Historical Stories of 4-H Promotion

First National Poster bearing the 4-H Clover in 1924.

First National Poster bearing the 4-H Clover in 1924.

The National Compendium of 4-H Promotion and Visibility is a history project started a year ago and placed on the National 4-H History Preservation Program website earlier this year. It is one of this year’s priority activities for those National 4-H History Team members working on the website.

Rather than being a chronology of 4-H promotion history, the Compendium is a collection of short stories, so far gleaned mostly from historical issues of National 4-H News, covering a broad array of national approaches to 4-H promotion, marketing, public relations and branding. Added to this are anecdotes, some from the local level but which received national visibility, that are simply special vignettes that should not be lost to history. These stories are often the ones which convey the true meaning of what 4-H is all about: chronicles of inspiration, of achievement, leadership, and goals; accounts of failures and having the strength, ability, and desire to pick oneself up and try again.

As one of the major sponsors of 4-H National Youth Science Day in 2009, DuPont provided some extra visibility extending to a massive audience; in the NASCAR circuit, the DuPont-sponsored car driven by Jeff Gordon prominently carried the 4-H emblem with the 4-H.org website on the back of the vehicle.

As one of the major sponsors of 4-H National Youth Science Day in 2009, DuPont provided some extra visibility extending to a massive audience; in the NASCAR circuit, the DuPont-sponsored car driven by Jeff Gordon prominently carried the 4-H emblem with the 4-H.org website on the back of the vehicle.

This Promotion Compendium is meant to document and preserve these stories of 4-H history before they get lost. It has immense value as a resource tool for new professional and volunteer staff development. Even more important, perhaps, it is also offered as a collection of short stories to be read for inspiration and enjoyment.

As of August, 2015, the National Compendium of Promotion and Visibility had over 160 stories posted, and over 150 photos or illustrations. The Compendium is an ongoing project with stories being researched and added regularly. While most of these stories illustrate national 4-H promotion history, if you have a story from the state or local level which received national publicity, please tell us about it. We will consider it for inclusion in the Compendium. Write to Info@4-HHistoryPreservation.com


Please help us preserve 4-H History . . .

History Preservation Newsletter
April 2015

Washington DC’s Cherry Blossoms are in bloom for National 4-H Conference!

It’s going on this week at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center. This is the 85th gathering of 4-H’ers in DC since National 4-H Camp started in 1927. 4-H members from across the country are meeting with their congressional delegations, testifying on Capitol Hill, and visiting the White House – all long-held National 4-H Conference traditions. (The National 4-H Calendar painting, at the right, documents a time in the early 1970s when 4-H Conference also coincided with the Cherry blossoms in full bloom.)

Map Your 4-H History

April 28 signals the debut of the “Map Your 4-H History” project wherein individuals, clubs, counties and states can nominate a historically important person, place or event on the National 4-H History Map. This geospatial project of the 4-H History Map Team is explained at


The explanation and the map go live starting April 28.

Wood County

Wood County, Ohio, has an active 4-H display program at the county Historical Museum. It’s a great example of what you can do to showcase your county’s 4-H history. The brief interview explains how it came to be – and possibilities of how you can make it happen in your area.

4-H in the Great Depression

New to the 4-H History website: “4-H in the Great Depression.” An important and meaningful story of how 4-H helped maintain threatened family farms in that troubled era. Read a capsule here and the entire story on the website.

FilmFest 2015

FilmFest 4-H is June 14-17 in St. Louis. The 4-H History Team supports this youth film-making project for the third consecutive year; the 4–H History category highlights films documenting 4-H memories of former members, staff and volunteers.

We don’t have a “Letters to the Editor” column (yet), but we welcome your comments, ideas and suggestions – even mild complaints – at Info@4-HHistoryPreservation.com

Enjoy spring, and enjoy this issue … http://4-HHistoryPreservation.com/Newsletter/

An Arabian Tale

The following story is from the National Compendium of 4-H Promotion and Visibility on the National 4-H History website — http://4-HHistoryPreservation.com/History/4-H_Promotion/

An Arabian Tale

The fast-paced sing-song voice of the auctioneer… a scream… a cheer… and the winning bidder is announced. A lucky 4-H’er will go home with a dream horse, as another fine Arabian gelding is sold at a unique auction held at entertainer Kenny Rogers’ Beaver Dam Farms in Georgia.

At the 1984 sale, only 4-H members had the privilege to bid. They had the opportunity to purchase animals at well below their real value, since all the horses offered for sale had been donated to the Georgia 4-H Foundation by Rogers and several other Arabian owners. Proceeds of the sale went directly to the Foundation.

Arabian horses are important to Kenny and Marianne Rogers and so are young people. Its position as the largest youth organization in the state made 4-H the perfect means for channeling Rogers’ interest in providing opportunities for youngsters.

