Posts Tagged ‘4-H Fix’

4-H Fix

Friday, April 21st, 2017

Where Are They Now: Kathy Watier

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

As I am able to collect the information, I will, upon occasion, post additions to a series I’m calling “Where are they now?” This post is the first of what I hope will be many such posts and tells the story about Maine 4‑H alum Katherine Watier Ong.

What a way to start! So let’s get started.

Katherine Watier Ong

Katherine Watier Ong

Kathy Watier was, and still is, one of the strongest leaders I know. In 1995, when she was graduating from 4-H at age 19, I wrote:

I believe her strongest talent is her Leadership ability. I call this a “talent” as leadership comes so naturally to her that I believe she is one of the few “born” leaders. Give her a cause and she will strive to carry it as far as it can go. Tell her it can’t be done, and she will work all that much harder to prove otherwise.

Oh, and I wasn’t alone in my evaluation of Kathy! Her County 4-H Agent, Carney McRae, once said, “Kathy is a gifted student and capable of accomplishing any goals or dreams that she has. … Kathy exhibits outstanding leadership skills. She is not afraid to tackle any project.”

Ronald Dolloff, her high school Principal, wrote of her, “She is an outstanding student leader, a thinker, an innovator, an organizer, a doer. … In my twenty-three years as principal, I have found it unusual to have a young person manifest the keen perceptiveness, the ability, and the desire to undertake the ‘impossible.’ Her determination is unmatched. … Once given the green light, she’s off! Great things happen!”

Her high school English teacher, Jean Lawrence, wrote, “Kathy is one of the most ambitious young women I have taught over the past twenty-seven years. She constantly sets goals and moves with dispatch and a methodical approach to achieve them. … She is a very strong leader, a plus for most situations …. She is one of a kind and very special.”

Her high school math teacher, H. Paul Forrest, added, “The staff at Medomak Valley feels that when a woman is finally elected president, it will be Katherine Watier.”

I told you I wasn’t alone in my evaluation! Kathy was a 4-H Member who was fun to work with and got things done. Someone once asked me how I found it possible to put my career so often into the hands of teens! Read on and you’ll see that with teens like Kathy, the odds were in my favor!

I think I first connected with Kathy when she was 17. She interviewed for, and then was chosen to attend, the 1993 National 4-H Conference, a delegation I chaperoned. On the way home from Washington, D.C., she mentioned her desire for a statewide 4-H Teen Conference. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard such a request. I hadn’t been in Maine “the first time” very long, in fact, before I began to hear about teens wanting to have a state 4-H leadership discovery/learning event, better known as a Teen Conference.

The Maine delegates that attended National 4-H Congress in 1992, the first Maine 4-H delegation I chaperoned, were the first to suggest a state 4-H Teen Conference on the trip home from Chicago and I had only been on the job for a little more than a month at that time! Then I heard it again from the teens that attended the National 4‑H Conference in April 1993, specifically, from Kathy. “We want a Leadership event for teens, where we can sleep overnight, attend workshops, and have a dance and a banquet, and get to know each other,” she told me. She said it was one of her goals for Maine to have such an event. I soon learned, as noted above, that when this individual says something is one of her goals, it will happen!

As it turned out, Kathy was already part of a team in Knox-Lincoln County that had been planning and implementing a teen conference since 1989, which they called “The Mid-Coast 4-H Teen Conference.”

Experience counts! So, the first thing I did was to meet with Kathy to hear more of her thoughts about this idea and to develop a plan for making it happen. Based on that discussion, I promised to get the 4‑H system excited about a state 4-H Teen Conference and she agreed to help find a group of teens to be on the planning committee. It snowballed from there.

Primarily due to, and through her leadership, Maine held the first statewide 4-H Teen Conference that had been held in Maine since 1982 on June 23-26, 1994; the first ever, BTW, to be planned and implemented by a committee of teens. Not only that, but these teens planned it using online meeting technology, which was new to Maine at that time, allowing the committee to bounce its ideas off teens from across Maine, both to build a stronger conference and to build excitement for participation. To my knowledge, it was the first time something like this was ever attempted, especially by teens, in Maine or elsewhere!

After conducting a highly successful conference, the planning committee organized itself into a State 4-H Teen Council, which planned and implemented wonderfully successful, annual conferences into the 2000’s. Since I left Maine in 1999, I’m uncertain how long this program continued but in the five years I worked with it, the teens, following the model established during Kathy’s tenure, included something special each year. During the 1994 conference, for example, and due largely to Kathy’s leadership, the teens held an international meeting about 4-H via a US Aid Satellite connection with representatives from Costa-Rica and Thailand (we wanted Botswana to join the meeting as well, but they were unable to do so due to technical difficulties).

In the “post-Kathy” years, the teens made US Representative John Baldacci, who later served as Governor of Maine, an honorary Maine 4‑H Member; listened to, learned from, performed with, and enjoyed the music and stories offered by Abu the Flute Maker, an African-American artist from Baltimore, Maryland, who uses discarded items, such as bottles, cans and boxes, even bedposts and porch columns, to make musical instruments — the ultimate reuse, recycle lesson; and spread throughout Orono and Bangor to perform community service projects. All this was in addition to sleeping in the dorms, attending learning sessions, having banquets, and holding dances — just like the original concept first proposed by Kathy Watier back in 1993.

Katherine Watier Ong as a young 4-Her

See? She was making bread even back THEN! Bad pun. Sorry.

Kathy joined 4-H in 1983, when she was just 7. Her aunt, and babysitter, organized a 4-H Club that year whose members included, in addition to Kathy, her brother Matt and four cousins. They called their club the Pine Needles 4-H Club of Union, Maine. She was the club secretary that first year and then served as Club President the following year, when she was EIGHT. When asked recently what 4-H projects she took as a 4-H member, she responded, “I had a variety of traditional 4-H projects (sheep, baking, sewing, pigs, chickens, ducks, gardening, woodworking, etc). But when I turned 13 I got involved in different 4-H projects.”

Hmm, she apparently is also a master of understatement.

When she was 13, in 1989, she got involved with the planning and implementation of the Mid-Coast 4-H Teen Conference and stayed with that until we organized the state 4-H Teen Conference in 1994. When she learned that the world was losing its rainforests — thousands of acres of forests being cut down and burned to make land available for cattle farming — she made it a goal to put a stop to it … or, at least, slow it down! And remember what I said about what happens when she says something is a goal!

First, she learned all she could about the rainforests and their plight and then, now armed with this knowledge, started to educate her friends and classmates about the issue and its global consequences. Then at age 16, she started what she refers to as her “4-H project,” a nonprofit called “The Rainforest Challenge.” Through this organization, she educated more young people about the plight of the rainforests and motivated them to take action, to purchase acres of the tropical rainforest through “The Children’s Rainforest” in Costa Rica and the “Rainforest Preservation Fund” in Brazil, to help save the forests.

