Posts Tagged ‘4-H Fix’

4-H Fix

Friday, December 15th, 2017

Sing for 4-H and Let’s Give a CHEER!

By Ron Drum, Statewide 4-H Program Professional/Associate Director 4-H Resource Development

‘Tis the Season to be singing; Fa la la la la la la la la!
Not so loud my ears are ringing; Fa la la la la la la la la!

Singing songs, playing games, giving cheers, and having fun have long been part of the 4-H movement. Many 4‑H Clubs, along with the usual offices of President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer, will elect additional officers such as “Reporters” and “Photographers”; and they often will include a “Song Leader” or perhaps a “Recreation Leader” if the Song Leader will also be leading games.

Singing and group games bring people together, build community. I guess it has something to do with feeling good about achieving a mutual goal, like “perfect” harmony (a-hem) or everyone having the same experience, such as getting dizzy after spinning around three times while holding your forehead on the butt of a baseball bat and keeping the tip of the bat on the ground. Just TYPING that made me a tad dizzy so I guess it is a bad example unless you have ever actually done this and therefore know what the heck I am talking about. Anyway, the goal is to get to the point where everyone can say, “We DID it!” and then want to retell the story in years to come while sitting around a campfire or a lava lamp or something.

Note of warning: As with the October post, “4-H Clubs, 1 2 3, 4-H Clubs for you and ME!”, this post is quite long. However, I think (hope?) you will find it quite a pleasure to read. It might even give you some ideas for YOUR 4-H Club and/or event activities! So on we push!!

When the National 4-H Supply Service started up in 1925, they put out a small booklet they called “The 4-H Handy Book.” In it they included not only the supplies they were selling, such as 4-H Hats and 4-H Pennants, but also pieces of useful information. The Handy Book for 1931, for example, included such information as how to run a business meeting, goals for all 4-H’ers, the 4-H Pledge with the hand motions to go with it, an explanation of the 4-H colors, and, of course, a number of pages of songs and games “appropriate” for 4-H Members.

One of the games that appears in the 1931 Handy Book is called the “Suit-Case Game.”

Each contestant has a suit-case and an umbrella. In the suit-case are a hat, a coat, gloves, and any other clothing desired, so long as the contents are uniform. At a given signal all contestants run to the goal, open the suit-cases, put on the clothes, close the suit-cases, open the umbrellas, and run to the starting point. The use of the relay plan adds greatly to the excitement.

Sounds like a pretty fun, and funny, game! Except, if I were leading this game, I don’t think I’d include the umbrella. Sounds to me like a recipe for disaster if I’ve ever heard one! But the rest would be very funny indeed!

Here’s another one, with a tad bit less opportunity for someone to get hurt. It’s called “The Laughing Game.”

Players are seated in a circle. The first player starts with the word “Ha,” the second says, “Ha, ha,” the third, “Ha, ha, ha,” and so on, each one in turn adding one more “Ha” than has been made by his neighbor. In each case the “Ha, ha’s” must be made without laughing, which is almost an impossibility. Before the circuit has been completed the entire circle is in peals of laughter. Each one guilty of laughing drops out of the game. The one remaining longest without laughing wins.

As Pennsylvania 4-H’ers in the 1970s we played a similar game we called “Ho, ho!” In this game the players laid on their backs on the ground, with player two resting his or her head on player one’s tummy, player three’s head on player two’s tummy, and so forth. Once all in place, player one would shout “HO!” with such force it would raise Two’s head off One’s tummy. Two then shouts “Ho, ho!”, followed by Three (Ho, ho, ho!), and Four (Ho, ho, ho, ho!), and so forth, each taking their turn and adding a “ho” when they did so, all without laughing during their turn. It was hilarious! I taught this game to 4-B Members while I was serving as a 4-B Adviser in Botswana (4-B is the Youth Development program of Botswana and is based on 4-H) and I never saw them ever finish even one round! Every time they played they just ended up rolling about and screaming with laughter!

Games can come in many forms and be used for various objectives. Active games can burn off some energy. Quieter games can be a great way to “break the ice” at the start of a meeting, especially when the participants have never met each other before. Here are two games that were included under “Recreation for November” in the November 1937 issue of Club Echoes (v20, #5, page 9) that seem perfect for helping people get to know each other or, as we say, “break the ice.”

But first a language note. These days, we try to use language that is all-gender inclusive so everyone can feel included. That has not always been the case. As will be seen in the passages below, although no one was intended to be excluded, in earlier days, the male gender was often used alone when referring to everyone.

TURKEY Letters — Supply each guest with an envelope, six bits of cardboard, and a pencil. Tell the first guest to write the letter “T” on each of the six cards and place them in the envelope. The next guest makes six “U” slips; the next letters his slips “R”; the next “K”; the next “E”; and the next “Y.” Continue giving the letters in the word Turkey to the guests in order, each guest writing his letter on all six cards. When all have written their letter and put the six slips in the envelope, collect them. Redistribute the envelopes so that no one will know what letter in in his envelope until he opens it. Tell the guests they are to trade letters one at a time until they have obtained the word “Turkey.”

By the way, if I were leading this game, my instructions would include having participants ask each other their names while trading the letters to help “break the ice.”

Here is another one from the same source.

Dark Horse — Provide a pencil and paper for each player. Switch off the lights and have each player draw a picture of a horse on his card. Then, still in the darkness, draw a feed box for him, and finally print OATS on the box. Turn on the lights and enter the amazing animals in a horse show.

It struck me as I typed this that the key here is for the room to be in total darkness. This could be a very funny game indeed! However, can you even find a dark room these days? Most of the public places I’ve been in recently have at least a lighted EXIT sign over the door, if not emergency lighting, that is always on. Maybe the participants could be blindfolded.

Some games are just for getting people thinking. Here are two more from the same source that use “matches.” Click on the word “matches” if you don’t know what “matches” are. They were once a quite common item in any home. These days, not so much. Perhaps “toothpicks” is a better option today but even THOSE are becoming a thing of the past. Anyway, here are the instructions. I’ve included an image from the newsletter to provide the solutions.

Instructions and solutions to the Match Puzzle

Puzzle 1. Arrange eight matches to form two squares and four triangles. Puzzle 2. Arrange 12 matches in 3 squares. Move two, take out two, and leave two.

Cover of The Maine 4-H Club Song Book, printed circa 1934In Maine, as in many states, “4-H game books” and “4-H song books” were compiled and printed. Here, for example, is The Maine 4-H Club Song Book printed around 1934.

Although most of the songs in The Maine 4-H Club Song Book are what might be called “old standbys” such as “The More We Get Together” and “America, the Beautiful,” quite a number of the songs have been “4-H-i-sized.” Take, for instance, the “Book’s” version of Hail! Hail! The Gangs All Here!”

Hail! Hail! The club’s All Here!
Do we like our club work?
Yes, we like our club work!
Hail! Hail! We’re full of cheer!
Do we like our club work? YES!

Now, of course, the problem in doing it this way is that one must be familiar with the base tune. Number 10 in the book is called “The Four Leaf Clover Song.” Sorry, but I don’t know that song. If you do, have a sing! If you don’t, perhaps make up your own tune!

I know a place where the sun is like gold,
And the cherry blooms burst with snow
And down underneath is the loveliest nook,
Where the four-leaf clovers grow.
One leaf is for head,
And one is for hand,
And one is for Health you know,
And God put another one in for Heart
If you search you will find where they grow.
But you must have hope,
And you must have faith,
You must love, and be strong and so,
If you work, if you wait,
You will find the place
Where the four leaf clovers grow.

And just to prove that 4-H IS fun try Number 7: WE’RE HERE FOR FUN!” (sung to “Auld Lang Syne”).

We’re here for fun right from the start,
Pray drop your dignity;
Just laugh and sing with all your heart
And show your loyalty.

Only two of the 52 songs included in the book were attributed to Mainers and only one was about 4-H. Called the “Four-H Clover Song,” the book says it is sung to the tune “I’m looking over a four-leaf clover” and was written by Nancy Kelleher from South Paris.

I’m looking over a 4-H Clover,
The emblem of my club.
One is my HEAD,
The other my HEART;
The third is my HANDS
With which to do my part.
No use explaining
The one remaining
Is top-most of the four.
Yes, it’s my HEALTH —
With all this wealth,
Oh, how can I ask for more!

Many Maine 4‑H Clubs created songs and cheers of their own. I included a number of cheers in my earlier post called “4-H Clubs, 1 2 3, 4-H Clubs for you and ME!” Club cheering seems to have peaked in the 1930s but who could ever forget “Gang-way, please, gang-way, please, Wells Ever-ready Club wants to sneeze, KERCHU!” or “Are we in it? Yes, we are! Four leaf clover club, RAH RAH RAH!” These works of art were, apparently quite loudly, presented during events such as State Club Contest and Eastern States Exposition Camp Vail. In fact, members were encouraged to do so!

Echoes from Clubdom suggested in the September 1918 edition (v1, #4, page 7), “Whenever possible clubs should start practicing cheers for the county contest.” The April 1919 edition (V1, #11) included some “suggestions” on page 5 of which one said, “Cheers help out — why not elect a good cheer-leader for your club — compose some cheers — the state office will be pleased to receive any cheers used by clubs.” And so, clubs sent in their cheers!

Not all of them were shared, though, or so it seems. Echoes from Clubdom, V1, #12 May 1919 on page 4 noted that “Knox (Waldo County) Club” had sent in some cheers adding, “One cheer especially shows their pep.” Hey! What about the others!? Oh well, at least here’s the one they DID share after which they added, “Good — hope other clubs will catch the spirit. Send us a copy.”

Hep — hep — all set
Now we’re on the way
Forward march — we’ll take the starch
Out of spuds — Hooray!

Plenty of work, don’t shirk
Work will win the prize,
Come on with the tin, we’re going to win
Now don’t you look surprised.

A few issues suggested cheers, sometimes called “yells,” that I think were written by staff, I suppose in the hope it would encourage clubs to create their own. Apparently it worked! One that was shared in 1931 seems to have been crafted right on the spot! Club Echoes, v14, #5, November 1931 reported that seven girls from the Skillful Workers 4-H Club of Fairbanks (Farmington), the only girl’s 4-H Gardening club that existed in 1931 according to the report, gave the following cheer during their October 17th County Contest which was, again according to the report, a rainy day!

Oh, how it’s raining! Gee!
Most everyone’s face is low,
But we’re as happy as can be,
‘Cause it makes our gardens grow.

“Cheer”ful encouragement to give cheers was a constant newsletter theme until WWII. Even Counties got into the act! For example, the October 1927 edition of the Penobscot County Farm Bureau News (V8, #7) cautioned, “Better practice up on your club cheers, songs, and state song before coming to the County Contest!”

Did you note the words “and State Song” above? Did you know Maine 4-H had a State 4-H Song? Few do. You do, if you ever visited the Page Farm and Home Museum and carefully looked over their 4-H Exhibit. There it is, the original manuscript for the State 4-H Song, notes handwritten, and words typed.

section of music and lyrics to The Maine Song

Note I said “had a song,” as in past tense. Well, I don’t really know that anyone actually ever said it was no longer “our song” but it hasn’t been used in years and, given its background, if it isn’t “past tense,” maybe it ought to be.

Although it is uncertain exactly when the words to the Maine State 4-H Song were written, it was introduced to the members of the Maine Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs as the “Official State Club Song” by the September 1922 issue of the Extension newsletter Echoes from Clubdom (the name “4-H” was not widely used in Maine until 1924). I haven’t seen evidence yet on just what process was used to make it “official” however.

The song’s words are set to the music of “Marching through Georgia,” a Civil War era song composed by Henry Clay Work in 1865. Although it was a very popular, well-known song in the Northern states, “Marching through Georgia” was not, and still is not, understandably, highly regarded in the South. After all, it glorifies a very difficult chapter in American history, one that saw Union troops in 1864, led by General William Tecumseh Sherman, march from Atlanta to Savannah in a very successful effort to destroy the morale of the Southern States’ civilian population and hasten the war’s end. Morale wasn’t all that was destroyed, however. Property was destroyed and lives were lost; the march was not pretty. As General Sherman once said, “War is hell.” But the march did achieve its goal.

Apparently desiring a Maine Club song, Extension Editor Abraham L. T. Cummings, better known as “Uncle Abe” to the Maine 4-H’ers of the 1920s and ’30s, put words to the then popular Civil War song’s music. Cummings crafted the words “Here’s a song to dear old Maine, the state we love so well,” fitting them to the rhythms of the music almost better than the actual song’s own words! More an ode to Maine than to 4-H, the song does tie club work in, especially in the chorus, singing, “Come on! Come on! The Club is calling you. Come on! Come on! Let’s push our projects through. In home and farm achievement there is time for pleasure too, while we are doing our club work.”

According to Harold “Brownie” Brown and other state 4-H staff members I worked with in the 1990s, the song was wildly popular “in its day.” It was apparently sung for years at county and state 4-H events and anytime Maine 4-H’ers wanted to express their connection to Maine. However, over time, with the changing of personnel, continual concerns expressed over the music’s origin, and the discontinuation of specific events that incorporated the song as part of the program, the song itself became less and less known, eventually falling into disuse.

By the 1990s the idea that Maine even had a “state 4-H song” was so little known that the members of the 1997 State 4-H Teen Council were surprised to learn one even existed. At first they wanted to reintroduce it to their fellow Maine 4-H’ers. However, given the fact that even though the words were original, the music was not, being not only “borrowed” but “borrowed” from a “controversial” song, in the end, the State 4-H Teen Council decided not to use it. They decided instead to hold a statewide competition to create a new state 4-H Song. This worthy idea, however, was never fully implemented.

There are actually national 4-H songs too, although nothing so official as a national “anthem” or anything. In 1927, a woman named Fannie R. Buchanan put words to music composed by Rena M. Parish (Fannie was a member of the Iowa State Extension Staff but I’m not sure of Rena’s employment status) and created two “4‑H” songs, “Dreaming” (for girls) and “Plowing Song” (for boys). What exactly they have to do with 4-H is not clear to me. Click on them and have a listen! These were recorded by West Virginia 4-H and they even included the words so you can follow along!

Music and words for Dreaming and The Plowing Song curtesy of “New England Sings,” an undated song booklet, probably published in the 1950s, which lists itself as “A New England Cooperative Extension Publication.”

Music and words for Dreaming and The Plowing Song curtesy of “New England Sings,” an undated song booklet, probably published in the 1950s, which lists itself as “A New England Cooperative Extension Publication.”

