond sales and exceptional service in food production and conservation.

Liberty ships were the cargo carriers of the war. They were standardized freighters, 441 feet long, with a beam of 57 feet, and of 10,800 tons capacity. Shipyards turned them out in three weeks from keel laying to launching. During the war, some 2,000 Liberty ships were built and put into service carrying foodstuffs and war material abroad, and bringing back such scarce items as chrome ore, balsa wood, copper, rubber, ivory, manganese, jute, burlap, hides, tea, coffee and quinine. They cost about $2,000,000 apiece and this was the goal of 4-H bond sales.

In response to the name-a-ship campaign, the state 4-H armies intensified their war activities. Georgia club members raised almost $10,000,000. in a War Bond campaign and produced in one season enough food to fill a 10,000-ton ship. Their ship was launched and duly named "Hoke Smith," in honor of the co-sponsor of the Smith-Lever Act establishing the Extension Service.

In South Carolina, similar efforts resulted in the launching of the "A. Frank Lever," thus commemorating on the high seas the other congressional sponsor of the original Extension Act. The top four 4-H salesmen sold War Bonds valued at $598,977.75. These 4-H'ers were: Faye Dunlap, Yorke county; Keith Wilson, Anderson county; Frances Wilson, Sumter county and 11-year old Charles Gray of Orangeburg county. The Axis, sighting these names through submarine periscopes, may have wondered who these men were. Military heroes? Presidents? No. They were men with a dream of an independent, satisfying farm life, heroes of a working democracy.

4-H boys and girls in Washington State were credited with selling $3,370,000 worth of bonds in a single campaign. Their Liberty ship was named the "E. A. Bryan," after the late president of Washington State College. The names of other 4-H and Extension pioneers went to sea with these ships, names that typified democracy in action as telling as any that could be selected —  "Otis E. Hall," "Frank P. Reed," "George L. Farley," "Will B. Otwell," "O. B. Martin," "F. Southall Farrar," "Howard Gray," "Thomas Forsyth Hunt," "William L. Watson," "W. C. Latta," "Floyd W. Spencer," "R. S. Wilson," "A. E. Burnett," "Carl E. Ladd," "Arthur A. Penn," "Charles A. Keffer," "Thomas Bradlee," "Ransom A. Moore," "Willet M. Hays," "Kenyon L. Butterfield," "Charles A. McCue," "Frederick Austin," "Frank P. Reed," "S. M. Shoemaker II," "Robert E. Clarkson," "J. D. Yeager," "Cassius R. Hudson," "Howard L. Gibson," "Pontus H. Ross," "T. S. Gold," "I. B. Perrine," "Robert W. Bingham," "Leon S. Merrill," "Norman J. Colman," "Henry J. Waters," "John Chester Kendall," "Arthur Hulbert," "T. E. Mitchell," "Clarence Roberts," "Charles L. McNary," "Cyril G. Hopkins," "William H. Kendrick," "John B. Pierce," and others.

In all, around 50 ships were christened in these 4-H "name-a-ship" campaigns... and, there may well have been more. Funds were raised by 43 States to each name a Liberty ship, and in some states there were more than just one. In the cabin of each ship was placed a plaque stating that the ship was named by 4-H Club members of the state, and near the plaque was a history of the man for whom the ship was named, written on parchment and mounted under glass permanently.


4-H'ers and 4-H supporters were always on hand to officially christen the ships and give them a send off. North Carolina 4-H members christened two ships during July and August 1944 —  the U.S.S. Tyrrell, a cargo-attack vessel, and the U.S.S. Cassius Hudson, honoring a former agent. More than 100 4-H'ers and adults showed up at the Wilmington shipyards for the U.S.S. Tyrrell send off.

A small note in the July 1945 National 4-H Club News states that on the U.S.S. W. H. Kendrick, launched the year before by West Virginia 4-H'ers, are 45 former 4-H Club members, reported by Robert Crompton, Centredale, Rhode Island, who is one of them.

Another notation, in the October 1945 4-H News says: The 4-H flag flies from the main top of the Steamship Arthur A. Penn on special occasions as she sails the wide seas in continuing her career carrying war cargos. So reports her commander, L. A. B. Knudson from "Somewhere on the Pacific" to State Leader Harry E. Rilling of North Dakota. The commander was presented the 4-H flag by Mr. Rilling on behalf of club members and leaders who worked long and hard in the War Bond drives. Commander Knudson writes that although the war is over, there is lots of work to do, and if boys and girls could look into the Penn's cargo hole, they would wonder at the loads she carries to far corners of the globe.

A feature article, also in the October 1945 National 4-H Club News, under the heading "4-H Ship is Lucky," is a graphic description of the voyage of the Liberty ship, U.S.S. Floyd W. Spencer, commissioned in August 1944 in New Orleans. The Spencer, sponsored by the 4-H Clubs of Louisiana, which raised the money for her purchase by the sale of War Bonds, narrowly escaped destruction by a Jap aerial torpedo in Pacific waters on New Year's Day. Lieut. W. S. Birdwell, at that time commander of the vessel, describes the incident in a letter to Earline Gandy, assistant State 4-H Club agent. "On or about August 30, 1944, the U.S.S. Floyd W. Spencer sailed from New Orleans for the Pacific. We went through the Panama Canal and followed, in general, the Equator —  never more than a few miles from it. After what seemed a long time, we crossed south of the Equator, at which time the Neophytes were properly initiated into the Royal and Mysterious Order of the Shellbacks. (The ship should have been initiated, since it was her first time also —  but she wasn't.) A month and a week after sailing, we arrived in New Guinea. The Spencer went to Lae, Bish, Noenfor and Hollandia. At Holllandia, we picked up 30,000 sacks of mail, some of Gen. MacArthur's furniture, some Aussies, and sailed for Leyte, Philippines. This was our first convoy. On New Year's, 1945, we were attacked by a lone Jap "Katie" torpedo bomber. She first dropped one bomb between two ships in a 'column over.' This was the first we knew of her presence, but we knew very definitely at that time. 'Battle stations! Man your guns!' was sounded. The plane circled around and maneuvered so as to be in the sun about 4 p.m. She was just out of sight. "Suddenly we spotted her coming directly for the Spencer, since the Spencer was the last ship in the column next to the sun. I gave the command to the big guns to commence firing. But on she came. At some 1500 yards she launched her torpedo and came directly on in a suicide attempt crash. At some 100 yards off starboard beam she suddenly nosed into the water and disappeared in a small patch of burning gasoline. The 20mm's had apparently killed the pilot, as he did not attempt strafing. Whether the plane carried two or three Japs I do not know. Just then we saw the torpedo coming directly for us. To this day, I do not know what kept it from hitting us, except Good Providence. The torpedo either passed just under our stern or just astern of us. We proceeded on. That was the first of three attacks in just a few days. The Spencer certainly did her part, and the Louisiana 4-H Clubs can well be proud of their work and efforts in sponsoring such a 'Liberty'"

Warships Named for 4-H Heroes

Warship named after former Oregon 4-H boy. Mother (center insert) joins in launching ceremony. This is the first Navy ship to be named after a 4-H war hero.

Lloyd Jones Mills was a 4-H boy near Cove, Oregon, back in the early 30's. In his eight years of 4-H work he faithfully pursued his assignments and completed, to the best of his ability, whatever he undertook. That was the 4-H motto —  to make the best better. He did it so well that his leaders designated him alternate winner of the county Carl Raymond Gray scholarship. He also received a scholarship from Whitman College, where he was graduated.

When the war broke, Lloyd joined the air force and carried on with the same high purpose as in 4-H and his other activities. He became attached to a bombing squadron and in a fearless attack on Japanese vessels in Kiska harbor his plane was subjected to devastating anti-aircraft fire which resulted in his death. For the bold enterprise and for flying all night aerial patrols, Mills was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross posthumously.

In further recognition of his fine achievement, Secretary of Navy Frank Knox ordered that his name be given to a destroyer escort warship launched at Houston, Texas on May 21, 1945. The boy's mother, Mrs. James E. Mills, was the only parent able to take part in the launching ceremony. "Lloyd was a top boy, and one of our finest," was the simple but expressive tribute of his State leader, H. C. Seymour. You find Lloyd Jones Mills' everywhere on the fighting front carrying on bravely, nobly in the best of 4-H tradition, which is to "finish the project." The story of their exploits in war will add rich luster to their peacetime achievements. It means more than ever to be a 4-H member. (From July 1943 National 4-H Club News)

A second destroyer escort warship for the United States Navy to be named after a 4-H hero is the U.S.S. Marts, launched early in August, 1943 at Newark, New Jersey. It was named after a Delta, Colorado 4-H'er, Alvin Lee Marts, fireman first class, who was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for "His self-sacrificing devotion to a stricken comrade" during a Pacific battle in November 1942.