In fact, it had always been a dream (should I say “goal”?) of hers to travel to Costa-Rica to see the rainforest and, over Valentine’s Day, 2009, she and her brother, Matt, did just that. In fact, he met his future bride, they since married, on that trip.

You would think that with such deep involvement and success in saving our environment someone would have taken notice! Well, actually, they did. Maine 4-H sent her to National 4-H Congress in 1993 as its State Citizenship Winner and of the County 4-H Awards 4-H Members in Knox-Lincoln County can hope to earn, one is called the “Katherine Watier GREEN Award.”

If you are interested in winning the Katherine Watier Green Award, according to the Knox-Lincoln County 4-H Office, in addition to being a 4-H Member, here is the skinny:

Katherine Watier Green Award: This is an individual or group award chosen from project records, 4-H Resume, Portfolio, and 4-H volunteer recommendation. This individual promotes sound environmental practices and serves as a role model to others. Each applicant shall present in their project record or in 4-H story form, how they use the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” practice or other sound environmental practices in their project. This can include photos, drawings, videos, public speaking, etc.

Hmm, I wonder why no one has ever named an award after me!

So, did she leave 4-H behind after “graduating” from 4-H membership? Not likely! In addition to serving on the planning committees for both National 4-H Congress and National 4-H Conference (not sure about Congress but she was certainly the first Maine teen to serve on the Conference Planning Committee), she made 4-H part of her undergraduate studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts! Knowing that 4-H, nationally, has traditionally struggled with keeping teenagers involved, she researched the problem for her social psychology bachelor’s degree thesis. After being awarded her B.S., another goal reached, she moved to Washington, D.C. to work on a National 4-H Council Internship followed by a yearlong assignment as a member of Council’s staff.

“I then started (and completed) a graduate program [Master’s Degree] at Georgetown University focused on tech marketing and business.” Did I mention that thing about Kathy being a master of understatement? You see, her Master’s Thesis, and this was LONG before stuff like Google Glass came along, was looking at consumer adoption of wearable computers! Oh, and BTW, this appears to have been the first consumer study ever done of individual interest in wearable computers. She continues:

I did my graduate program while working and transitioned to solely focusing on digital marketing — initially for non-profits here in DC (where I spent 10 years of my career) and then as the VP of Online Strategy and Market Insights at Ketchum — running their digital marketing and analytics practice to service their clients globally. For the last almost two years I’ve been running my own business, Watier Ong Strategies where I provide digital marketing strategy, coaching, and training to clients looking to increase their organic search exposure. Some of my clients have included,,,, and

Harry and Kathy on their wedding day

Harry and Kathy

Did I mention she got married at some point along the way? No? Well, she did. That happened on August 10, 2012, when she married Harry Ong, who, she says, “Isn’t a slouch either.” Kathy explains,

Harry is a professional clarinetist playing with the President’s Own Marine Band. Its primary mission is to provide music to the White House and the Commandant of the Marine Corp. There were about 150 professional clarinetists who auditioned when he won his spot with the band. You’ll see them providing music for the inauguration or state arrivals.

Did I mention they have children? No? Yup, that too! Katherine and Harry are the proud parents of 2 1/2-year-old future 4-H’er, Abigail, a real cutie for sure!

Oh, the terrible twos. I remember them well. Not mine! My son’s! But I digress.

AND just in February this year, this little family went from three to FOUR! Another little girl, future 4‑H’er Annabelle Veronica, joined the bunch at 10:47 p.m. on February 5th, weighing 6 pounds and 10 ounces!

She’s a little cutie, too!

So when Kathy is NOT working, caring for her family, or reminiscing about 4-H, what keeps her busy? Well, in between pregnancies, she dances! “My ultimate passion is dancing. I started dancing at age 4, and spent years dancing with People to People in Maine,” she says. In DC she hung out at Joy of Motion studios until this latest pregnancy, and some ankle issues, slowed her down. “I hope to get back into it after I get (yet more) physical therapy. Luckily my physical therapist is a former professional dancer, so I’m in good hands.”

I’m afraid my pregnant life, with a toddler, and running a business is quite boring. :-) However, we are taking Abbey to dance lessons (she loves dancing and music — I wonder where she gets that from?) and we take family walks with our 8-year-old mixed Lab Sammy. Most of our free time now is attempting to catch up with our friends and family. We travel somewhat regularly to see our in-laws in Maine and Seattle, and we yearly make a trip to LA to see our “extended family” where the family (and Abbey) gets to experience the joy of Disney and I get my beach time.

BTW, when I used the words “future 4-H’er” a few paragraphs ago, I wasn’t kidding! Kathy promises that when Abbey and Annabelle reach “4-H Age,” 4-H will be one of their “out-of-school-time” activities, for sure! Why? Because Kathy says that she wants Abbey and Annabelle to experience what she experienced!

For her, 4‑H “was critical to my development and granted me travel opportunities and experiences that I would not have had otherwise coming from a rural area.” Furthermore, she says that, “4-H taught me leadership and public speaking skills, organizational skills, how to create a strategic plan, apply for grant funding, pitch the press, package and promote a program — along with basic life skills related to farming and Home Ec, etc.

And then she adds, “I credit 4-H for who I am today.

Which means that 4-H can be VERY proud of itself!

Next month, on May 12, Where are they now? will reintroduce you to Maine 4-H Alum Sarah Stoodley!

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, April 7th, 2017

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

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

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

No, this blog post isn’t done, but you are correct that this is how I usually end my 4-H Fix posts! BTW, thanks for knowing that! It means you’ve been reading them all the way through to the end! :-)

So whatsup with that question?

In an effort to be totally transparent, I’ll tell you! Obviously, we want to hear from former 4-H’ers, YOU, our 4‑H ALUMNI.

OK, wait a moment. I don’t know about you but, frankly, this whole business about what version of this word to use and when to use it is, for me at least, a tad overwhelming; confusing to say the least. Is it alum, alums, alumni, alumnae, you say po-TA-to, I’ll say po-TAH-to; yikes, just what IS right? Latin. SMH.

So I looked up “alumni” in the online Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary. Here is what I found:

Full Definition of alumnus

plural alumni

1: a person who has attended or has graduated from a particular school, college, or university

2: a person who is a former member, employee, contributor, or inmate

“INMATE”!? Even so, I guess former 4-H’ers fall under #2. Then it goes on to say:

Many people are comfortable using the word alumni to refer to someone who was a student of a particular school. However, others feel quite strongly that this is an error and that the following forms should be used: alumnus (for one male), alumni (for multiple males, or for a mix of males and females), alumna (for one female), and alumnae (for multiple females). The shortened form alum and its plural form alums began to be used in the 19th Century. Initially, alum was widely viewed as highly colloquial or informal, but is increasing in use as a gender-neutral alternative.

