History Preservation Newsletter
March 2017

4-H Alumna & NASA Astronaut Speaks to 4‑H’ers from Space

Peggy Whitson, Commander of NASA’s Expedition 50/51, a 4-H alumna, answered 4‑H’ers’ questions via down-link from the International Space Station (ISS) to Johnson Space Center in Texas. While on the ISS, she will surpass the current record of 534 days in space.

Tompkins County, NY, Starts a 4-H Memory Wall

As a way to promote awareness of 4-H history, Tompkins County mobilized the theme “4‑H Memories Last a Lifetime” by collecting memorabilia (1932-2015) for a Memory Wall at the 4-H Fair. Members, leaders and parents contributed items and county staff cleaned out old files to populate the exhibit.


These are examples of National 4-H Charters that were cherished by many 4-H members and families for the things that were learned and projects completed by countless youth through loving guidance of dedicated adult volunteer leaders. Both charters were signed by the then-current Secretary of Agriculture and represent charters issued by USDA to clubs across the country at that time.

The Mavis 4-H Club (left) of Pennington County, Minnesota, received their charter in what appears to be 1944 and met charter requirements through 1978 (34 years), while the Ellis Hollow Homemakers (right) of Tompkins County, New York, received their charter in 1958 and continued to complete the year’s work through 1981 (23 years).


Who was Jessie Fields Shambaugh?

A film by an Iowa 4-H’er entered in the 2016 “FilmFest 4‑H” answers that question for you. Adam Clayton’s film took second place in the “Voices of 4‑H” category. This year’s “FilmFest 4-H” is July 23-27 in Kansas City.

Horse Racing’s Youngest Jockey Won the Triple Crown in 1978

Steve Cauthen, a 4-H’er from Kentucky, started racing in 1976; in this first race, he came in last; in his second race he came in first. In 1977 he led the nation in horserace wins with 487. The Triple Crown was not won again until 2015.

Tell us the Year this 4-H Calendar was Printed

In the 10 years the 4-H History Preservation Team has been working, we’ve collected 88 different 4-H calendars, printed calendar images and pieces of original artwork. Here’s one recently uncovered on which we have no information; we’re hoping your vivid 4-H memories can help us date it.

4-H History Preservation Team Celebrates 10th Anniversary!

The National 4-H History Preservation Program started in 2007 with a group of seven volunteers, mostly retired national level 4-H staff; we now number 12, including some current staff and some retired state staff, all still volunteers. The number of visitors to our website is rapidly nearing 200,000 globally and our Newsletter reaches some 5,900. We’re grateful for that generous response. We rely on your continued support; please email us.

Enjoy this Issue!

“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



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.


Please help us preserve 4-H History . . .