Cherished Charters

by Sue Benedetti

(This article first appeared in the August/September 2017 4-H History Newsletter.)

They stand among the most cherished, if not THE most cherished, possessions of many a 4-H Club. In fact, 4-H Clubs have been known to request new ones if their original became damaged or lost. Many 4-H Clubs feel that, yes, charters are THAT important. After all, we are talking about the 4-H Club’s very own “USDA 4-H National Headquarters-issued” 4-H Club Charter signed by the Secretary of Agriculture! If your 4-H Club has one, you know what I’m talking about!

If the one your 4-H club has is one of the first charters issued back in the day, you probably have it framed and hanging on the wall looking sort of like this:

Now today, each state approaches the idea of “the 4-H Club” slightly differently from each other state. There are in-school clubs, after-school clubs, community clubs, general clubs, SPIN clubs, pen-pal clubs, project clubs, and so forth. We find this to be a strength today. It was that way in the beginning, too, but when it all started, such diversity in club work models was seen then as a problem.

It works today only because of the lessons we learned “back then.” Back then, everyone was doing “their own thing” and such a lack of standardization had widely varying results. Extension leaders wanted to standardize the club work format to increase the educational impact nationally.

To that end, national 4-H Club Standards were developed in 1918. Under these standards, four requirements were suggested to define groups as “official” youth work clubs: 1. A minimum of five members working on a similar project, 2. The presence of an adult local leader, 3. Democratically elected appropriate officers, and 4. The existence of a plan, or program of work, for the year.

Shortly thereafter, probably early 1919, the Extension Service, USDA, started issuing charters to groups that met the four requirements. These charters, although not dated, were signed by the State Club Leader, the State Extension Director, and the Secretary of Agriculture. Then, if the club continued to meet these standards, and met the following additional accomplishments, the club would receive a National Seal of Achievement to be affixed to their charter annually.
• Hold at least six meetings during the year;
• Present an annual exhibit;
• Have a team that performs at least one public demonstration program in the community;
• Attain a 60% project completion rate; and
• Hold an achievement day program.
Some clubs received their initial Seal with their first charter.

“Hold on a second,” you may be saying, “We have a 4-H Club Charter and it even has Achievement Seals but it sure doesn’t look like THAT!” Not to worry, the style of the charters changed over time. The first charters were issued probably in 1919. If you have one of these, the Secretary of Agriculture who signed it was David F Houston. Now if yours is anything like the “Houston Charter” shown above, you can barely read the signature. Houston was Agriculture Secretary 1913 – 1920. If it is signed by Edwin T. Meredith, it dates to 1920-21, when he served. Next came Henry Cantwell Wallace who was Secretary of Agriculture from 1921 to 1923. Now be sure the middle initial is a “C”. If it is an “A” it is his son, Henry Agard Wallace. He served as Secretary 1933-1940.

The first style changes weren’t big. In fact, the charters grew smaller, about 20% smaller! It seems that happened around 1925. Another change seems to have happened after WWII when charters started looking like this:

This particular charter is an example of a “replacement charter”. It is dated 1932 but sure doesn’t look like a charter from 1932! In fact, this club’s original charter was lost when their meeting place, the local fire hall, was remodeled. So, upon the club’s request, this one was issued as a replacement around 1957.

Then the “happening” 1960’s decade happened and the “look” of the charters changed again around 1970. The one pictured here was issued in 1972. Seems each time the “look” changed, they added a signature! The ’50s version is signed by the Federal Extension Service Administrator in addition to the three others. The 1970s version added the Assistant Federal Administrator for 4-H making FIVE signatures.

Charters are still issued to 4-H Clubs today. The 4-H National Headquarters provides a digital charter template that state 4-H program leaders download to complete and issue.
Tell us about YOUR 4-H Club’s charter. It’ll make good reading and might even help us fill in the timeline a bit more. We’re approaching the 100th birthday of National 4-H Charters and would like every state to help us tell this history correctly. Write to:

70 Years Ago in 4-H History: National 4-H Calendar Program Begins Calendars and Helps Build National 4-H Center

Calendars Helped Build National 4-H Center

The 4-H program enjoys a “national home” and focus of its citizenship education right outside of Washington, DC, the center of our country’s democracy. 4-H’ers themselves contributed money to this proposed center but, also, revenue from the National 4-H Calendar Program helped significantly to bring that dream to fruition.