Ahhh. “Gender neutral alternative.” I like that. That means I don’t have to remember which version to use, -ni or -na or ‑nae or -nus. Just “alum” or, if there are many, “alums.” Simple. Yes. I like that. Besides, it’s been used since the 19th Century and I had ancestors in the 19th Century and who wants to argue with ANCESTORS? Not ME! Alum(s) it is!

So back to the question at hand. We (4-H) really haven’t done a very good job over the years of keeping track of our (Ready?) ALUMS! — that is, our 4-H members after they left 4‑H. Reality is that a very few, but only a few, states have! But we’ve seen the error of our ways. We want to reconnect with our ALUMS. There is even a national push to reconnect with former 4-H’ers. It started last year with a national web page where you can register as a 4-H Alum and there is even a national spokesperson to encourage you to do so (Former Georgia 4-H Member and now Country Music Icon Jennifer Nettles)

We (UMaine 4-H) do also, well, at least we have the place to register! (Tell Us Your Story!)

And if you were a 4-H Member in a state other than Maine, I bet that state has a place where you can register because they want to hear from you as well!

NOW there is even a NATIONAL CONTEST you can “enter” that will help you identify yourself as a 4-H alum! Here is how it works:

4-H alums from across the nation are being asked to raise their hands to support the next generation of true leaders. Every alum’s raised hand is a vote towards a $20,000 award for the 4-H state with the most alum hands raised. So if Maine gets enough hands raised, Maine 4-H will get the 20 grand!

Want to “Raise Your Hand” for Maine? Here is what to do:

  1. Raise Your Hand: Go to to show your pride as a 4-H alum and vote for MAINE!
  1. It’s all about MAINE: Raising your hand is a vote towards a $20,000 award for the state with the most alums’ hands raised, which, in this case, will be MAINE! Second place gets $10,000 and third place gets $5,000.
  1. Pay it Forward: Tweet, post and share your #4HGrown experience or support and tag fellow alums asking them to raise their hands for MAINE (or, in a show of good sportsmanship, for their state if not MAINE :-) ) at

So why? What’s all the ruckus about?

Well, three things actually. Money is one of them. Truth be told, if you tell us you were once a 4-H member, someone, like me, is probably going to ask you to donate money to help support the 4-H program of today. If you went to the National 4-H Alumni web page noted earlier, you probably noticed a large, orange “flag” in the upper right corner of the page that included one word: DONATE.

screen shot of National 4-H Alumni website

The theory is that someone who falls into the “Alum” category, probably has a job or perhaps has reached the age of retirement, so, the theory continues, has the ability to offer financial support to the program that helped shape his or her life. And, knowing what it has done for you, who wouldn’t want to support it so it (4-H, that is) can do for the young people of today the same as it did for you “back in the day”? Right?

And, BTW, if you want to do that, to donate to UMaine 4-H, here is how: Support UMaine 4-H.

The second reason we are seeking to reconnect is potential growth of the volunteer work-force. Yes, “Hands to Larger Service” lives on past your 4-H Membership years! The 4-H Program exists because so many good people step forward, volunteering to “make the best better.” I’ve often said that of all the elements that are in place that allow us to implement 4-H (4-H Curriculum, County 4-H Staff, State 4-H Staff, National 4-H Staff, etc), there is only one that, if removed, would cause 4-H to cease to be, almost instantly — the Volunteers.

It is how many ALUMS “donate” to the program. Who better than someone who has been through the program to show the members of today “the ropes”? You know what 4-H did for you and how it was done. You care deeply for the children of today and the future they will make. So you ensure that 4-H will be there to help shape that future in a positive way by giving your time and energy to 4-H for the sake of the young people of your community! Thank you.

However, sometimes people don’t volunteer until they are asked, even former 4-H’ers, and we can’t ask you if we don’t know where you are.

Well, that makes two reasons for all the “alum ruckus,” but I said “three.” I believe there is a third one and I believe it is critical to the future of 4-H; if not more so than the others, certainly at least as much. In a word: credibility.

You may have noticed that 4-H gets questioned a lot these days. There are a number of high-quality youth serving programs now in existence so the question is often asked, especially since 4-H receives some of its support from public sources (NIFA, USDA; state and local governments), isn’t 4‑H just a duplication of services?

Well, anyone who has experienced 4-H knows that 4-H is not the same as any of the privately supported youth organizations. The 4-H program is an educational experience provided by each state’s Land-grant University; indeed, often called “your first LGU course!” Research has even shown that 4‑H programs offer the best means through which to teach positive youth development (PYD).

But it is the same old story. You can have all the research that is possible to have but until a person actually sees real life results, it’s all just words. In the early days, Extension needed to create demonstration farms to prove the new, research-based farming methods actually worked so, likewise, 4-H needs to demonstrate that what it says about its ability to teach PYD is true, too!

And how do you do that? Well, it certainly shows in the program’s products: 4-H ALUMS! In an odd way of looking at it, 4-H Alums are 4-H’s demonstration farms!

4-H needs YOU to show the world what 4-H did for you so they can see what 4-H can do for the world! You give 4-H its credibility!

Judy Smith sorts through card catalog

Franklin County Extension’s Judy Smith reviews her collection of 4-H member enrollment cards dating back to the very early days of 4-H in Franklin County.

So we make lists of alums and seek more to add (for a national list of “distinguished” 4-H alums, visit 4-H Distinguished Alumni. Hmm. For some reason they didn’t include me, I see, but it’s still a good list, I guess. :-)

We raise up and honor our alums for the world to see and we tell our alums’ stories like those of Jennifer Nettles or Facebook’s Andrew Bozman or Food Channel’s Anne Burrell or…

And we tell YOUR stories! Some that have appeared in the 4-H Fix already include:

And just WAIT until you see some of the alum stories that will be in future 4-H Fixes!

Our 4-H Alums walked the 4-H path before us and proved themselves to be giants given what they achieved. By putting the spotlight on these giants we can show the world what 4-H can mean in a child’s life and, in turn, the life of our country, world, and future.

We in 4-H today, truly do stand on the shoulders of giants — our alums — YOU! Which brings me, then, to my final question for this post:

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!

Speaking of putting 4-H Alums in the spotlight, return to The 4-H Fix on April 21 to read about Maine 4-H Alum Katherine Watier Ong, in the first of a new series we are calling “Where are they now?”

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, March 24th, 2017

The Original Maine 4-H Brownie

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

If I say “Brownie,” what comes to mind? Any of these?

Indeed, here is that recipe!

Cream one-half cup of butter, one cup sugar. Add two squares (one-quarter cake) Baker’s chocolate, melted, two eggs, one-half cup pastry flour and one-half cup chopped walnuts. Spread on baking tins and bake fifteen minutes in a moderate oven.

So, when I said “Brownie” did anyone say “Brownie Schrumpf,” the person of whom one biographer entitled her book: “If Maine had a Queen” and who I am calling the “Original Maine 4-H Brownie”? Visit the Google News archive and go to page 14 to read a Bangor Daily News article about Mildred’s life.

