4-H and Radio: Early Days Growing Together

The following story is from the February 2014 issue of the 4-H History Preservation Newsletter

From National 4-H News, November, 1937, Page 20

When the National Committee on Boys’ and Girls’ Club Work (now National 4-H Council) was started in late 1921, it basically consisted of a staff of one person – Guy Noble – working at a “desk on loan” in the Chicago headquarters offices of the American Farm Bureau, with the assistance of a part-time secretary (also on loan). In addition to the overwhelming burden of raising funds in unchartered waters and, planning and managing the major national 4-H event, National 4-H Congress, Guy Noble also knew that it was critical to promote the concept of 4-H to broader audiences if it was to grow.

As early as 1922, before it was even a year old, the National Committee on Boys’ and Girls’ Club Work became a radio pioneer. Arrangements were made that year with the Westinghouse Radio Service of Chicago for news of Boys’ and Girls’ Club Work to be presented each Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6 PM. In 1922 there were only 30 radio stations in the country and a quarter million receiver sets scattered across the nation.

The decades of the 1920s and 1930s became a growth period for both radio and for 4-H together. At one point all the major radio networks were carrying 4-H radio programs. And, there was the National 4-H Music Hour on NBC which featured the United States Marine Corps Band and highlighted music appreciation for young people. The National 4-H News magazine carried a regular column of upcoming radio programs in their monthly publication.

David Sarnoff, president of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), and one of the corporate giants in the communications industry, partnered with 4-H. He became a board member of the National Committee on Boys’ and Girls’ Club Work and RCA would become a national sponsor, funding a new activity for 4-H Club leaders and members. It was the National Program on Social Progress which helped to train and encourage 4-H members and adults in their communities to make the community more pleasant and improve the quality of living. This included: being more “neighborly,” and more resourceful, as well as stressing more education and creative community social activities. The program placed heavy emphasis on using the radio for communications.
By the 1930s, many rural stations were hiring farm broadcasters; first to announce the grain and livestock markets each day, but then to support rural community activities and events. Four-H fit nicely into this pattern as well; with farm broadcasters becoming strong friends of 4-H. At the same time Extension at every level – federal, state and county – were embracing the use of radio. A decade later, by the end of the 40s, over half of the radio stations in the country were regularly carrying Extension programs, including much coverage of 4-H. The radio was playing in the house, the barn, the car; no longer a novelty, it was a part of our everyday lives.

A new segment on  4-H and Radio is on the National 4-H History section of the 4-H History Preservation website. We hope you enjoy it. Take a look at it at: http://4-Hhistorypreservation.com/history/Radio/. If you have comments about 4-H and radio please contact: Info@4-HHistoryPreservation.com.


 

 

4-H Beanie Babies – CLOVER the 4-H Bear (4-H Club Exclusive)


The following story is from the National Compendium of 4-H Promotion and Visibility on the National 4-H History website at

http://4-HHistoryPreservation.com/History/4-H_Promotion/


In 2004 through 2006, in keeping with the Beanie Babies craze which was sweeping across the collectors’ world, Ty Beanie Babies produced “Clover, the 4-H Bear” as a 4-H Exclusive, sold only through the 4-H Mall (not at retail stores) and as an internet exclusive.

The toy bear featured the bright green and white 4-H emblem on its chest and a matching green ribbon tied in a bow around its neck. A Ty paper tag is affixed to the left ear. Inside the tag reads: “Clover, Date of birth October 2, 2004, Heads together to think things through, Hands that will work hard for you, Healthy living that we share, Hearts that show how much we care.” The Beanie stands approximately 8 ½ inches tall. The bear was available in gold fur, white fur, and tan fur.

A separate Ty Beanie Babies project was Johnny the John Deere Bear,” which was also a 4-H exclusive. The emerald green fur bear had a yellow and green John Deere logo on its chest, and a yellow visor cap on its head with a green 4-H emblem on the front, and a matching yellow ribbon tied into a bow around its neck. It’s paper Ty tag in its left ear reads: “Johnny, Date of birth June 26th 2006, Everyone across the land, Work together hand in hand, Live well; love well; think things through, And you’ll succeed in what you do!”