Hero Marts was rated an "O" member by his State 4-H leader, C. W. Ferguson, having won county prizes with corn projects. He helped organize a 4-H Club in his community, and served as its president and junior leader until called to the Navy. The first ship that Lee went on was the Yorktown, and when it went down Lee was in the water three hours until rescued. The survivors were transferred to the U.S.S. New Orleans, on which Lee was killed. The presentation was made to his mother, Mrs. Faye Marts, for the President of the United States by Secretary Frank Knox as set forth in the following citation: "For extraordinary heroism as a member of the forward repair party aboard the U.S.S. New Orleans during an engagement with enemy Japanese naval forces off Save Island on the night of November 30, 1942. When his ship was stuck by a torpedo which detonated the forward magazines and gasoline tank, Marts, although severely wounded by the tremendous explosion, unhesitatingly assisted others in carrying an injured medical officer to the amid-ships dressing stage. There collapsing from utter exhaustion and loss of blood, he died shortly afterward. His self-sacrificing devotion to a stricken comrade, in the face of acute pain and waning strength, was in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave up his life in the defense of his country." (from October 1943 National 4-H Club News)

4-H Ambulance Fund Drive

An Ambulance for the Army —  dedicated to 4-H'ers in our fighting forces. That was the new goal in the 4-H Ambulance Fund Drive sponsored by National 4-H Club News, the magazine for local leaders published by the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work (now National 4-H Council). The Ambulance Fund, which started in November 1942, was featured in the January 1943 edition of the News. The article noted that a special presentation of a second ambulance would be made on the National 4-H Club broadcast over the Blue network on February 6. The first gift from 4-H Club members —  a 4-H Ambulance Station Wagon —  was presented to the Chicago chapter of the American Red Cross during the National 4-H Club Congress in December 1942.

In a letter to National 4-H Club News, acknowledging the 4-H ambulance gift, Joseph Cudahy, representing the Red Cross, states:

"Will you please express to your officers and to the members of the 4-H organization the deep appreciation of the Red Cross membership for this very valuable contribution. As I stated to the 4-H Club members at the presentation ceremonies, this vehicle is participating in a most helpful way in a variety of Red Cross services; among others, transporting doctors and nurses who serve with our Mobile Blood Donor Unit; transporting Red Cross nurse aides who are serving in 40 Chicago hospitals; transporting surgical dressings made by the Red Cross for men in the Armed Forces; transporting our case workers who are serving the families of the men in the Armed Forces, and it will also serve in transporting people injured in disasters."

The 4-H Ambulance Fund Drive sponsored by "4-H News" eventually sponsored the purchase of at least six 4-H ambulances and perhaps more. (Four field ambulances were presented all at once, one each from the four Extension sections of the U.S., the presentation taking place during the National Farm and Home Hour at 12:30 p.m. Eastern War Time on the Blue Network on July 3, 1943.)

One point noteworthy about the Ambulance Fund... while 4-H Clubs were encouraged to collect and sell scrap to earn funds, an emphasis was placed on collecting and recycling old phonograph records. The largest single contribution to the 4-H News Ambulance Fund came from Union Parish, Louisiana. Dalton E. Gandy, assistant county agent, sent a check for $2,463.80, saying the money was raised through an "Eggs for Ambulance Drive."

A number of states conducted their own ambulance funds and purchased vehicles to support the war effort. North Carolina 4-H'ers sold enough War Bonds to pay for an ambulance and on July 3, 1943 the Surgeon General of the U.S. Army received the ambulance keys in Washington, D.C. from State 4-H President Frances Banks of Pasquotank, acting in behalf of both Negro and white boys and girls.

Georgia 4-H'ers raised funds to purchase an ambulance for the Atlanta Red Cross Chapter during the 1943 Mobilization Week. The presentation was made as part of a special program on the Dixie Farm and Home Hour. Most of the funds were raised from the sale of scrap metal, rubber and phonograph records.

The 4-H Clubs of McHenry county, Illinois raised enough funds selling scrap to purchase a Navy ambulance in September 1944. Nearly 500 Greene county, Illinois 4-H'ers pooled their resources to pay for an ambulance shortly thereafter. This brought to a total five ambulances purchased by 4-H boys and girls from Illinois.

The April 1945 issue of National 4-H Club News carries a brief article about a Virginia 4-H-sponsored ambulance: "Dented by a German 88 and a few times by mortars, Virginia 4-H'ers Army Medical Corps ambulance continues with its life-saving missions according to a letter from the ambulance driver, Cpl. Albert S. Grahek, former 4-H boy of Ely, Minnesota, and addressed to Gordon A. Elcan, Virginia Boys' Club Agent. Albert painted his hometown name on the door, hoping to attract some Minnesota boy's attention. He says he and his partner, Pfc. Constant Petrucci, keep the machine in fine condition, in spite of those dents, and that to date it had already done 3,000 miles.

Along with the national fund for purchasing ambulances backed by the National 4-H News, they also used funds contributed by the states to buy thousands of comfort kits, each containing supplies and a card advising that it is a gift from the 4-H Clubs of America. The kits contained envelopes and stationery, shoelaces, chewing gum, double-edge razor blades, a sewing kit, package of cigarettes and a pocket size book of detective or humorous stories.

4-H Raises Money To Purchase Planes, Too

While the Liberty Ships garnered much of the visibility of 4-H's contributions to the war effort, there were other vessels named, including the carrier named by Washington State. And, then there were the planes —  bomber planes, Boeing B-17 flying fortresses, at least one P-51 Mustang, and others —  with costs covered by 4-H bond sales.

Winding up 1943's outstanding war services, Ohio 4-H members and leaders purchased $510,041 in War Bonds for which a four-motored flying fortress heavy bomber aircraft was purchased and christened "Buckeye 4-H" at Lockbourne Air Base in a special ceremony at which Ohio Director of Extension H. C. Ramsower presided. Junior Stuckey, Circleville, and Betty Brandt, Rushville, spoke for 4-H members. Lt. Dick Brandt, brother of Betty and a former 4-H'er, also participated. He was on furlough after having completed 50 bombing missions over Africa, Sicily and the Continent.

An impressive story out of Boussard, Louisiana... A single club, the Senior 4-H Club in St. Cecilia High School, had a War Bond drive during the Winter months of 1944-45 and raised enough to purchase a Pursuit plane. The Modern Mohawks 4-H Club of St. Johnsville, Fort Plain, New York, had raised enough funds by their 4th War Bond Drive that they, too, were able to have a P-51 Mustang fighter plane named for their work... the name, "St. Johnsville 4-H Club Special."

Oklahoma's 18 Bomber 4-H Liberator Squadron


According to a feature in the November 1943 National 4-H Club News, in an impressive ceremony before the grandstand at the Oklahoma State Fair, a squadron of 18 Liberator 4-motored bombers, purchased through the sale of War Bonds by Oklahoma 4-H members, was presented to the U.S. Army Air Corps on September 28 of that year. Governor Robert S. Kerr was chairman of the program. Putting the "On to Victory" spirit of Oklahoma's 1,053 local 4-H Clubs behind a special War Bond campaign which began in May, 1943, the members far exceeded their goal and chalked up sales totaling $11,004,111. by the opening day of the fair. This was the largest amount ever raised by a State 4-H group to date. The total War Bond purchase represented an average of $10,450. per club and $169.96 per member. Virtually every 4-H member in the State had a part in the purchase of "Oklahoma's 4-H Liberator," the flagship of the 18-bomber squadron.

Top salesman was 16-year-old Jeanette Hinton of Headrick, who sold $329,900. in Series E Bonds— actual purchase price. Single-handed she raised more than enough money to dedicate a bomber from her county and the bomber was named in her honor. Jeanette said most of the bonds were bought by farm families.

To Boardman Barby, of Beaver, Oklahoma, went the honor of personally purchasing more bonds than any other 4-H member. Boardman, who carried livestock as his project, scraped up $1,550. for War Bond purchases by selling "some cull cows, five calves and some grain crops. I bought the bonds because I thought my country needed it," he said simply, "and I'm going to buy some more, too." In his talk before the grandstand audience, which included 525 4-H members, the enterprising youth said, "To be a 4-H member is indeed an honor, but to be a useful American citizen is even a greater honor." Boardman and Jeanette were both special guests at the 1943 National 4-H Club Congress in Chicago, their trips being provided respectively by Oklahoma 4-H Clubs and the Oklahoma Bankers' Association.