Mildred Greeley Brown “Brownie” Schrumpf

Mildred Greeley Brown “Brownie” Schrumpf

Mildred Greeley Brown, also known as “Brownie,” served as Maine’s fifth Assistant State 4-H Leader from 1925 – 1932.

Here is her picture. It was taken around 1936 making her about 33 years of age at the time.

Note the smile.

I bet she was a very nice person to know. I wish I could have met her.

Born January 24, 1903, in Readfield Depot, a village situated just east of Maranacook Lake in Kennebec County, Brownie seemed to be successful at everything.

Maybe that is why she smiled so much! She graduated from Winthrop High School in 1921 and then went right on to attend classes at the University of Maine. I hope her parents, Fred and Nellie Brown, were there to see her receive her bachelor’s degree in Home Economics in 1925. I’m sure they were. I’m even sure they were more than proud. After all, she was the first in her family to go to college.

Out of college and then right back onto campus for her brand new job, Assistant State Club (I like saying “4-H” instead) Leader, a job she did for the next seven years. The State 4-H Office announced her appointment in the newsletter Echoes from Clubdom (v8, #3, Sept 1925) saying:

A change in the personnel of the Club Department has just recently been announced by Dr. Leon S. Merrill, Director of Extension Work in Maine. Mrs. Arra S. Mixter, for three years Assistant State Club Leader, has resigned, her resignation taking effect October 15. Miss Mildred Greely (sic) Brown, of Readfield Depot has been appointed assistant state club leader and is already on the job attending county contests this month.

Now remember, this passage came from a newsletter issued in September 1925 and it says she’s out there already working but her predecessor won’t be leaving until October 15! Anyway, according to the article, Mixter found a new job as the Home Economics Director for a “publicity utility company in New Jersey.” I think that’s a typo — perhaps should have been “public.” Makes more sense. Anyway, we hope she enjoyed her new position no matter what kind of utility it was!

As for Miss Brown, Echoes continues:

Miss Brown is welcomed to the organization as an old friend and former club member. She is a graduate of the University of Maine in the class of 1925. She studied home economics. While in school she established an outstanding scholastic record besides taking part in various campus activities. She was a member of the Chi Omega sorority, the rifle club, president of the Home Economics Club and house president at the Practice House her last year. She is a graduate of Winthrop High school where she was prominent in dramatics and was one of the five highest honor students in studies.

See? I told you she was successful at everything! Maybe that IS why she was smiling! By the way, for more info on Chi Omega, visit the Chi Omega website. Also by the way, “Practice House” was located in the Orono campus building known as The Maples. The Maples also served for a time as the location of the State 4-H Office. A description of UMaine’s Practice House in 1920 can be found in the American Home Economics Association’s The Journal of Home Economics, Volume 12, 1920, pp310-312.

Speaking of successful, growing up, Brownie was a successful 4-H Member. She belonged to the Readfield Girls 4-H Canning Club. She was so successful, in fact, that, according to Shibles’s welcome, she twice earned the title of Kennebec County 4‑H Canning Champion, won third place at the State Contest, and third place at “the annual seed show one year.” “This background fits her admirably for her present work of teaching the boys and girls the very things she used to do when a youngster herself,” he added.

In fact, it was because of 4-H that she decided to even GO to college! Because she won the county 4-H contest she earned the opportunity to attend the State 4-H Contest, which was held each year on the UMaine Orono Campus. It was that trip that persuaded her, and her father, that she should continue her education and do so at UMaine.

1927 Maine 4-H Camp held at the Eastern States Exposition

1927 Maine 4-H Camp held at the Eastern States Exposition

I’m still thinking about that smile. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a photo of Brownie in which she is not smiling! You know, smiling wasn’t a thing to do in photos back in the 1920s. But she did. Here is a photo of some of the delegates to the 1927 Maine 4-H Camp held at the Eastern States Exposition (ESE). I won’t point out which one is Brownie. I’ll just say “look for the smile.”

By the way, that large guy sitting beside her, wearing the bow tie, is State 4-H Leader Lester Shibles. Count the smiles in the photo. Correct. One.

Here she is with the 1928 Maine delegation to Camp Vail, a camp that was also held at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield (as far as I can tell, Camp Vail was not the same as Maine 4-H Camp). This is a photo I took of a photo that is part of the 4-H Exhibit in the Page Farm and Home Museum here on campus. I apologize for the glare — on the photo, not the faces. I’ll talk more about this exhibit and the museum a bit later in this post but for now just look for our smiling friend (hint: front row, forth from the left). As I said, I wished I had met her. She seems so positive and her positive attitude seems to be catchy. Note the woman to Shibles’s right. She seems to be smiling too!


1928 Maine delegation to Camp Vail

1928 Maine delegation to Camp Vail


Just to prove the point that Brownie was always smiling, here is a photo of Brownie and some of the delegation that attended the Maine 4-H Camp at ESE in 1929.

1929 delegation to Maine 4-H Camp at ESE

1929 Maine 4-H Camp delegation at ESE

Did you find her? I told you that attitude was catchy! Finding her is a little harder this time since there is at least one other smile, maybe even three or four (although the one to Brownie’s left could be called a smirk — probably didn’t like having to wear that “uniform”). Brownie is again sitting to the left of Lester Shibles, and, in case you are interested, the guy sitting to the right of Shibles, according to the list included on the back of the photo, is the seemingly joyless KC Lovejoy, the Waldo County 4-H Agent who would be appointed State 4-H Leader in 1935.

In 1932, one year shy of her 30th birthday, Brownie married a fellow named William E. Schrumpf, an economist working for the University of Maine Agricultural Experiment Station, which meant one of them would have to quit their job and I guess she was “it”! Apparently, one couldn’t be a university employee and be married to a university employee at the same time back in those days.

For Brownie, it seems, life mostly revolved around food, which is a bit like mine except whereas she taught about it, how to make it, and how to safely preserve it, I just eat it. In the forward to her cookbook Memories from Brownie’s Kitchen she wrote:

I started my “cooking career” at ten years of age, using a recipe my mother learned when she was a child. Our measuring cup was a coffee cup without a handle. The food on our farm was home-grown or picked in the wild, cooked on a wood stove and served to a hungry table of seven to eleven at each meal. During summer vacations from college I cooked for a woman and her granddaughter at their summer cottage. The menus and recipes were far different from the food on the farm — a learning experience! Cooking has always been an interesting and exciting way of life. I’ve enjoyed working with youngsters decorating cookies and making pies, and love to teach cooking classes.

In the 1940s, as a member of the USDA Extension Service, she taught foods and food preservation classes part-time at the University of Maine — notably one course being on camp cookery taught to UMaine forestry students — and traveled about the state giving food-related demonstrations. On August 31, 1951, at age 48, she began her weekly food column for the Bangor Daily News called “Brownie’s Kitchen.”

“This is your column” it began because, she said, it would be a bit of the readers’ ideas and a bit of hers. Each week she’d reminisce about days gone by or offer advice for days yet to come, always followed by three to five or so recipes.