 



 

4-H Novels Have a Popular History


The following story is from the National Compendium of 4-H Promotion and Visibility on the National 4-H History website at

http://4-HHistoryPreservation.com/History/4-H_Promotion/



4-H novels and children’s books may not be well known in today’s 4-H; however, starting in the 1920s and in every decade since then, new ones have appeared. Several dozen titles are documented and, at one time, Miss Gertrude Warren from the 4-H USDA office issued a listing of “approved” 4-H juvenile literature. While current research has not uncovered this listing, many of the titles are included in the “4-H Novels” segment of the “4-H books and printed archives” section of the National 4-H History Preservation website.







 

 

Universal Pictures Distributes 4-H Film, Tom Boy and the Champ


The following story is from the National Compendium of 4-H Promotion and Visibility on the National 4-H History website at

http://4-HHistoryPreservation.com/History/4-H_Promotion/


“Tom Boy and the Champ,” a 1961 Signal Pictures’ production and released by Universal International-Films, starred Candy Moore, Ben Johnson, Jesse White and Rex Allen.

Tommy Jo, a 13-year-old Texas ranch girl, wins a calf at the county fair and names him “Champy.” While training the animal, Tommy Jo gets caught in a storm and develops polio. With the help of her aunt and uncle and her parson, Tommy Jo learns to walk again and discovers that the secret of training Champy is to soothe him with music. She enters her pet – now grown – in the Houston Fat Stock Show, but loses when her radio breaks down and no music is available. The parson encourages her to persevere, and with the help of the local 4-H Club, Tommy Jo is able to enter Champy in the International Live Stock Exposition in Chicago. They win the grand championship when the parson sings a song to Champy. Tommy Jo’s happiness is short-lived, however, as she learns that all champions are auctioned off for beef. Unable to raise the $30,000 auction price, Tommy Jo has a relapse and is rushed to the hospital with pneumonia. Fred Anderson, a kindly meatpacker, saves Champy from the slaughterhouse and reunites him with Tommy Jo at the hospital. During the International Exposition segment, the film shows the National 4-H Congress parade in the Arena.

Advertised through National 4-H News, “the intriguing ‘feel good’ entertainment was produced in honor of 4-H Clubs across the country.”

Music from the film includes:

  • Get Ready with the Ribbon, Judge Written by Tommy Reynolds and William Lightfoot
  • Who Says Animals Don’t Cry Written by Tommy Reynolds and William Lightfoot
  • Barbecue Rock Written by Elsie Pierce Wilkes

The film is available in DVD format.




 



 

Twentieth Century-Fox Produces 4-H Film – Young America


The following story is from the National Compendium of 4-H Promotion and Visibility on the National 4-H History website at

http://4-HHistoryPreservation.com/History/4-H_Promotion/



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“Young America,” a Twentieth Century-Fox film produced in 1941, was dedicated by the studio to “the thousands of 4-H Club leaders throughout the country.” It was considered the first major motion picture ever produced portraying the objectives of Club work.

Another thing which made “Young America” special – the premiere showing was held during National 4-H Congress in December, 1941 (probably on December 2 or 3). Little did these 1,600 delegates know that four days later – before most of them even got home – the Empire of Japan would bomb Pearl Harbor, drawing the United States of America into the second world war. The January 1942 issue of National 4-H Club News, coming out less than a month later, carries a large feature on the premiere and the film, plus a full page advertisement for “Young America” carrying a “support the war effort” theme. (Bob Cornell, one of the film’s stars, had already joined the Army by this date.)

The feature film stars Jane Withers, Jane Darwell, William Tracy, Robert Cornell, Roman Bohnen and Ben Carter.

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While the movie follows a rather predictable script, 75 years ago the 4-H Congress delegates, 4-H leaders, and Extension at all levels loved it. Miss Gertrude Warren, from the 4-H Club office at USDA in Washington,, D.C. said, “We feel grateful to 20th Century-Fox for its fine portrayal of the ideals and objectives of the 4-H Club movement in ‘Young America,’ and know that it will be enthusiastically received throughout the country.”