"They have given to America something that is a part of themselves... something that is a part of their hearts and their souls," Governor Kerr told the 4-H group in complimenting them upon their magnificent accomplishments.


New York's 4-H War Bond Drive Results in a Fleet of 25 Fighters

It was an impressive event. The Ninth 4-H Capital Day program in Albany, New York was the presentation of pursuit airplanes to the armed forces as a result of 4-H'ers sale of War Bonds and Stamps. State Leader Albert Hoefer received a certificate from Lt. Colonel John R. Shields as 150 4-H members looked on... with a fighter plane as their backdrop. Hoefer estimated that the funds generated would purchase a fleet of 25 figher planes.

Suffolk county, New York generated the most sales; enough to purchase four fighter planes, apply named Suffolk 4-H, Suffolk North Shore 4-H, Suffolk South Shore 4-H and Suffolk Middle Island 4-H. More than 600 members took part in the county according to County 4-H Club Agent Wilbur F. Pease, who organized and directed the project. He explained that "the job was done differently —  no auction sales, no parties, no mass meetings or other schemes were tried out. Club members visited homes, punched doorbells, told their story and usually came away with one or more pledges, most of which were redeemed as the total sales figure would indicate." Mr. Pease stated that the 4-H youth won new respect for their efforts.

4-H Clubs Raise Funds for Other War Equipment

Where there was a known need, it seems like 4-H boys and girls were ready to help, and to either earn the money or use their own money, no matter what the cost, to fill the need.

At a ceremony taking place at the University of Wisconsin on March 12, 1943, Commander L. K. Pollard, U.S.N. (Ret.), commanding officer of the university's U.S. Naval Training School, accepted the following equipment purchased with money contributed by 4-H members: 800 rifles, 800 bayonets, 800 bayonet scabbards, 1,212 cartridge belts, 1,164 gunslings, and ammunition.

There is brief mention throughout stories in the National 4-H Club News during the war years of 4-H Clubs using their War Bonds and other money raised to purchase military jeeps, tanks and other equipment but unfortunately the stories are not specific.

Collecting Scrap Metal and Other Re-Usable Items

Gathering scrap metal, old phonograph records and rubber products was a top activity for many 4-H Clubs. Two broadcasts emphasizing the importance of the government's rubber collection campaign were made at the request of the War Production Board by representatives of the National 4-H Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work in Spring, 1942... only six months into the war. Chairman Thomas E. Wilson addressed a special message to the 1,650,000 4-H Club members and leaders over CBS on the Melody Ranch program hosted by Gene Autry in which he urged them to carry on in the magnificent way they had in the drives for scrap iron and aluminum, listing a score of rubber articles which might be found on the farm. A similar message was addressed to club folks over WLS in the popular Dinner Bell Program, aired during the noon hour, by National Committee's Editorial Director Leslie E. Troeger, who cited some specific instances of the work of 4-H Clubs in gathering scrap war material as an indication of what might be expected of them in the rubber drive. In Albany County, New York many of the clubs not only collected old tires, but also tons of old license plates. Other 4-H'ers in Albany clubs stayed busy making splints and stretchers for the Red Cross, the boys doing the woodwork while the girls shrunk, cut and sewed the canvas.

In the March 1943 issue of National 4-H Club News, Secretary of Agriculture Claude R. Wickard made this plea: "I am asking you to search your farm again and also turn in your scrap as fast as it accumulates. If it can't be used on the farm front, turn it in for scrap and it will be used on the battlefront."

Dr. C. B. Smith, Extension Director, U.S.D.A., at the close of 1944, complimented the 4-H boys and girls for their impressive contribution to the war effort. Their efforts in collecting scrap, alone, assembling over 300,000,000 pounds of such material by that date.

The March 1943 National 4-H Club News carries the following useful guide for 4-H Clubs gathering scrap:


Through the scrap you collect you will be on the front line of every battle and assembly line. Determine the amount of war equipment your club has provided by using the following table:

  • Two plowshares make one 100-pound aerial bomb.
  • One old plow will help make one hundred 73-mm. Armor-piercing projectiles.
  • A 7-inch steel beam plow makes one .50-caliber machine gun.
  • One cultivator sweep makes one bayonet.
  • One old disc will provide scrap steel needed for 210 semi-automatic light carbines.
  • One useless old tire provides as much rubber as is used in 12 gas masks.
  • One old shovel will help make four hand grenades.
  • One 10-gallon milk can makes one 100-pound aerial bomb.
  • One spring tooth from harrow makes three bayonets.
  • One axe head makes three bayonets or 10 hand grenades.

In the area of collecting scraps, Ohio 4-H'ers turned in roundly 1,500 tons. 4-H'ers in Hoke county, North Carolina took a lively hand in helping collect 300,000 pounds of scrap iron during a day's campaign in February, 1942. Kentucky's salvaging program called for a committee in each of the State's 2,000 4-H Clubs, represented by a chairman on the county board supervising this activity.

Oregon 4-H'ers were proud to have had a hand in collecting over 10,000 tons of scrap iron by September 1942. They report that these 200 carloads will make 3,400 anti-aircraft guns.

Mrs. John Hudack, leader of a 4-H Club in Lincoln Park, New Jersey reported in the January 1943 issue of National 4-H Club News that her girls had decided to collect old silk stockings for the army and in three weeks had already gathered 4,620 stockings.

Spurred by the offer of a Mississippi River steamboat ride, Bond County, Illinois 4-H Clubs solicited, collected and delivered nearly 323 tons of scrap. The Victory Club of 14 members near Mulberry Grove, won the boat trip with an average of 6,537 pounds of scrap per member. Patricia Pownall of Donnellson, collected 38,400 pounds to win individual top honors. Collecting scrap was an enthusiastic activity in many 4-H Clubs, often with the members dividing into teams competing against one another to see which one could bring in the most scrap. C. L. King, Club Agent in the Milliken community in Kansas reports that one farmer humorously remarked he knew the kids were collecting scrap... he almost caught a group of 4-H members trying to sneak his iron bed out the upstairs window!

In early 1943 Missouri reported that during the preceding year their salvage campaign resulted in the boys and girls in 73 counties collecting 1,826,348 pounds of scrap metal, 158,961 pounds of rubber, 14,997 pounds of burlap sacks, and 2,147 pounds of fats. In addition, to help relieve farm labor shortage, 4,319 members helped on neighbor farms 37,819 days, an average of nine days each and the clubbers raised 5,000 Victory gardens. Many of the 4-H'ers bought War Bonds and stamps with their own earnings.

Gathering Milkweed Pods

In many states, in late summer and fall, farm boys and girls walked the roadsides after school collecting milkweed pods in burlap or other open-mesh bags to provide floss for life jackets as a substitute for kapok. [Kapok fiber was usually imported from the Dutch East Indies however this supply was cut off due to the war.] The pods were picked before they broke open, scattering the floss, but after the seeds had turned brown. Then the bags of pods were hung to dry. Normally, it took two bags of milkweed pods to produce one life jacket.

Dedicated to the slogan of "Don't Let Our Sailor's Sink," 4-H boys and girls roamed the fields and roadsides daily collecting the prized pods. In New York 33 county Club agents took the initiative, gathering in excess of the goal of enough milkweed pods to produce 125,000 life jackets. In Indiana, Wells county's collection exceeded its goal with 4,000 bags, enough to fit out a battleship, while the whole State's output was 55,533 bags. In one Illinois county, DuPage, 4-H workers collected five tons of milkweed floss, enough for 1,100 life jackets. In Nebraska, Otoe county claimed the 'one-boy gathering project' prize with 4-H'er Donald Peterson's 21 sacks. Some Virginia club members turned meetings into long pod-gathering walking trips or bicycle forays. All of Maryland' 23 counties threw their boy-girl power into the drive, and 14 counties made their goal of 27,000 bags. Emmett county in Michigan led all other counties with a harvest of nearly 150,000 bags. Counties yielding 10,000 bags included Washington and Allegheny in Pennsylvania. Twelve boys, members of the Field and Farm 4-H Club of Glastonbury, Connecticut, made a record when under the leadership of Ray Bidwell, they harvested 240 bags of pods, largest collection made by any youth organization in the state. By November 1944, Wisconsin 4-H'ers had already passed their 50,000 sacks goal.

4-H members in Broome county, New York helped celebrate milkweed pod D-Day in mid-September 1944 by spotting and protecting milkweed areas for future collections. The county quota for 1944 was 2,500 bushels.