1949 National 4-H Calendar produced by Brown & Bigelow Co.

Long ago, when calendars were first sold to local businesses for advertisement, 4-H was approached by national calendar companies to appear on calendars, and the six-decade National 4-H Calendar Program began. For use of the 4-H name and emblem, companies paid a 10% royalty on sales of 4-H calendars to be used for the development of the National 4-H Center. During the first decade, between 1949 and 1959, $377,000. was made available for the rebuilding and maintenance of the 4-H Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

The program was announced in 1947 with approval of the Committee on Organization and Policy of the Land-Grant Colleges and State directors of Extension (ECOP), to be conducted with the cooperation of the National Committee on Boys’ and Girls’ Club Work of Chicago. In addition to helping purchase and develop the National 4-H Club Center, the production of a calendar would:

  • Gain prestige for the 4-H movement;
  • Bring 4-H activities to the attention of the general public;
  • Increase membership through a widened knowledge of what 4-H Clubs do; and
  • Establish a royalty fund to assist in further development of the 4-H program.
1949 National 4-H Calendar by Thos.D. Murphy Co.

The earliest 4-H calendars were actually produced in the late 1930s and early 1940s by the Thos. D. Murphy company of Red Oak, Iowa. However, when calendars became more popular after the war, Brown & Bigelow company of St. Paul, Minnesota, was also approved to produce and sell 4-H calendars. However, the first national 4-H calendars didn’t appear in the public until 1949 because of the production, sales and shipping time required, including:

  • Year one – subject chosen and artist paints illustration for calendar;
  • Year two – calendar is advertised to local businesses across country, orders taken and requisite numbers of calendars printed and shipped to each buyer with their name on it; and
  • Year three – calendars are presented to local businesses who purchased the calendars as gifts to their customers.

The Brown & Bigelow 4-H calendars had a circulation of nearly a half million the first year and combined calendar sales exceeding a million and a half by the second year. The first year’s royalties were over $25,000.

In addition to Brown & Bigelow and the Murphy Company, other calendar companies joined the National 4-H Calendar Program producing different annual calendars in their respective print shops. Shaw-Barton, Inc., Coshocton, Ohio, was authorized to manufacture 4-H calendars on April 15, 1948; Gerlach-Barklow Co., Joliet, Illinois, authorized on July 23, 1946; Gettier-Montanye, Inc., Glyndon, Maryland, authorized on February 3, 1947; and Custom-Cal Co., Atlanta, Georgia, authorized on December 17, 1954.

You can learn more about the program and view all of the images that we have found in the updated website section at:

We are always looking for more images of these historic calendars, so if you have one or know someone who has one, please let us know at: .

Next time you visit the National 4-H Conference Center, check the Heritage Hallway to see the original pieces of art; truly pieces of Americana. As you walk that Hallway, recall that those national 4-H calendars helped build the “national home” of 4-H.


Please help us preserve 4-H History . . .

History Preservation Newsletter
May/June 2016


Summer is officially here and 4-H history is being made every day.

This is the season traditionally ultra-busy for 4-H’ers, and so it has been whether members were from 1916 or 2016. Your 4-H History Preservation Program is here to share some of the experiences of those 1916 (and earlier or later) 4-H’ers.

Another of the “Greats”

Thomas E. Wilson started promoting 4-H in 1918, used the International Livestock Show to reward young 4-H members, and basically started National 4-H Congress. His 1962 profile is here.

4-H Academy Awards

A two-time Academy Award winning star has been a big fan of 4-H for years. First, guess the actor, then guess the 4-H content area that drew his attention.

4-H History Map

It just keeps growing and growing with your continued local 4-H input! Hopefully, your local sites are already on there. But can you pass the 4-H History Map Quiz?


The 4-H – Peace Corps Link

Lots of folks say 4-H started Peace Corps, but that is probably still an open question. Can you identify the countries in South America where 4-H Peace Corps began?

Girls’ 4-H Uniforms = Pants?

It started the same year that the 4-H pledge and the 4-H motto were officially authorized. Do you know where? And when?

Please enjoy our summer issue.