Maynard H. Coe, chairman of the National Extension Committee on 4-H Club Work, sent a telegram to 4-H Congress which Wayne Thorndyke, national 4-H leadership winner, read to the delegates the day following the premiere. The telegram, addressed to Mis Jane Withers, stated that the 4-H members and leaders assembled at the 20th National 4-H Club Congress have today unanimously voted you a Special 4-H Award of Merit in recognition of the fine way you portrayed the ideals of the 4-H Club movement in “Young America.” It stimulates a feeling of pride for our heritage in a nation where youth is permitted to train itself in a truly democratic way in the skill and understanding needed to assume its responsibility in perfecting and preserving the American way of life. Miss Withers sent a telegram back to the delegates: “Please accept thanks from the bottom of my heart for the great honor you have conferred upon me. The 4-H Club means more to me than just a movie that I appeared in, and I will try always to be a credit to our club…”

Young_America_1942_TH[1]The “Young America” film’s story is about a spoiled city girl Jane Campbell (played by Jane Withers) who is furious when her widowed father sends her to the rural town of Button Willow Valley to live with her grandmother, Nora Campbell (played by Jane Darwell). Jane and her black servant, Abraham, loathe their new surroundings, and while Abraham copes with Nora’s helper, Pansy, Jane begins attending school. Jane’s arrogance drives away all potential friends except for young David Engstrom, who nominates her for membership in the local 4-H Club. Jane, who has never heard of 4-H, is unimpressed when she learns how it promotes agricultural skills and good citizenship. Jane declines membership but changes her mind upon discovering that handsome Jonathan Blake is the club’s president. Jane’s interest in Jonathan dismays quiet Elizabeth Barnes, who is in love with him.

Elizabeth’s weak-willed father tries to comfort her by promising to buy her a purebred Hereford calf for her 4-H state fair project, but he instead loses her money in a poker game held by shady entrepreneur Earl Tucker. When Barnes tells Earl about his dilemma, Earl obtains a mixed-breed calf, then forges papers certifying its lineage. Elizabeth is delighted with her calf, which she names “Royal Jonathan II,” and happily tends to him as the months pass. Jane also chooses a calf for her project and names it “King Blake the First.” Pansy and Abraham, who have struck up a quarrelsome friendship, know that Jane is interested in 4-H only as a means to ensnare Jonathan Blake in a romance, but Jonathan still courts Elizabeth. On the day of the fair, Jane has lunch with Earl, who intimates that she will win the contest because Elizabeth’s calf is not purebred. Jane refuses to believe him but promises to buy his tractor with her prize money if she wins. Elizabeth wins, but Earl, desperate for the money, sends a telegram to the judges challenging Royal Jonathan’s lineage. The calf’s phony papers are exposed and Jane is declared the winner, but she is horrified by the proceedings, as Earl signed her name to the telegram. Barnes confesses all to his daughter, who protects him by refusing to explain the situation to the 4-H officials. Soon after, Elizabeth is suspended from the club, while Jane is ostracized by the other members for getting Elizabeth in trouble. Jonathan stands by Elizabeth, and the despondent Jane decides to return to the city. Before leaving, she sends Abraham to Earl’s office to pay a bill, and while there, Abraham overhears two government agents question Earl about a man who is wanted for draft evasion. Abraham also overhears when a drunken Barnes tells Earl that he wants to reveal the truth about Elizabeth’s calf. Abraham repeats the information to Jane, who captures the fleeing Earl and forces him to write a confession admitting full responsibility for the forged papers. The government agents then apprehend Earl, who is the draft dodger. Soon after, Elizabeth represents the club at a national 4-H meeting held in Washington, D.C., and says a fond hello to Jane and her fellow 4-H members during a radio broadcast.

“Young America” was released nationwide in early 1942. [Note: There are at least three other films produced over the years with this same title “Young America,” one as early as 1897. When searching for information on this film, be sure to include the date 1942.]