According to the February 1945 issue of National 4-H Club News, 4-H girls and boys had collected enough milkweed pods to make a million life jackets, a total of 2,500,000 bushel bags... and, they were still collecting. The war was not yet over.

War Bonds and War Stamps


Many of the big 4-H projects in the war effort —  buying a plane, a ship or even an ambulance —  were successful because the 4-H girls and boys both bought and sold war bonds and stamps in staggering numbers over the course of the following four years —  1942-1945.

A feature story in the October 1942 National 4-H News highlights a young 20-year old Donna Reed, 4-H alum from Denison, Iowa, who helped promote 4-H War Savings Bond sales at the county fair 4-H Victory booth while home visiting the family farm. Her help brought in $100,000. worth of War Bonds. Reed went on to star in over 40 films, winning an Oscar as best supporting actress in "From Here to Eternity" and a Golden Globe Award for Best TV Star in 1963 for her role on "The Donna Reed Show" which lasted nine seasons. She actively participated in the production of national 4-H public service radio spots in the mid-1960's.

It was a popular activity for 4-H clubs locally... and, even up to the state level, to lay out challenges to other clubs, counties or states to raise the most money for War Bonds in a given amount of time. National 4-H Club News carried a number of these challenges and then duly reported the results. For example, in the December 1943 issue, it was reported that the Buena Vista county, Iowa 4-H girls had accepted the War Bond sale challenge made by the 4-H girls of Jones county. The Buena Vista girls sold $43,838.55 worth of bonds and stamps during a six-week campaign in July and August. Seven clubs participated... the Poland Club led by Mrs. E. C. Welch, was high with $22,000 in sales. 4-H Clubs of Seneca county, New York, competing against themselves, pledged to sell $75,000. worth of bonds and stamps during September 1943 so they could help buy a Lockheed Lightning fighter plane. When the dust cleared, they had actually passed their goal, having sold over $105,000 worth. Willis Moses of Seneca Falls was the top salesman with a total of $32,000.

War Bond and stamps totaling $1,213,096. is the 1944 sales total for Iowa 4-H girls, the money used to equip 11 hospital units. Another Iowa campaign, completed in 1945, was called "Bonds Buy Mercy." The U.S. Surgeon General's citation for 11 local 4-H Clubs and four counties netting the following: Adams county sold $40,218 worth of War Bonds, providing 1,000 beds; Ida county's $26,000 was used for five deep therapy X-Ray machines; Muscatine's $25,447 for a hospital ship's medical equipment; and Webster county's $39,903 for two cars on an overseas hospital train.

Money-Raising Benefits and Other Activities

Throughout the nation, 4-H Clubs held money-raising benefits for the U.S.O., American Red Cross, and other activities throughout the war years. Canning and preserving demonstration teams toured the towns and cities teaching housewives how to save food.

A montage of 4-H at war would show many lively and varied scenes of activity —  groups of girls patching and remaking clothes; boys studying farm machinery repair; New York club members canvassing the houses near New York City, finding out how many people could be accommodated on farms if the city had to be evacuated, serving as air raid wardens, coast patrols, fire fighters...

Funds to buy a printing plant for the Sixth Service Command were raised by Illinois 4-H members. It was used by and for returned wounded soldiers. The Worth While 4-H Club of Jamaica, Vermont was one of many clubs across the country which collected books to send to military bases and on ships for the servicemen to read and enjoy. Another example —  the Wide Awake 4-H Club of Winton Heights in Weirton, West Virginia planned and assembled boxes of supplies and other sundry items to send to servicemen from their community. This type of activity was widespread throughout the country, particularly in providing boxes to former members of their 4-H club who were serving, or older brothers of club members who were at war.

Many states also set up financial goals to help with the war effort. Iowa set up a goal of five cents per member —  in cash or money raised through sale of scrap metal, rubber and other items. A. J. Brundage, State 4-H Club leader in Connecticut, suggested a national goal of 10 cents per member in the United States, thus raising a mammoth 4-H Club fund for purchasing war equipment. "An easy way of transmitting that as well as collecting would be 'One ten cent Defense Stamp,'" Mr. Brundage stated. The Armada, Michigan, 4-H Livestock Club already followed this idea by sending a book of 25 cent Defense Stamps valued at $10.75.

W. J. Jernigan, State 4-H Leader in Arkansas in the June 1942 issue of National 4-H News reported that 4-H Clubs across the state were active in a variety of activities supporting the war effort. Eighteen members of the 4-H Club of Sulphur Springs, Franklin county, held a pie supper to collect funds for the Red Cross. When the Food-for-Victory Campaign was launched, community minutemen turned the enlistment cards over to 4-H members, who proceeded to enroll every family in Sulphur Springs. Jernigan said that in the first six months of the war Bradley county farm families have sold more than a million pounds of scrap iron which 4-H'ers played an important part in collecting, together with waste paper and aluminum. Arkansas' champion Morning Sun 4-H Club —  40 strong —  of Poinsett county, has signed up to carry 101 Victory food projects; and, the Piney Grove 4-H Club members in Pike county has enrolled 100 percent in the 4-H Food for Victory projects. All the 781 boys and girls enrolled in Ashley county's 19 4-H Clubs have pledged to support the National Victory Program by producing more food and feed.

Girls in the Southern 4-H Club in Carbondale, Illinois raised funds in 1942 by creating a cookbook, "Victory Cookery," with emphasis on sugar substitutes like honey, sorghum, fruit juices and syrups. Although not done as a fund raiser, the January 1944 issue of the National 4-H Club News reports that 4-H girls in Ramsey county, Minnesota baked 2,400 cookies to give to the Servicemen's Centers in St. Paul in honor of the 500 4-H'ers of Ramsey county currently serving in the armed forces. Sending care packages of homemade cookies baked by 4-H'ers to servicemen overseas was a common activity throughout the war. Six girls' 4-H Clubs of Lake county, Illinois kept busy serving cookies and cakes to the boys from the Great Lakes Naval Training Station and Fort Sheridan Army Post on a weekly basis (50 dozen cookies per week). And, Home Adviser Helen Volk comments, "...and do the boys like them!" (not actually explaining if she means the cookies, or the 4-H girls)!

Most states and counties kept very accurate records of their war activities and the money raised. In early 1944, total sales of War Bonds and Stamps by Ohio 4-H'ers was reported by State Leader W. H. Palmer as $1,200,000. A Hardin county club of 11 girls, the "Tailorettes," bought $11,052 worth to make the county 4-H'ers total over $21,000. 4-H'ers in Powell and Deer Lodge counties in Montana held a series of "white elephant" auctions, raising $10,653.55 to purchase War Bonds. At the Curry county, New Mexico annual achievement day, a War Bonds 4-H auction resulted in earning $70,000. as articles donated from club projects and service clubs sold repeatedly to keep the money flowing in. A calf that sold for $50,000. in War Bonds was a feature of the Pike county, Kentucky fair, and purebred pigs sold by Herbert and Hobert Potter and their leader, Layton Howarton, added $5,200. The 4-H beef calf, Miss Belle Domino, owned by Robert Young of Kit Carson county, Colorado, bought $61,000. towards War Bonds. While these may be exceptional successes in 4-H War Bond auction activities, auctions of all types were popular community activities generating unknown amounts in support of the War Bond drives at the county and club levels.

4-H'ers helped with the war effort wherever they could... they were not bashful in their requests for scrap metal and other sought after items throughout their respective communities, or their campaigns for buying War Bonds and stamps. Add to this their energy in huge increases in project production of crops and livestock, their impressive numbers of Victory Gardens, their efforts in canning and preserving, and the armies of 4-H'ers in the Victory Farm Volunteers' labor force, and the story of 4-H's contributions to the war effort speaks for itself.

National 4-H Supply Service Supports the War Effort

A full line of emblems and arm bands, caps with visor, short and long sleeved shirts jackets and overalls were available exclusively from the National 4-H Supply Service for the Victory Farm Volunteers program. The emblems cost 15 cents for 1 to 25, 13 cents for 101 to 500. Armbands were 22 cents each for 1 to 25. Short sleeve shirts ran $1.35 and long sleeve $1.65. The Navy blue cotton twill jackets cost $2.50 and overalls $3.55 each.

The Supply Department also was the provider for emblems for both the U. S. Crop Corps and the Food for Freedom program at the same price as those offered for VFV.

The 4-H Supply Department of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work also produced several war time posters including the "Be A Volunteer 4-H Leader" poster and "A Call To 4-H Colors," both in 1943.