4-H Centenarian is Still Making News

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

M_A_Miller_w-BookYou may have seen the Story in USA Today late last month about a 4-H alumna who participated with her students of 57 years ago to tell about the first day they were involved in the integration of the first white school in Virginia. We decided that Women’s History Month was a perfect time to tell our readers a little more about this former 4-H’er and her experiences.

Even though she has lived about 10 miles from the National 4-H Youth Conference Center, her busy life had kept her away. Her 4-H visit to Washington, DC, preceded the establishment of the National Center and even the first National 4-H Camp on the mall. However, she remembers her trip here as if it were yesterday. Her first trip to the National 4-H Center was a memorable one for all of us who met her.

Martha Ann Riggs went to Washington, DC, as one 12 “Corn Champions” from Indiana according to a 90-year-old newspaper clipping from the Evansville Courier that she showed me recently. And guess who was in the photo with her? Well, who else but President Coolidge and the other 11 Indiana 4-H Champions who had won their trips in many other fields besides Corn. Miss Riggs, now 104-year-old Martha Ann Miller of Arlington, Virginia, was the State Baking Champion and the youngest member of the delegation (at 14) by several years.

But the interesting story about this “young woman” doesn’t end there. Not only did she receive a trip to Washington DC, she also was awarded a four-year scholarship to Purdue University (the first home economics scholarship ever given to a 4-H’er in Indiana) as a result of baking the best loaf of bread from among thousands of young 4-H’ers in her state. She went on to tell me, “I had quite an impressive summer that year. Since we also had hired help on the farm for the season, I did a lot more baking than usual. I had made 1,200 biscuits, 600 loaves of bread, and more than 500 pies, in addition to cakes, cookies and other treats.” Luckily for her, Purdue held the scholarship for her for five years until she finished high school.

When asked what she regards as the most significant event in her life, she doesn’t hesitate to say that it was winning that 4-H scholarship for four years of college. Since she had two brothers, and was a Depression Era farmer’s daughter, she says that she would not have had a chance to go to college at all without that scholarship.

This story may sound similar to many stories we’ve heard about 4-H’ers today or in years past, and like many other 4-H stories, Martha Ann’s continues to amaze. The reason I was alerted to find and meet this woman is that at age 101 she decided to write her first book. She says, “I never dreamed of writing a book until I found myself telling about events of the past that were exciting, full of history and unique.” When I last spoke to her she was talking about writing a book about her husband next because he was a very interesting man and did a lot of good things for his community.

Based on our earlier conversations, I wasn’t at all surprised to see Martha Ann written up as a part of a panel discussion on school integration in USA Today just last week. Here is the link to that article:

Miller was involved in education all of her adult life. Her first job out of college was working for the gas and light company as a home economist. She says, “I worked with about eight other women and we would go to every home when they bought a new stove. We would show them how to adjust the flame and gave them a cookbook. I was using my training from college; that’s why I was hired.” Once she was married and had a family, she and her husband became involved in working for better schools where they lived in Arlington County, Virginia, through organizing and volunteering with the Citizens’ Committee for School Improvement. Their work paid off in that schools in that county are still some of the best in the nation today. Sounds a lot like the new theme: “4-H Grows True Leaders.”
After her children were all in a good public school environment, Martha Ann pursued her professional calling as a junior high home economics teacher. She says her Purdue University home economics qualifications led to a 21 year teaching career in that school. However, after one year, the state made science a mandatory subject for 8th graders, which meant that one subject had to go: home economics. Luckily, Martha Ann had taken night classes to be certified as a math Teacher since she had found difficulty earlier in finding openings for home economics teachers. So, she was able to move into that position where she stayed for the next 20 years.

How can one put such a fully-lived and productive life into a few short sentences? Since it’s not possible, here’s the information about her book so that you can read it for yourself. The First Century, And Not Ready for the Rocking Chair Yet, Amazon, by Martha Ann Miller.


Please help us preserve 4-H History . . .

It’s a Great Year for 4-H Calendar Art!

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

The National 4-H History Preservation team is delighted to announce that already this year not one or two, but three pieces of original calendar art were found by 4-H Staff. In the seven years since we started working to preserve national 4-H history, only one other National Calendar painting outside of the 4-H Center had been discovered, purchased and presented to the National 4-H Council for the permanent collection.