 



 

Living in a Nuclear Age


The following story is from the National Compendium of 4-H Promotion and Visibility on the National 4-H History website at

http://4-HHistoryPreservation.com/History/4-H_Promotion/




Nuclear_Age_Tri-Fold[1]“Living in a Nuclear Age” was the first national 4-H television series designed specifically for youth in their teens. It became available early in 1973. The high energy six half-hour shows featured animated cartoon characters and the atomic sounds of Herbie Mann, Ray Brown and Barney Kessel (Columbia Studios, Hollywood) in original music compositions such as “Neutron Analytics,” “Pieces of Atoms,” and “Isotope Walk.” The animated character “Ion” was voiced by Mel Blanc (also the voice of Bugs Bunny).

The series was designed to explore not only the scientific information but the problems resulting from our move into the “Nuclear Age.” The show titles included: Discovering the Atom, Power from the Atom, Radioisotopes, Nuclear Energy and Living Things, Society and Things Nuclear, and Bombarding Things. A members’ manual and leaders’ guide accompanied the series along with other supportive materials.


The series was planned and designed by the National 4-H TV Development Committee on Civil Defense, and The Kansas State University Development Committee. Films were produced by Extension Film Production, Kansas State University and promotional materials by KSU Extension Service. The film crew traveled to many sections of the country shooting the series, including the Atomic Energy Research Labs of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The series was distributed by the National 4-H Service Committee, Chicago. The series fit well with the school system’s curriculum relating to atomic energy and also supported the growing national energy crisis, however never reached the viewership numbers of the earlier 4-H nutrition series, Mulligan Stew.

A more thorough history of the Living in a Nuclear Age series can be found on the 4-H History website in the segment on National 4-H Television Series in the National 4-H History Section.


 

 

“Greatest Jockey” started Out in 4-H


The following story is from the National Compendium of 4-H Promotion and Visibility on the National 4-H History website at

http://4-HHistoryPreservation.com/History/4-H_Promotion/


SI_19770307_Cauthen[1]

Like many other kids, when Steve Cauthen turned nine years old he joined the local 4-H club. He and his family lived on a small 40-acre horse farm in the small Kentucky town of Walton. His main 4-H project was horses, showing at 4-H exhibitions and placing in the top three each year. He stayed in 4-H until he was 16 and then, being small in stature, he started racing. Cauthen’s first race was at Churchill Downs in May, 1976; he came in last. A week later he came in first. His rise to prominence was meteoric. He was the nation’s leader in horserace wins in 1977 with 487. His riding excellence was widely recognized: Steve was Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, Sporting News Sportsman of the Year, and Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year.

Even the December, 1977 issue of National 4-H News featured Cauthen on its cover. The editor had traveled from Chicago out to New York to interview the young 17-year-old at the race track. In the 4-H News interview, Steve says that “4-H has been a part of my learning. The thing I can say for it is that it helped me see how groups work together. My friends were in 4-H and we did things together. We had duties and responsibilities in the club.” When asked what advice he could pass on to others his own age, the young man stated, “When you find something you want to do, nothing’s going to stop you from doing it, if you want to do it bad enough. It’s just important that you do your best at all times. That’s one thing I try to do. Whenever I do anything, I try to do the best I’m able. I work hard at whatever it is I do. Not just riding, but also just being a nice guy. I try to do my best. All through my career I’ve had good people around me. I’ve had my parents behind me all the way. You know, I’ve been lucky.”

Apparently, luck stayed with Steve Cauthen. The next year, 1978, “The Kid,” as he was affectionately known, won the Triple Crown riding on ‘Affirmed.’ Since 1978, no other horse has won the Triple Crown for 37 years until American Pharoah, with Victor Espinoza as jockey, won the cherished Triple Crown in 2015.

Steve Cauthen’s success story… and the role that 4-H played, is certainly noteworthy.


 

 

The National 4-H Club Song Book


The following story is from the National Compendium of 4-H Promotion and Visibility on the National 4-H History website at

http://4-HHistoryPreservation.com/History/4-H_Promotion/


Cover_4-H_Song_Book_1929[1]

If the gate sign “4-H Club Member Lives Here” was one of the most popular items offered through the National 4-H Supply Service, the National 4-H Club Song Book was in that same category. 4-H songs had traditionally been offered through the annual 4-H Handy Books issued by the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work since the mid-1920s, however only included the words to the songs. Now, in 1929, the National Committee issued the first National 4-H Song Book that also included the music to the songs as well as a much broader selection.

