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Page 16 of Mountain Life & Work vol. 16 no. 2 Summer, 1940

Part of Mountain Life and Work

Page 16 MOUNTAIN LIFE AND WORK 4-H CLUB WORK J. M. FELTNER To understand more fully the growth and value of 4-H Club Work in eastern Kentucky, let us look at the early history of the organization. I quote from junior Club Bulletin No. 28, Early History of 4-H Club Work: 4-H Club Work as we know it today is the outgrowth of more than thirty years of thought and effort on the part of many men and women living in all parts of the United States who were and are vitally interested in providing opportunities for the growth and development of the rural youth of America. The beginnings in Boys' and Girls' Club Work, like that of many other great educational move­ments, were very simple and could hard­ly be called Club Work, if measured by our present day standards, yet they mark the starting points of the present 4-H Club organizations. There may be some differences of opinion as to where and by whom the first club work was done, but the best authorities state that the first club was started in Macoupin County, Illinois, in 1900. It was started by W. B. Otwell, pres­ident of the County Farmers' Institute. After failing to arouse interest among the farmers in im­proved methods of agriculture, Mr. Otwell started a Boys' Corn Club. The first year he enrolled five hundred boys, who grew their corn according to instructions and made an exhibit at the next Farmers' Institute. The project was so successful that fifteen hundred boys enrolled during the fol­lowing year. Their exhibits at the county institute created a great deal of interest among the farmers of that county. In January, 1902, A. B. Graham, Superintendent of the Springfield Township Schools in Clark County, Ohio, without knowledge of the club work in Illinois, organized a Boys' and Girls' Club and arranged with the Farmers' Institute Committee at Springfield to make an exhibit of the results of their work at the Farmers' Institute. Corn was grown on small plats, and an exhibit of selected ears was made at the Institute in January, 1903. Summer, 1940 Club meetings were held once a month in the as­sembly room of the county building. The first real club work attempted in the South was started in Holmes County, Mississippi, in 1907. The cotton boll weevil had become a ser­ious menace to Mississippi and other cotton-grow­ing states, and Dr. Seaman Knapp was assigned the task of helping the farmers adjust their agri­cultural practices to meet this new condition. Dr. Knapp believed that the South should grow corn and he also believed that the most effective way to demonstrate the practicability of corn growing was through Boys' Corn Clubs. The results ob­tained in Holmes County were so gratifying that Boys' Corn Clubs were soon organized throughout the South. In 1909 a trip to Washington, D. C., was offered to the State Corn Club Champion in many states. The winners of these trips were given diplomas by the Secretary of Agriculture. The first projects for club girls were canning and poultry. South Carolina and Virginia were the leading states in the promotion of club work for girls. O. B. Martin, the first person employed by the United States Department of Agriculture to do club work, organized the first canning club in Aiken County, South Carolina, in 1910. The only product canned by the members of this club was tomatoes. After canning and poultry work became well established, other lines were taken up and by 1911, 3,153 girls were enrolled in clubs in the southern states. In 1911, 54,362 boys were en­rolled in corn clubs. In 1914 the Smith-Lever Act was passed, pro­viding funds for the employment of county and home demonstration agents in every state in the Union. With the establishment of a general agri­cultural extension program, Boys' and Girls' Club Work, or junior Agricultural Club Work, as it was then called, made rapid progress. Another im­portant factor in the growth and development of club work was the adoption of the local leader plan and a definite organization of boys and girls into clubs. The field of club work was no longer con­fined to corn and tomato clubs, but was extended to practically every phase of farm and home ac­tivities.

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