The first two of this year’s discoveries were made by Allen Auck, Ohio State 4-H Staff. The third was found by Jim Kahler, National History Preservation Team. (Incidentally, he’s the person who found, bought and donated the only other one in the history of our team’s work!)

You Can be a Calendar Art Detective and join these two to help “bring back the 4-H Art. Please be on the lookout for published calendars and original art to help document this rich visual history of 4-H.
Some of the best places to look are antique shows and malls, internet art sales and even flea markets and farm sales. We are not only looking for the original art but also copies of any and all published 4-H calendars.

The national 4-H calendar program was originally authorized in 1937 but the first calendars that we have seen are from 1942. The last known 4-H calendar produced by a company is from 1991. We would like to have an image of every calendar printed between 1939 and 1991.

All three of the “new” art pieces were painted by James E. Seward for the Shaw-Barton Calendar Company of Coshocton, Ohio. At this time, we believe that he created at least 18 National 4-H Calendar paintings beginning with the 1970 calendar and going up through 1987 and possibly longer.


Seward also was one of 100 artists from around the country picked for the National Arts in the Parks Competition. He was also commissioned for portraitures by many organizations. His paintings grace the walls of such companies as the General Motors Corporation, the Wells Fargo Bank, The McDonald Investment Company, and the Will Rogers Museum in Oklahoma.

Remember, we’re looking for both original art and printed calendars to fill in the blank spaces in the archives of the National 4-H Calendar program. The calendar itself, a photograph or a scan of any calendar with the 4-H Clover on it will help us document what calendar company produced it and what year it was released. For some paintings we are missing records of the year or title or the name of the artist. Having a copy of the printed calendar itself would give us that information. Right now we have two pieces of original art and six photographs of 4-H calendar art but we don’t know the year, the title of the image or – in some cases – which calendar company produced them.

You can learn more details about the National 4-H Calendar Program and what records we have found on your 4-H History website at


Please help us preserve 4-H History . . .

National 4-H Poster Program


National 4-H posters were popular visibility tools in 4-H for decades. The first national poster was created as a sales item by the National Committee on Boys’ and Girls’ Club Work in 1924, a year before the National 4-H Supply Service was even launched. It showed a large 4-H clover emblem with the words, “We are for Boys’ and Girls’ Club Work.” It was suggested by Gertrude Warren, 4-H/Extension Service, USDA.

Throughout the rest of the decade of the 1920s, the National Committee on Boys’ and Girls’ Club Work produced annual posters which were distributed throughout the Extension System and to donors, and then offered for sale through the Supply Service. The last of this series apparently was the poster issued in 1931. Due to the Depression, no new posters were issued until after World War II. There were, however, a couple of wartime 4-H posters produced and offered through the National 4-H Supply Service.

In 1946, Coats & Clark Inc. (J. & P. Coats and Clark), which had been sponsoring the National 4-H Clothing Awards Program since 1941, began sponsoring the National 4-H Poster Program, too. Working with the 4-H Office, Extension, USDA and National 4-H Service Committee’s information staff, Coats & Clark annually produced and distributed (for free) the national 4-H poster; later, they also provided the poster design as a colored slide. The poster distribution was geared to having the posters distributed in time for use during National 4-H Week.

Following many years of providing 4-H leaders and agents with free posters by simply writing their headquarters, in the late 1960s Coats & Clark started offering the posters for a fee – 5 cents each (order in multiples of 20). They were available from the county agent or state
4-H office, not from Coats & Clark.

Many of the annual poster artwork pieces were painted by the famous artist, William C. Griffith, who also was the artist for about 15 of the historic 4-H calendar art pieces.


National 4-H Poster Art Exhibit, created by Mrs. Fern Kelley, program leader, 4-H, Extension USDA, confirmed that the 4-H Poster Art Program, which was held for the first time in 1970 was such a tremendous success that it would be continued again in 1971. It was her idea that 4-H Members should have a role in creating their National Poster

According to Sue Benedetti, then 4-H Extension, USDA, who coordinated the program in the early 1970s, more than 1,350 original posters were submitted by 4-H members, as well as clubs, in the first year of the program. The posters were judged by delegates to National 4-H Conference during sessions on 4-H image. In 1971, a change in the program made it possible for posters to be judged at local, county and state levels with a highly selective group being sent to Washington for final national judging.

