From Dream to Reality

by

Julie Bahr

Senior High Division

The goal of all young people is to grow up and be lookedupon as responsible citizens. To be a mature adult is often the uppermostthought in their minds. In the early 1900's, America's leaders possessedmuch technology and knowledge that would help the farmers grow bigger andbetter crops, and would allow the crop growers to be more responsible, progressiveand knowledgeable about modern ways.

The problem of that day and age was that there was no directmeans to teach the rural farmers the progressive ideas. As it is with allproblems, the government soon had it solved. In 1914, the Smith-Lever AgriculturalExtension Act established the Extension Service of the U.S. Department ofAgriculture. This was to be the base of nation-wide club work, teachingmen, women, and children of their agricultural responsibilities, both inthe field and in the home. This was the start of the Kittson County FarmBureau Association and the Boys' and Girls' Club Work in Kittson County,later to be know as 4-H.

Now that the government had provided the means of gettingto the people, all the people needed to do was provide enough money forthe government to reach them. In 1914, the First National Bank, locatedin Hallock, MN, gave the initial push for Boys' and Girls' Club Work toget started by offering $100 for a corn contest. J. H. Bradish was the cashierof the bank and also the man who got "the ball rolling." BlandaSunberg, City Superintendent (Hallock), A. Hayes, and Agricultural Instructor,W. V. Longley. The latter was also the County Extension Agent and had directsupervision over the committee. The corn contest inspired thirty-nine youngpeople to enroll. Nearly half of the townships in Kittson County had participantsin the showing. Even more would have entered but distance and the lack oftransportation hindered their efforts. Nine members out of the originalthirty-nine found it possible to complete the corn project. This includedparticipating with reports, stories, and exhibits.

The winner of the contest was Alfred Poor from Lancaster.His exhibit was Northwestern Dent corn, some yielding sixty-five bushelsto the acre. One contestant had twenty bushels of Minnesota 23 seed cornthat sold for $100. It must have been exciting.

In 1916-1919, Boys' and Girls' Club work in Kittson Countywent into transition. Each year, more members enrolled than in the precedingyear, but fewer than ever completed the project. They learned of the clubat school, but were not able to carry out the project at home. B. E. Sundberg,a former Minnesota Senator, donated $50 in 1917, 1918, and 1919 to try toget the club back on its feet. This money was mainly used for the corn andpotato contests. More areas of contest were added to the Kittson CountyFair. Baby beef, dairy calf, and pig were started in 1917 and in 1918, poultry,bread and stock judging finished off the list.

These actions profited Boys' and Girls' Club Work verymuch, but did not get at the real reason why young people were droppingout. Many members found it virtually impossible to get their exhibits tothe County Fair. The distance was often too far and parents did not alwayshave the time to bring in their youngsters. Local Club Days were startedin 1919. This was what was needed to place the boys' and girls' interestback into their club work. Due to these "fairs on a smaller scale",many exhibits got shown that would have otherwise sat at home. Parents cameout and everyone became involved in such things as motion pictures, games,talks, demonstrations, and judging contests.

In the early days of Boys' and Girls' Club Work, the allimportant leaders were usually the teachers at the public schools. Oftentimes, the work put into the exhibits was done at school under the supervisionof the teachers, so they were only natural as club leaders. Sometimes, theywere the only ones who were available to all of the young people, too.

Once fairs started, demonstrations were also part of theexcitement. The young people of this day definitely didn't lack creativity.In the early 1920's, Ruby Sundberg of Kittson County made up this poem aspart of her health project:

"To be a 4-H girl

Is everything to me.

It prepares me for the future

When I set out to sea.

My health comes first for good success,

My head must plan the way.

My hands were made to do what's good,

My heart be pure each day."

 

Emory Cameron and Rishton Bedard, from Hallock, gave ademonstration entitled "Chickens" in the 1930's and produced thesecatchy phrases:

"We've found a way to fix that boarder hen.

We'll fix her good we'll say.

We put her in the fattening pen

If she has no ability to lay.

We have no time to fool with slackers.

We only pay attention to the useful cockers.

And if you people wish for profits, too,

Just try our scheme,

You'll never dream

What culling your flock would do for you." (2)

 

Their creativity had no bounds!