Two varieties of green and white waterproof fiber material gate signs were sold through the Supply Department. The 10" by 14" signs, when affixed to the farm gate, show that a 4-H'er at that home is participating in the 4-H Victory Project or the 4-H Victory Garden project.

The Victory 4-H Cap, first made available in 1943, was made of a forest green wool felt and was piped in white felt. A white felt circle 2-1/2" in diameter and stenciled with a red "V" with green 4-H emblem and the words "4-H Club," appears on each side of the garrison-type hat. Offered in several different sizes, the caps cost 65 cents each; 10 to 25, 62 cents each; 25 to 100, 59 cents each; over 100, 56 cents each. Pinback buttons carrying the same 4-H emblem and "V" design as on the caps were also available —  2 cents each; 100 for $1.00.

Three color National 4-H Mobilization Week stickers (red, green and black), 2" x 1-1/2" were also created by the Supply Department and sold for 45 cents per 100 stickers; 500 for $2.00.


Phonograph records of "The Plough and The Sword," offered through the 4-H Supply Department, highlighted the very successful production recruiting more members and telling the wartime 4-H story. This was originally a 15-minute 4-H radio drama heard throughout the nation during 4-H Mobilization Week and which thrilled the 1942 National 4-H Club Congress delegates with its inspiring message. Professionally written, produced, and recorded, the cast included such nationally known stars as Ma Perkins, Jack Armstrong and Pierre Andre. Sherman Marks of the National Committee radio staff was responsible for the writing and directing. Sound effects and organ music added much to the effectiveness of the feature.

National 4-H Awards Contests Support 4-H War Programs

The National 4-H Victory Garden Contest supported the National "Food for Freedom" program. Sponsored by Sears, Roebuck and Co., the four best 4-H gardeners in each county were awarded handsome medals, and the eight top winners in each state received a $25 War Saving Bond. Started in 1942, the program was enlarged in 1943 with a goal of a million 4-H gardens. A Victory Garden luncheon was given in 1943 to celebrate the successful conclusion of the previous year's program. The menu, served to directors of Sears, Roebuck and Company, was made up of 4-H garden products from all parts of the country. Six 4-H girls living near Waukegan, Illinois, served the luncheon, and contributed to its festive air by wearing crisp, brightly embroidered organdy aprons, paper hair rosettes and 4-H clover chevrons.

 Girls from the Waukegan, Illinois area served a Victory Garden luncheon to directors of Sears, Roebuck and Company.

The National 4-H Victory Achievement Contest was first offered in 1942, and continued throughout the war years. Every 4-H Club boy and girl wanted to contribute to Victory, and this contest spurred all members to their best efforts. Sponsored by International Harvester Company, of Chicago, awards were made on a state basis only, comprised of a $25 War Savings Bond to each of three boys and three girls having the most outstanding leadership records in the production of essential foods, fats, and fiber; work on farm or in the home; project or enterprise results; conservation or preservation of food, clothing, fuel, farm equipment and other essential materials; conservation of health, accident, and fire prevention; salvage collection; selling War Savings Bonds and Stamps; assisting Red Cross, U.S.O., and other authorized organizations, and assisting neighbor leaders with distribution of literature; fire patrol duty, airplane spotting, and giving talks and demonstrations at community meetings.

The 1944 National 4-H Club Congress Annual Banquet program list the names of 44 state winners in the "Food for Victory" program who won trips to National 4-H Congress (no national winners in this program). The donor of this program was listed as International Harvester Company. This may be a different name for IHC's National 4-H Victory Achievement Contest but is more likely to be an extension of the awards opportunities by offering the Congress trips only; no local awards.

The National 4-H Food Preparation Contest, sponsored by Servel, Inc., of Evansville, Indiana, promoted the "Food Fight for Freedom" with county awards, state trips to the National 4-H Club Congress in Chicago (or a $100. War Bond if war restrictions prevent the trip) and six national scholarships of $200. each for any course at a State Agricultural College or other approved institution. Promoting the contest, Servel advertised "one of the best ways 4-H Club members can help the war effort is to be able to get the most out of food. For it is not only important to produce food to the limit —  it's vital that you prepare it properly... get all the nourishment and energy from every ounce."

4-H Club members in 1942 were invited to submit essays on the vital part the farmer plays in the war program in a contest announced by the Ruberoid Company. Prizes were numerous and totaled $1,000. in matured U.S. Savings Bonds.

To encourage 4-H Club members and other youth to raise their own chicks in 1942 to increase their contribution to the war effort, the Pine Top Poultry Farm, Manchester, New Hampshire, announced a Victory scholarship contest with six prizes consisting of $150. U.S. War Savings Bond and five other awards totaling $150. The awards were based on letters not over 200 words in length telling why young people should raise poultry.

A "Win-the-War Bond Contest" for winning letters by farm people on "Why Farmers Should Buy War Bonds" was offered through the June 1942 National 4-H News by Allis-Chalmers Company. First place was a $1,000 bond plus a tour with expenses for the winner and a member of his family to the implement factory to see war weapons in the making, which is a special privilege, and a tour of the Great Lakes Naval Training Station if war conditions permit.

A number of corporate donors of ongoing national award programs continued their offerings during the war years, including: Kerr Glass Mfg. Corp. (Canning); The Spool Cotton Co. (Clothing); Kraft Cheese Co. (Dairy Foods and Dairy Production); Montgomery Ward (Girl's Record Achievement); Mrs. C. R. Walgreen (Home Grounds Beautification); Thomas E. Wilson (Meat Animal); Westinghouse Electric & Mfg. Co. (Rural Electrification); Mennen Co. (Safety Activity); and Achievement and Leadership award programs.

National 4-H Club News —  A Conduit for 4-H War News

During 1942-1945, like many other things, paper was in short supply. However, the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work continued publishing National 4-H Club News, the national magazine for 4-H volunteer leaders. As the line under the title on each cover implied, it was a magazine "for the exchange of ideas among 4-H Clubs." News about the 4-H war effort from the national, the States, and the community levels filled each issue, combined with stories about ongoing 4-H activities. Creative ways to promote Victory gardens, to sell War Bonds, or to simply boost morale were encouraged and many club leaders, as well as county and state Extension staff, proudly reported their war goals and achievements through "the 4-H News." The magazine's pages of these 40 or more issues may perhaps be the best historic documentation of 4-H's role in the war effort.

News received from those former 4-H'ers serving in the military could be found in every issue. Sample from a 1944 issue: "Hang up a horseshoe for Major Richard I. Bong, former 4-H'er of Poplar, Wisconsin, who became ace of aces in all war zones when he bagged his 34th enemy plane, a Jap Zero, on Armistice Day." The magazine was also good about carrying the dreaded news of past 4-H'ers who had been killed or taken prisoner. In the same issue as the above story: "An All-Star met death on a French battlefield. He was First Lt. Garnett Mason, of Spotsylvania, Virginia. In 1927 he was known as the youngest All-Star ever taken in. He attended National Club Camp at Washington, and represented Virginia All-Stars in various conferences." And, another announcement, from Dec. 1944: "While on a bombing mission over Germany Lt. Arthur Reed, former Elizabeth, Illinois 4-H'er, was reported missing in action, and later a prisoner. He made an "o" record during 10 years as a dairy calf club member, was on county judging and demonstration teams and built up a fine herd of purebred Guernseys with his father. He and a sister have a chest of awards won in 4-H enterprises. Arthur's wife, a Winnebago 4-H girl he met during a 4-H tour at the University of Illinois, recently gave birth to a baby girl."

4-H donors and magazine advertisers aided in this 4-H war effort. A few of these ads in National 4-H Club News during the war years are shown below:

 Allis-Chalmers advertisement on page 7 of the December 1943 National 4-H Club News  American Zinc Institute advertisement on page 21 of the April 1944 National 4-H Club News  Bell Telephone System advertisement on page 31 of the April 1944 National 4-H Club News
 DuPont Advertisement on page 21 of the December 1943 National 4-H Club News  General Motors advertisement on page 5 of the February 1944 December 1943 National 4-H Club News  International Harvester advertisement on page 2 of the February 1943 December 1943 National 4-H Club News
 J. & P. Coats advertisement on the back cover of the February 1943 National 4-H Club News  Massey-Harris advertisement on page 4 of the March 1943 National 4-H Club News  Westinghouse advertisement on page 15 of the March 1944  National 4-H Club News

War on the Home Front —  4-H & Extension Support Farms & Families

During the war years 1942-1945, Extension agricultural and home economics programs, and 4-H, never slowed down in their charge to serve farm families with valuable information in support of their occupations; their daily lives. In fact, they had an even broader mission now as many people in towns and cities turned to Extension for advise on everything from raising Victory gardens to recycling clothing, rationing food and machinery repair.