By the mid-1970s, delegates to National 4-H Congress were asked to suggest theme areas for 1976 posters. An article in the Fall 1978 issue of National 4-H Council Quarterly reports that the 4-H Poster Art Program continues to grow – that a recent survey conducted by National 4-H Council showed that 47 states were participating in the program, accounting for over 130,000 4-H members submitting posters that could eventually become the design for the national 4-H poster.

It is believed that the National 4-H Poster Program was disbanded in the early 1980s. Some of the original national poster art is located at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center. A complete history of the National 4-H Poster Program can be found in the National 4-H History section of the 4-H History website


A nearly complete set of the posters from 1946 through 1981 is also a part of the Elsie Carper Special Collection at the National Agriculture library

The only poster missing is the one pictured below in this advertisement in the February 1953 National 4-H News. If you have seen or own a copy of this poster we would appreciate hearing from you at We are eager to complete this national collection and the historical records.

African American 4-H in Black History Month

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

The story of Black History Month began in 1915, 50 years after slavery was abolished in the United States (and one year after the passage of the Smith-Lever Act). In 1926 the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) sponsored a “National Negro History Week.” The second week of February was selected to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976. (Excerpted from )

The National 4-H History team continues to build the repository of historically significant resources that document the history of African American 4-H programs.

Did you know?

In North Carolina club work for African American youth began in 1914 with the organization of a group in Sampson County under the leadership of G. W. Herring. Participation grew steadily and by 1945 African American youth participation in North Carolina 4-H exceeded 29,000. “…the 4-H Club Foundation of North Carolina was founded in 1950 in order to raise money for the establishment of a camp for African American boys and girls.” (History of 4-H in North Carolina, NCSU Libraries, NC State University )

West Virginia initiated “camp-outs” in the 1920s for African American youth and had the first African American State 4-H Camp (Camp Washington-Carver), as well as many segregated county camps. Learn about the beginnings of this camp at:

4-H’ers from 11 Southern States participated in the American Negro Exposition held in Chicago in the summer of 1940 to celebrate “the 75th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the achievements of African Americans.” Extension had a prominent spot for the duration of the exposition with 4-H members giving demonstrations on projects and skills they were learning including sewing, canning, raising chickens and hogs, and peanut farming.

(4-H History Preservation Website )

In 1965 black 4-H’ers in South Carolina “attended the State 4-H Club Week at Clemson University, the National 4-H Conference in Washington, DC, and the National 4-H Congress in Chicago with white 4-H’ers from South Carolina for the first time.” Passage of the Civil Rights Act brought changes to 4-H but not without challenges. When separate programs were eliminated, some programs were discontinued until adjustments could be made. (From The History of South Carolina Cooperative Extension Service by Clyde E. Woodall, )

The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (founders of Black History Month) has selected Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories as the theme for this year’s celebration of Black History Month. It is to bring attention to the centennial celebration of the National Park Service and the more than twenty-five historical sites and the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom that are part of America’s hallowed grounds, including the home of the father of black history, Dr. Carter G. Woodson.

You can map significant people, places, and events that help to tell the story of African American 4-H programs in your state by participating in the 4-H History Map Project at and by getting involved in “Voices of 4-H History” at


Please help us preserve 4-H History . . .

4-H History at 2015 NAE4-HA Conference

The following story is from the November 2015 issue of the 4-H History Preservation Newsletter

4-H History was a prominent part of the exhibit area during the National 4-H Agents’ Association meeting last month in Portland, Oregon. Not only were we busy talking with people in our booth but throughout the exhibit hall with invitations and buttons being handed out as well as several cooperative efforts.


A team of volunteers helped staff both the 4-H History Preservation Program booth and the Esri booth to recruit nominators for the National 4-H History Interactive Map. Nearly a hundred new sites were nominated at the conference by filling out forms and adding green pins for the new Points of Interest on the map in the history booth.

Calendar_PostcardsMany lined up to give donations to receive a set of the six newly-printed historical 4-H calendar art post cards which will soon be available for sale on the 4-H Mall. Others signed up to receive the newsletter and the online News Service, more information about the mapping and oral history projects and to offer historic publications and audio-visual materials for digitizing.