Her January 2, 1980 column (page 29) began:

The holidays are nearly over and 1980 is the beginning of a new decade. It will be a time of tailoring the food purchases to the food budget.

Not a scrap of food should be wasted. Leftover cooked meats and vegetables, with the addition of seasonings, will make a meat pie or a soup. Even hash becomes a special dish! Stew meat will stretch the meat budget, although stew meat has become a higher priced food, and less tender cuts may be marinated to soften the fibers. It is a game the homemaker will play to “make do” with the food budget money.

One of the recipes she included in this column was her Shrimp and Broccoli Casserole. She said it was “a party-like meal.” It included, besides shrimp and broccoli, a can of celery soup, sharp cheese, buttered crumbs, and a few other things. Sounds tasty!

For her December 2, 1970 column (page 20) she wrote about a visit she’d made to a high school Home Economics Class and included their recipes. This one started with a question.

Do you remember the very first meal you cooked and company came to dinner? Members of the sophomore class at Easton High School served their first meal to company in the Home Economics course and it couldn’t have tasted better! The main dish of meat-za pie was accompanied with baked Aroostook potatoes, buttered carrots, and tossed salad. A chewy bar was served for dessert. Milk, tea and coffee were also served. You may like to try their recipe for meat-za pie.

MEAT-ZA PIE, if I’m reading the recipe correctly, was a meatloaf-like base covered by a tomato and mushroom sauce with cheese spread over the top, baked in the oven. Sounds pretty good! I might have just figured out what I’m having for dinner tonight!

And for dessert, MAGIC COOKIE BARS!

This chewy bar is made with sweetened condensed milk with coconut and walnuts as ingredients. These are good bars to include in the laundry case that goes back, filled with freshly laundered clothes, to the student at college or boarding school.

Better wrap those things up good in plastic or, if you have my luck, you’ll have Magic Cookie LAUNDRY! Anyway, these sound pretty good too — corn flakes, butter, sugar, chocolate, walnuts, and coconut, all mixed together with sweetened condensed milk and baked. Not sounding too bad at all!

Covers of cookbooks "Flavor of Maine" and "Memories from Brownie's Kitch"Anyway, let’s get back to Brownie. In addition to her newspaper column, she wrote two cookbooks, The Flavor of Maine (1976) and, as mentioned above, Memories from Brownie’s Kitchen (1989), both of which I’m sure could be found in many of your better bookstores and libraries. I found both available online. Just Google the title. I also found them both in Fogler Library here on campus! See?

Speaking of her kitchen, however, if you want to visit it, just stop by the Page Farm and Home Museum on the UMaine campus. She donated many of the items to be found in their “Brownie’s Kitchen” exhibit, a replica of a 20th Century farmhouse kitchen.

“Brownie’s Kitchen” exhibit, a replica of a 20th Century farmhouse kitchen, Page Farm Museum, Orono, ME

4-H exhibit at the Page Farm Museum, Orono, MEAlso nearby in that same area is a 4-H Exhibit. Stop by, learn, and enjoy!

Throughout her life, Brownie promoted good food, good food practices, and good foods native to Maine and Maine-grown whenever possible. If a person had a question about how something should be cooked, or if something was safe to eat, or how to make do with the wrong ingredients, it was Brownie Schrumpf that they would call; and call her they did, her telephone ringing almost constantly! She always took the call and always tried to find an answer to their questions, probably always with a smile!

She was a Bangor State Fair judge and a judge for the national Pillsbury Bake-Off. She was the Maine Food Products Promoter for the Maine Department of Agriculture at the Eastern States Exposition throughout the ’50s and ’60s. She was the “food expert” in a TV series called “A Time to Live” during the ’70s and ’80s. I don’t know if that’s when our own Angela Martin, who sits in the office next to mine in Corbett Hall, saw her, but when I showed Angela a picture of Brownie, she said, “Oh, I used to see her on TV!”

Brownie was even the one who first promoted the idea I mentioned at the start of this post, that the chocolate brownie was invented in Bangor (which led to the untrue story that she, HERSELF, invented the brownie and gave it its name. She didn’t invent it, didn’t give it its name, didn’t get hers from it, nor did she ever claim any of that to be the case. People and their talk. Go figure.).

She may not have had the honor of inventing the brownie but she did receive honors such as UMaine’s Black Bear Award (1957); Maine Press, Radio, and TV Women’s Woman of the Year Award (1968); Orono-Old Town Kiwanis Service Recognition Award (1976); and the Maine American Association of University Women [AAUW] Achievement Citation (1989). In 1974 she was awarded the UMO General Alumni Association Award, the highest award the group bestows and in the 44 years in which they had been giving this award up to that point, she was one of only five women to receive it.

Then, in 1997, Brownie Schrumpf was inducted into the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame.

Mildred Greeley Brown “Brownie” Schrumpf, who stood only 4’ 11” tall in stature but stood as a giant in the hearts of Mainers everywhere, having lived 98 years of life, a life full of service to others, passed away in Orono on March 2, 2001. Kalil Ayoob, Bangor Daily News City Editor at the time, said of Brownie, “She loved people and responded to everyone. She was a regular person.”

And to think, this all started in Kennebec County, on the shores of Maranacook Lake, as a member of the Readfield Girls 4-H Canning Club.

Did you have a favorite 4-H Recipe or food related 4-H experience? Tell us all about it and get yourself into a 4-H Fix!

On April 7 the next 4-H Fix post will tell us how we are all “Standing on the shoulders of giants.”

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!

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, March 10th, 2017

March is Women’s History Month!

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

The year 1997 is not a year I like to remember.

That was a year when I lost a good friend.

She was only 54 years old when she died.

It was a terrible loss.

She was a beautiful, talented, intelligent woman whom everyone loved. In the all-too-brief seven years she led the Pine Tree State 4-H Foundation, she turned it from a relatively successful 4-H foundation into a professional fundraising machine for Maine 4-H. Any Maine 4-H Member who participated in any state, regional, or national 4-H experience, and many local and county one’s as well, in the 1990s benefited from the work of Evelyn Trotzky, Pine Tree State 4-H Foundation Executive Director, 1990-1997.

UMaine President Fred Hutchinson and PTS 4-H Foundation President Scott Johnson listen as Evelyn Trotzky makes a comment during the 1996 Foundation Annual Meeting.

UMaine President Fred Hutchinson and PTS 4-H Foundation President Scott Johnson listen as Evelyn Trotzky makes a comment during the 1996 Foundation Annual Meeting.

What a joy she was to work with. You never knew what she was about to do next! One day, in the middle of a meeting, Evelyn stood up and announced, “Let’s go and get some Chinese food!” Then she looked at me and in her slightly New York accent asked, “Whatdayasay?” It was only mid-morning, a tad early for lunch, and we still had a great deal to do but who could argue with Evelyn? Of course, I said yes! So we just left our papers on the table, jumped into her car, and off we went to her favorite Chinese restaurant, arriving almost as they opened for the day!