Now if you want to hear them as they were FIRST recorded by Lambert Murphey, a tenor, singing the Plowing Song and Betty Martin, a soprano, singing Dreaming, visit Judy Smith in the UMaine Extension Franklin County office. Maybe, just maybe, she’ll play their 4-H RCA Victor record for you! However, you have to bring the machine and the cider and snacks. Well, okay, I don’t know for sure that it is the FIRST recording but I like to think so.

4-H RCA Victor records

Writing club songs in Maine, like cheers, also seems to have peaked in the 1930s. In that previous blog, “4-H Clubs, 1 2 3, 4-H Clubs for you and ME!” we included Mrs. Grindle’s club song that was found on page 5 of the February 1932 issue of Club Echoes. Written to the tune of “The Bum Song,” it began, “We are the jolly 4-H clubs, we love to work and play,” and included the ever ringing words, “Let’s try to make the better best In everything we do!”

Just those words alone make one want to cheer. Oh, let’s not start THAT again! But how about a few more club songs! Here is one sent in by “Mrs. Grant.” Could this be the same “Mrs. Grant” who sent games to the 1937 newsletter mentioned above from Franklin County? The song this “Mrs. Grant” sent appeared in the 1927 January/February issue of Echoes from Clubdom (v9, #7 & 8, page 2). Called “We’re Ever Marching” the letter says it is sung to the tune of “John Brown’s Body” (which is the same tune as “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Just saying.).

The club is ever working for a state achievement seal,
(repeat twice as to tune)
And it expects to win.

Come and join us we’re club workers,
Come and join us we’re club workers,
Come and join us we’re club workers,
We’re ever marching on.

It tried to do it’s (sic) duty and to never fail in zeal,
(repeat twice as to tune)
For we’re always on the job.

The county helps to make the work of splendid benefit,
(repeat twice as to tune)
To all who join the club.

Join head and heart and hand and health, and let us stick to it,
(repeat twice as to tune)
And so keep marching on.

The year 1927 must have been a good year for 4-H Club songs! The Echoes from Clubdom letters for May and June each included a club song as well. The May letter’s song was sent in by the “Ivy Club of Litchfield” (v9, #11, page 4). This club not only had a song, but a Motto as well: “Ever climbing.” Sung to “Yankee Doodle,” Ivy’s song is rather lengthy — even the newsletter apparently didn’t print all the verses saying, “Here are a few verses of their club song.” Following their lead, here are even FEWER of the verses, like just the first and the chorus!

We’re willing worker (sic) of the Ivy Club
Our Motto’s “Ever Climbing”
We cook and sew and wash and scrub
You never hear us whining.

Ivy Club Oh keep it up
Let us falter never
Mind you do your very best,
And keep it climbing ever.

Then in the 1927 June edition of Echoes from Clubdom, on page 3 (v9, #12), appeared the South Jefferson Boys’ and Girls’ Club song, sung to the tune “My Mother and Father were Irish.” I never heard that song but then, I’m not Irish! It is long too, so I’m just giving the highlights.

  1. My Mother and Father were farmers, (repeat twice as to tune), And I’m a farmer too.
  2. They fed their chickens on dry mash, (repeat twice), And I feed mine so, too.
  3. They raised the pig by a formula (repeat twice), They raised me that way, too.
  4. They both belonged to the Farm Bureau, (repeat twice), I belong to the 4-H Club.

I don’t know. That just doesn’t seem to end right to me but, again, I don’t know the tune and I’m not Irish.

The Happy Go Lucky 4-H Club of Morrill sent in their song to Club Echoes in May of 1931, and Club Echoes included it on page 5 (v13, #11). Well, they didn’t actually include the song. After saying the club had submitted a song that was written by Lester Merrithew they added in parentheses, “(Because of space we can only print one verse.)” And then they only printed the CHORUS! (tune: Yankee Doodle)

But you just bet we keep it up,
Though struggles are oft bitter,
Has no use for a quitter.

Hilda Weymouth, News Reporter

I kind of feel bad for Lester!

This song writing thing, however, seems to have been popular, maybe even contagious! Even State 4-H Leaders were getting on the act! That same 1931 May Club Echoes edition, on page 2, under the title of “A NEW SONG” (POOR LESTER!), wrote, “When you have a club guest, try this song, written by George L. Farley, State Club Leader, Massachusetts and Manager of Camp Vail. Tune: Auld Lang Syne.”

We’re always glad to meet new friends,
Our greetings all to you,
We cannot all shake hands you see,
So here’s our ‘How d’ye do’.

During the last line each person shakes hands with himself high over his head. Song taken from Rhode Island 4-H Club News.

Maybe Lester should have included hand signs in his.

Remember the song “Whistle while you work”? County Agent G. C. Dunn must have had that idea in mind when he wrote “Dishes” (tune: School Days). I’m not sure if Dunn was the Somerset County agent but the article says the song is sung by the Somerset County 4-H Cooking and Housekeeping girls while they do their work.

Dishes — Dishes —
Always doing dishes
Washing and scrubbing and turning around
Sometimes I drop one upon the ground
Sometimes I nick one or two
Sometimes I drop one on my shoe
But wherever I go
I’m sure to know
There’ll always be dishes to do.

I’ve even tried my hand at this! I TOLD you it was contagious! Here’s one I wrote which you can use to help “break the ice”. It is called M-A-I-N-E (sung to: B-I-N-G-O). The first person stands up and sings the song calling out another 4-H’er’s name. When he or she hears their name, they stand up and sing the song calling out another member’s name. This continues until everyone in the group has been identified.

I know a 4-H’er from Maine
And (insert first name) is his/her name, Oh
M-A-I-N-E, M-A-I-N-E, M-A-I-N-E
And (insert first name) is his/her name, Oh

Or, sing this version as a group at events such as Eastern States or National 4-H Congress:

We are 4-H’ers, we’re from Maine
We shout it very proudly
M-A-I-N-E, M-A-I-N-E, M-A-I-N-E
UMaine 4-H is for ME!

In reviewing some materials on the National 4-H History Preservation website I came across a song entitled “4‑H Farewell Song.” The site says it was “written by Carlton Day, 13, Lisbon Falls, ME” and “sung to the tune of May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You.” As you can tell, it leans on the religious. They don’t say when it was written but my guess is around 1938.

May the Good Lord bless and keep you
Whether near or far away;
May your 4-H work be helpful
To you every day.

May you find new joys in learning,
Both in profits and in fun.
May the Good Lord bless and keep you
Till we meet again.

May all blessings fall upon you,
On your head, heart, health and hands;
May new knowledge serve you daily,
In your homes and on your lands.

May your 4-H projects prosper,
Your rewards be 10 times 10.
May the Good Lord bless and keep you,
Till we meet — till we meet — again.

Singing songs and playing group games have always been a part of the 4-H experience, it seems, nationally and in Maine, even unto today. To prove the point, look at this learning session that was offered during the 2017 Maine 4-H Days held in July!

How to Be a Fun Captain: To get the most of our Saturday evening campfire we need teen leaders! Bring instruments you might want to play, bring campfire songs you want to share, we will be learning some large group games and songs to make this campfire memorable and awesome for all!

So picking up where I left off at the start of this blog:

Tis the end, no more to say here; Fa la la la la la la la la!
Which to many will bring GREAT cheer! Fa la la la la la la la la!

And THAT is where we’ll leave it “Till we meet — till we meet — again.”

More information about 4-H music can be found on the National 4-H History Preservation website.

Words to the Maine State 4-H Song

First Verse:

Here’s a song to dear old Maine, the state we love so well,
Biggest in New England, and the state in which to dwell;
The story of its glory we will ever gladly tell,
While we are doing our club work.


Come on! Come on! The Club is calling you.
Come on! Come on! Let’s push our projects through.
In home and farm achievement there is time for pleasure too,
While we are doing our club work.

Second Verse:

Shout the praise of our dear State, its rivers, lakes, and coast,
Fragrant fields and wooded hills, the pine of which we boast;
Best of all, the happy homes and folks we love the most,
While we are doing our club work.

Repeat Chorus

Third Verse:

Maine, the State of purest air, its waters crystal flow;
‘Tis true we have real winter, and a lot of ice and snow.
But winter sports are glorious and keep the cheeks aglow,
While we are doing our club work.

Repeat Chorus

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4-H Fix

Friday, November 17th, 2017


By Ron Drum, Statewide 4-H Program Professional/Associate Director 4-H Resource Development

Let’s face it. Who doesn’t like a CHAMPION?! Some would even argue that there is nothing better than being a CHAMPION! From personal experience I can tell you it is some fun!

Yes, I was once a champion! It was 1969 and I somehow was able to get my Soap Box Derby Racer across the finish line ahead of all my competitors making me the Hazelton Area Soap Box Derby Class B Champion (ages 10-12) of 1969! They said that, comparing the heat times, I’d have beaten the Class A Champion (for ages 13-15), too, except I kind of got over-excited winning the Class B Championship, hit my breaks too hard, spun out, crashed, and broke my axle (my mom was glad it wasn’t my leg!). Since I couldn’t race in the overall championship heat, Bruce (the Class A Champion) got to go to the National Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio. He lost to a kid from Texas. Darn.

Ron Drum as a boyStill, I got to ride in the Champions’ Car in the Hazleton Area Soap Box Derby Parade (the people cheered; Mom and Dad were the loudest) and get interviewed on radio and on TV, and lots of “ink” in the Hazelton Standard-Speaker newspaper. I even got to raise my trophy into the air!

We see it all the time! Lombardi Trophies get raised in the air, sometimes even KISSED, at the end of Super Bowl Games! Basketball players cut down the nets, which, by the way, always worries me that someone is going to get hurt because it looks a bit dangerous to me when they are doing it. They used to rush the football field and tear down the goal posts too, which WAS dangerous and people DID get hurt which is why, I think, they stopped doing that; not to mention the cost of replacing it! The boxer’s gloved fist gets raised above his head! The Blanket of Roses gets laid on the horse’s back. The gold medal is hung around the Olympian’s neck!

And the word “CHAMPION” gets attached to the name.

So, it should follow, obviously, that 4-H should have its champions, too! Right? Right!

The job of Extension has always been to teach the newest methods and understandings achieved through academic research to the people who can best use the knowledge, we the citizens! However, we the citizens are a resistant lot! The adults didn’t want to accept the new ideas and methods but the children did! Teaching to groups of young people was more efficient than teaching individuals so youth clubs were formed. Here again that resistance appeared! I’m not sure I understand why but people were suspicious of, and therefore resistant to, this new idea of club work! The Extension staff needed a way to show the people that club work was a good thing.

So, at the end of the first full year of 4-H in Maine, 1914, they held a State Contest of highest achieving county 4-H’ers and picked one as the Overall State Winner, to help make this point. That worked so well that counties began to hold their own contests to show the benefits of club work. These contests, sort of like fairs, sometimes called exhibitions, brought together all the county’s club members to show their project work and to see who was the best. Those county winners were then named County Champions!

The next logical step, with all these county champions being identified, was to bring the county champions to the already established state contest and have them compete with each other to see who would be the “champion” of each project area! So, the County Champions were sent to the State 4‑H Contest, usually held the last week of December on the Orono Campus of the University of Maine, and the competitions began.

And the Champions were chosen!

Being a 4-H Champion was a BIG deal, County or State; a badge of HONOR! Noted in a previous post, “the Original 4-H Brownie,” when Mildred Brown was introduced to the Extension Community in 1925 as the new Assistant State 4-H Leader by State 4-H Leader Lester Shibles, he made a point to mention that she twice earned the title of Kennebec County 4‑H Canning Champion and had placed third at a State Contest.

So the way it worked, at the State Contest at least, was the club members brought examples of their project work (for example, in the case of the Canning project, the members had to exhibit 10 jars of fruits and vegetables) to be judged by University officials. The exhibit scores became 20% of the overall score. The members had to submit a written story to be judged, which also was worth 20% of the score. Since one of the “selling” points for doing club work was that money could be earned through the project, the profit earned on the project made up 30% of the score and “production” was the final 30% of the score.

Emily Morse

Emily Morse

The first “Club Work State Winner” designated during the first State Contest held in 1914 was a 10-year old Washington County canning club member named Emily Morse of Cherryfield. Her story was told in a previous post called “She Set the Bar High.” She just missed being designated as “Champion” in 1915 but was anointed Champion in 1916 and 1917, then just missed again in 1918, making her quite the celebrity in the first five years of Maine 4-H, or “Club Work” as it was then known!

Penobscot County’s Marion Griffin of Levant was the Canning Champ to beat Emily in 1918. It was Aroostook County’s twelve year old Crystal Waddell of Mapleton who edged Emily out in 1915. Crystal’s two fellow Champions that year were Aroostook County’s Hartson Blackstone of Perham, Potato Champion, and Sagadahoc County’s Milton McEwin of Bowdoinham, Poultry Champion. I suppose there would have been more champions in 1915 if there had been more projects carried. However, those were the only three projects carried in 1915.

According to the 1916 UMaine Extension Bulletin #100 (Club Work Series #2), Hartson raised 459 bushels of potatoes to the acre in 1915, at a cost of 17 cents to the bushel (they don’t say how many acres). Crystal “put up 158 quarts of pickled beets” and sold 13 bushels of fresh beets. Milton won first prize at the Topsham Fair for his pen of Rhode Island Reds. He sold the pen’s rooster as a breeder for $10.00. Now those are indeed some championship stats!

head shots of Crystal Waddell, Hartson Blackstone, and Miltom McEwin

According to a story on page 5 of the December 30, 1916 edition of the Bar Harbor Times, 1916 Canning Champion Emily was joined by fellow Champions Alma Davis, Machias, Poultry; Dorothy Shackford, Ellsworth, Pig Raising; Milford Blackstone, Perham, Potato Raising; and Hilda Sullivan, Orono, Gardening.

Milford was Hartson’s younger brother. I’m not sure what the age range was to be a Club Member when this all started (it’s 5-19 now) so I’m guessing Hartson, being 20 years old in 1916, was too old to compete, opening the door for 18-year-old Milford. Either that or it was a hard fought battle between brothers!

Hartson Blackstone, age 40, and his two 4-H Member sons, 16 year old Philip and 14 year old RichardHartson continued farming in Perham and his family stayed in association with 4-H. Extension Bulletin #228: Boys’ and Girls’ 4-H Clubs in Maine, written by Extension Editor Clarence Day in 1936, included this photo of Hartson, then age 40, and his two 4-H Member sons, 16 year old Philip and 14 year old Richard.

Hartson is the fellow in the middle. Hartson and his wife Kathryn, also age 40 in 1936, had a total of five children. Ruth, born 1926, Hartson, born 1928, and Mary, born 1930, round out the family.

