Column: It’s time to recognize and salute the 4-H folks once again

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 4, 2002

Linda Lynne, a member of the Hartland Hi-Liners 4-H Club, recently sent a letter to the Tribune with a special reminder. She wants us to mention that next week, Oct. 6-12, is National 4-H Week.

Now here’s an excellent organization which deserves this special attention. Also, Linda’s letter reminded me of several important highlights about the 4-H organization which are worth emphasizing.

At this year’s Freeborn County Fair there were two new additions which really helped to remind folks of the 4-H centennial here in Minnesota. One was a large mural on the west side wall of the Arena building. (This mural is still there, by the way.) The second was the moveable mural inside the Arena. This second salute to the 4-H made an excellent background for taking photos of the various winners of the fair’s judging events.

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In reality, the early history of what’s now 4-H is based on several locations and people. For example, the people of Clarinda, Iowa, observed last year as the centennial of what’s now 4-H. This is based on a country school teacher named Jessie Field who started the &uot;Boys Corn Club&uot; and the &uot;Girls Corn Club&uot; in the spring of 1901. I featured her contributions to the 4-H movement in the May and June 2001 issues of the Ag Monthly published by the Tribune and the Austin Herald.

About 1908, Jessie decided to combine the clubs for boys and girls. She used a three-leaf clover design for the new club’s emblem. On each leaf was an H, signifying Head, Heart and Hands. By 1912, the four-leaf clover was used as the newer emblem for Jessie’s club and others starting elsewhere in the nation. Her idea was to have the fourth H represent Home. However, this was soon changed to Health. Thus, Jessie Field gets full credit for this nationwide club’s 4-H name and emblem.

Come to think of it, this is the 90th anniversary for both that name and emblem.

In her letter Linda included a list of the present 4-H clubs in Waseca County. To this I’ve added an updated list of the clubs in Mower and Freeborn Counties.

There are 12 different 4-H clubs in existence in Waseca County. They are: Alton Country Club, Bells of St. Marys, Clover Clan, Harmony, Palmer Sunbeams, Homegrown Explorers, Waldorf Peppy Peppers, Janesville Jacks and Jills, Woodville Hustlers, Riverside Ramblers, Vista Busy Bees and Losco Livewires. (The one which deserves another look is the Janesville club.)

Information from the Mower County Extension Service shows that six 4-H clubs were formed simultaneously in April 1919. At the present time there are 550 4-H members enrolled in Mower County. They belong to the Adams Full-O-Pep, Country Aces, Elkton Upstreamers, Enterprise, Frankford Jolly Youth, LeRoy Wide Awake, London Willing Workers, Lucky Clovers, Nevada Wide Awake, Racine Ramblers, Red Rock Rangers, Rough Riders Horse Club, Sargeant Busy Bees, Southside, Udolpho Boosters and Windom Clubs, plus eight Clover Bud Clubs.

Information from the Freeborn County Extension Office shows that the first two 4-H clubs were organized about 1925 in the Hayward and Myrtle areas. At the present time there are about 620 members in the following 4-H clubs: Albert Lea, Alden Beavers, Bancroft, Bath-Geneva Busy Bees, Conger Can-Do, Freeborn, Freeman, Hartland Hi-Liners, Hayward, Mansfield Musketeers, Moscow, Myrtle Merry Makers, Newry, Nunda, Oakland, Riceland, Shell Rock Shamrocks, Twin Lakes and Willing Workers.

Linda’s letter had this comment, &uot;Many clubs in our county used to have very interesting names and now very few like Hartland Hi-Liners still continue to use their full original name.&uot; And the present listing for Freeborn County certainly confirms this.

For Linda Lynne, the Hartland Hi-Liners, and all the members of the 4-H here in Minnesota and elsewhere in the nation, here’s a special salute they really deserve.

Tribune feature writer Ed Shannon’s column appears Fridays in the Tribune.