4-H songs in this first edition included: Dreaming, Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs for Me, Bring the Good Old 4-H Sign, Club Work, Conference Song, The Country’s Faith, A Plowing Song, The 4-H Clover, 4-H Clubs for All, 4-H Will Shine, Greeting Song, Hail! Hail! The Clubs All Here, O Me! O My!, Parting Song, Song of Health, and Speed Away. A variety of other songs popular with 4-H groups were also included: Abide with Me, All Through the Night, Anvil Chorus, Billy Boy, The Boll-Weevil, All God’s Chillun Got Wings, Day is Dying in the West, Dixie, Dogie Song, Follow the Gleam, Levee Song, Oh Susanna, Old Dog Tray, and Old Zip Coon plus others. The song book was comprised of 64 pages and was an immediate hit. Through the decades several editions of the National 4-H Club Song Book were published, each just a bit better than the previous one, but probably none topped the enthusiasm of members and leaders that was garnered by that first 1929 edition.

 



 

Clean-Ups, Gardens and Earth Day

The following story is from the April 2016 issue of the 4-H History Preservation Newsletter


We’ve been celebrating Earth Day on April 22 for 46 years. For the early “Soldiers of the Soil”, April meant preparing for the growing season. The March-April 1919 magazine had many articles about the gardens and crops grown by 4-H members.

Champion tomato grower Corlis Stanbaugh of Ashland, Nebraska, was pictured in her garden holding a basket of her tomatoes. “I enjoy working in my garden and intend to have a better one next year.”

This issue also noted the meeting in March of state club leaders, assistants and some county leaders, and national leaders in Kansas City. Thirty-three northern and western states were represented. The article stated that 21,845 club projects were organized in 1918 involving 529,723 members. The value of food, feed, garment-making, handicraft and others was $6,019,092.06 produced at a cost of $2,447,313.54. They reported that 2,000,000 members were enrolled for 1919, so even larger outcomes were expected.

Raymond_Search_Garden

Hands-on History

Growing gardens and crops has certainly changed since 1919. If you have club members who are growing crops or gardens, ask them to talk about what they’re planning to grow this season. Talk about what modern changes there have been in seed and plant varieties, planting methods, tools and equipment.

For a service project, your group can plan and then plant a garden. There may be a school that could have a vegetable garden as a project for students and source of fresh vegetables to serve in the cafeteria. You may find a space in your community or at your fairgrounds that would be perfect for a flower garden – try to plant some pollinator-attracting plants for bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Perhaps there’s an existing garden at a senior center or other site that could use some fixing up. Or, you might be able to do exactly like Raymond Search did; find a vacant lot that is littered with trash. You could also clean it up and plant a garden to help feed those less fortunate than your group. These would be great projects for Earth Day, too!

 



 

4-H Club Members in Spokane, Washington Become Radio Pioneers


The following story is from the National Compendium of 4-H Promotion and Visibility on the National 4-H History website at

http://4-HHistoryPreservation.com/History/4-H_Promotion/


Club members from the Sunset community, Spokane County, Washington, organized the first radio club in the state with Claude Senge local leader. The Sunset Radio Club was composed of 12 members including Jack Adams, Gordon Brown, Helen Brown, Edward Gassman, Maude Hamilton, Halbert Hewett, Elsie Johnson, Jack Stainer, Harold Stoll, Martin Tuttle, and Mark Wells.

In writing about the club in the September 1922 issue of Farm Boys and Girls Leader, Mr. Senge states: “Some people think we can’t make a success of the club, but I believe that it can be put over all right. Although the club may not be a money making proposition at present, we will be able to get farm reports, weather reports and news out to our community.”

1922 seemed to be a key year for getting radio on its feet. A station in Atlanta in March of that year became the first radio station in the entire South. Operated by the Atlanta Journal, it was the first station in America to adopt a slogan – “The Voice of the South.” Station WEAF in New York City broadcasted the first radio commercial in 1922… starting the birth of commercial radio.

A complete section on the National 4-H History Preservation website is devoted to 4-H and Radio… Early Days, Growing Up Together, located at http://4-HHistoryPreservation.com/History/Radio/