So many amazing stories were being told that we couldn’t keep track of them all. How could we make sure we didn’t lose these stories next year? Esther Worker of Esri suggested that we talk to next year’s conference planners. They are now exploring a sound booth for taping oral histories at next year’s NAE4-HA conference in New Orleans.

One of the most rewarding aspects of this year’s conference were the many people who came by just to say hello, and to tell us that they enjoy using the website and newsletter in their programs. In fact, one of our readers (and newsletter contributor, Jenny Morlock, Ohio) invited us to see her entry in the poster sessions which was inspired by our asking her to share her story about their local 4-H history room in an article we carried in the April 2015 issue of this Newsletter. She used the newsletter as one of her handouts in the display.


We were also pleased to be a part of the newly organized 4-H History Committee discussion on how we can work together with NAE4-HA to better use and share all 4-H History resources for the common good. Kudos to Betty Gottler, NAE4-HA Historian for organizing and leading that effort! Last but not least, during one of the busy times at our exhibit a green character came dancing up the aisle. Sue Benedetti went out to meet her/him but in all the hubbub didn’t manage to get the name. Was it Chris Clover? Where is he/she from? Anyone who knows about this character, please contact us at


Please help us preserve 4-H History . . .

Modeled for Norman Rockwell Painting

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

4-H alum Jama (Steed) Fuller shows the Rockwell original painting in which she stars. (She's the one showing the calf). Photo courtesy of March/April 1989 issue Country Woman

4-H alum Jama (Steed) Fuller shows the Rockwell original painting in which she stars. (She’s the one showing the calf). Photo courtesy of March/April 1989 issue Country Woman

The artist used real people as models, and in this case it was a real County Agent named Herald K. Rippey who served as agent in Jay County, Indiana.

A Nebraska 4-H Development Foundation pamphlet written by Clarice Orr provides an interesting piece of history. It follows, in part: “Artist Rockwell followed County Agent Herald K. Rippey around Jay County, Indiana, and, according to the story, ended up ‘worn to a nubbin,’ but chock-full of farm cooking, tips on how to cull chickens and test soil and warm admiration for his subject.”

Clint Hoover, director of the Nebraska Center Hotel, spotted Mr. and Mrs. Rippey, one summer day, standing in the lobby in front of the painting. Enroute home from a West Coast vacation, they stopped to see the painting in its permanent home at University of Nebraska/Lincoln. Rippey reminisced about 4-H and his brush with fame with Norman Rockwell. Purdue’s School of Agriculture had picked Herald Rippey as the county agent and Rippey selected the Don Steeds, an active 4-H family of Portland, Indiana, as subjects. When Mr. and Mrs. Rockwell arrived in Indiana, he was well pleased with the plans for the setting except for the barn – it was white and he wanted a red one. Although he planned for a spring scene on the canvas, preparations were actually done in the fall. Faithful to detail, Rockwell changed the boy’s winter cap to the proper spring attire. And after Rockwell’s farmer neighbor reminded him that all calves have heavier coats than spring calves, Rockwell repainted the calf.

In 2010, Gama Fuller, the model for the 14 year old 4-H girl in the painting, recalled the experience in an interview with Portland, Indiana’s The Commercial Review. Gama, now 73, a resident of Redkey, Indiana, and her sister, Sharon Smith (also a former 4-H’er), are the only two surviving models portrayed in the painting. Gama’s brother, Larry Steed, is in the painting, as is County Agent Herald Rippey and hired hand Arlie Champ. All three Steed children were active in 4-H, members of the Jefferson Livewires 4-H Club.

The original painting is now housed in the lobby of the Nebraska Center for Continuing Education at the University of Nebraska/Lincoln.

Two hundred full color collotype proof prints were made and 60 were signed in pencil by Norman Rockwell. The National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland, has a numbered signed print, a special gift to the Center.


Please help us preserve 4-H History . . .

National 4-H Youth Conference Center History

The following story is from the August 2015 issue of the 4-H History Preservation Newsletter

Daddy Jenks Memorial Garden

Daddy Jenks Memorial Garden at the National 4-H Youth Center, Chevy Chase, MD

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
Born: 18 Jun 1873, Prompton, PA
Died: 12 Jun 1956, Baltimore, MD

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.”



Please help us preserve 4-H History . . .