As the number of 4-H Projects one could take in 4-H increased each year, so too grew the number of State Champions.

The 16th Annual State 4-H Contest, held in 1929, was regarded by many as one of the best ever held. That year saw eleven 4-H Members be named to twelve Championships; Wayne Rich of Charleston was named Champion in both Pig Raising and Potato Raising. Rich went on to have a highly successful career with Extension. Serving for a year (1934-35) as Assistant Extension Editor, he helped launch Maine Extension’s foray into teaching via radio in 1935! Rich served for a number of years as the Androscoggin/Sagadahoc County 4-H Agent before he moved to New Hampshire where he finished his Extension career. The Maine 4-H Foundation’s Wayne S. Rich 4-H Scholarship is named in his memory.

Wayne’s fellow 1929 champions were Andrew Watson, North Belgrade, Chick Raising; Helen Goodwin, Shapleigh, Beans; Margaret Knightly, Norway, Canning; Gilbert Cox, New Sharon, Gardening; Lucinda Rich, Charleston, Cooking and Housekeeping; Linwood Chase, Hampden, Sweet Corn; Wilson Luftkin, Levant, Dairy; Hayden Rogers, West Bath, Poultry Management; Clarinda Davis, Buxton, Room Improvement; and Helen Clements, Monroe, Sewing.

Andrew Watson, 1929 Chick Raising Champion, was the 1928 Chick Raising Champion as well. In fact, he was named Chick Raising Champion FOUR years in a row, 1927, 1928, 1929, and 1930! This is his Champion Certificate from 1928.

Champion Certificate from 1928

Being a four-time champion is really something but just the fact that Andrew achieved State Champion status in 1927 alone is noteworthy when you consider that he only joined 4-H in 1926! He even won the County Championship THAT year! In 1931 he was selected as one of the four Maine 4-H’ers to represent Maine at the Fifth Annual National 4-H Club Camp, later to be called National 4-H Conference, held in Washington, D.C. In June of 1943 Andrew joined the Navy. He was commissioned as an Ensign. In February 1945 he was promoted to Lieutenant JG. After the war he became a Marketing Specialist with the Maine Department of Agriculture. He passed away in Largo, Florida, a little over a month shy of his 90th birthday, January 29, 2004. What a stand-out!

The Cooking and Housekeeping Champion of 1929, Lucinda Rich of Charleston, 1924. Penobscot County Farm Bureau News (v6, #2, p3).The Cooking and Housekeeping Champion of 1929, Lucinda Rich of Charleston, Wayne Rich’s cousin, was a stand-out too! She was 10 when she joined 4-H in 1924. She made such a splash in her first year that the county 4-H Staff included her photo and a few paragraphs about her in their May, 1925 edition of the Penobscot County Farm Bureau News (v6, #2, p3).

In the article they say that even though she is just 10 years old, “She is one of the most outstanding club members in Penobscot County.” High praise! Here’s why. “…last year (her FIRST year in 4-H) …she finished with the highest score in the county in Cooking and Housekeeping Club, though she competed with many girls, and boys too, who were years older than she, none who were as young.” Unanimously elected as President of the club in 1925, and “…standing well in her classes in the fifth grade,” she was a stand-out indeed! She even prepared a talk and demonstration on judging bread which she presented, according to the article, “…at Farm Bureau and Extension meetings, and at club meetings in Charleston, Bradford, and Garland, and giving it in such a manner that we have been very proud of her.”

She was only 13 when Maine asked her to represent the state as one of the four delegates sent by Maine to the 1927 National 4-H Club Camp, the Camp’s inaugural year! Of course, upon selection, notice was made of this accomplishment in the April 1927 edition of Echoes from Clubdom, (v9, #10, pages 3 & 4). After noting the accomplishments noted above, it went on saying, “Again in 1926 she won first honors in sewing and in pig projects and was a member of the demonstration team for her club. Already this year she has practically completed all the requirements for cooking and housekeeping work project.” And then they added, “Rather interesting sidelight is that Lucinda has attended nearly every club meeting since joining in 1924.”

Her three fellow delegates that year were Norman Hamlin, Andrew Sawtelle, and Lucille Parker. According to that same Echoes from Clubdom article, Norman Hamlin, also a four year member, was from Turner in Twin County. Having won the chicken project State Championship in 1925 and 1926 he was looking to win it again in 1927. However, as we already know, along came Watson! Hamlin’s goal was to study agriculture at the University of Maine. No word on if he did but we assume so.

Andrew Sawtelle was from East Wilton in Franklin County. He’d been in 4-H for five years. Over those years he excelled at potato growing, sweet corn, and gardening, winning county potato champion in 1926. Being almost continually on the Honor Roll, popular among his fellow students and manager of the school football team round out his resume!

Lucille Parker hailed from Dover-Foxcroft in Piscataquis County. Lucille, 16 in 1927, was the longest tenured of the group having been in 4-H for six years, a member of the Over The Top 4-H Club of West Dover. Canning, sewing, cooking, and housekeeping, and, in 1926, pigs were her projects. Because of all the prizes she’d won, the article ends saying that was, “…a good indication of the fine quality of workmanship that she has been doing.” Go Lucille!

But we were talking about Lucinda. At 18 in 1932, while serving as both Club Leader and Member of the Charleston 4-H Club, Lucinda Rich earned the title State 4-H Canning Champion. She graduated from Higgins Classical Institute in 1933 and entered classes at the University of Maine studying Home Economics. In 1936 the Maine State Federation of Farm Bureaus established a scholarship at the University of Maine for College of Agriculture students and gave the first one to Lucinda Rich. In 1937 she graduated with distinction from the University of Maine holding a BS in Home Economics.

Shortly thereafter Lucinda joined the Extension staff of Knox-Lincoln County as the 4-H Club Agent. In 1940 she became the K-L County Home Demonstration Agent and continued in that role until shortly after her marriage to Clarence E (Bob) Waterman. They were married January 10, 1943.

Together they raised three children, Rebecca, Robert, and Sally. In 1963 Lucinda became a high school teacher. She taught at Camden High School and Camden-Rockport High School through 1970.

On Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 2003, Lucinda Rich Waterman passed away, a true champion for all of her 89 years.

As understanding of the science of youth development progressed, however, less emphasis was placed on head to head competitions and more emphasis was given to recognizing excellence of one’s own efforts. Traditional State Championships were discontinued in 1939, replaced by recognition being given to 4‑H’ers who excelled not only in their 4-H projects but in all aspects of 4-H. By 1941 the only “state championships” awarded were those supported by national donors, the selection process primarily serving as a means of identifying delegates for national 4-H experiences. Eleven such project-specific “champions” were named in 1941 — six members were designated to attend National 4-H Club Congress in Chicago and two delegates were designated to attend the National Dairy Show in Memphis, TN, while two others received gold watches and one received a gold medal.

And so it has continued into recent times. Through this blog you have already met Kathy Watier, Sarah Stoodley, Betsy Carroll, and Aaron Carroll, true “champions” of Maine 4-H from the 1990s even if we didn’t call them that! There were many “Champions” in the 1990s including “super” leaders such as Michelle Fogg of Waldo County; brothers J.J. and Travis Averill, Franklin Co; Jana Hawes and Alana Burns, Knox-Lincoln Co; Mark Benware (he wanted to become an airline pilot. I wonder if he ever did.), Cumberland Co; and Ortencia Arellano, Franklin Co.

Ortencia. What a strong LEADER! Ortencia and Jana were President and Vice President respectively of the 1998 State 4-H Teen Council; my last year working with that group. Both of them (well, all of them REALLY, listed here or not) had tremendous potential for success!

And, of course, now I am in BIG trouble for naming names because this list of “champions” from the 1990s only scratches the surface! It could grow to be quite long! For example, take Cumberland County’s Sarah Clark. She now sits as a member of the State 4-H Staff but we call her Sarah Sparks today!

Speaking of today, here is a photo of some of Maine’s NEWEST 4-H Champions — 2017 recipients of Maine 4-H Foundation Scholarships, many of whom have already been to, or will soon be attending, National 4-H Conference and/or National 4-H Congress. True Leaders ALL!

4-H Champions – 2017 recipients of Maine 4-H Foundation Scholarships

In a report on Extension in Maine from 1910 to 1950, Clarence Day, by then Extension Editor Emeritus, wrote in 1957, “…during the 1930s 4-H club work became mature (and)…won a sure place in the educational system of the nation….”

So the non-formal educational process that in the beginning selected Champions from amongst its participants, grew up to itself become a CHAMPION — the Champion of Education that it is today. Again quoting Day from his 1957 report, he suggests that the most lasting rewards gained through 4-H, “…are to be found in the growth and development of the boys and girls themselves — in the knowledge that they learn and in the skills that they acquire in their endeavor to make their best better.”

In 2017, I couldn’t say it any better myself.

Don’t miss your December 4-H Fix! Due to go live on December 15, it will be a noteworthy way to end the year! It’s all about 4-H SINGING!

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4-H Fix

Friday, October 13th, 2017

4-H Clubs, 1 2 3, 4-H Clubs for You and ME!

By Ron Drum, Statewide 4-H Program Professional/Associate Director 4-H Resource Development

Illustration of a 4-H Club meeting (at a table outdoors under the trees) as depicted on the original Boys and Girls Clubs Charter issued by the USDA.

A 4-H Club meeting as depicted on the original Boys and Girls Clubs Charter issued by the USDA.

Almost every 4-H Club meeting I’ve ever attended began like this: After 2-3 taps of a gavel, a teenager says, “I call this meeting to order! Please stand for the pledges to the flags.” Everything else is then drowned out by the scrapping of the chairs being pushed back as the members all stand to recite the American and 4-H Pledges. You could almost put money on it.

My first exposure to 4-H was via a 4-H Club meeting. I’ll never forget walking into the meeting hall upstairs in the Butler Township Fire Station, Drums, Pennsylvania, and seeing a bunch of kids sitting theatre style in the middle of the room, all looking at these four kids sitting at a table in front of them, facing them. Obviously they were doing something in earnest and quite involved, voting and making decisions and discussing topics. What caught my attention, even as an eight year old, was how they were doing all this without input from adults. All the adults, parents and such, were lined along the walls, chatting. I remember at one point the kid at the table banging his gavel and asking the adults to please be quiet so the club could carry on their business! Kids telling adults what to do — unheard of in my young world. Kids being responsible for themselves — I thought it was just GREAT! I wanted IN!

THAT is the essence of 4-H; young people learning to be responsible, to be leaders, and it all starts at the 4-H Club meeting. Of course, Maine youth today can be involved with 4-H in many ways — after-school, in-school, camps — but clubs are still the standard. To learn more about 4-H Clubs in Maine today check out Maine 4-H Clubs and 4-H Spin Clubs.

Indeed, it ALL started with clubs. The 4-H Program, nationally, measures its beginnings by when the first club met. The first club meeting we can document was in 1902, led by A.B. Graham of Ohio, thus we identify 1902 as that first year of 4-H.

Now before we go too much further into this story let me just warn you that this is a rather long post; much longer than they say blog posts should be. And this part here at the beginning, well, I admit it, it is a tad bit boring. But keep reading. I promise, this thing will get better as it goes, and if you do keep pushing through this post, you’ll soon be glad you did. No really. Promise! Anyway, enough for the commercial, now back to the story.

Extension was created as a way for the university to extend its teachings into the communities. Maine’s first Extension Director, Dr. Leon S. Merrill, often pointed out that it was Extension’s job to gather the knowledge gained through university research, Demonstration Farms, and Experiment Stations, and “take these truths out to the farms and set them at work!” Easier said than done when the farmers resisted the new ideas.

However, young people, with less connection to tradition and more interest in performing better at the fair, listened to the new ideas. The Agents found it was more efficient to provide the information to groups rather than individuals so clubs were created. Clubs gave the young people a sense of belonging and played to the natural competitiveness of the young people. And the kids listened and learned and did better, not only better than last year, but better than their PARENTS! NOW the parents wanted to hear these new ideas, too! Clubs were helping Extension get its job done. Sagadahoc Agent Harold Shaw said in his plan for 1915-16 that “in every way possible, steps will be taken to organize Boys’ and Girls’ Agricultural Clubs.”

But in the early days, before a track record of success was established, the club idea was met with resistance. As happened in many places and states, an Aroostook County 4-H Volunteer, Mrs. Harriett Pratt of Macwahoc, noted in 1916, “I found the children ready and willing but the parents strongly opposed.”

So county and state contests and fairs were put on where the young people exhibited their club work and achievements. People began to see there was a value in this thing called Boys’ and Girls’ Club Work. So much so, that Mrs. Pratt was able to report that after just one of these contests, one of her strongest critics was now saying, “I want to see the children try again so that I can encourage them.”

I hate to say it, but war helped. As bad as war is, World War I was a good thing for 4-H. Just as many states, like Maine, were trying to encourage people to let their children join these new clubs, along came the war. Civilians were asked to do their part in winning the war by producing more for themselves so that the food, clothing, and materiel produced commercially could be used to support the soldiers. Growing their own food and making their own clothes is often what 4-H’ers do, especially true through the decade of the 1910s. So young people joined these clubs as a civic duty and membership jumped greatly.

Pounding home the point that Club Work was good for kids and the country didn’t hurt either! Thus page one of the June 1918 edition of the brand new newsletter Echoes from Clubdom (v. 1, #1), Maine’s first statewide 4-H Newsletter, included,

“Didn’t have to be asked. I’m carrying two projects this year.” A short time ago the State Club Leader visited a town in which he organized a club last year after much difficulty. This year one of the boys who had been hard to persuade last season (his parents also objected to give permission for the boy to join the club) greeted the State Worker with the above statement. Moreover, his mother is a club leader this year.

The September 1918 edition (v1, #4) reported “one mother has said, ‘I try to attend every meeting because there I learn so many things I want to know and am ashamed to ask.’”

The March 1919 edition (v. 1, #10), in the first paragraph, asked its readers to “think about the future of club work, to consider what its possibilities are and what it should mean to the communities….” And then it continued with the second paragraph:

The surest guarantee we have that club work is popular and worthwhile is the continued growth that it has enjoyed. Starting in 1914, under rather adverse conditions and with very few persons to support the movement, the club work today has several thousand youths who are waiting and eager to get into the work for 1919 and scores of men and women who stand ready to be Local Leaders again. Not only is this true, but business men and business organizations are ready to do their part to promote a work found to be worthy of their support.

What is the reason for this change in the brief space of five years? There is but one answer to be given and that is that club work has for its one aim to develop the boys and girls of the state…. It is Maine Boys and Girls that we are all aiming to help in any and every way possible; that is why club work has grown so rapidly and is bound hereafter to hold a prominent place.

