Folks Who Helped Make 4-H Great:
Gertrude Warren

This is the eighth in the series of 10 articles, reprinted from 1962 National 4-H News, which featured people identified by Extension Service professional staff members as “folks who helped make 4-H great.”

Gertrude Warren

Gertrude_Warren“Guardian Angel of 4-H.” That’s what one Extension veteran has called Miss Gertrude L. Warren, one of the earliest 4-H workers still active in the service of club work.

A review of the contributions this fine lady of 4-H has made to present-day club work quickly justifies the title.

Among her contributions, the greatest in subject matter is undoubtedly the broadening of girls’ 4-H work. Canning was the only national home economics project when Miss Warren came to 4-H in 1917. Today’s program includes clothing, room improvement and many others. These projects help more fully to meet the needs of 4-H members and their homes and communities.

Not only did Miss Warren introduce the new projects into the 4-H picture; she also had to prepare much of the written material for them. That was necessary then in order to get material to 4-H girls which was written at their own level. Since then, Extension home economics specialists in each state have produced 4-H literature. Miss Warren’s influence and insistence helped effect this change.

Only part of the picture of this early 4-H worker’s service is portrayed, though, by her work in home economics. She led major advances in many phases of 4-H. The following are only a few:

  • Wrote the first bulletin on training local volunteer 4-H Club leaders.
  • Led in the development of the team demonstration as a means of showing what had been learned in 4-H Club work.
  • Authorized a basic bulletin on “Organization of 4-H Club Work for Use of Local Leaders,” later translated into several other languages for use in foreign youth programs. She also devoted much time to training local leaders in early years.
  • Worked with T. A. Erickson to create National 4-H Sunday and wrote a bulletin on the Heart H.
  • Led in the establishment of the National 4-H Club Foundation and in selecting a site for the National 4-H Center in Washington, D. C. (One of the main buildings at the Center is named Warren Hall in her honor.)
  • Persisted in urging the use of the term “4-H” to replace the earlier title “Boys and Girls Club Work” by which the program was known until the early 1920’s. She also took leadership in having the 4-H emblem copyrighted.
  • Helped plan and initiate the National 4-H Club Camps which included housing in tents in the shadow of the Washington Monument in 1927 and following years. Now, as the National 4-H Conference, this annual event takes place at the 4-H Center.
  • Conceived the plan in the early 1930’s for the 4-H fellowships which provide a year’s study grant for promising 4-H workers to train at the U. S. Department of Agriculture and at nearby universities.
  • Contributed articles on 4-H Club work to various publications, including the Encyclopedia Britannica and others.
  • Not only led in the initiation of National 4-H Club Week but wrote material on the observance of this annual event.
  • anticipated in many conferences and on many committees in Extension, youth and farm home activities.

Brought up on a New York farm, Miss Warren went into home economics teaching while still a student at Columbia University. She went against the advice of many friends when she went into Extension work a year after her graduation in 1917. She was leaving a promising career in an established field to move into the unknown area of 4-H Club work.

After 35 years of service, she retired in December, 1952, and has continued active ever since in 4-H affairs. She is still the guardian angel of 4-H, always ready to combat those who would exploit


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