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Research and Writing - Urban 4-H Programs

Research and Writing - Urban 4-H Programs


Research, document and write the segment of the National 4-H History section of the 4-H History website relating to the history of urban 4-H programs with particular emphasis on their early beginnings up through the 1980s. Incorporate the successful 4-H urban gardening programs into this segment.

Chairman: Larry L Krug

Team Members

James C Kemp
Joye Kohl
Sandra Lignell
Linda Nierman
Rudy Prudin
Joel Soobitsky

Status Reports


The segment of 4-H history on Urban 4-H Programs is now live on the 4-H history website. It is not complete and it is hopeful that those involved in the planning and conduct of 4-H urban programs in major cities around the U.S. will send in the stories of these experiences.

Larry Krug


The history section on Urban 4-H Programs will be one of the priority areas during the summer months. It has been determined that much information is lacking to write about the specific, local 4-H urban programs as a national team. Therefore, the current thrust is to complete the generalized history of "urban 4-H" and start compiling a bibliography of materials on the subject. At the same time, states/cities will be directly solicited to contribute their "mini-histories" for inclusion in the segment.

Larry Krug


The research and writing for this section of the history website was on "hold" during 2013 and more research materials were gathered and other priorities were moved to the forefront. It is anticipated that the team will get back into drafting his area in late Spring or early Summer 2014.

Larry Krug


Team work continues on locating local histories of urban 4-H programs in some of our major cities. Joy Kohl is working on this at several different areas. Joel Soobitsky has sent the team a number of papers relating to urban programs from the years he was on the federal 4-H Extension staff at USDA.

Larry Krug


Research and writing continues on the Urban 4-H Programs history. Most of the general history is now in draft stage and we are working on soliciting the vignette histories of specific 4-H histories in selected cities. Some 20 cities have been identified and more may be added.

Larry Krug, Chair


The Urban 4-H Programs Research and Writing team was first announced in the June 2012 4-H History newsletter. Larry Krug, chair, has been doing research in various references and beginning the draft of the history.

Current research reveals the earliest urban activity was a boys club initiated in Elmira, New York in 1886 by Rufus Stanley with the help of Liberty Hyde Bailey. It was called the Photographic Rambling Club. This club became the Omega Club in 1901 and later transformed into a 4-H Club. Stanley became the first county club agent in Chemung county, where Elmira is located. He helped O. H. Benson establish other early urban clubs throughout New England.

Urban clubs became stronger when victory gardens were prevalent during World War I; and, again, later in World War II. Extension became serious about urban programs during the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Documenting these discussions and highlighting the specific successes and challenges in some of the key urban areas that started 4-H clubs is our major objective. This will include documenting the debates that took place within ECOP relating to urban 4-H in the 1960s.

Further, we plan to feature short vignettes of many of the major urban programs that came into being during this period - Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, and many others. WE NEED YOUR HELP HERE… Names of people who were involved in these programs, particularly in the 1960s and 70s.

Also, we have little documentation on urban 4-H programming from 1985 to the current time. Has it changed in the last 20 years? Or, are there new methods, programs and audiences that should be included???

Our goal will be to complete the draft for this section by the end of the year.

Team member activities: Joel Soobitsky is reviewing his files (in storage) and will be bringing some stuff with him during Hall of Fame in Ocober. Joye Kohl is working on some research in the western states and trying to identify other possible people to help. Sandra Lignell has already written the history of the Chicago urban program and is gathering other information. Jim Kemp has provided contact leads in several different urban areas. Rudy Pruden will help with early urban years in New Jersey as well as at 4-H, USDA.

Larry Krug, Chair


The start of the research and writing for the Urban 4-H Area is being announced in the June 2012 4-H History Newsletter. 4-H was present in a few urban areas going back to the beginning of the 4-H movement. Franklin Reck's "The 4-H Story," records Rufus Stanley's work with young boys in Elmira, New York and establishment of his Omega Club as 1901, and going back even earlier to 1886. After the passage of the Smith-Lever Act in 1914 establishing the Cooperative Extension Service, the Omega Club became a 4-H Club and Stanley became the first county club agent in Chemung county, in which Elmira is located.

From then forward, there have been efforts in a number of cities to replicate the pouplar 4-H programs of the rural areas, to adapt them to urban needs; and, to start entirely new programs for new audiences. The decades of the 1950s, `60s and `70s were the years of great debate regarding Extension serving the urban youth audiences.

This team plans to research and write the significant national history regarding urban 4-H programs and seek out individuals who can help tell the specific urban 4-H histories of some of the noted urban city programs across the country.

Larry Krug, chair


The Urban 4-H Programs Research and Writing team was started in June, 2012 and announced in the June 4-H History newsletter. Some of those being asked to volunteer for this team include Joye Kohl, Jim Kemp, Sandra Lignell, Joel Soobitsky, Rudy Prudin and Bill Caldwell. Others will be added as we get into the researching of specific urban centers.

Urban programs started as early as 4-H, itself. The early history will be documented along with the increase in urban program activity with the victory gardens in both World War I and World War II. Urban 4-H became a major topic in Extension during the decades of the 50s, 60s and 70s. This, too, will be documented.

We also plan to include vinettes of the history of 4-H in many selected urban areas… how they began, some of the specific successes and challenges - particularly in urban programs such as those in Philadelphia, Denver, Portland (OR), Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit and others… and, how the programs are doing today.

Larry Krug, chair

News from the 4-H History Preservation Team













Compiled by National 4-H History Preservation Team.

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