The bulletins and leaflets produced and issued by USDA at the federal level and state Extension offices during the war years cover topics numbering in the thousands. The following is just a sampling of this output: Greater Production Through Better Practices; Drying Fruits and Vegetables; Food Preservation by Freezing; Revised 1944 Helps for Home Canning; Pressure Cooker Gauge Testers; Sweetening with Less Sugar; Ways to Save Sugar When You "Put Up" Fruit; Pepping Up War Time Meals; Revised 1943 Home Storage of Vegetables; Making the Most of Our Meat Supply; Revised 1945 Father-Son Business Agreements; Converting Horse Drawn Mowers into Power Mowers; Developing Attractive Farmsteads; Important Disease and Insect Control of Corn for Inexperienced "1st Timers;" Adapting Buildings for Use of Poultry as Calf Sheds, Lambing Pens or Farrowing Houses; Clothing the Family in Wartime; How to Build and Maintain Good Teeth.

In addition to the printed "how-to" materials, Extension at all levels provided the same types of helpful information via radio and a number of war-time films were produced.

Extension specialists and agents, both, faced with new challenges and new audiences, conducted thousands of training sessions. Extension home economists and assistants trained both rural and city people in up-to-date methods of canning, freezing, dehydrating, brining and storing vegetables, fruits, and meats. A nationwide program was organized by Extension to test pressure cookers for safety. While most families did not have a home freezer, locker plants were becoming prevalent, allowing housewives to rent a locker space for storing frozen food items.

Housewives were taught how to care for and repair home appliances. One popular program was making cotton mattresses. This was a popular program during the Depression years of the 30's and remained popular throughout the war years.

Most of the traditional 4-H projects offered before the war continued on through the war years, but with even greater emphasis. A number of the 4-H events were cancelled during the war years (National 4-H Club Congress in Chicago was the only major event that Extension policy approved to continue, but at a pared back size.) Local 4-H camps were encouraged to continue, being an economical way to provide wholesome experiences and some fun for a well deserved reprieve from the wartime responsibilities. A 4-H wartime camp in Jones Creek, Missouri shows how a community prepared for their 2-day camp: Wartime conservation and patriotic ceremonies were held in August on the Ray Thurman farm near Diamond, Missouri. To save tires, camp equipment was brought in by wagon, in which the campers also rode, or came on bicycles. The camp stove was made by leaders and members from discarded bricks, sheet iron, pipe, and a cream can.

A feature in the January 1943 National 4-H Club News highlights the activities of the 1942 National 4-H Club Congress. Despite its streamlined attendance and shortened duration, it was acclaimed the greatest of its many history-making predecessors by many of the adults who had attended a number of Congresses. It was the first Congress ever held in wartime, and this was reflected in the serious mien of the 807 delegates from 44 states who attended. Two main topics discussed by the delegates under the guidance of their leaders were: "What Are We Fighting For?" and "Youth's Contribution to Winning the War." Active military personnel had a strong part in the program. Capt. E. J. Moran, commander of the cruiser Boise, U.S. Navy, which sank six Jap ships, was a guest speaker at the Sears, Roebuck breakfast. Ensign Leona Jackson, U.S. Navy, who served at Guam and later was a Jap prisoner in China, was among the war heroes at the Thomas E. Wilson dinner. Typical of the delegates' reactions to the Club Congress was that expressed in a letter from a Wyoming 4-H Club girl, who stated: "The programs at the various events brought the realities of war closer to all of us and made us realize how important 4-H work is in winning the war. I came home with the resolution to do all I can to keep 4-H work active in our community, as well as to work harder myself."

The theme for the 1943 National 4-H Club Congress was "4-H in War and Peace." A total of 852 delegates from 46 states, Ontario and Quebec attended. Although definite decisions were not always possible, some of the topics discussed by delegates at this 22nd National Congress included whether or not 18-year olds should vote, if essential farm work compares in importance with serving in the military forces, the duties of citizenship, whether marriages should be postponed and if a post-war depression is inevitable. Of course, there were lighter moments, as well, such as the banquets and parties, trips to the museums and the annual Friendship Party at the famous Trianon Ballroom. The Thomas E. Wilson annual party featured, among honored guests, former 4-H'er Capt. Thadd Blanton, Jr., of Gainesville, Texas, who was one of Doolittle's boys in the raid of Japan. The Great Lakes Navy Choir gave an unforgettable concert and 36 girls strutted their stuff for a Victory Dress Revue of wartime styles and showed that economizing and making over clothing couldn't keep them from the ranks of the well-dressed.

Wartime issues continued to dominate the 1944 National 4-H Club Congress. As with the earlier two wartime Congresses, each state's quota of delegates was reduced from peace-times 50 to a wartime 20, lowering the total to 905 registrants —  748 boy and girl 4-H'ers and 157 leaders. There were also delegates from Quebec and Ontario in Canada, and from Chile, China, Brazil and Columbia. Like all Congresses, in addition to the assemblies and discussions, the meal events and entertainment kept the delegates excited. Stars of the famous show, "Oklahoma," were stampeded for autographs following their appearance at the International Harvester luncheon and starlet Rhonda Fleming of the Vanguard Films was brought to the Congress by Servel as an entertainment feature for food preparation winners. The final banquet was broadcast to all servicemen overseas by Westinghouse Broadcasting.

The February 1944 issue of National 4-H Club News announces that a $2,000,000 allotment to Extension by the War Food Administration was calculated to strengthen the States' educational activities in food production and preservation, according to advices from Washington. Although the money was available only to July 1, it may be continued during the fiscal year. A new policy growing out of conferences of WFA with State directors provided that State and county War Boards were responsible for coordination of the work of all member agencies in the war food program on the basis of their assignments. The educational work in this program was declared to be the responsibility of the Extension Service. It was suggested that all member agencies meet at least monthly to forward all phases of the food program. Whether or not their were other WFA monies provided throughout the war years beyond this reported $2,000,000 is not known.

4-H War Songs and Poems

Creative 4-H members and leaders, true to tradition, created songs, poetry and skits to promote the war effort. Some of these were regularly published in the pages of National 4-H Club News.


Victory Garden Song

From Iowa Extension Service To the tune of: Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!
1. For our Navy and Marines we will raise the pork and beans, For the Army and the Air Forces do our bit. For our boys in jeeps and tanks: for our famous fighting Yanks We will plant our seeds for Victory and Peace. Chorus: Plant, plant, plant our Victory gardens, Plow the furrows deep and true; We will seed and weed and hoe, Make our Victory gardens grow—  We will keep the "chow" a-rolling over there. 2. For our boys in training camps, for our Army on the tramp, We will raise the lowly "spud" for them to peel; We might raise them without eyes—  which would be a great surprise, We will plant our seeds for Victory and Peace. 3. For our Allies everywhere —  on the sea, and in the air, Where they're fighting for the Freedom of the world; We will fill their ships with food, which we know is mighty good, We will plant our seed for Victory and Peace. — April, 1944

Victory Pie Song

Verses by Mrs. Lillie M. Dixon, Assistant Club Leader, Powell County, Montana To the tune of Auld Lang Syne
Kind friends, we're glad you came tonight. And hope you buy a pie To help our soldiers beat the Japs, And make the Germans fly! So buy some pies to help our boys On land and on the sea, Oh yes, the pies are good you bet! They're good as good can be. For every bond you buy tonight Will help to win the war, So do your best kind friends We ask — buy more and more and more. Our pies are here, don't they smell grand? They are a pretty sight. Spend every penny that you can, We're out to win the fight. — May 1944

A Modern War Song

Helen Suber, Funston 4-H Club, Colquitt County, Georgia To the tune of Auld Lang Syne
Come buy some stamps or bonds today Come buy them one and all, No matter how small they be They'll help the Japs to fall. Come buy them won't you please, my friend, 'Twill give the Japs a cramp To know we wipe them off the map By buying just one stamp. And bring your rubber and your iron Tomorrow, if you please, 'Twill help to whip those yellow Japs, Make'em fall on their knees. To beg for peace, Oh yes, I said, 'Twill make'em wanta run, So come on girls and do your part, Bring iron everyone. And when it comes to saving tires And good old gasoline, We're all a gonna do without Whether peasant or queen. Remember, Pearl Harbor, my friend, And do your part, I say; Don't know that we're fighting for The good ole U.S.A. —September 1942

Dig! Dig! Dig!

