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The Shows (Feature 1216.203)
The Mother of 4-H

To uncover the origins of 4-H, we headed over to Page county where many residents claim that a woman named Jessie Field Shambaugh, from Clarinda, planted the idea for 4-H 100 years ago.

As a 19-year-old rural schoolteacher, Miss Jessie held informal agriculture and home related lessons after school which became the Boys' Corn Club and the Girls' Home Club.

Jessie was elected Superintendent of Schools for Page county in 1906 and with the help of teachers from 130 one-room schools, she cultivated the clubs throughout the county.

Later, to help motivate the youngsters, Jessie organized competitive exhibits and county-wide junior achievement shows which were similar to today's fairs.

We interviewed Ruth Shambaugh Watkins, Jessie's daughter and 107-year-old Martin Johnson who was on the first corn judging team that went to compete in Ames in 1909. Another person interviewed for this story was Esther Williams who became the first 4-H queen to be crowned at the State Girls 4-H Convention in Ames in 1928.

The Mother of 4-H
pictures { Click to view the full image Click to view the full image
contacts { Nodaway Valley Historical Museum
1600 S. 16th Street, Box 393, Clarinda, IA 51632
Phone: (712)542-3073

Iowa State 4-H Youth Development Office
32 Curtiss Hall, ISU, Ames, IA 50011
Phone: (515)294-1017
Fax: (515)294-4443
Web Site

National 4-H Council
7100 Connecticut Ave., Chevy Chase, MD 20815
Phone: 1(800)368-7432
Web Site