Well, that and the war, but still.

After the war was over, something needed to be done to keep young people interested in these clubs. More emphasis was placed on the idea of the club, itself. The emblem was in use in Maine by 1915 as was the motto, “To Make the Best Better.” Clubs around the country were kicking around the idea of a 4-H Pledge. The one that became official in 1927 (I pledge my head to clearer thinking…) was introduced to Maine 4-H’ers as a “dandy” pledge from Kansas in 1919 but even as late as 1926 clubs were still creating their own. Here is an offering from 1926, noted in that year’s December issue of Echoes from Clubdom (v9, #6, page 1):

As an earnest club member I dedicate
My hands to honest labor,
My health to useful endeavor,
My head to straight thinking,
My heart to human happiness —
All in devoted loyalty to my club, my community, my State and My Country.

As they say today, “Meh.”

Nationally, to enhance the “sense of club” in addition to the emblem, motto, and pledge, stuff like a 4‑H flag, pins, 4-H colors (green and white), and even uniforms were adopted.

To ensure the educational integrity of the 4-H Club, national standards were developed in 1918. Under these standards, four requirements were suggested to define groups as “official” clubs:

  1. a minimum of five members working on a similar project;
  2. the presence of an adult local leader;
  3. democratically elected appropriate officers; and
  4. the existence of a plan, or program of work, for the year.

In 1919 the Extension Service, United States Department of Agriculture, started issuing CHARTERS to groups that met the four requirements. These charters, although not dated, were signed by the State Club Leader, the State Extension Director, and the Secretary of Agriculture. Then, if it continued to meet these standards, and recorded the following additional accomplishments, the club would receive a National Seal of Achievement to be affixed to their charter annually. Some clubs received their initial Seal with their charter!

To receive a Seal of Achievement the clubs needed to hold at least six meetings during the year (Maine further explained that the Club secretary must keep a record of these meetings as well as the progress of each member), hold an annual exhibit, have a team that performs at least one public demonstration program in the community, attain a 60% project completion rate, and hold an achievement day program. Maine also asked for the club to have a judging team chosen by competition among the members and to hold membership in the farm bureau “or other county club organization.”

State 4-H Leader Ralph P. Mitchell introduced these standards to Maine in 1919. Clarence Day, Extension Editor Emeritus, in a 1957 unpublished report on Extension in Maine from 1910 to 1950, reported that 32 clubs received charters in 1919, four of them also receiving achievement seals. According to Day, the first Maine Club to receive a charter was the Bridgeton Girls’ Cooking and Housekeeping Club, Eva N. Howard, Leader.

Photo of Busy Ants Club of Portage Charter document

Busy Ants Club of Portage Charter

So, although they were not dated when signed, you can tell approximately when they were issued by who signed the thing. For example, if you go and visit Leisa Plissey in the UMaine Extension Aroostook County’s Houlton office, you can see the charter issued to the Busy Ants Club of Portage! It is signed by Secretary of Agriculture Henry C. Wallace, Extension Director Leon S. Merrill, and State 4-H Leader Lester H. Shibles, dating it to 1921-1924. It has 21 interestingly placed Achievement Seals.

Visit Sally Farrell in the UMaine Extension York County office and she’ll show you the charter for the Wells Hustlers 4-H Club. It holds one Seal of Achievement and is signed by Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace, Extension Director Arthur L Deering, and State 4-H Leader KC Lovejoy, dating it to between 1935 and 1940.

While in York County, stop by Hazel Goodwin’s place and have a look at the charter issued to the Four Leaf Clover Club of Shapleigh. It’s as old as the charter for the Pioneer Cooking and Housekeeping Club of Machias, which is the next charter to be discussed below. These two charters are similar in that both are signed by the same Secretary of Agriculture and both signatures are so faded they are almost impossible to read. That guy needed better INK!

The difference between the two charters is that the Pioneer Cooking holds two achievement seals; the Four Leaf Clover has over 40 — that’s where I lost count. The Four Leaf Clover Club is still active! Different members but still active — 99 years and counting!

West Gorham Victory 4-H Club Charter.

West Gorham Victory 4-H Club Charter.

Two charters are included in the Page Farm and Home Museum’s 4-H Exhibit.

  • Pioneer Cooking and Housekeeping Club of Machias. The Secretary of Agriculture’s signature may be faded and hard to read, but it is David F. Houston. He served 1913-1920. The other signatories are Extension Director Leon S. Merrill and State 4-H Leader Ralph P. Mitchell, making this charter, along with the Four Leaf Clover Club’s mentioned above, one of the earliest charters received by Maine, probably two of the original 32 issued to Maine in 1919. This one holds two Achievement Seals.
  • West Gorham Victory 4-H Club of West Gorham. This charter is signed by Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace, Extension Director Arthur L Deering, and State 4-H Leader KC Lovejoy, dating it to between 1935 and 1940. It holds 32 Achievement seals.
Evelyn Plummer

Evelyn Plummer

Oxford County’s 4-H Agent, Evelyn Plummer, re-affirmed the importance of club work when she said in her first report (1927-28), “The club work is one of the most important projects as it deals with the young people.”

Having the club was one thing. Getting TO club meetings was another! Sometimes it was hard to do! This from the February 1932 issue of the statewide newsletter that succeeded Echoes from Clubdom, Club Echoes (v14, #8, page 6) talks of kids walking. Later on we’ll mention some kids SKIING to their club meeting!

I saw in the (1931) Club Echoes the names of club members…who traveled some distance to attend meetings. Evelyn, Doris and Bernard Currier walk five miles each way to attend the meetings. Barbara E. Witham walked five miles each way part of the time. Donald Jackson walks six miles each way to attend the meetings. Elizabeth Smith walked seven miles each way. …I think that this shows a wonderful spirit in their work. They all seem so interested and come so regularly. Chester E. White, Asst. Leader

To enhance the sense of belonging and loyalty, Clubs were encouraged to create songs and cheers which were, apparently quite loudly, presented during events such as State Club Contest and ESE Camp Vail. In fact, the Penobscot County Farm Bureau News (V8, #7 Oct 1927) suggested, “Better practice up on your club cheers, songs, and state song before coming to the County Contest!”

This song appeared in the February 1932 Club Echoes on page 5:

(sung to the tune of “The Bum Song”)
Written by Mrs. Isa Grindle, Local Leader, Exeter
Sung at County Contest, 1931, by club.

We are the jolly 4-H clubs
We love to work and play
We sew and mend and can and cook
Through all the summer day
We wish to show our parents and friends
That club work is worthwhile
By doing all our club work
With a cheery word and smile.

Come on let’s shout for club work
All the whole year through
Let’s try to make the better best
In everything we do
It’s head and heart and hand and health
That make our club a 4-H Club
None better can you find.

One of the earliest cheers I found (Echoes from Clubdom, v1, #13, June 1919) was the Litchfield club’s cheer:

One two three — who are we?
We are the clover club, don’t you see?
Are we in it? Yes, we are!
Four leaf clover club

How about this one from 1925 (Echoes from Clubdom, v8, #2, August 1925):

Gang-way please, gang-way please
Wells Ever-ready club wants to sneeze
Gang-way please, gang-way please
Wells Ever-ready club wants to sneeze

No, I am not making these up. That’s why I am giving their citations!

How about some County Cheers? Club Echoes, v8, #9, March 1931 reported this county cheer. I bet you can’t guess what county it’s from:

Great big W
Little crook a
Great long L
Without any tail
Humped back D
Little round o
All put together
Spell Waldo.

Perhaps my favorite, if one can have a favorite one of these [used to announce Aroostook County’s presence during the 1931 State 4-H Contest and led by 4-H Cheerleader Alda Cook of Mapleton], might be this one (Club Echoes, v8, #7, January 1931):

Put one O
Put two O
Put three O
Put four O
Put five O
Put six O
Put seven O
Put eight O — AROOSTOOK!

Then, to make sure the reader “got it,” I guess, the editor added in parentheses “(potato).”

Certificate reads: Maine 4-H Clubs (To Make the best Better) This is to certify KATHY ADAMS of CLOVERETTES has completed one or more 4-H club projects during the year 1961 under the direction of the Agricultural Extension Service of the University of Maine. [Signed] Russell E. Clark, County Extension Agent; Kenneth C. Lovejoy, State Club Leader; Geo. E. Lord, Director of Extension

Certificate reads: Maine 4-H Clubs (To Make the best Better) This is to certify KATHY ADAMS of CLOVERETTES has completed one or more 4-H club projects during the year 1961 under the direction of the Agricultural Extension Service of the University of Maine. [Signed] Russell E. Clark, County Extension Agent; Kenneth C. Lovejoy, State Club Leader; Geo. E. Lord, Director of Extension

And then we have the fun club names. For example, does the Klippity Klop 4-H Club still exist in Sanford? Amanda Chamberlin was a member of that club in 1998. Oxford County 4-H Member Kathy Adams belonged to the Cloverettes 4-H Club in 1961. Here is one of her 4-H Project Completion certificates.

And don’t forget “The Busy Ants Club” mentioned earlier! Maine 4-H’ers have always given their 4-H Clubs FUN names! Take these for example! I’m not going to offer citations for most of them; there are too many. Just know that I found the club names in various reports and newsletters. Furthermore, for the sake of my reputation, I refuse to comment on these club names. You’ll see what I mean.

Group photo of the Lucky Lindy Club on the back of a truck

The original photo caption: “The Lucky Lindy Club of North Saco as they came to the field day.”

How about the Lucky Lindy Club, whose name is found in the York County 4-H Agent’s report of 1928?

Note two things.

  1. The boy in front has a baseball glove. However, he has it on the wrong hand. I’m guessing this was done on purpose given the amusement on the faces of the others in the photo.
  2. There is a 4-H Clover in the rear window of the vehicle to the right of the members, the one with the decorated spare tire.

By the way, I assume “Lucky Lindy” is a reference to the American aviator who made the first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean on May 20-21, 1927, Charles A. Lindbergh. At the time, he was all the rage.

As an aside, Club Echoes reported that in 1931 five girls from the Lucky Lindy’s sewed a box of infants clothing and gave it to the Henrietta D. Goodall Hospital as a community service project. Nice.

Or THIS one, the Work and Win Club, from the Kennebec County 4-H Agent’s report of 1929?

Members of the Work and Win Club, of Sidney visiting the garden of Allen Dyer on their club tour.

The original caption read: “Work and Win Club, of Sidney visiting the garden of Allen Dyer on their club tour.”

I wonder if that’s Allen standing there in the knickers.

Group photo of the Snappy Girls 4 H Club

The Snappy Girls 4 H Club

The word “Snappy” seems to have been popular when naming 4-H Clubs. For instance, Penobscot County’s “The Snappy Girls 4‑H Club” is shown here. The 1930 newsletter failed to identify their town, however, a later edition identifies them as being from East Bangor!

And I also found these “snappy” names:

  • Happy Snappy 4-H Club of Ellsworth
  • Happy Snappy Sewing 4-H Club of Franklin
  • Snappy Six 4-H Club of South Paris
  • “Pleiades Snappy” 4-H Club of Glenburn.

What the heck!? Pleiades? The Seven Sisters?! Huh. Maybe there were only seven girls in the club! But what does “snappy” have to do with it? Oh, sorry. I said I wasn’t going to comment, didn’t I?

How about some more “happy” names, then?

  • Group photo of the Happy Hustlers 4-H Club of Dexter

    Happy Hustlers 4-H Club of Dexter

    From 1937, here is the Happy Hustlers 4-H Club of Dexter!

Huh! I wonder if they knew any of the members of the “Happy Hustlers Girls 4‑H Club from Green Ridge? Or the Happy Hustlers of Denmark? Or the Happy Hustlers of North Freeport? How about we just settle for the Willing Workers of East Belfast?

Yes, “Happy” was a popular choice! Here’s another:

  • Happy Hour 4-H Club of Carmel.

Like I said, I refuse to comment, although I am sorely, sorely, tempted to do so!

No “happy” in the following list, or “willing” or “snappy” for that matter, but names certainly just as entertaining! Ready? Here goes!

  • Whoopie 4-H Club of Palermo, Freda Worthington, President.
  • Better Your Best 4-H Club, Exeter
  • Up and At It 4-H Club of Bagley Hill, Troy
  • Kumjoinus 4-H Club, Southwest Harbor
  • South Brooks Go Getters 4-H Club (whose leader, BTW, reported that four of their girls skied over three miles to attend a meeting to which the newsletter editor added “such letters make life worth living.” See? I told you we’d mention skiing 4-H’ers!)
  • Stic-to-it 4-H Club, Greene
  • So-a-way 4-H Club of Bryant Pond
  • Live Wire 4-H Club, Franklin
  • Big Workers 4-H Club of Atkinson
  • Ever Ready 4-H Club, Levant
  • Clover Leaf 4-H Club of Richville
  • Lucky Clover 4-H Club. I saw a number of these including the one my son belonged to in Maryland!
  • Kozy Korner Sewing 4-H Club (the town wasn’t identified but the leader was! Mrs. A.S. Holden)
  • Rintumditty 4-H Club of West Chapman (whose member, Helen Buck, “never missed a club meeting during the four years in which she has been a member.”)
  • Re-Ly-On-Us 4-H Club of Monmouth

Darn, I wish I could list them all but I can’t so last but not least, from the Farmington State Normal School, comes: EFFESSENNESS 4-H Club.

Ok, I have to comment on this one, too. It took me a while to “get it” but finally I did. Did you? If not, try: F-S-N-S, as in Farmington State Normal School. Pretty crafty, indeed.

See? I told you it’d get better if you just kept reading. Glad you did?

In the 1933 Marx Brothers movie Duck Soup, Groucho Marx’s character, Rufus T. Firefly, speaks this line: “I got a good mind to join a club and beat you over the head with it!” In fear of my doing that to you with this blog post, perhaps it is the better part of valor to end this here.

What’s fun about YOUR 4-H Club? Send us a note and perhaps it can be part of a future “4-H Fix”!!

For your November 4-H Fix, we give you “Maine’s 4-H Champions!” Read this CHAMPIONSHIP blog post on November 17.

Were you a 4-H Member?

4-H emblemUMaine 4-H wants to hear your story. Please take a moment to fill out our short form and Tell Us Your Story!

Click here to learn how to support UMaine 4-H.

University of Maine Cooperative Extension conducts the state’s most successful out-of-school youth educational program through 4-H, a positive youth development program that has been empowering young people in Maine to reach their full potential since 1913.

