Did you know that there is a rustic garden at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center where small groups can hold a quiet meeting or closing ceremony? The “Daddy Jenks” Meditation Area was dedicated on Audust 30, 1959 by the Maryland Chapter, 4-H Club All Stars. The area is known by many names: Jenkins’ Park, Jenkins’ Nature Area, Jenks Garden or Daddy Jenks Woods. The name doesn’t matter. The stone walk leading from the back parking lot at the 4-H Center is short… a matter of just a few steps, but places you in the midst of tall trees and solitude, a wonderful place to come and clear your mind on a hectic day.
Edward Garfield “Daddy Jenks” Jenkins was born on June 18, 1873 in Prompton, PA. As a young boy, he gave himself his middle name of Garfield after his favorite President. As a man, he was given the Indian name meaning “a little man with a big, tender heart.” “Daddy Jenks” was called to Washington during World War I to be the Asst. Director of the Boys Working Reserve in the Labor Department. He went all over the country mobilizing young people to help on farms, producing food and fiber for war production. In 1919 he became the Maryland Boys’ 4-H Club Leader, where he remained until his retirement in 1943. Jenkins, Mylo Downey and Dorothy Emerson (past Maryland 4-H State Leaders) are acknowledged as the foundation for the Maryland 4-H Program.
“Daddy Jenks” worked closely with William Kendrick, West Virginia State Boys’ Club Agent who had started a chapter of 4-H All Stars. Jenkins invited West Virginia 4-H All Stars to establish the Maryland chapter in 1921 with 12 charter members. He commented: “I have always felt the outstanding 4-H All Stars are those who are endowed with the power of love, consecration, patience, and deeper understanding.” Today, several thousand active All Stars work in service to 4-H across the state. The Maryland 4-H All Stars presented a memorial garden at the National 4-H Center to recognize and honor this gentle man. “Daddy Jenks” left a remarkable legacy of service through his years of dedication and accomplishment.
Quote: “Daddy Jenks” was a warm and compassionate 4-H leader as evidenced by this except from a letter he wrote in 1940 to the Maryland delegates attending National 4-H Camp, “Joyful days are ahead for those who learn the great truth that ‘The only thing you really have is what you give away.’ I beg of you, my friends, face the new days with chin up, eyes front, singing on your new roads, sure in heart and soul that this highway is the safe way.”