4-H celebrates its 100th birthday

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 6, 2002

For Centennial committee member Barb Hunicutt, the reward for volunteering her time is being able to give back to the 4-H organization. For others it is the opportunity to educate children, or being closer to family members.

No matter the reasons for their involvement in 4-H, youth, extension educators and adult volunteers nationwide will come together this summer to celebrate the 100th birthday of the organization that joins them all. In Freeborn County the centennial celebration will mainly take place at the county fair with Saturday, Aug. 3, designated as 4-H day.

Established around 80 years ago, Freeborn County 4-H has 19 clubs with 620 members and 300 adult volunteers.

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&uot;The program brings together families, youth and the community. It teaches decision making and provides new opportunities for the kids,&uot; Regional Extension Educator Sharon Davis said, listing the benefits of 4-H.

&uot;We’ve stayed in 4-H for the fun of it, and because its one of the few programs that involves the whole family,&uot; said Paul Hansen of Glenville. The Hansens are one of the multi-generational 4-H families to be honored as part of the program of events on 4-H Day.

Also part of 4-H day’s events: A volunteer will be inducted into the Volunteer’s Hall of Fame, a time capsule with items from each club will be buried, and a $100 prize will be presented to the medallion hunt winner.

Former 4-H members are invited to bring in old projects for a special centennial exhibit display. Items for display need to be brought to the 4-H exhibit building by 6 p.m., Monday, July 29. Clubs are invited to bring in past banners for display; the time to submit banners is 3-6 p.m. Tuesday, July 23.

Additionally, all the club-decorated booths in the exhibit building will have a centennial theme.

Farm games will be held in the indoor judging arena starting at 3 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 2. A pie-throwing booth will be open starting at 1 p.m. in the picnic area behind the judging arena on Aug. 3, followed by a watermelon-eating contest at 4 p.m.

Freeborn County will have some lasting artwork to commemorate the centennial. A mural inspired by the nation centennial slogan was painted on the outside wall of the restrooms behind the indoor arena by centennial committee members. Shell Rock club adult volunteer Mark Olson designed the mural.

Olson also devoted about 50 hours to creating a print that captures scenes from the fair and lists all the county’s clubs and the 4-H pledge. The prints are for sale at the extension office and Skyline Barbers, with proceeds supporting the centennial celebration and the county 4-H program.

In addition to their overwhelming enthusiasm, adult volunteers expressed concern for the restructuring of the 4-H program statewide. Under the restructuring the county extension director position was eliminated and the two extension educators, Sharon Davis and Pat Stumme, will be overseeing two counties. Longtime office manager Rhodette Groe is also retiring, but her position will be re-staffed.

The extension service is currently in talks with the county commissioners on creating a new position. The new program coordinator would be more of a family and club liaison in the office, because Davis’s position in the county will be reduced to half time.

&uot;We hope bringing in a new person will also bring in some new ideas,&uot; Davis said. &uot;4-H is going to have to rely on volunteers a bit more, but in this restructuring there is a lot of opportunity to strengthen the program.&uot;

With the motto, &uot;To make the best better,&uot; you know Freeborn County’s 4-H leaders will work hard to ensure the program has something to celebrate 100 years from now.

Local clubs

Here’s a listing of Freeborn County’s 19 4-H Clubs and the year they were established.

Albert Lea, 1926

Alden, 1926

Bancroft, 1946

Bath-Geneva, 1926

Conger, 1939

Freeborn, 1928

Freeman, 1933

Hartland, 1930

Hayward, 1924

Mansfield, 1938

Moscow, 1954

Myrtle, 1924

Newry, 1943

Nunda, 1959

Oakland, 1922

Riceland, 1930

Shell Rock Shamrocks, 1997

Twin Lakes, 1951

Willing Workers, 1993