My memory isn’t good enough to recall what I ordered that day but I’ll never forget what she ordered — Hot and Sour Soup — the big bowl — extra spicy!

There she sat, a look of ecstasy on her face, as she ate her soup with tears streaming done her cheeks! “I love this soup!” she said between each spoonful after spicy spoonful. It was typical Evelyn! It’s how she did her job; how she lived her life — at high speed, to the fullest, engaging all of her senses! Everything she had she put into everything she did.

And what she did was amazing! She studied at the University of Geneva, received her BA from Wheaton College, studied at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University, and then earned her Master’s degree in French at the University of Maine. She was a staff member of the United Nations Visitor’s Service in New York City, served as director of public relations and development at St Joseph Hospital in Bangor, and as director of community relations and development at the Kennebec Valley Mental Health Center, before taking on fund development for Maine 4-H. In her “spare” time she fulfilled her gubernatorial appointments as chair of the Maine Children’s Trust and as a member of the Maine Commission on Community Service. Of course, we can’t forget to mention her service on the board of directors of the Penobscot Valley United Way or the Jewish Community Council or being a member of the Bangor Junior League or of her church, Beth Abraham Synagogue.

Getting Evelyn to stop doing something, or even to slow down, was not an easy thing to do. Perhaps that is why, when she told us she was sick, we didn’t believe her. It just wasn’t possible. Perhaps that is why, in November of 1997 when she died, it came as such a shock — one that is still a shock today.

On July 23, 2016, I went to visit my friend. It took me a bit of walking and searching; it helps to look in the right cemetery. I was looking in the Beth Israel and she is in the Beth Abraham, but I finally found her in the far back corner of the Beth Abraham Cemetery. If you stand at the Korean War Memorial in Bangor’s Mt. Hope Cemetery and look across Mt. Hope Avenue, you’ll see an unpaved road. Follow that road and it will take you right to Evelyn. Her marker is a simple white marble stone. In fact, it reminded me of Evelyn — elegant, straightforward, and all class.

Evelyn Trotzky's grave marker

In one of her updates to the Maine Extension System, sent a few months into her illness, after describing some of the consequences of chemotherapy (“…many of you will see me, scarves, turbans, and all [no big deal], …I look pretty much the same, perhaps a little thinner, but with no less spirit and determination.”) she added this thought:

It’s about stopping to smell the roses. You and I and most working folks spend lots of time planning for tomorrow, that’s the way progress occurs. But I promise you from my vantage point that you can get just as big a high appreciating each morning sunrise, watching the crocus blossoms poke through the snow, and listening to the birds chirp as you walk along the Kenduskeag River. There is something to be said about living in the moment.

And she was just ONE of the amazing women Maine 4-H has benefited from through the years!

I suppose Ava Chadbourne might be the first woman Maine 4-H benefitted from. On January 23, 1914, she organized the first 4-H Club for girls in Maine — Macwahoc, ME, that is, a town in Aroostook County. You can read a bit about her on the National 4-H History Map. Zoom in on Maine until the Maine icons appear. Click on the push pin in Aroostook County. There you will find a few links you can then follow. One will tell you about Chadbourne Hall on the UMaine Orono campus. It was named after Ava Chadbourne!

In 1914, the first state 4-H program leader, F. Harold Bickford, after one year of service, resigned. He must have been pretty good though because TWO people replaced him! Ralph P. Mitchell was named State Leader of Agricultural Boys’ Club Work and Marie W. Gurdy was named State Leader of Agricultural Girls’ Club Work. Marie must have been pretty good, too! She actually started working a few months PRIOR to her official appointment date!

Marie Wilhelmina Gurdy was born in Rockland on Christmas Day, December 25, 1890, to Harry and Julia Gurdy. She was interested in, and found employment, teaching young women the home sciences. She held a bachelor’s degree but I am uncertain of the subject or the institution although I suspect Home Economics and the University of Maine. She held her 4-H position from 1914-1916. She probably would have stayed longer but on March 1, 1916, she married Brooklyn, NY resident Wilson B. Keene, getting married not in NY but in Maine. She died in February of 1971 having reached the age of 80.

Emily Morse

Emily Morse

Our next woman of note is Emily Morse, who, in 1914, was a ten-year-old 4‑H Member from Cherryfield, Maine. Cherryfield was so named because of all the wild cherries that lined the Narraguagus River upon which the Washington County town is located. Today the town is better known as “the Blueberry Capital of the World”! I wonder what happened to the cherries! Anyway, Emily is noteworthy because she was named the first state 4‑H champion during the first State 4-H Contest. It was held on the UMaine Orono campus December 21 – 23, 1914. This is a picture of Emily from 1916.

Actually, Emily was designated the 1914 4-H Gardening and Canning State Winner. From an earlier blog post we know she canned blueberries. I wonder if she canned cherries! Anyway, they didn’t start calling them “champions” until 1915 but it’s okay; in 1916 she beat out the 1915 Champion, Aroostook County’s Crystal Waddell of Mapleton, so earned the title back and this time could OFFICIALLY use the name “Champion”! In fact, she did it again in 1917 as well! Now that’s a champion!

In the early days of 4-H, when Emily was a member, 4-H was the responsibility of the County Agricultural Agents. That all changed in 1928 when the University of Maine employed five people to focus just on 4‑H in their respective counties. THREE of the first five Maine 4-H Agents were women: Effie Jones, Kennebec, Evelyn Plummer, Oxford, and Martha Corinne Merrill, Penobscot. Earle T. Blodgett, York, and KC Lovejoy, Waldo, rounded out the five.

Last October you read about Gladys Conant in the 4-H Fix. Gladys served Maine 4-H as a 4-H Volunteer for 68 of her 97 years, right up to the day she died in 2005. She was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame the first year it opened, 2002. That in itself, is an honor she well deserved.

Karen Hatch Gagne

Karen Hatch Gagne

Back in 1947, 4-H Agents across the country created an organization they called the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA). In 2015, 3,738 4-H Agents were members of this association, including me. Of course, an organization needs leaders so they created officers for it, one being President. Each year those few thousand members go the polls and vote for the one 4‑H Agent among them that the members think should lead NAE4-HA into the next year. In 2008, that 4-H Agent was Karen Hatch Gagne, the only 4-H Agent from Maine to be so honored. Karen began as a Kennebec County 4-H Agent in 1976. When you are good at what you do, folks take notice. It only took a year for the folks in Berkshire County, Massachusetts to notice just how good Karen was and to steal her away in 1977! So she was “away” for a few years making 4-H happen in the Berkshires and a few more getting her Master’s Degree at Virginia Tech. Then in 1981, Karen came home to her old job in her old county, retiring in 2015 but not before serving, in 2008, as the only Maine 4-H Agent to be elected to the post of NAE4-HA President.

