Iowa 4-H History Blog Expands to 38 Counties

AMES, Iowa – Thirty-eight Iowa counties now have added their stories to the Iowa 4-H History by County blog, just in time for National 4-H Week, Oct. 7-13. The history blog is a partnership of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach 4-H Youth Development and the Iowa 4-H Foundation.

Calhoun, Lyon, Monroe, O’Brien and Plymouth counties are the latest to add histories of their 4-H programs to the blog. Also included in the county 4-H histories are stories about influential Iowa 4-H’ers and leaders.

New this month is a feature on Iowa 4-H legend Glen Thompson, who served 14 years as a 4-H leader in Benton County, followed by 20 years as the ISU Extension state recreation specialist. He said he worked with an average of 6,000-8,000 youth every year, adding, “I learned as much as they did.”

According to the 4-H online history:

  • 4-H in Calhoun County began just like it did in many other Iowa counties. Boys were active in baby beef, sow and litter, poultry and corn projects. Girls focused on activities like cooking, sewing and furniture refinishing.
  • The first joint boys and girls county 4-H rally was held in 1960 with a presentation of the better-groomed girls and boys in the appropriate dress in Lyon County.
  • In 1964, Iowa was invited, along with nine other states, to Washington, D.C., by Reader’s Digest. Chosen for this mission were two 4-H’ers from Monroe County, and two 4-H’ers from Lucas County.  
  • A market pig club was organized in the Sutherland area of O’Brien County in 1925 with 11 members.
  • 4-H made its roots in Plymouth County in the mid 1920s with around 25 clubs being organized in those first years.

View the full history on the blog, at

Over the next year, 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 project is close to halfway finished, with 38 of Iowa’s 100 county 4-H programs represented and many more histories in progress.

“We hope 4-H alumni and current members alike use this site as a living history of 4-H. We encourage 4-H members, alumni, volunteers, leaders and staff to add their comments and continue the history of 4-H, sharing the many facets of each county’s 4-H program,” Greving said. “Individuals also 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,


Other counties with histories posted: Audubon, Boone, Buena Vista, Cass, Cerro Gordo, Cherokee, Clay, Clayton, Davis, Decatur, Delaware, Dickinson, Dubuque, Hamilton, Harrison, Howard, Johnson, Keokuk, Kossuth, Lee, Marion, Page, Pocahontas, Polk, Poweshiek, Ringgold, Scott, Story, Taylor, Van Buren, Webster, Woodbury and Worth