Minnesota County Plans 4-H History Book

by Bill Svendsgaard, Former Hennepin County 4-H Agent.

For nearly 100 years, 4-H Youth Development has been conducted in Hennepin County. It is Minnesota’s most populous county, including Minneapolis, Bloomington, and Edina. It also includes many rural areas that have been rapidly becoming urbanized and throughout history, both these rural and urban communities have hosted community 4-H clubs and many other innovative 4-H delivery models. It needs to be formally documented. There currently exists no inclusive chronological and interpretive written account that captures its history.

There are many people still living who can account for much of its history, and now is the time to collect their stories and their boxed records. This proposed history project was first announced at the 2010 Hennepin County Fair. About 20 names were collected from past 4-H adult leaders who were excited to become a part of it by helping to recover past 4-H history memorabilia. One current 4-H leader, Florence Larson, a 4-H leader for nearly 40 years, has consented to take leadership in collecting, sorting, classifying and authenticating found literature. Her mother, Florence Gaulke, was also a 4-H leader for over 50 years, one of the first charter 4-H leaders in Hennepin County.

They have boxes of valuable 4-H history. One 4-H alum, Amy Scherer, currently also a 4-H leader, has volunteered to help write drafts for this history, using her computer skills. I will enjoy working with all of these people while serving as author of this history as they were all active in 4-H while I served them as their Hennepin County 4-H Agent or Extension Educator between the years of 1976 to 2002, a total of about 1/4 of its total history. I have kept boxes of records from the years I served, and salvaged Hennepin County Agricultural Extension Annual Reports for the years 1914-1937, now saved in my basement. Documents from all other years have been destroyed, but those saved will reflect the earliest years.

All history is cherished, but Hennepin County 4-H history encompasses so much transitional 4-H; from rural to urban, from early days to present, from traditional to innovative programming, from all-white to very diverse participants, and from piloting many national 4-H curricula and employing various staffing formats over the years.

The time line of this projct begins in March, 2011, with proposed completion within two years, culminating in a book with a possible title: “Hennepin County 4-H History, the First 100 Years.”

If your county has produced a 4-H history book, or is considering doing so, we would like to hear about it: write to: info@4-HHistoryPreservation.com


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