 

The Kittson County Fair has changed since its beginningdays. In the early 1920's, the fair visitors had to use their ingenuityto outwit certain climatic conditions. At that time, the parking lot waslocated in the middle of the race track, which was often muddy. The smartfamilies crossed the muddy race track in bare feet, carrying their goodclothes in a sack. Once they made it across, they cleaned the mud off theirfeet in the washroom and changed into their good clothes. It seems likea lot of extra fuss, but who wanted to look dirty at the fair?

Boys' and Girls' Club Work was growing and expanding, andwas soon awarding regional and state trips. Lucky Mayne Cameron of Hallock,was awarded a three day trip to the District Conference in Crookston inthe early 1920's. He had won in the One Act Play and Music division. Theentire three days cost him $1.25 for room, board, and entertainment. Butthose who wanted to go to talking movies had to bring along a little moremoney. The only means of transportation they had to Crookston was the backof a truck. This cut the cost and was probably fun, too.

About this time, Ruth and Lorna Griffin did a team demonstrationon bread and they won a trip to the State Fair in St. Paul. They went bytrain. A round trip ticket cost $10.32. Those were the good old days. Thegirl winners stayed at the University Health Center and the boy winnerseither had cots in the gym or got a dorm. On the way down, one of the boysput gum in one of the Griffin girls hair. They went through a whole messof things trying to get it out, but ended up cutting the gum out of herhair. Times haven't changed much!

Each year, Boys' and Girls' Club Work advance a littlefarther ahead. More projects were offered and more young people completedtheir projects. Eventually, the Boys' and Girls' Club Work became know as4-H. The four H's stand for head, heart, hands, and health.

Originally, the goal of 4-H was to "train rural leadersof tomorrow, to instill in the minds of the youth a real liking for thehome and on the farm, to train them in the work of the home and the farm,helping them to put their heads to work as well as their hands." (5)

Times have changed. Today only 35% of 4-H'ers are fromfarm committees. 4-H is still largely centered around agriculture, but projectsare available in every phase of everything. Citizenship and knowing andunderstanding yourself are also stressed.

4-H is not only all across the United States, but is world-wide.There are 74 countries around the world that have some form of 4-H. Americasends youth to visit foreign countries every year. In return, families with4-H members host 4-H'ers from other countries for a summer. This is an excellentprogram.

There are two basic thoughts of 4-H that have remainedirrevocable ever since 4-H's birth. They are the pledge and the motto. Thepledge is as follows:

"I pledge -

My Head to clearer thinking,

My Heart to greater loyalty

My Hands to larger service, and

My Health to better living, for

my club, my community, my country

and my world." (4)

 

Each 4-H'er carries this pledge with him all of his daysin 4-H. It is also a good thought to live by. "To make the best better"(5) is the 4-H motto. In all that 4-H'ers do, it is always their goal toimprove. They have seemingly done this. Boys' and Girls' Club Work was thebest in 1914, but it has been improving, and 4-H is even better today.

 

(1) Ruby Sandburg, excerpt from her original oration.

(2) Emory Cameron and Rishton Bedard, excerpt from theiroriginal oration.

(3) W. V. Longley, Former Kittson County Extension Agent,"Boys' and Girls' Club Work - Kittson County," 1923.

(4) The official 4-H Club pledge

(5) The official 4-H Club motto.

 

Bibliography

Annual Report of County Agricultural Agent, Kittson County,MN, 1917, 1918, 1919, 1920

4-H Club Letter, by Northwest School and Experiment Station,Crookston, MN, Volume XXXII, Number 2, May 1939

Gatheridge, Carl, Hallock, MN, Interview on January 27,1975

Gatheridge, Lois, Hallock, MN, Interview on January 27,1975

Longley, W. V., "Boys' and Girls' Club Work - KittsonCounty, 1923

Veeder, James T., From A Dream To Reality, National 4-HService Committee, 1971, pp. 1-5>

Longley, W. V., "Boys' and Girls' Club Work - KittsonCounty, 1923

Veeder, James T., From A Dream To Reality, National 4-HService Committee, 1971, pp. 1-5