4-H Fix

Monday, September 18th, 2017

Follow a Researcher®

By Laura Wilson, 4-H Science Professional, UMaine Extension

Before I begin talking about the 4-H Follow a Researcher® program, I just want to take a moment and thank Ron Drum for all he’s done for Maine 4-H, including the creation of the 4-H Fix blog. It was a pleasure to get to know Ron over the two years he was “back in Maine.”

My role with 4-H is to make connections for youth to the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) resources at UMaine. UMaine is a premier research university, and those resources are vast and varied. The opportunities for UMaine students are also vast and varied, and students are involved in every aspect of researcher here.

Quelccaya glacier camp

We started “Follow a Researcher®” to try to show youth the opportunities that exist here at their own state public university. The ways students can be involved in research range from working in a laboratory, to looking for articles in a library, to even collecting data in the field. For graduate students at UMaine, research can take them all over the world, exposing them to different cultures and wild adventures.

Follow a Researcher® connects youth (individuals, clubs, classrooms) through social media to UMaine students who are conducting research. Youth are able to see how the research projects unfold from the planning stages to actual data collection. You can watch videos or see pictures of UMaine students as they collect ice cores from a glacier, ask questions as they dig for bones in the Falklands, and do a science activity at home that demonstrates how ice shelves in Antarctica move — and those are only the beginning! Here’s how it works…

Kit Hamley

Kit Hamley

We introduce you to a student researcher like Kit.

We give you a bit of information about what they are researching — in Kit’s case, an extinct fox in the Falkland Islands.

We give you examples of activities you can do at home or school that show how the science works, and release weekly videos showing the stages of their research. Best of all, we give youth the opportunity to ask the student researcher questions — questions about the location of the research (What is the food like? Is there a town nearby? What language is spoken?), the research itself, (What are you looking for? Have you had any problems with your equipment? Have you found anything exciting yet?) or about the adventure in data collection (How long was the plane ride? Where are you sleeping?). We use a satellite communication device to allow the student researcher to talk with us from anywhere in the world — and that device talks through Twitter.

Our Twitter handle is @UMaineFAR

Lynn Kaluzienski pets a husky at the US Antarctic Headquarters

Lynn Kaluzienski

Last year, we followed Lynn as she was exploring the movement of the Larsen ice shelf in Antarctica. An accident at her research site sent her home early, and we are very excited that we will be following Lynn back to Antarctica this fall. Lynn is excited to share her research, and we’re happy to have her back with us.

We hope you come to Antarctica with us this fall. Our prior expedition materials (to a glacier in Peru and the Falkland Islands) are online, and you are welcome to explore those too.  Visit Follow a Researcher®, email, or tweet with us at @UMaineFAR. We look forward to sharing UMaine student adventures in science and engineering with you.

Were you a 4-H Member?

4-H emblemUMaine 4-H wants to hear your story. Please take a moment to fill out our short form and Tell Us Your Story!

Click here to learn how to support UMaine 4-H.

University of Maine Cooperative Extension conducts the state’s most successful out-of-school youth educational program through 4-H, a positive youth development program that has been empowering young people in Maine to reach their full potential since 1913.

4-H Fix

Friday, August 18th, 2017

Where Has the Time Gone?

By Ron Drum, Statewide 4-H Program Professional/Associate Director 4-H Resource Development

It wasn’t supposed to be “permanent” anyway, if anything ever is. It was a two-year appointment that brought me back to Maine in 2015. At the time this started I thought, “Oh two years! That’s a good long time!” Then I blinked and it was gone.

Turns out that two years isn’t very long at all.

In fact, some folks who knew me back when I was here in the ’90s haven’t yet even realized that I returned! And now I’ve left again! That’s right, I’m gone again. I’ve returned to Pennsylvania, back where I started.

But my-oh-my what a two years it has been. I wouldn’t trade these last two years for anything. I really don’t think I deserved them. After all, I had already been given 6.5 years as a member of UMaine’s State 4-H Staff in the 1990s to live and work in Maine. So I was beside myself to actually get to come back to live in and work in and enjoy the state of Maine for two more years!

That’s two more winters (although the 2015 winter wasn’t much, the 2016 winter, with not one but TWO BLIZZARDS, kind of made up for it),

snow-filled path to Wells Conference Center at UMaine

Wells Conference Center on the UMaine Orono campus. That’s my briefcase sitting against the snow.

trace of fresh snow beside the road; cell phone screen reads: Thursday, April 20, 2017

Yes, that is snow on the ground in April. I know it happens, but still!

two more mud seasons (what those from the lower 47 call “spring”),

two more summers (well, two Julys at least),

Hannibal Hamlin’s grave Mt Hope Cemetery, Bangor July 23, 2016.

Hannibal Hamlin’s grave
Mt Hope Cemetery, Bangor
July 23, 2016.

Rubber glove looks like a lizard foot

I hope it is Halloween! Otherwise, I need to see a DOCTOR!

and, the season I REALLY enjoy, two more autumns filled with orange pumpkins and children’s laughter and wonderful, colorful autumn Leaves — and don’t forget National 4-H Week!

In a previous blog post, called “Maine, the Way Gifts Should Be,” I spoke of the wonders of Maine so I won’t repeat myself here. Just know, if you haven’t read that post, or don’t know from personal experience, the wonders of Maine are truly wonderful. They, in fact, can take your breath away!

But when I was here in the ’90s, it was all about the programs happening right then. We were developing teen conferences, and establishing experiences like Maine 4-H Days; it was all about the Animal Science Commodity Committees and 4-H Volunteer Forums; it was all about who was representing Maine at the Eastern States Exposition, National 4-H Congress, Citizenship Washington Focus, and National 4-H Conference. It was all about working with so many wonderful people, too many to list, just to make Maine 4‑H happen.

This time around it was different. This time, it was all about learning new stuff! To use the words of a recent Maine 4-H Camper, “I learned things I didn’t even know existed!” This time the work was partly about the future — program evaluation to make our best better, utilizing online meeting technology to reach new audiences, exploiting new technologies such as Virtual Reality to enhance the learning experience —

and partly about YOU — establishing a 4-H Volunteer recognition program so our volunteers know they are truly needed and appreciated and, so I could tell their stories, learning about all the wonderful Maine people who have helped, and continue to help, make Maine 4‑H the great program it is today.

And I got to tell those stories to the WORLD!

We did that primarily by establishing the 4-H Fix blog. Through it we met folks like Kay and Virginia Ward, Lydia Schofield, Betsy Carroll Anastasoff, F. Harold Bickford, not one, but TWO Maine 4-H Brownie Browns (Mildred and Harold), Evelyn Trotzky, and SO many more! This isn’t even CLOSE to a complete list! What great people live here in Maine! What great fun it was to learn your stories and even GREATER fun TELLING your stories!

But that’s all over now. My two year hitch is up and I am back in Pennsylvania. So what about this blog? Now that I’ve left, is this the end of the 4-H Fix?

Well, perhaps not an “end” but change is certainly in the wind! Stories from now through the end of this year will appear once per month. I’ll have a few more this fall. In October read all about Maine 4-H Clubs and in November the Maine 4-H Champions take center stage. My final post will appear in December; that one being all about 4‑H Singing! However, you’ll also see at least one story by someone else this fall and maybe more next year, time will tell. However, next month, September, look forward to a story by Laura Wilson. She’ll tell you all about a UMaine 4-H experience called “Follow a Researcher®” or FAR for short.

But for this post, let’s end with yet another story! This one is not a Maine 4-H story (but I wish it were!) or even about Maine at all. It is a 4-H story from the days long past, before there was a “4-H” in Maine; almost before 4-H existed anywhere.

The year was 1910. What we call “4-H” today was then just in its infancy, not even a “real” program yet. Just some young people in clubs working on projects under the guidance of Extension educators. To help people learn what value could be had from “Extension Club Work,” eleven Club Members from various places across the country were identified as being exemplary in their project work. These eleven young men had achieved substantial successes under extraordinarily difficult conditions proving just how good this new “club-work” idea was! They were awarded scholarships and given other material prizes (farm animals, equipment, and so forth). They were also sent to Washington, D.C. as Extension Club Work representatives. They got to see the sites of the city while meeting with various dignitaries to explain what they were learning and doing.

One of those dignitaries was the President of the United States, William Howard Taft. After making a bit of “small talk” and hearing them each tell their extraordinary success stories, Taft turned to one of them and asked, “Do you think you can do as well next year?”

I think I can do better,” came the response.

It became the standard by which 4-H has guided itself ever since. To Make the Best Better. 4-H’ers continue to do this every day and, as far as we know, will continue to do so for a long time yet to come.

Given what I’ve seen here in Maine, I know this will be the case here! Thank you for letting me be a part of it! Now TWICE!

For your next 4-H Fix, return in September when we will take you on a 4-H journey to the FAR corners of the earth but you really only have to travel as far as this blog!

Were you a 4-H Member?

4-H emblemUMaine 4-H wants to hear your story. Please take a moment to fill out our short form and Tell Us Your Story!

Click here to learn how to support UMaine 4-H.

University of Maine Cooperative Extension conducts the state’s most successful out-of-school youth educational program through 4-H, a positive youth development program that has been empowering young people in Maine to reach their full potential since 1913.

4-H Fix

Friday, July 14th, 2017

My Hands to Larger Service

By Ron Drum, Statewide 4-H Program Professional/Associate Director 4-H Resource Development

We each remember stuff, I assume, from our childhoods. I do, at least. I’m not talking about the great big things like the day you fell face-first into the birthday cake or that wedding where you learned how to do the Polka or that time you got soaked at the water park. I’m talking about those little things like that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you know you’ve just been caught in a lie or the feeling of glee when you realize your BROTHER has just been caught in a lie! That feeling of, well, warmth that comes over you when your mom’s eyes tear up as she opens that special present you made for her for Mother’s Day or that moment of pleasure that hits you upon hearing your dad chuckle over a joke you just told. Memories like those, I mean.

One such memory I’m a bit ashamed of is that stomach burn I’d get when mom or dad would give me a chore to do like weed the garden or dust the shelves or clean my room. These are things I should have been doing; I just didn’t want to. Me!? Do WORK!?

It wasn’t that I was lazy; okay, it was. It seems most kids are. Okay, not “lazy” REALLY but, knowing what I now know about young people, I think most young people tend not to want to do such things. Video games, or watching cartoons on TV in my day, are much more fun than pulling weeds from around the tomato plants or running a dust cloth over some old books on a shelf! Unless you find a spider to chase — just saying.

"my HANDS to larger service"So what genius was it that thought up the idea to ask 4-H Members to do Community Service!? Same thing. Bigger context. Me!? Do WORK!? Well, whoever that genius was, he or she certainly WAS a genius. Years of 4-H Community Service projects by millions of 4-H’ers — even a line in the 4‑H pledge (“My hands to larger service”) — attest to that!

4-H’ers across the country, happily or not, spread out through their communities every day to do good deeds and be helpful! They conduct clothing drives for the homeless, paint barns at the local fairgrounds, clean up litter at the local park, etc., etc., etc. Kids, working, doing community chores, burning stomachs or not!

grave at Forgotten Cemeteries Clean-up Project”And Maine 4-H’ers are no different. Had you heard about the “Forgotten Cemeteries Clean-up Project” conducted by the Pittston Pony Tails 4-H Club? They started it in October of 2001.

We cleaned up the Lapham Family cemetery on top of a hill overlooking the Kennebec River in Pittston. The children raked up old leaves and cleaned up stones and helped map the gravesites of the loved ones buried in this old cemetery. Adult volunteers had to cut down several old, dead trees to gain access into the yard. We also placed American flags at the opening of the yard to symbolize the presence of War Vets in this site. — Cheryl Peaslee, Club Leader.

4-H'ers clean up graves as part of the Forgotten Cemeteries Clean-up Project”Then they went on to do like-wise at two more “forgotten cemeteries” earning the honor of being named one of Pittston’s “Unsung Heroes” by the Pittston Spirit of America Committee. The Pittston Selectmen, in a hand-written note, said that Cheryl and the Pony Tails 4‑H Club “deserve every recognition possible.”

Timmy Clemetson works on a project

Timmy Clemetson

Then there is Timmy Clemetson who, in 2015, helped build raised gardens for the residents of Belfast’s Edward Reynolds House and Houlton’s Kate Newman who cooked up a way to help feed a whole community, once a month, from October through April, and did so again this year (2016-17), FOURTH year running!

Kate Newman

Kate Newman

And, of course, there are many, many, similar stories! The question is, in addition to Timmy and Kate, what other recent community service projects have Maine 4‑H’ers been doing?

Well, we did a survey last fall to try to find that out. The survey request was a little late, something new added to already too-full “to do” lists, so not everyone was able to get the survey completed. We are sure we did not get reported even half of what was done. Still the information rolled in. And even knowing what we thought we already knew, the results, partial as they were, were astounding!

Projects reported via this survey included improving fairgrounds, providing assistance to local shelters, improving community nutrition through community gardens, planting flowers at the rec center, clothing drives for needy families, children and teen mentoring, donations of blankets to Veterans homes, food to food banks, increasing civic pride through community parade participation, literacy campaigns, and dressing up cemeteries by cleaning and placing US Flags on graves before Memorial and Veterans Days.

Clubs reporting service projects in 2016 indicated that although a few took as long as 300 or more hours to complete, half of all the projects reported took less than ten hours to complete, some as short as only one hour! Thirty-three percent of the reported projects spent $50 or less to complete, some nothing at all, yet hundreds of people were reported as having been helped in some manner.

In addition to the communities and individual lives being improved, the 4-H’ers, themselves, according to the survey results, found benefit, and FUN, in doing this work. Growth experienced by the 4-H’ers that was reported included: organizational skills, leadership helping younger children with service tasks, time management, critical thinking skills, learning to be responsible, willingness to help others with nothing expected in return, planning skills, decision making skills, empathy, and a sense of pride.

Comments received included:

  • “They continually want to help others.”
  • “Because of the work with cemeteries they are now very interested in their ancestors.”
  • “I think that we all had a lot of fun and enjoyed helping make the fairgrounds look better. With every project we do we learn more about why community service is important.”
  • “The youth had a great time sharing what 4-H is to them.”

You know, reading over those reports, well, it made me happy, like that time my dad chuckled over one of my jokes; and warm, you know, like that time my mom’s eyes teared up as she opened that special present I made for her for Mother’s Day.

Just a bunch of lazy kids? Not Maine’s 4-H’ers!

Has your club done a 4-H Community Service Project lately? Why not send us a note and tell us about it? If you do you might just end up in a 4-H Fix!

For the next The 4-H Fix we offer an end and a beginning! Find out what that is all about on August 18!