“It’s our way of giving something back,” said Rogers. “We are glad we can support 4-H in this way. It is a worthwhile organization that deserves support.” The sale provided 4-H’ers an opportunity to buy horses at prices they could afford, and, for Rogers, it also was a way to encourage youngsters to develop an interest in the breed. There were 18 geldings for sale at the auction and more than a hundred young 4-H’ers bidding on the animals, and hundreds of others cheering them on, so competition was stiff. Based on the responses from the horse breeders, this first sale of its kind will probably not be the last in Georgia; and, perhaps some other states.

A Simple Sign by the Gate

The following story is from the National Compendium of 4-H Promotion and Visibility on the National 4-H History website — http://4-HHistoryPreservation.com/History/4-H_Promotion/
Sign: 4-H Club Member Lives Here

A Simple Sign by the Gate

From a promotional standpoint, perhaps the most effective item the National 4-H Supply Service (4-H Mall) has ever offered is the small, rectangular sign which simply states “4-H Club Member Lives Here” – seen across America on fences and gates and posts by the driveway for decades… and still tremendously effective. It simply conveys that a 4-H kid lives in this house… and that is good; the home of a 4-H family.

In addition to the “4-H Club Member Lives Here” driveway signs, welcoming signs were prevalent across America… and still commonly seen in rural areas today. These vary in wordage but always carry the 4-H emblem and a message. Upon entering a town or village the sign might read “4-H welcomes you to Crescent City” or if it is located at a county line it might say “Rock County 4-H Clubs Welcome You – Drive Safely” or something similar.

Texas Boys go to England

The following story is from the National Compendium of 4-H Promotion and Visibility on the National 4-H History website — http://4-HHistoryPreservation.com/History/4-H_Promotion/

Texas livestock judging team receives congratulations from President Warren G. Harding enroute to England in 1921.

Texas livestock judging team receives congratulations from President Warren G. Harding enroute to England in 1921.

Texas Boys go to England

In 1920, perhaps a little earlier, livestock judging was not only becoming popular, but serious. Teams would travel to multiple states judging livestock at the state colleges of agriculture and other locations. After several months of hard work, the lucky Texas team of boys won the International judging honors at the Southeastern Fair in Atlanta, Georgia in 1920.

The team, comprised of Gilbert Wieting from Falls County, Jack Turner of Hill County, and Alva Debnam, Dawson County, Texas won first place. Their prize – eight weeks of touring England in the summer of 1921 –  including participating in the Royal Livestock Show against their British counterparts. The boys were sent off with appropriate fanfare, stopping in Washington, D.C. on their way to England where they met their Texas Senators and Congressmen and were greeted by both Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace and President Warren G. Harding.

Unfortunately, the Texas team did not win at the Royal Livestock Show but they let it be known that the Brits would be having serious competition in judging in years to come.

National 4-H Promotion Compendium is Launched

N4-HC_AR_2013_Pg6A project that has been a year in the making is now up on the National 4-H History Preservation website… A National Compendium of 4-H Promotion and Visibility. It is comprised of a number of selected short stories which stand alone. Many are stories of significant 4-H promotion or visibility at the national level over the past century. Others are examples that relay an impactful or heart-warming story covered in the media and a part of 4-H promotion simply because they should not be “lost to history.”

While there are well over 100 stories represented with this initial launch, the Promotion Compendium will be an ongoing project, adding stories as they are researched or come to our attention.

The national 4-H history leadership team encourages all our readers to take some time… scroll down through these stories for your reading pleasure. Some may bring back memories, while others we’re sure you’ve never heard about before. You can go to the Compendium directly at http://4-HHistoryPreservation.com/History/4-H_Promotion/

We will also be highlighting some of these stories in the 4-H History News Service during the weeks and months ahead.

2015 Launches National 4-H History Map

Every county and state in the country has a “first” or “most famous” 4-H event, person or place to commemorate and this is your opportunity to “Put it on the Map!”For years, 4-H History Team members have been asked “Where was the first 4-H club in the U.S.? Where is the longest continuously-active club in the country? Where was the first African American 4-H camp in the country? Where was the first Native American 4-H swine club in America?” and so on.

Now those 4-H History Landmarks can be recorded and tracked as a result of the National 4-H Geospatial Leadership Team’s National 4-H History Map project. This will give every county a chance to nominate the “first” and “most important” 4-H places, people and events (we’re calling all of these “sites”).

4-H History Map Poster

How do you nominate a historically significant 4-H location/person/event in your community? Since July, 2014, the 4-H Geo-spatial Leadership Team has established a website where you can access information about the project. Right now there is a promotion poster and data collection sheet on the site at: http://goo.gl/vGF9nt.

Fill out the data collection form right on the website. If you don’t have all of the data requested, fill out what you can and a Geo-spatial Team member will contact you.

The vision of the 4-H History Map team is a national atlas of the United States to be posted on the Internet early in 2015. This map can then be accessed using desk top computers, as well as portable units such as laptops, smart phones and tablets. As a 4-H family travels, they can search in advance for locations near where they will travel or use their portable device when on the road.