And, speaking of leaders, so far FIVE individuals who’ve given statewide educational program leadership to Maine 4-H have been women. Margaret F. Stevens, Aunt Margaret to the 4‑H’ers of Maine, was the first of those five. Born in Rockport in 1911, Margaret Stevens’s career brought her to the State 4-H Staff in 1951 as the Assistant State 4-H Leader. When KC Lovejoy retired in 1963, the program turned to Aunt Margaret. She led 4-H for the next twelve years, retiring in the bicentennial year of 1976. She was 97 years old when she passed away in May of 2007.

Maine 4-H’ers had to wait until 1989 for the next female 4-H Program Leader, Thea Cloutier. Thea served as State 4-H Program Administrator until 1994. Cathy Elliott is next in line serving 1998-2002. Shirley Hager succeeded her, 2002-2007, and Lisa Phelps, our present State 4-H Program Administrator, succeeded her.

Which brings us back to the Pine Tree State 4-H Foundation, or, as it is known now, the Maine 4-H Foundation. Who is the present Executive Director? Another woman, Susan Jennings. Susan had been the extremely successful 4-H Educator in Oxford County, serving since 1988, until, in 2013, she jumped into the role of Maine 4-H Foundation Executive Director. Susan has proven to be one of the best 4-H fundraisers Maine has known. Evelyn would have been proud. If you see Susan, say hello but don’t be surprised if she asks you for money; as I said in a previous blog post, that’s what you do when the words “Resource Development” appear in your title!

Was there a special woman who made a difference in your 4-H history? If so, write or email me about her. Include permission for me to use your comments and you may find yourself in a future “4-H Fix”!

Come back to The 4-H Fix in two weeks to enjoy an Original Maine 4-H Brownie, and I’m not referring to a chocolate, cake-like dessert!

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!

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, February 24th, 2017

She Set the Bar High!

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

In the photographs we have of her, she looks to be rather small, perhaps only 5 feet tall, if that. But what she lacked in stature she made up for in energy, enthusiasm, and leadership. She was the first Maine 4‑H’er to be named a statewide winner or “champion.” In fact, she earned top placing three of the first four years of 4-H Club work in Maine, setting the bar pretty high for those who would follow!

Emily Morse

Emily Morse

Emily Estella Morse was born on February 12, 1904, in Cherryfield, Maine, a Washington County town situated on the Narragaugas River. She was the only child of Winfield George and Alta Dehlia Morse. Her father is listed as a farmer on her birth record but later found employment in the lumber industry. His occupation is listed as “lumbering” in “Mills and Woods” on the 1910 census and as “Cook” in “Camp” on the 1920 census.

Emily was ten years old in 1914 when 4-H Clubs (Boys’ and Girls’ Agricultural Clubs in those days) were just getting started in Maine. Records no longer exist (or, at least have not yet resurfaced) for what month the Cherryfield club Emily joined was formed, but their first year must have been successful.

It was especially so for Emily. She was invited to represent her club at the first State Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs Contest held December 21-23, 1914, on the UMaine Orono campus. This event was the beginning of her successes for not only did she attend, but it was during this event she was named the state’s first winner in Gardening and Canning — Maine’s first state champion even though that term was not yet used.

4-H’ers who attended the first State Contest in December 1914.

This is a photo of the 4-H’ers who attended the first State Contest in December 1914. That’s Emily in the light colored coat with the two big black buttons, standing in the front row.

Crystal Waddell

Crystal Waddell

In 1915, she was chosen to attend the State Contest again. This time they began to use the title “champion” for the winners but, even though Emily was awarded a score of 100 on her 10 exhibited jars of fruits and vegetables (worth 20% of the score) and her story was deemed to be the best submitted (worth 20%), the title of Gardening and Canning Champion went to Aroostook County’s 12-year-old Crystal Waddell of Mapleton.

One of the selling points for involvement in early club work was that money could be made through the project work. Crystal reported a 1915 profit of $39.03 (worth 30%) on her 10th-acre of beets after covering her expenses, including 20 cents an hour for her own labor. “Production” was the final 30% of the score. Of her project, Crystal wrote:

If I don’t succeed
In making my beets beat,
I’ve had the fun of trying
With good profits for a treat.

group photo of the 4-H’ers who attended the 1915 Contest

Here is a group photo of the 4-H’ers who attended the 1915 Contest. I’m not sure which one is Crystal, but once again, Emily is in the front row, wearing what looks to be the same coat, but now with a neck wrap!

Undaunted, even by poetry, twelve-year-old Emily worked hard through 1916 and was, once again, invited to attend the state contest that December, for a third year in a row. For the second year in a row, her story was deemed to be the best submitted and this time, as noted on page 5 of the December 30, 1916 edition of the Bar Harbor Times, she was designated as the State Canning Champion joining her fellow champions of 1916: Alma Davis, Machias, Poultry; Dorothy Shackford, Ellsworth, Pig Raising; Milfred Blackstone, Perham, Potato Raising; and Hilda Sullivan, Orono, Gardening.

Emily MorseHer award-winning essay about her work through the summer and fall of 1916 was published on page 1 of the Extension Newsletter No. 30, Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs series no. 11, January 1917. I’ve included it just as it appeared in the Extension Newsletter, but be careful reading it. I don’t know how it will affect you, but it made me hungry!

One other note: in the story Emily says she canned “a total of 20 different kinds of vegetables, 18 kinds of fruit, 1 kind of fish and 1 kind of poultry.” However, when I count the vegetables and fruit listed, I count 16 vegetables and 9 fruit. Since this was determined to be the best story, either I’m not reading this correctly or something is wrong. I can’t believe such a discrepancy would not have been noticed, leading me to think there must be another explanation. My source for the story is the Extension Newsletter, not the original story. I wonder if a line or two was missed when the story was retyped from the original into the newsletter! At any rate, here is her story, as it appeared in the newsletter.

I began my work in canning on June 30th. On that day I picked and canned five quarts of wild strawberries, and sold the same for $1.75. A few days later I canned nine quarts of cultivated strawberries for my mother. All through the summer she went around on crutches while recovering from an operation on her foot. My father was away from home every day and the canning fell to me. This may look to be quite a task for a little girl, but I am proud to tell you that I canned 227 quarts of fruits, meats, and vegetables. Here is a list of the vegetables I have canned this summer: 13 quarts of beets, 54 quarts of beans, 23 quarts of peas, 10 quarts of carrots, 7 ½ quarts of corn, 3 ½ quarts of beet greens, 7 quarts of sour pickles, 9 quarts of sweet pickles, 4 quarts of tomato pickles, 3 quarts of pumpkin, 3 quarts of squash, 1 quart of cabbage, 1 quart of red peppers, 1 quart of cauliflower, and 4 quarts of potatoes.