Betty Akins, 4-H member, Snappy Stitchers 4-H Club, near Wilmington, Massachusetts. A song for gardeners To the tune of Jingle Bells
Soon now you will see, We will all be free, If you will just bend your back And dig for Victory. Dig! Dig! Dig! Dig! Dig! Dig! Dig with all your might, We will show the Nazis how Yankee kids can fight. Join a 4-H Club, If you don't know how, They will teach you gardening Or how to milk a cow. Don't be slow, Grab your hoe, And come along with me; Come and I will show you how To dig for Victory. There are poultry clubs, Yes, and canning, too; If you don't know what to do The leaders will show you. Dig! Dig! Dig! Dig! Dig! Dig! Dig for all you're worth, If you dig you'll help to wipe The Nazis off the earth. There is Mr. Erickson, And Miss Hopkins, too, They're always willing To lend a hand to you. (Repeat first chorus.) Mr. Erickson and Miss Hopkins are the county agents; their names can be replaced with different names. — July 1943

4-H Victory Club

Mrs. Kermit Roland, Assistant Club Leader, The Tootsie Marie Club Hemingford, Nebraska To the tune of Yankee Doodle
Oh B.Z.B. and Victory Club, Once more we are together. We're out to do our very best In any kind of weather; We'll hoe our gardens, milk our cows, And always keep on trying. We'll be right there to strut Our stuff, to keep Old Glory flying. To fool with the United Nations, We'll help our leaders all We can and put on demonstrations. We'll walk to club meets If we MUST, to save a little rubber, We'll show those Japs that They can't down Nebraska's 4-H Clubbers. —February 1943

Bond Booster Song

State 4-H Exchange, South Carolina To the tune of Yankee Doodle Dandy
Yankee Doodle came to town to buy a bar of candy, But on the way he saw some Bonds and said, "They'll come in handy"; Yankee Doodle keep it up, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Buy a Stamp and save for Bonds Instead of so much candy. — July 1943

4-H Crop Song

Willard G. Patton, Dist. Club Agent, New Jersey To the tune of Stout-hearted Men
We've sent the men, Who are stout-hearted men On to fight for the right we adore; We'll send them food, Yes, the best of our food, And we'll raise and we'll can tons galore; Shoulder to shoulder, The young and the older Will wrest from the land victory. For there's nothing in the world can halt or mar our plan, When our 4-H youth will stick together, lass and man! — May 1944

Canning for Victory

North Bend, Oregon canners, reported by Hazel Nelson To the tune of East Side, West Side
Canning, canning, all the Summer through, Picking berries, gathering fruit That is what we do. Yes, it's lots of hard work, But oh, won't it be fine To have all the fruit we need In the good old Winter time. Club boys, club girls, say, don't we have fun? At each and every meeting when All our work is done? Boys and girls together Canning for victory— No ration points need we for fruit, For we save for Liberty. — June 1945


Spirit of the "V" Gardners

Ramona Esty, 11, Colorado
Come on, Kids! Here's a royal Invitation That ranks high in station. We must not falter in our stride On, On we are marching to Victory's side Growing Vegetables in rows and rows. It isn't the guy that crows; It's the guy that a garden grows. Join up today before you play. Don't wait until your old and grey. It's your will to do, not your age That writes Victory on the final page. Don't ride in a cart, Be a 4-H Clubber; do your part. —June 1942

What America Means to Me

A poem by Winifred Dyke, 11 year-old 4-H'er, Weston, Vermont
I love the good old U.S.A. So keep 'em flying, I say; We've got our privileges and our rights, And so we're ready and willing to fight. America means to me a lot Be it in our homes or in our sop; In the summer or any old time America and me will always rhyme. We got a lot to be thankful for, We shouldn't be asking for any more; So I'm sticking close to Uncle Sam, And I'll help in any way I can. We've got a grand place in America, We're in the home land of the free, And no matter what happens until the end I'll shout, "America for me." —June 1942

Calling Our Youth

Mrs. Catherine Black, a new 4-H leader near Fort Covington, New York
We're calling all Americans To come and join our crowd, We'll teach you how to do things And you'll sing our praises loud! From ages 10 on upward You all can do your share, We'll help to beat the Axis And we'll do it fair and square. We'll plant our Victory gardens, We'll learn to sew and cook; We'll raise some cows and chickens To balance up our books. Sing praises to the 4-H, It stands for things so fine; You'll feel proud being one of us So come and join our line. We're offering you a splendid chance To help Serve, Save and Learn; Both boys and girls alike Can all step up and make a turn! Now hurry! Join your nearest club To work for Freedom's cause; We also have much fun besides When from our work, we pause. We're calling all Americans, The call is loud and long; So join today, larn how to help 4-H is where YOU should belong! — March 1943

Freedom of Speech

Elva J. St. Clair, All-star member, Cavalle 4-H Club, Santa Cruz County, California
Idle tongues a waggin', Though it's only braggin', Stir up a lot of trouble, you can bet; So keep your conversation To a limitation Of rights and wrongs, Of birds and songs, Or whether water's wet. It takes a lot of courage To overlook the urge To give out "army secrets" with an ease, But please remember, dear, Enemies too can hear; But talk into the mirror all you please. So the moral of this note Is to cast another vote For democracy and freedom of the press; Please heed this information, We'll have a greater nation, For Victory is ours and that's no guess. —1942

12 Americans

Club poem submitted by Mildred Rieger, 4-H leader, of a girl's club in Saginaw, Michigan
12 Americans—that's what we are: We have no gun nor hero's bar, Just our skill, our might, our care; 12 Americans doin' their share. Now it's true that we're all girls, And we don't primp or fix our curls; We just pick up scrap For Uncle Sam's lap. When things go bad we give our prayer To our brave boys fighting over there. We collect meat drippings each day— Though some people say it doesn't pay. We buy bonds and stamps each week— 12 Americans dip down deep To gather the dimes that will wipe those Japs Right off the map and no 'perhaps!' We all gave up our sheer silk hose, And how we miss them no one knows. We painted our legs with some awful dope So the silk can be used for 'chutes' and rope. We write the boys letters most every day To let them know that we're O.K. We also gave to the ambulance fund, A 4-H cause and a truly good one. Yes, we're Americans, all of us, We do our duty without a fuss. We're as patriotic as we can be To aid our boys across the sea. — December 1943

The 4-H Spirit

Poem by Mrs. George Coughlin, Leader, Busy Beavers 4-H Club, Canton, New York
With head and hands we sew and save To lighten the hearts of our fighting brave; With a long hard fight yet to be won, We are working together from sun to sun; Producing the food, collecting the scrap And saving tin cans to lick the Japs. Although we 4-H'ers are young to fight, We're behind the lines with a fighting might; We will do our part, with our parents grand, As they help us through with a guiding hand. With our hand to the wheel, and a prayer to God, We'll bring them back to their own free sod; Then as ever before with head, heart, hands and health, We will keep it free—this our land of wealth. As Old Glory waves from its mast so high, May the 4-H flag, too, bravely fly. As one which has served with the great and small, Always ready to help at our Nation's call. — February, 1944

The 4-H Way — A Home Front Poem

Warren Bauman, First year leader, Kootenai Valley Livestock Club, Bonners Ferry, Idaho
We are the men behind the man behind the gun, We raise the stuff that makes our army run; We'll pile it on the Axis ton by ton, And crush them to submission one by one. We are the Nation's 4-H girls and boys; We've given up our simple pre-war joys, We long ago have laid aside our toys, We're backing up our country's soldier boys. We'll eke it out through hardship, sweat and toil, We'll make the very best use of the soil, Improve upon the practices of Hoyle, And then we'll reap a record crop of spoil. We are the men behind the man behind the gun, We'll pour it onto every Jap and Hun, We'll make th Nazis goose-step on the run, We'll totally eclipse the "Rising Sun." — April, 1944

Save the Cans

Paul Richards, 4-H Club member in Scrappy Scrappers Club, Pinckney, Michigan
There are cans that are rusty, There are cans that are bent, There are cans that you don't want And cans with a dent. We use cans in our factories And also defense, We use what you waste To cut our expense. So save large and small cans, All kinds but wood-- Corn cans and soup cans, And clean yours real good. So stop, look and listen Lest you waste a can, And remember I warn you No cans for ash cans. — March, 1945

The Plough and The Sword

A special 15-minute 4-H radio drama heard throughout the nation during the 1943 National 4-H Mobilization Week, and later made into a phonograph recording, was used extensively by local 4-H Clubs to help tell the wartime 4-H story and to recruit new members.