Curious as to where this idea cam from? Every July, a team of youth and adults known as the 4-H Geo-spatial Leadership Team work together for a week in San Diego, California. Each year, this team provides guidance and recommendations to 4-H National Headquarters and National 4-H Council for new efforts to advance learning about GIS, GPS and Remote Sensing technologies. as a part of this recommendation, the youth/adult team suggests a project that will help introduce the use of geo-spatial technology to 4-H families. Jim Kahler and Tom Tate, of the National 4-H History Preservation Team, also serve as members of the 4-H Geo-spatial Team.

The 2014 4-H Geo-spatial Team’s recommended two-year project is this 4-H History Map, which would provide members, leaders, alumni, staff, and volunteers a tool for documenting historically significant 4-H locations/people/events in their own community, county or state.

History Preservation Newsletter
July/August 2014

UGH! August in Washington, DC, is miserable. If it weren’t for our loyal readers (probably in air-conditioned offices), we’d be at the beach. Not totally true: 4-H is always “non-miserable” and there are some real success stories in this month’s Newsletter. Read on.

We often wonder, is the preservation of 4-H history taking hold at state and local levels, as much as we’d like to think it is at the national level? Two stories this month illustrate how national agendas and resources have been adapted and applied independently in a state and a county initiative:

  • How does a new Extension hire use the resources of the National 4-H History Preservation Program? So many resources to draw from; where to go first? A WV Extension staffer shares his personal experience; and
  • 4-H History is best preserved at the local level and Polk County Missouri 4-H’ers grab that challenge and run with it. They’re implementing “Voices of 4-H History” the way the program was envisioned: to celebrate local alumni and highlight county history!

During World War II, 40 US Liberty (cargo) ships were named by 4-H members who raised money through war bonds to commission the ships and stock them with food and supplies for our troops. Two ships were named after which Congressmen who had a significant impact on 4-H and Extension? Answer inside. Do you know if your state named a liberty ship or ships? If so, whose name did they carry. Let us know at: Info@4-HHistoryPreservation.com.

All too often in history, sadly, 4-H was portrayed as only a white kid’s activity; indeed, Extension struggled long and hard to make the program relevant to all ethnic groups. Programs for Native American 4-H’ers have, in many ways, served as models to tailor programming to fit cultural realities. The 1943 Oklahoma Indian story here documents such a success.

The 2014 FilmFest 4-H featured five youth developed films about 4-H History. Was your state represented this year? Read about some of the neat film-related workshops conducted this time.

You’ll note two articles above written by state/local Extension staff. We want to receive more! Tell us how you use the resources we represent, and let us know your local stories. You are, after all, the history of 4-H!

Contact info@4-HHistoryPreservation.com , and enjoy this issue.

Cherry Pies and 4-H History

Cherry_Pie Food and nutrition projects were a mainstay of early 4-H. After all, Health was one of the four H’s represented in the organization’s name and emblem that were adopted back in 1911.

Articles about food and nutrition projects and programs were plentiful in many editions of the National 4-H News magazine. The magazine carried stories about 4-H members involved in canning, dairy, food preservation, gardening and meal preparation.

The April 1939 issue carries a feature on Ruby Hudson, a 16-year old Missouri 4-H member who had recently been selected the winner of the annual cherry pie baking contest held in Chicago. The annual contest was held to celebrate George Washington’s birthday in February (his 207th in 1939), and was sponsored by the National Cherry Week Committee and the “Hatchet Club.” Ruby took her first train ride for her visit to Chicago for the contest accompanied by her county home demonstration agent. As the contest winner, Ruby received a check for $100 and a sight-seeing trip to Washington,DC for herself and her chaperone.

First Phase of National Calendar Art Project Accomplished

Twenty-one pieces of the 35 original National Calendar Program paintings in the National 4-H Council’s collection needed repair, cleaning, re-framing, varnishing or sometimes all of these. These paintings represent nearly 50 years of 4-H history through their contemporary illustrations from the respective time periods. They also represent the work of nine recognized artists who produced these annual paintings for advertising purposes at the local level. Many of the pieces were able to be localized to the county where they were sold through signage on buildings, buses or actual signs which were a part of the illustration.Our_County

The following donors made the restoration of these art pieces possible: Sue and Dave Benedetti, Leann Blum, Gary Deverman, IBM Corporation, James Lindquist, Ronald Paasch, David Pace, Phil Upsilon Omicron (DC Area Alumni Chapter), Dallas Smith, Mel Thompson, Kendra Wells, Bernadine Wiesen, Nancy Wills, Eleanor L. Wilson, and Helene Zueg. Our most sincere thanks go to all of them.

The next phase of this calendar art project is to make them available for people to view; to preserve them and keep them safe from deterioration by light, abrasion, and dirt. That part of the project will entail putting each painting behind protective Plexiglas, and will be undertaken as soon as we are able to raise the necessary $12,000 for the individually fabricated coverings. This will protect the original Calendar and Poster art currently on display in the Heritage Hallway at the National 4-H Center.

Will you help us meet the $12,000 goal to complete the preservation process? Go to the 4-H history preservation website: http://4-HHistoryPreservation.com and “click” on the “DONATE” button in the left-hand menu bar.