Were you a 4-H Member?

4-H emblemUMaine 4-H wants to hear your story. Please take a moment to fill out our short form and Tell Us Your Story!

Click here to learn how to support UMaine 4-H.

University of Maine Cooperative Extension conducts the state’s most successful out-of-school youth educational program through 4-H, a positive youth development program that has been empowering young people in Maine to reach their full potential since 1913.

4-H Fix

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

Steering Youth Gee, Haw, and Even Waheesh But Never Back!

By Ron Drum, Statewide 4-H Program Professional/Associate Director 4-H Resource Development

Maine 4-H Foundation booth at the Fryeburg Fair

Maine 4-H Foundation booth at the Fryeburg Fair.

When you staff a 4-H Information Booth at a county fair anywhere, the days begin to blur together. I think it was Sunday but it could’ve been Monday or even Tuesday of the 2016 Fryeburg Fair that a fellow wearing a maroon and white Texas A&M ball cap approached the Maine 4-H Foundation booth and asked me with his full-blown, deep Texas Southern drawl, “Why do I never see 4-H Working Steer projects anywhere else but here in New England, and why especially so much here in Maine? Where did it come from?”

Seems this Texan visits New England each fall, stopping first at the Big E (Eastern States Exposition) in Massachusetts and then comes up to Maine for the Fryeburg Fair. He said he especially enjoys watching the 4-H Members working their teams of oxen at both fairs and wondered why he doesn’t see this very much anywhere else.

You know, he’s right. All six New England States each have at least one 4-H Working Steer Club (Connecticut and Rhode Island share a club) and New York State recently began looking at establishing a club there. But, except for a scattering of project members here or there elsewhere, that seems to be about it. However, here in New England there are approximately 10 clubs total with four of those here in Maine. Maine 4-H presently has around 30 young people working a team of working steers as a 4-H project.

That Texan asked good questions! New England is known for many things and one of them is indeed the 4-H Working Steer project! But why?

Paul Bunyan statue in Bangor, Maine

Well, here’s Paul but where’s the Ox?

I’m sure someone knows for sure why working steer is so prevalent in New England. Folks I’ve talked to with some knowledge about things like this tell me that my assumption is probably pretty close to being right. By the way, my assumption (based on Paul Bunyan and the big blue ox stories) is that the answer comes from the fact that oxen were used to great benefit by the logging industry to drag the harvested trees out of the woods, back in the day, that is, making Working Steer teams quite usual and necessary for a great many people in Maine and New England, a huge part of the way of life here. In fact, according to Maine 4-H alum Heidi Thuotte-Palmer, unofficially Maine’s 4‑H Working Steer guru but officially the UMaine 4-H State Activities Coordinator, working steers helped create much of Maine’s history and heritage, even explaining why many of the roads are laid out as they are in Maine towns! She said that those big traffic circles, often called rotaries, sometimes called roundabouts (or other names I won’t go into), found at many intersections of the older towns, are there as the result of the need for the large turning area required by the ox teams pulling those long ship masts!

So it wasn’t long before some smart 4-H educator saw the benefit of teaching the techniques of managing a team of oxen to our young people as a 4-H Project. In the animal science world, this 4-H project is almost a holistic thing! It covers animal anatomy both inside and out (what makes a good ox vs. a bad one), breeds (for the same reason!), nutrition (what to feed it and when), biology, generics, health, medicine (keeping it healthy but knowing when it is sick AND how to make it better). The 4‑H’ers need to know about things like Ringworm (which, by the way, isn’t a worm, but a fungus) and foot rot and bloat and external parasites like ticks and lice and internal parasites like Roundworms and Tapeworms (both of which ARE worms); not to forget Coccidiosis (don’t ask. It has to do with poop and it’s yucky)! Now we haven’t even begun to talk about bacteria and viruses yet! Anyway, the 4-H’ers need to know about all this steer stuff and we haven’t even gotten to the WORKING part of the project yet, managing the animals’ behavior (also called training them!).

4-H'er with team of oxenHeidi told me, “The 4-H Working Steer project is all of it times two plus three! It’s all of the animal science stuff times two (to cover the two animals in the team) plus three (the member training the ox team how to work together)! It takes a lot of work, time, and effort to be successful. It means being responsible and caring. You even need to be a psychologist! You need to understand the psychology of the animal; why does it do what it does so you can be successful getting it to do what you want it to do!”

Of course, the next question is: In what state was that smart 4-H educator located? Maine obviously claims that honor. So does New Hampshire. In the 4-H Working Steer world, such a duality seems to happen a lot! Here in Maine itself, it seems two counties each think one of their 4-H Clubs was the first Working Steer 4-H Club in Maine! Franklin County has their Franklin County Working Steer 4-H Club and Cumberland County has their Brass Knobs Working Steer 4-H Club, both clubs, apparently, beginning in 1963. Even within the Brass Knobs 4-H Club, you will find this duality. Mark Winslow and Heidi, as 4-H volunteers, worked together in 1983 to keep the club active after the original club leader stepped aside.

Well, why shouldn’t duality be the working steer model? The 4-H Working Steer project is all about TEAMS!

Even Heidi’s first exposure to 4-H was as one of two! She was eight years old in 1971 when she joined the Brass Knobs Working Steer 4-H Club, one of only two girls; the first girls to join the approximately 10 boys already in the club. She remained a member of the club until she “graduated” out of 4-H 10 years later only to return to the club two years later as one of its leaders.

Mark and Heidi also teamed up to build up the Working Steer youth program at the Big E. Open to all youth interested in working steer teams, the participation is mostly, if not all, 4-H’ers. Heidi became the Big E Working Steer Superintendent in 2012.

To know her today, as a 4-H professional, Big-E Superintendent, and all of her other many roles, both official and unofficial, you’d never know that, “I used to be so shy you couldn’t get me out of the corner!” I asked her, “So what changed?” She answered with a number and a letter, “4-H!” Then she added, “All the things you do in 4-H. Working the animals, showing them, giving presentations, being an officer in a club; it brings you out of your shell.”

If you know Heidi, it’s hard to imagine Heidi ever being IN a shell! And listening to the stories she tells of being a 4-H Volunteer and of her professional State 4-H Activities role, makes you realize just how important what we do in 4-H as adults, paid or volunteer, really is. Her stories tell of people who identify their 4-H years as the reason they have the successes they have in their lives today and many of those people identify her, Heidi, as being the one who helped them realize that difference. “When you get invited to kids’ weddings, you know you’ve made a difference,” she exclaims. A number of people credit Heidi as the reason they even stayed in 4-H — and she has the letters to prove it! However, perhaps the one person that means the most to Heidi that identified 4-H as the reason she is what she is today is, of course, her own daughter, Katie.

Heidi and Katie.

Heidi and Katie.

Katie Thuotte Holland is now a Registered Nurse (RN) living in Fort Kent and working at Cary Medical Center in Caribou, Maine. This 2013 UM Fort Kent graduate (BS Nursing) told her mom that 4-H was the reason she chose to be a nurse. Her 4-H projects were all about caring for her animals (“In 10 years as a 4-H Member, she never once missed on taking care of her animals,” proud Heidi told me) but Heidi said 4-H taught Katie to care about people!

My bet is that by now you’re wondering if, or when, I’m going to get around to explaining those strange words in the title of this post. Once you know them, you’ll understand the title. Those from the working steer world already understand it because they know that these are commands used to get the ox team to move in the directions you want it to go. You see, if you want the team to turn left you say “HAW!” Saying “GEE” tells them to turn right. “Waheesh” is another way of saying “Giddyup” meaning get going, and the command to back up is simply “Back.”

So in 4-H, we try to steer the 4-H Members in the right direction for a positive future; Gee, Haw, or just “Waheesh”; but, like Heidi will tell you, when it comes to kids, “Back” is never part of the equation!

As for this post, let’s just say “whoa,” the command for stop.

On July 14 the 4-H Fix is all about Community Service. It makes the line in the 4-H Pledge “my Hands to larger service” come ALIVE!

Were you a 4-H Member?

4-H emblemUMaine 4-H wants to hear your story. Please take a moment to fill out our short form and Tell Us Your Story! And don’t forget! Go to to vote for MAINE and show your pride as a MAINE 4-H alum! The Raise Your Hand contest ends on June 30, so if you haven’t voted already, do so today!

Click here to learn how to support UMaine 4-H.

University of Maine Cooperative Extension conducts the state’s most successful out-of-school youth educational program through 4-H, a positive youth development program that has been empowering young people in Maine to reach their full potential since 1913.

4-H Fix

Friday, June 9th, 2017

Where Are They Now? — Betsy Carroll

By Ron Drum, Statewide 4-H Program Professional/Associate Director 4-H Resource Development

When I want to help folks understand what 4-H is, I often will tell my “Betsy Story.” It is one of my favorite stories to tell. The “Betsy” in the story, by the way, is Maine 4-H Alum Betsy A. Carroll Anastasoff.

Betsy Carroll seated on rocks in front of a light house

Star of the “Betsy Story”

Now the name may be familiar to you because I first introduced you to Betsy, and her brother Aaron, in October last year through the blog post “The Great Hay Relief of 1994.” The “Betsy Story” came a bit later. It happened in 1997. BTW, I have THREE favorite stories about her brother Aaron (the latest one occurring in 2016 when he introduced me to his almost-teenaged son!), but those will have to wait for another blog post. For now, here’s the “Betsy Story” and a little bit more.

On June 28-30, 1997, UMaine 4-H held its fourth annual State 4-H Teen Conference. This annual conference, held on the University of Maine Orono campus into the 2000s, was a program planned and implemented by a State 4-H Teen Council of which Betsy Carroll was a charter member and, in 1996, served as its President. At the end of the 1996 conference, Betsy, as usual, made it her job to send thank yous to the guest speakers.

Rep. Baldacci speaking during the 1995 State 4-H Teen Conference

Rep. Baldacci speaking during the 1995 State 4-H Teen Conference.

One of those speakers was John Baldacci, at that time the U.S. Representative from Maine’s Second District. A strong supporter of Maine 4-H, he always agreed to meet with 4‑H’ers when they visited his Washington D.C. office. However, he also made a point to come and speak to the teens attending the State 4-H Teen Conference in Orono! His 1996 visit was the second in a row, which, to all of us was a BIG deal! In all, he accepted the Teen Council’s invitation four times (1995, 1996, 1997 AND 1998), which to all of us was an even BIGGER deal!

Handwritten note, saying," Sincerely, Betsy. P.S. I believe the only one left is Balacci -- And we should do something special?"On August 7, 1996, in a follow-up note, Betsy reported that all thank yous had been sent regarding that year’s conference except Baldacci’s. Because of his on-going support for 4-H “…we should do something special” for him, she said.

Discussed at the next Teen Council meeting, it was decided to make him an honorary Maine 4-H Member. With proper administrative approvals, the Teen Council invited Rep. Baldacci to return as a speaker for the 1997 conference and to receive this honor.

Rep. Baldacci receives his honorary plaque

Rep. Baldacci, 1997’s newest Honorary 4-H Member.

Eighteen-year-old Past-President Betsy was tasked with introducing Rep. Baldacci to the 1997 conference attendees. Conference Assemblies were held in the largest room in D.P. Corbett Hall. Set-up as an amphitheater, this semi-circular room’s seats look down upon a raised stage in the room’s front. So there we sat, approximately 75 teens from across Maine, the Council Officers, me, and John Baldacci in the front row, as Betsy walked across the stage to the podium to make her introduction. After the usual greetings and some brief remarks about bestowing honorary Maine 4-H Membership upon Rep. Baldacci, she said, “Oh, Rep. Baldacci, one last thing I want you to know before we begin. I want to tell you about the Maine 4-H Staff, like Ron and the others who run 4-H.” Baldacci looked over at me and smiled. A little embarrassed I smiled as well and wondered just what Betsy was up to, hoping whatever it was, it was good, because this was “off-script”!

Of course, why wouldn’t it be good? She knew what was a stake and even though Baldacci was a supporter of 4-H, things could quickly change if the wrong messages were sent. Both Baldacci and I knew that, too, as we leaned forward in our seats.

Just as sweetly and calmly as anything she began, “Mr. Baldacci, I want you to know that these 4-H people (now pointing at me); they are all liars.” And then she paused for dramatic effect.

The effect was dramatic.

It took a moment for her words to soak in. I asked myself, “Did she just say ‘liars’?” Baldacci must have been experiencing the same confusion because he sat there looking at Betsy for a moment and then, ever so slowly he turned to look at me with the perfect example of puzzlement etched on his face. I have no idea what was etched on mine!

While reminiscing with Betsy about this incident recently, we came to “the pause moment.” After a bit of mutual laughter, this High School Student Counselor, looking at it from her new perspective, grew serious and told me, “Having students present to an audience now as a counselor, I can’t even IMAGINE the heart attack you were having! That was BRUTAL! And yet, AWESOME! Now that you reminded me, I do remember the LONG pause and thinking ‘Oh Crap. I hope this is okay!’”

Finally, Betsy started speaking again. “Yes, liars!” she repeated. “When I joined 4-H, I thought I was going to learn about stuff like raising beef steers! That’s what they told me! They told me I was going to learn about beef steers or photography or sewing or cooking or one of the many other things you can do in 4‑H. Oh, I did learn those things but what they were REALLY teaching me, what they were secretly teaching me, was record keeping and public speaking and leadership and citizenship and all of those things you need to know to be successful in life! They didn’t tell me they were going to be teaching me all that stuff! They LIED and told me I’d be learning about beef steers and photography!”

I began to breathe again.

Baldacci flopped back in his seat and, obviously relieved, began to laugh along with everyone else in the audience. Except me. I don’t remember laughing. I remember hoping the blood would soon return to my brain.

And that was Betsy. When she had a point to make, she made it, and she made it in such a way that you remembered it! I bet if you asked him about this today, Baldacci would still remember it, but also remember that 4-H isn’t about the projects the members take, but about the life skills the members learn.

It is her sincerity that makes you remember her. She cares about people and she cares about causes, SINCERELY. In a 1995 thank you note to the University President, Fred Hutchinson, for giving opening remarks at the 1995 State 4-H Teen Conference, she added (to my boss’s boss’s boss, the University PRESIDENT), “Ron Drum is an instrumental part in the success that 4-H experiences today. His encouragement and positive attitude make working with Extension a pleasure.” Apparently not wanting to leave anyone out, she then added, “John Rebar (then State 4-H Leader and my boss) and Vaughn Holyoke (then John’s boss and Director of Extension) are also very helpful and cooperative.” It would have been funny had it not been so darn sincere!