Professionally written and directed by Sherman Marks of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work's radio staff, "The Plough and The Sword" was recorded by a nationally know cast of radio stars including Ma Perkins, Jack Armstrong and Pierre Andre. Sound effects and organ music add much to the effectiveness of the feature. The presentation was available on two 12-inch records and sold through the National 4-H Supply Service as V-43— Set of two phonograph records of "The Plough and the Sword" for $2.50 per set.

Community 'War Service Honor Rolls'


During the war... and, often for decades following, you would often run across War Service Honor Rolls prominently located in a public location in every small community across America. These honor rolls carried the names of young men and women from that locality who served in the war. Names of those who did not return were often accompanied by a gold star or some other designation. Communities were proud of these honor rolls. Most were homemade, being made of wood and painted. Unfortunately, slowly most of them have now disappeared. 4-H was often involved in a community project to help earn money to create their local honor roll.

The following story, printed in the April 1943 National 4-H Club News, was submitted by Mrs. Dudley Wilcox, leader of the enterprising Smyrna Straight Shooters 4-H Club in Chenango County, New York:

My club has just finished a community project we are very proud of, and which I will try to describe. Beginning in October, 1942, my club members and I began canvassing the township of Smyrna for articles to sell at a community auction to raise funds to build an honor roll for all boys of the township who are in the service. We asked every farmer for a donation of some article to sell at our auction. We tried to get donations of surplus things or unused articles which would be useful for another person, rather than to take anything farmers were using or could use themselves. We canvassed every home in the township and on November 13 held our auction, clearing $226.44.

An auctioneer friend of ours donated his services. We held the auction in the town hall which was also donated. Among the things we had for sale were homemade baked goods of all kinds, home grown sausage, salt pork, honey, potatoes, popcorn, all kinds of fresh vegetables, chickens, ducks, rabbits, a goose, a goat, a Jersey heifer calf, a purebred Holstein bull calf that sold for $37, all kinds of canned goods, clothing, furniture, tools, and much more.

We had an honor roll built five feet high and seven feet long, carrying strips for 100 names. At present, there are 59 names on it, and 39 are former 4-H Club members! On February 12 we dedicated our honor roll. Our own Harry Case of Norwich, who has been Chenango county club agent for 22 years, was master of ceremonies. The color guard of Sherburne American Legion Post No. 876 unveiled the honor roll, and our guest speaker was E. R. Vadeboncouer, radio commentator of WSYR, Syracuse. There were musical selections by several friends. Roger Wilcox, president of our club, read names on the honor roll and an appropriate poem. The honor roll was presented to our supervisor, who accepted it in behalf of the town of Smyrna. My 4-H Club paid the entire expense of the honor roll and the dedication, which was $98.64. We have just purchased $125.00 worth of War Bonds to be kept for the duration.

4-H's Guideposts —  Goals for the Future

Though the second World War, like the first, was a kind of interruption to the normal development of 4-H, the leaders took time out from emergency duties to plan the future of 4-H in terms of the individual. These plans, formulated by a committee of state and federal leaders appointed by M. L. Wilson, director of Extension, were expressed in 10 guideposts that would plainly mark the path to be taken into the unknowable future. The guideposts were goals in themselves, and end results to be sought through the member's week-to-week activity.

They were:
1. Developing talents for greater usefulness.
2. Joining with friends for work, fun and fellowship.
3. Learning to live in a changing world.
4. Choosing a way to earn a living.
5. Producing food and fiber for home and market.
6. Creating better homes for better living.
7. Conserving Nature's resources for security and happiness.
8. Building health for a strong America.
9. Sharing responsibilities for community improvement.
10 Serving as citizens in maintaining world peace.

These guideposts were rooted in the soil of America. A literate body of young people, blessed with freedom and opportunity, could hardly strive for less. (from Franklin Reck's "The 4-H Story")

The 1945 National 4-H Club Congress was used as the occasion for launching the 10-point postwar 4-H program.

Post-War Activities

Switching from 4-H wartime activities to peacetime life, once again, was no small challenge. Indeed, even though family life, community activities... even regular 4-H projects, continued throughout the war years, emphasis was on "win the war" in no small manner. National 4-H achievement between Pearl Harbor and the end of the war showed a magnificent piece of work done. War Bond sales by 4-H totaled over $200 million. That isn't all of the story, for these boys and girls collected over 400 million pounds of scrap, and produced and preserved food in astounding amounts. They raised over two million acres in gardens and field crops; canned 74 million quarts; raised 43 million birds, and 2.7 million head of livestock. These figures are based on estimates from State club leaders' reports from Pearl Harbor to 1945.

A brief article in the June 1945 issue of National 4-H Club News talks about 4-H plans post-war. The title of the article is: 4-H Plans for Peace. "How to mobilize 4-H youth to work for peace as effectively as they have for war sums up the many questions considered by the National Advisory Group on 4-H Post-War Planning which met for the second time in Chicago the middle of April [1945].

"The committee recognizes that many post-war problems as well as opportunities face youth in the post-war period," stated Chairman Kenneth W. Ingwalson, Federal field agent for the Western States. We are relying on the work of the experts in this field to suggest the problems, and the committee will try to analyze them in terms of 4-H youth and decide how to take advantage of the opportunities which are presented. Th findings are expected to help leaders locally to build appropriate programs to meet peace situations."

"Members of the committee are: Mylo Downey, Maryland, Land-Grant College 4-H Sub-Committee; H. C. Seymour, Oregon, White House Conference on Rural Education in Western States; W. H. Palmer, Ohio, Outlook Conference Central States; Mrs. Edith P. Barker, Iowa; Pauline Bunting, Montana; J. W. Whitehouse, Kentucky; Elaine E. Massey, Mississippi; Albert Hoefer, New York and Marion E. Forbes, Massachusetts, representing their respective Extension divisions; J. Turpin, New Jersey and Mrs. Clara Oberg, Minnesota, county work; Gertrude L. Warren, Washington D. C. Field co-ordination and Dr. E. H. Shinn, R. A. Turner and E. W. Aiton, Washington, D. C. Extension Service."

Of great significance, President Harry S. Truman on June 6, 1945 signed into law the Extension bill providing aid to 4-H. The Extension Bill (H.R. 1690 and S. 383), amending the Bankhead-Jones Act, provides for nearly $8,000,000 of the $12,500,000 maximum annual authorization to be utilized in furthering the 4-H Clubs and work with older rural youth... specifically to provide for 2,365 new assistant county agents or county 4-H Club agents. The wide interest of farm folk in this legislation, as well as thousands of friends of the 4-H Clubs everywhere, helped to make it one of the most acceptable agricultural bills recently considered by Congress.

One other note relating to 4-H immediately following the war... due in part to our military personnel with 4-H experience being spread throughout the world, there was greater interest in establishing 4-H-like programs in other countries and also youth exchange programs. This was true in Korea, in Latin America and South America and in Europe. There was greater interest in the United Nations and in global peace for the future and the young generation was one of the strongest voices in promoting this expansion of 4-H to other countries.

When World War II ended in 1945, so did the government promotion of Victory gardens. Many people did not plant a garden in the spring of 1946, but agriculture had not yet geared up to full production for grocery stores, so the country experienced some food shortages.

Even before the war ended, some 4-H fund raising efforts were geared toward post-war life. For example, in April, 1944 the Collegiate 4-H Club of Kansas State College numbering 175 members, donated War Bonds with a maturity value of $4,500 to the Student Union Building to be built after the war.

In Closing...

"The Greatest Generation" is a term coined by newscaster Tom Brokaw in his 1998 book of the same name, referring to those in the United States who grew up during the Great Depression and then went on to fight in World War II or who produced significant contributions on the homefront. Brokow wrote, "it is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced." He argued that these men and women fought not for fame and recognition, but because it was the "right thing to do." After reading this history section, the National 4-H History Preservation leadership team hopes that each of you will concur that the 4-H'ers of the war years rightfully should be proud to be an integral part of the 'Greatest Generation.'

SPECIAL NOTE: While the specific results of many 4-H war-support efforts are shared in this history, the National 4-H History Preservation leadership team realizes that it remain far from complete. Two primary reasons for this —  many of the war efforts at state and county levels were not available to us; and, unfortunately, many war efforts simply never made it into any of the "pages of history" following the war. While we are unable to document all war-time projects... there were thousands, with many being quite similar to one another, if you are aware of 4-H war efforts from either World War I or II, particularly if they are different in nature than any others reported in this documented history, we would enjoy hearing from you. Write:

Principal author: Larry L. Krug and Rick Moses

Compiled by National 4-H History Preservation Team.

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