Cerro Gordo, Howard, Johnson, Webster Counties Add 4-H History Online

AMES, Iowa — Cerro Gordo, Howard, Johnson and Webster counties have added their 4-H history to Iowa 4-H History by County, a new blog detailing the history of Iowa State University Extension 4-H Youth Development. The history blog is a partnership of the Iowa 4-H program and the Iowa 4-H Foundation.

The online history notes that Cerro Gordo started 4-H club work in 1917 when six boys showed baby beef projects at the North Iowa Fair. By 1923, the baby beef club was officially organized with 14 members.

Howard County 4-H historyGirls clubs in Howard County during the 1920s learned about garment construction, parliamentary procedure, health, music appreciation and recreation.

Johnson County 4-H records before 1929 were destroyed in a fire. By 1929 early 4-H boys clubs were neighborhood based, emphasizing gardens, beef, swine and dairy. Early girls clubs were closer-knit organizations, focusing on one main project area that rotated yearly.

Starting in 1917 in Webster County, 4-H clubs would organize, set goals and work on a project until the goal was met. The club would disband until another need was identified, and then reorganize to pursue a new goal.

View the full histories of these and other counties on the blog, at http://www.iowa4hfoundation.org/4hhistory.

Over the next two years, 4-H staff and volunteers will be reviewing additional county 4-H histories, with two to four being published on the blog each month, said Shelly Greving, marketing director for the Iowa 4-H Foundation.

The idea that led to the blog took root 10 years ago during Iowa 4-H’s centennial year, when several 4-H volunteers and ISU Extension staff members started talking about writing an illustrated history of 4-H in Iowa, Greving explained. Those early discussions resulted in “A 4-H Story: Helping Hands, Caring Hearts” (4H 4805), an illustrated 4-H ABC book for children. The book is available from the ISU Extension Online Store, https://store.extension.iastate.edu/.

County celebrations during the 4-H centennial, as well as ISU Extension’s centennial in 2003, resulted in the gathering of numerous pictures, record books and memorabilia. Florine Swanson, retired Iowa 4-H Foundation executive director, led the online history project as counties compiled their history and submitted it to the review committee to be published on the site, Greving said.

“All these efforts have resulted in what now will be a living history of 4-H. We hope 4-H members, alumni, volunteers, leaders and staff will add their comments and continue the history of 4-H, sharing the many facets of each county’s 4-H program,” Greving said. “Individuals may choose to continue the legacy of 4-H by making a donation to directly impact Iowa 4-H or their county 4-H program.”

Those who wish to support 4-H in their county may make a donation to their county 4-H endowment through the Iowa 4-H Foundation, http://www.iowa4hfoundation.org/.

"Today’s 4-H youth develop citizenship, communication and leadership skills; and learn about everything from aerospace to zoology,” said Chuck Morris, director of ISU Extension 4-H Youth Development. To learn more about 4-H, contact any ISU Extension county office or check the 4-H website, http://www.extension.iastate.edu/4h/.