And that attitude, sincerely caring about the people around her, and letting them know that, carries right into today. Today Betsy is a high school guidance counselor for Gorham High School. In an article that appeared in the Gorham Times (v21, #6) about opportunities available for female students traditionally seen as only for male students, she is quoted saying, “Girls in high school are kind of shy about doing something that isn’t your traditional thing. They need to know they don’t have to fit that mold. There is potential beyond your appearance; if you are passionate about a trade you should go after that.” She goes on to say one shouldn’t worry about others’ opinions.

She not only says stuff like that, she lives stuff like that.

After 4-H, I attended St. Joseph’s College and majored in English. I graduated from college and on July 1, 2000, married my high school sweetheart, Alex Anastasoff. I was hired as an English teacher, which I did for 14 years, and we purchased an apartment building and renovated the building as we were living in it. Note to self: never renovate while living in the space. We went on to purchase more apartment buildings, opened a landscaping company, Lawn Enforcement, which we sold a couple of years ago. Currently, we own and operate a laundromat, own several apartment buildings which we rent, and most recently we have opened a brewery in South Portland named Fore River Brewing. Oh, and through all of this I completed a 63 credit Master’s Degree in School Counseling and am raising two boys, Peter (13) and Nicholas (9). Busy!

And of course, as we’ve seen above, she not only achieved the Master’s Degree but has put it to good use, presently meeting the needs of students as the 10th grade counselor at Gorham High School.

It was because of her brother, Aaron, that she first got involved in 4-H. “I joined 4-H because I could see how many cool experiences my older brother, Aaron, was getting involved in and I did not want to miss out,” she told me. Usually, young people join 4-H when they are 8 or 9, sometimes even younger. Betsy joined the York County 4-H Beef Club in 1992 when she was 13 and just starting High School!

Initially, my 4-H project was photography; I wanted to become club photographer, but I later became more involved in the citizenship aspect of 4-H. I also became a member of the Maine State 4-H Teen Council and planned the Maine Teen Conference on the campus of the University of Maine at Orono. This was by far one of the greatest learning experiences of my teenage years. The collaboration with a variety of stakeholders: fellow 4-H members, skilled professionals with connections to 4-H and public leaders taught me a great deal about how to capitalize on individual strengths to best achieve a shared goal.

Betsy presenting at the 1995 Pine Tree State 4-H Foundation Annual Meeting.

Betsy presenting at the 1995 Pine Tree State 4-H Foundation Annual Meeting.

Although relatively new to 4-H, Betsy rose quickly. This was a talented girl! We (Maine 4-H) sent her to Citizenship Washington Focus in 1994 — just two years after she joined 4-H! She came to the first State 4-H Teen Conference in 1994, liked it so much that, on her own, came to the evaluation meeting and asked to be part of the 1995 Conference planning team making her a Teen Council Charter Member. In 1995 (October 15, to be exact) the State 4-H Teen Council elected her as their 1996 Council President — unanimously! That year, 1995, I wrote, “Betsy is intelligent, creative, and kind. Her intelligence, strong character, and great ability will fill in where her experience is lacking.” I can now say, looking back, “I wasn’t kidding!”

President Betsy Carroll “surfs” the web during the 1996 S4-HTConf.

President Betsy Carroll “surfs” the web during the 1996 S4-HTConf.

In 1996 we asked her to represent Maine 4-H at TWO national events. First, we designated her to be a delegate to National 4-H Conference, in my opinion, the highest honor a 4-H Member can receive. Then we topped that by asking her to represent Maine’s 4-H members at the 1996 Extension Lay Leaders Leadership Conference held in Washington, D.C. The Lay Leaders conference was an annual national event during the 90s. It brought together teams of 4-H Volunteers from various states and provided them with opportunities to network and share ideas with each other while attending leadership development workshops. As part of the conference, these teams also visited members of their Congressional Delegations on Capitol Hill educating them on Extension and briefing them on current Extension activities.

Remember, in 1996, Betsy was just 17.

Of those two national experiences in 1996 she once said, “How many people my age get to do things like that?” The answer, of course, is “very few.” However, there are very few like Betsy. She served as secretary of her school’s student council. She was captain of her swim team. She was a journalist for the school newspaper. She was selected as the state science fair winner for her plant biology entry. She was a member of the Academic Decathlon Team. She was not only a member of the National Honor Society (NHS), but served as a member of the Society Selection Review Committee! Come to think of it, she was also a member of the State 4-H Awards Selection Committee (the group that identified Maine’s delegates for out-of-state trips) after she “graduated” from 4-H, that is.

You know, she missed being selected for the NHS the first time up. Although she fit all of the criteria for membership 100%, at her school NHS membership applications were voted on by a faculty panel. Apparently, she lost that vote. Who in their right mind would have voted against this girl? That it happened, however, caused enough of a stir that they took a second look and, after considering “outside community service” (which I assume means her 4-H activities) they reversed the decision and admitted her.

However, it didn’t end there, not with someone of Betsy’s caliber! “I thought it was very unfair, especially since I met all the qualifications for it,” she said. And if it was unfair, she was going to do something about it. So through her leadership as a member of the Student Council, she got the process changed. The new process added a five-member board that reviewed the faculty votes to ensure no one deserving slipped through again.

Oh, also, she graduated 16th out of a high school class of 165. That kind of makes you wonder what those other 15 were like but than she did take several college-level classes in her senior year, like Advanced Placement English and Statistical Math. Not making excuses but classes like those might have opened the door a tad for a few of the other 15 to squeak past, maybe, not saying that’s what happened.

I’ve been accused of using a bit too much hyperbole at times. I admit it. I get enthusiastic about teens, like Betsy, and sometimes get extreme. But if that is true in this case, her high school Principal, Jim Stephenson, suffered from the same problem. He once referred to Betsy as “a model student whom other students should follow.” He also said, “She is a bright, mature student. She’s a real leader who will do very well at whatever she does. I have no doubts of Betsy’s success at college.” He could have added, “or anything else.” I did.

But what else would you expect of someone who, at age 17, said, “My goal is to know exactly what I want, because once I know what it is, I’m positive that I can get it.” I think that falls under the category of “driven.”

At age 17 she also was quoted saying, “…I love 4-H so much, because it makes me feel so good to help people.” Then she added this thought, which always, by the way, makes me smile when I read it, “To me, it sounds like a greedy reason, but it’s the truth.” Greedy? To want to feel good about helping people? Well, I get her point but how many people, at any age, would ever turn the thing around in such a manner as that? Unselfishly humble to a fault!

Betsy recently told me that 4-H had a big impact on her life.

I think 4-H really helped me to stretch myself to become more of a leader. While I was active in school activities, there was a big world outside the walls of school. I learned how to bring people together to work toward a common goal and many other important skills such as public speaking and advocating for myself and my community. I believe I am a stronger and more resilient person today because of my 4-H experiences.

And of 4-H itself, she recently told me (and remember, this is a professional guidance counselor speaking, who really SHOULD know):

4-H is a great opportunity for kids and teenagers to really get involved in something meaningful to them. The hands-on learning experiences encourage developmental growth and maturity. This is a win-win situation because kids are having fun and learning essential skills to be a responsible citizen and community member. Although our society has changed a lot since I was a kid, the fundamental skills that my 4-H background encouraged are the same skills kids need today.

I happen to agree with her.

One last thing. President Hutchinson responded to that thank you letter Betsy wrote back in 1995 thanking him for speaking at the State 4-H Teen Conference. After thanking her for the opportunity to speak and saying a few kind words suggesting he agreed with her analysis of the quality of his staff, he added, “I’m sure that the opportunity to work with young people such as yourself is one of the major reasons that Mr. Drum remains positive and enthusiastic about his work.”

That suggestion would be a true statement even yet today. It was CERTAINLY true in the 1990s while I had the pleasure to be working with, and learning from, Betsy Carroll.

On June 23 we say to the 4-H Fix, “Waheesh! And be quick about it! We can’t wait to hear the story about Maine 4-H alum, Heidi Thuotte-Palmer and the 4-H Working Steer project!”

Were you a 4-H Member?

4-H emblemUMaine 4-H wants to hear your story. Please take a moment to fill out our short form and Tell Us Your Story! And don’t forget! Go to to vote for MAINE and show your pride as a MAINE 4-H alum! The Raise Your Hand contest ends on June 30, so if you haven’t voted already, do so today!

Click here to learn how to support UMaine 4-H.

University of Maine Cooperative Extension conducts the state’s most successful out-of-school youth educational program through 4-H, a positive youth development program that has been empowering young people in Maine to reach their full potential since 1913.

4-H Fix

Friday, May 26th, 2017

Hazel Goodwin

By Ron Drum, Statewide 4-H Program Professional/Associate Director 4-H Resource Development

What do you say to someone who has given a lifetime of service to 4-H? It’s a bit of a puzzle, actually. The usual things we say to folks to let them know we appreciate what they’ve done, just don’t seem to fill the need in this case; don’t go far enough, cover enough ground. You see, this is no typical situation; nothing typical about it at all. We toss around the term “lifetime” as if it had little meaning but in this case, “lifetime” actually means “LIFETIME”!

This year Hazel begins her 63rd year volunteering for 4-H! That’s as long as some people live! Sixty-three years. That’s longer than I’ve been alive and I go back some, myself! I mean, I go back to Sputnik!

Who does anything, except perhaps live, for 63 years!?

Hazel Goodwin, for one.

Hazel has been rendering volunteer service, quietly and calmly and in the best of all traditions, as Leader, or Assistant Leader, of the Four Leaf Clover 4-H Club of Shapleigh, Maine since 1954 — the very same 4-H club she’d joined as a member back in 1931; the very same 4-H Club that may be Maine’s longest continually operating 4-H Club (it organized in 1918)!

4-Leaf Clover Club 4-Hers with club banner

But then, why shouldn’t Hazel serve 4-H for a lifetime? It was through 4-H that Hazel found her footing in life and it was the FOUR LEAF CLOVER 4-H CLUB that helped give her that footing! Nine-year-old Hazel went to a Four Leaf Clover 4-H Club meeting in 1931, fell in love, and never left!

Actually, while going to the 4-H club meetings, she fell in love TWICE! Once with 4-H and then a few years later, once with a fellow Four Leaf Clover 4-H Club member named Roland Goodwin.

Newlyweds Roland and Hazel GoodwinRoland’s older brother, Carlton, had just become the club leader when Hazel joined in 1931. He, too, started as a member of the club before volunteering to serve it as the leader. In fact, in 1928, while he was still a member but also serving as the club’s Assistant Leader, Carlton was selected as York County’s Outstanding 4-H Club Member of the Year. But it was his brother, Roland, who got Hazel.

They were married Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945.

They’ve been together ever since.

Hazel was a 4-H Member for 11 years, 1931-1942. Tough years, those. The Great Depression was in full swing when she joined 4-H in 1931 and World War II was in full swing when her membership ended in 1942. Things were a tad better in 1954 when, because her children had joined 4-H — of course the Four Leaf Clover 4-H Club — she decided to give back a bit to 4-H what 4-H had given her, by becoming a 4-H Volunteer. Usually, when a volunteer’s children leave 4-H, the volunteer does too. Hazel enjoyed 4-H so much she stuck with it. In 1961, the club’s primary leader, Violet Eagle, passed away. The club naturally turned to Hazel for leadership.

It still does. The present leader, Else-Maria Cook, a 4-H Volunteer Hazel first recruited in 1973 and who became primary leader of the club in 1992, says she often seeks advice and input from Hazel about the club.

Roland, Else-Maria Cook, and Hazel

Roland, Else-Maria Cook, and Hazel. Photo by Sally Farrell.

So what is it about this club and the program called 4-H that Hazel likes so much? She says it is the chance to be a part of, and help, the community! According to Sally Farrell, her 4-H Agent,

Hazel has been adamant that club members serve the community. The Four Leaf Clover Club cleans the town hall and fire station, plants flowers around the town, and serves the meals for the town meetings. As a result of the club’s commitment to the town of Shapleigh, the town gives each resident child who is a member of 4-H a small yearly stipend. Hazel is also committed that the children not only learn about state and national history but makes it a priority to take members on field trips to local historic sites.

Fund raising is another way the club gets involved. “One of the ways the club raises funds for York County 4-H is by having members and parents work at the Acton Fair 4-H food booth. Hazel has been volunteering at the food booth since 1954,” reported Sally. An example of the club helping their town comes from 2013 when, during Shapleigh Community Day, the club sold lemonade and raffle tickets for a quilt and other gifts raising $150.

While describing what Hazel means to the York County 4-H Program, Farrell said,

Hazel’s impact on the youth cannot be measured. Not just the 4-H members, but their families, as well! It is what makes her such a great 4-H Volunteer. She has truly touched many generations of families over the years and now is helping great-great grandchildren of her original members. Her club is a great example of letting the youth choose their own projects based on their own interests. The children drive the projects, not the leaders. Under Hazel’s guidance, leaders are committed to helping the children find materials and support for their projects. Hazel has welcomed families into the club so a true community environment is on display during meetings. Older youth are encouraged to mentor younger youth in the club. What she also has are the babies and toddlers hanging out at the meetings with the parents so by the time these children are old enough to join as cloverbuds [4-H Members ages 5-8], they have a great understanding of 4-H and it is a natural path to 4-H membership.

If you ask Hazel why she’s been involved for so many years, what she gets out of it, why she keeps doing this thing called 4-H, she’ll tell you that she “just enjoys being with the kids”! Sally has suggested, “There should be a ‘Gettin’ It Done, No Drama Mama’ award for people like Hazel who just volunteer because they like kids!” But clearly it is more than that. This is a person who loves kids, cares about them, and wants to help them get their footing in life, much as she got hers, from 4-H.

It isn’t because she enjoys being with them as much as it is what she sees IN them and that she can do FOR them! Sally tells us

Hazel makes sure that all youth are welcome regardless of disability. She currently has three members that are autistic. All members are offered the opportunity to participate in all activities and no one is left out. When people call the Extension office to enroll their child in a club, Hazel can be counted on to take on the more challenging youth. Hazel’s club has a policy of taking any child regardless of disability. And it is one of the largest clubs in York County, always with more than 20 members.

However, after all this, we are still left with the same question we began with: What do you say to someone who has, so far, at least, given 63 of her 95 years of life volunteering for 4-H?

There isn’t much that can be said, I guess, except, perhaps, thank you.

Hazel Goodwin

Photo by Sally Farrell.

Thank you, Hazel. Very much.

However, there IS something besides “thank you” you can say to Hazel next time you see her: “Congratulations!” Why? Because Hazel was recently named the 2017 Maine 4-H Salute to Excellence Outstanding Volunteer Achievement Award honoree, the highest honor bestowed upon 4-H Volunteers by the University of Maine 4-H Program! Not only that, but due to receiving this honor, Hazel becomes Maine’s nominee for the 2018 National 4-H Salute to Excellence Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer Award. After 63 years of service, it still doesn’t seem to be enough but it was the best we could do.

Do you know someone who has made a difference in 4-H? Write and tell me about them and you may get them into a 4-H FIX!

BTW, we believe Hazel is our oldest Maine 4-H Alum! If you know different, tell us about them and get THEM into a 4-H FIX!

On June 9, visit the 4-H Fix for our third “Where are they now” offering, this one bringing us up to date on Maine 4-H alum Betsy Carroll.

Were you a 4-H Member?

4-H emblemUMaine 4-H wants to hear your story. Please take a moment to fill out our short form and Tell Us Your Story! And don’t forget! Go to to vote for MAINE and show your pride as a MAINE 4-H alum!

Click here to learn how to support UMaine 4-H.

University of Maine Cooperative Extension conducts the state’s most successful out-of-school youth educational program through 4-H, a positive youth development program that has been empowering young people in Maine to reach their full potential since 1913.

4-H Fix

Friday, May 12th, 2017

Where Are They Now? — Sarah Stoodley

By Ron Drum, Statewide 4-H Program Professional/Associate Director 4-H Resource Development

Sarah Stoodley in a dance pose

Sarah Stoodley. Photo by Travis Curry (

I’ve often heard it said that you must keep on your toes if you are to be successful. I’ve also heard it said that extremely successful people keep us on our toes! I suppose both could be true. I KNOW both are true when speaking of Maine 4-H Alum Sarah Pickering Stoodley, RD, LN.

I’ve been a youth development professional as long as Sarah has been alive. You might say we both started, one way or another, in 1979. That was the year Sarah’s mom brought her home from the hospital to their farm in Unity and that was the year, on the day after I received my Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State, that I began my professional career (my first job was as a Citizenship Washington Focus Program Assistant at National 4‑H Council in Washington, D.C.).

In the 38 years since, I’ve met, worked with, and gotten to know — well I don’t even know how many young people. Let’s just say “lots.” When you do what I do, you begin to detect a certain something in certain people that sets them apart somehow, marks the person for success. One might call it an “IT Factor”! I’m not sure what that “it” is but, as they say, I know it when I see it.

And I saw it in Sarah Stoodley. What is interesting about this story, however, is not only what I saw in Sarah, but what I FAILED to see in Sarah as well! I’ll explain what that was in just a bit.

Sarah Stoodley

Sarah Stoodley, Maine delegate to National 4-H Conference, 1997.

I’m not actually certain any longer when, or how, I first met Sarah. She might remember but I’d be surprised if she did. Our paths may have crossed at a state 4-H event such as 4-H Visual Presentations or perhaps it was when she was showing 4‑H Goats at a fair or was a member of Maine’s Eastern States Exposition 4-H Goat Team. Certainly I met her before she interviewed to be a member of the 1995 Maine delegation to National 4-H Congress. I’m sure I would have met her before she became Waldo County’s representative on the State 4-H Teen Council. Sarah served on the State 4-H Teen Council 1995 and 1996 and then, because she represented Maine at National 4-H Conference in 1997, was appointed for another two years, 1997 and 1998, serving on the Council as a State 4-H Ambassador.

Whenever it was we first met, I’m glad we did!

Sarah joined 4-H in 1985. She was six years old when she joined the Country Kids 4-H Club of Unity. She was interested in all sorts of things but settled on horses and photography as her 4-H projects her first two years. She quickly moved to raising and showing 4-H Goats for her primary project in 1987 and stuck with Goats for the rest of her 4-H career. It even became newsworthy!

In fact, readers of the Waldo Independent, in the November 7, 1996 edition, saw a photo of Sarah hugging one of her goats! The December 22, 1996 edition of the Central Maine Newspapers, in the Maine People section, included another goat-hugging photo of Sarah! Obviously, Sarah enjoyed her goats! However, somehow, goats led Sarah to dogs and 4-H Dogs became a highlight, in addition to those goats, right up until she “graduated” from 4-H in 1998 and even unto today.

Sarah Stoodley's 3 dogs

Ria, Peri, and Jubilee

In a recent message, Sarah told me, “I have three dogs that I show in various sports. Jubilee is the highest pointed French Bulldog in NAFA flyball (with over 20K points and her ONYX title). And Peri is running in the highest level of AKC agility and working on her championship title. Ria, the whippet mix, suffered a terrible leg fracture last year and is working on rehabbing it to be strong enough to play some sports again.”

In this, as in most everything she tackles, Sarah exceled, even making a bit of a “stir” in 2008 in the show dog community. Apparently one doesn’t usually do active type events when showing French Bulldogs of which Jubilee is one. Yet, here is a video of Sarah and Jubilee performing during a show in 2008 when she made that “stir” I mentioned. According to the Bullmarket FrogDog Blog of August 11, 2008,

You have to have owned and trained French Bulldogs to realize just how unusual this is, and why it created such a stir in Frenchie circles. The dogs we love are a lot of things — funny, goofy and cute — but agile and athletic isn’t usually up there when they’re being described. It would take a special kind of person to decide to dance with a French Bulldog, and that’s just what Sarah is.

Let me repeat that, “It would take a special kind of person…and that’s just what Sarah is.

I agree. In a reference I wrote for her in 1998 I was asked to describe Sarah in three words. I chose: intelligent, creative, and exciting. Then I went on to say, “She has the ability, personality, energy, and experience. She is the full package. I have never recommended a person for a position as highly as I recommend Sarah to you.”

A “special kind of person” for sure!

But what this blog author may not have known was that Sarah could probably dance beautifully with ANYTHING! Keeping on her toes seems to be second nature for Sarah. She was dancing as a member of the Robinson Ballet Company (RBC) in Bangor long before she met me! By age 17, she was teaching dance to children and adults at several studios in the region. The Bangor Daily News, as part of an article about her that ran in December of 1996, included a photo of Sarah teaching ballet at the Thomas School of Dance in Bangor. The photo caption read, “Sarah Stoodley raises goats, makes herb and spice-scented goat’s milk soap, and spends six days a week in the dance studio.” To read the article and see the photo go to: “Selling the New 4-H” (page 27).

In fact, that Waldo Independent article I mentioned, in addition to the goat-hugging shot, also included a photo of Sarah with some of that “herb and spice-scented goat’s milk soap.” Why soap? According to Sarah, “My sister (Gillian) and I had a booth for one day at the Common Ground Fair. We took 450 bars and we sold out.” She also sold the soap at craft fairs and the Unity Co-op. Sarah referred to the soap sales as “a tremendous success.”

When talking about this “herb and spice-scented goat’s milk soap” recently, Sarah added, “You know, Mom is actually still making it!” (“Mom” being long time Maine 4-H Volunteer Judy Stoodley). I greatly enjoyed working with Judy when I was here in the ’90s. She was one of the prime movers behind the addition of the 4-H Dog commodity to the Maine 4-H Animal Science Committees and the addition of a 4-H dog show at the Eastern States Exposition! So that’s where Sarah’s dog interest comes from. That makes sense.

And, about that dance thing. Around the time she joined 4‑H, she started dancing. The above mentioned Waldo Independent article says that as of 1996 she’d been dancing for 10 years, eight of those included the Robinson Ballet’s annual performances of “The Nutcracker Suite.” The article quotes Sarah saying, “I started out doing the children’s parts when I was nine. I’ve worked my way up through the ranks. Last year (1995) and this year (1996) I’ve been the Snow Queen.” She also performed the role of the Arabian soloist. And during the 1998 Maine 4-H Teen Conference Sarah taught the conference attendees a few steps with her workshop called “Everybody Dance Now!”

4-H "Are you into it?" ad campaignBy now you are probably wondering why there were so many articles about Sarah in the newspapers of 1996. It was because she was selected out of 80 applicants from across the country that fall to be one of fifteen 4‑H’ers to be a member of National 4-H Council’s “Youth Voices and Action Design Team.” Those fifteen young people met with national marketing executives in New York City and, working with National 4-H Council and USDA 4-H National Headquarters staff, contributed ideas and direction to what became the “4-H, Are you into it?” ad campaign. That campaign was a highly successful 4-H ad campaign in 1997 and 1998. According to the National 4-H History Preservation website, that campaign “ranked in the top five of all Ad Council campaigns in 1998, earning $64.1 million in estimated donated media placement.” All that from a team of 4-H’ers, one of whom, being Sarah. Sarah described it as, “That’s what I want the ads to show, that 4-H gives you a chance to do a lot of things.”

And then she “graduated” out of 4-H — out of 4-H and into a National 4-H Council Marketing Internship! She spent a year living in Warren Hall at the National 4-H Center and working with Christie Phillips, Council’s Marketing Vice President at the time. Although marketing seemed to be a possible direction for Sarah’s future, what with publicizing the state 4-H Teen Conference, selling her 4-H soap, and helping to create an extraordinarily successful national marketing campaign, dance was never out of the picture. “I actually started dancing for Doug Yeuell (director of Jazzdanz, DC) when I was here for my National 4‑H Council Marketing internship,” explained Sarah.

That’s Douglas Yeuell, as in Executive/Artistic Director for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. THAT Doug Yeuell. “He was the reason I came back to this area (in 2002),” she added.

In 2002 she found herself living in Silver Spring, MD, again dancing and teaching dance. “I taught at the Joy of Motion Dance Center in Bethesda, MD and danced in Jazzdanz, DC and CrossCurrents Dance Company.

“I danced and taught professionally until about 7 years ago,” she told me, “then decided to go to school for nutrition.” A change from dance to nutrition intrigued me so I asked Sarah why she made such a change. And that is when I learned about the piece of Sarah that I had missed. In all that I outwardly saw in Sarah, inwardly she was, beginning as a teen, secretly struggling — literally fighting for her life. As a teenaged dancer, Sarah became very conscious of her body and body image, so much so that she developed an eating disorder. From her teenage years through her twenties she waged a battle with herself that; had she lost the fight, we would have lost her. Her fight continues yet today.

It developed when I was a teenager and had enough negative life impact by my mid-20s that I chose to seek treatment. My preoccupation with food and weight, and controlling what and how I ate, was impacting my life in a huge way. I’ve been through two rounds of treatment and recovery, one in the early 2000s and again around 2010. There is debate in eating disorders whether you are in recovery or are recovered and I think it can go either way. I feel very stable and “recovered” most days, but work hard to stay aware of my needs as things can change day to day.

So she turned from Dance to Nutrition.

Nutrition was something I picked as a career after my own battle with my eating disorder. The first dietitian I really got to know was the one who helped me put my life together two separate times. Her name is Faye Berger Mitchell and she is an amazing lady and a true inspiration to me. I have been through multiple rounds of ED treatment, including spending months out of work to focus my energy on my health and well-being. I feel like my struggles really allow me to practice nutrition in a compassionate and understanding way.

While Sarah explained the situation to me, that “IT Factor” I had seen in the teenaged Sarah, made its presence known again!

I want to be the food cheerleader and not the food police. Food is something that should be enjoyed and not a battle. I am so thankful to have come through my struggle in one piece and to be able to work in a field that really speaks to me. I have had endless support of family, friends, and professionals, and try to share my story to help people understand that needing help is not something to be ashamed of and not something that diminishes one’s value as a person. Everyone deserves recovery!

She is a good food cheerleader. In one message I kiddingly told her that I had thought of her as I ate some broccoli for dinner and she responded, “Broccoli is great :)!”

Starting at Montgomery Community College and then transferring to the University of Maryland Dietetics program, Sarah earned her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2011. She then began her internship through the Iowa State University, completing that in June, 2016. In the meantime, either as part of her internship or just to help make ends meet, she gained experience at jobs with Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring; for the WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program in Wheaton, Maryland; and in various community and clinical settings in her internship. Most recently she was at Frederick Memorial Hospital supervising all aspects of patient services meal service as part of the management team in the kitchen.

Then on Oct 21, 2016 she sent me this note: “I just passed my RD (Registered Dietitian) exam this afternoon so now I can do things beyond study.”

As of December, 2016, holding the title of Registered Dietitian with Unidine, she is serving as a Clinical Dietitian at Sanctuary at Holy Cross, a Rehabilitation and Senior Care facility in Burtonsville, MD.

“I’m still in this area (northern Silver Spring), but often think about moving somewhere less busy; …I do seem to move further and further into the suburbs here. Let’s see, my family is well. My parents are still in Unity. No farm animals any more, but my mom still has dogs. Gillian spent four years teaching English in Japan after college, then came home and got her Master’s in ESL. She’s actually been in this area a few years now and lives just down the street.”

BTW, that’s registered dietitian (with a “T”), as opposed to “dietician” (with a “C”), like I originally typed, before Sarah correctly corrected me. As she put it, “RDs are funny about the C, though that does come up as a viable spelling. The LN equals licensed nutritionist (I’m licensed to practice in the state of MD).”

Ad for dance show "Reflections," Saturday Sep 17And, as previously stated, dance is never far away. “I returned home in September (2016) to dance for RBC in a 40 year anniversary celebration called ‘Reflections.’ I danced with childhood friends, some were best friends who I see often and others were friends I had not seen in 20 years. It was a very special experience.”

Reflecting on her years in 4-H and what they’ve meant to her, she said,

It gave me countless opportunities that helped me pave the way for my future. It also helped me understand that I could accomplish many things if I just worked hard. I was taught responsibility, how hard work could pay off, that keeping records may be extremely tedious but that those tedious records would be useful in many ways. I got to go on trips around the country, and to feel like my voice was valued and that I was special and had something to offer. And I got to see and experience all sides of 4-H. I was one of those typical 4‑H farm kids showing goats and dogs, but I also was successful in projects like dance and quilting. I went on trips all over the country and got to see the inside of a prestigious marketing firm in Manhattan. The depth and breadth of what 4-H has to offer really is amazing.

Then she summed it all up, saying, “4-H allows you to choose your own path, even to forge a path if one does not yet exist. 4-H is a special program.”

What a nice compliment! You know you really must BE special if you are called “special” by a “special kind of person” like Sarah.

Sarah Pickering Stoodley, RD, LN, Dancer, French Bulldog Trainer and Dance Companion, Goat Whisperer, teacher, leader, my friend, Maine 4‑H Alum.

Return to the 4-H Fix on May 26 to read about Hazel Goodwin, a Maine 4-H alum who made so good she just became Maine’s newest 4-H Salute to Excellence Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree! It’s a story of a lifetime!

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