Besides these I have several quarts of fruits that I must tell you about. I canned and sold five quarts of wild strawberries which I mentioned at the beginning of my story. I have nine quarts of raspberries which I picked and canned with these same little fingers, and 20 quarts of blueberries. Some people say they do not like blueberries in the winter, but I think they make just as good a pie as they do when picked fresh in the summer. I have 3 quarts of Wealthy apples and 4 quarts of Highland cranberries, 3 quarts of peaches, 2 quarts of pineapple, and 8 quarts of crabapples. I also have trout, chicken, turnip greens, and beet greens. This makes a total of 20 different kinds of vegetables, 18 kinds of fruit, 1 kind of fish and 1 kind of poultry.

People say to me, “What kind of jars do you use?” Here is a list of the jars that I used this season: the Queen, the Lightening, the E.Z. Atlas, the Imperial, the Safety Valve, the Sure Seal, the Mason, and the Economy.

This makes eight different kinds of jars, and my choice among them is the Economy jar.

Last year I took some of my canned fruits and vegetables to the fair and won second prize of $3.00 on them. This year our local leader thought the club ought to show some of its work in canning on the fair grounds. I being the President went around among the members and told each one to get some jars ready. When the day of opening came we went to the grounds with our collection of preserves, but we had a hard time finding a table to use for our exhibit. After a long search we found one that was very large, and we arranged our things as pretty as we could. Then the fun commenced. Someone would come along, pick up the jars, turn them upside down and all ways, set them down with a bang and say, “Well, these little girls do fine work.” Then they would turn to someone else and say, “Do you suppose these children do this work?” And the answer would be, “No, I don’t.” This made us feel pretty bad, but after a little while four or five other ladies would come along. I expected to hear the same remark, but this time it was, “Say, look here. This work is done by the Girls’ Agriculture Club. I think this club work is fine for the boys and girls. New clubs are being formed all through the states, they say, and they are doing wonderful work.” This sounded good to me, and I stepped up close to the lady who spoke the encouraging words. The difference in these two ladies makes me think of a motto I have been told many times, “If you cannot say a word that encourages, do not say a word that discourages.”

This is all I have to say about my work this season. I wish all the club members another prosperous season and hope to meet you all again next year doing the club work.

Spoken like a true champion! As the Newsletter said, “…Emily is surely the princess of all canners.” She proved this again by winning again in 1917, now reaching state-wide fame. The Daily Kennebec Journal, January 16, 1918 edition, reported (although with a few errors either on their part or provided to them; Emily’s middle initial was “E”, Her father’s name was Winfield [although he may have been using “Winslow” at this time; being listed as such in the 1910 census], and although 1917 is the third time she was designated as state winner or “Champion” it was not consecutive [1914, 1916, 1917].):

Miss Emily B. Morse, the 13-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Winslow Morse of Cherryfield, again won the Boys and Girls Agricultural and Canning Clubs contest, this being the third consecutive year in which she has carried off this honor. Miss Morse attended the State Meeting of Clubs at Orono in December and read an interesting paper on her season’s work. Miss Morse won several prizes in the Washington County contests for 1917.

The “Princess of all Canners,” now 14, missed being designated as “Champion” during the December 1918 State Contest, that honor going to Penobscot County’s Marion Griffin of Levant. Too bad, too. This time Emily canned “over 600 pints” (over 300 quarts) according to Extension Newsletter #68, Boys and Girls Clubs Series #25, January 1919. Although she would have been eligible to continue with 4-H membership another four years, through 1922, it is uncertain if she did so based on records discovered so far.

On January 29, 1924, Emily married Mark J. Murdock, a Canadian by birth who was seven when he arrived in the United States in 1909, and the couple moved to Portland, Maine. They had three children: Martin W. born 1925, Richard S. born 1926, and Charles E. born 1929. The 1940 census finds the family living in Boston, MA, Mark listed as a welder and Emily as a housewife with one year of college education. Mark was 76 when he died in 1978 and Emily died July 12, 1986 in Woburn, MA at age 82. They are both buried in Calvary Cemetery in South Portland.

Newspaper and other records searches return very few additional details of Emily’s life after her marriage. From what little that has been found, we may assume she experienced both the happy and sad times that come with births, weddings, job changes, illnesses, and deaths; the life occurrences that we all experience; a life much like the life any of us might lead.

However, for five years, as she moved from childhood into her teenage years, Emily served as a noted role model, continuously working to make her best better. We are left to wonder what those five years of Girls’ Canning Club membership and successes meant to Emily; how they impacted her life, if at all; did they make a difference? I suppose we’ll never know for sure but what we do know is that her Girls’ Club efforts and achievements made a difference in the life of Maine 4-H! Her achievements boosted the Club Work of Maine when it was still in its infancy, when it truly needed boosting, by being a shining example of the “wonderful work” the club members could achieve. She was a role model then and she remains one today! She made a difference then and continues to make a difference today.

Hers was a 4-H Membership that truly set the bar high right from the start!

How are you making a difference in the life of 4-H? Drop me a line and let me know. With your permission, your comments may end up in a future 4-H Fix!

March is Women’s History Month so return to The 4-H Fix on March 10 to read about women who had an impact on Maine 4-H.

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!

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, February 10th, 2017

JoJo Thoreau

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

Maine is known for her famous authors: Stephen King, Annie Proulx, David McCullough, JoJo Thoreau.

What!? Never heard of JoJo Thoreau? Why, she is Maine’s newest recipient of a Western Writers Association Spur Award, one of the most prestigious awards in American literature! JoJo Thoreau won the 2016 Best Western Storyteller Spur for her illustrated children’s book entitled Buckaroo Bobby Sue. Others who’ve won Spurs in 2016 include prolific writer Joe R. Lansdale (Best Western Historical Novel) and Pulitzer Prize winner T.J. Stiles (Best Western Biography).

Cover of the book Buckaroo Bobbie Sue written by JoJo Thoreau, illustrated by Kristina Zack Young

JoJo Thoreau, a Waldo County native, has been writing for years. This nationally known author has spoken about the importance of reading to more than 7,000 Maine students and adults in schools, libraries, and during book signings. She has also given presentations in Massachusetts; during the Western Writers Association conference providing a book reading for children and speaking on the importance of supporting literacy; on a panel of writers at the Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow in Eureka Springs, Arkansas; and during a conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

When she is relaxing at home, you’ll often find Boots and Trigger, JoJo Thoreau’s two feline friends, relaxing with her.

Lydia Schofield showing dairy cows as a 4-HerStill can’t place her? Maybe you know her better as Lydia Schofield, a member of the Little Beaver’s 4-H Club of Waldo County who shows Dairy Cows.

Cover of the book Bendy-Wendy by JoJo Thoreau, illustrated by Kristina Z. YoungShe’s the Lydia Schofield who, as JoJo Thoreau, wrote and published her first book in 2014, Bendy-Wendy, when she was NINE, before she was an award-winning author, like she is now, at age eleven!

And by the way, being eleven makes her the youngest recipient of a Spur!


Here she is in Cheyenne, WY, in June, accepting her prestigious award and being congratulated by John T. Wayne, author and grandson of the movie star John Wayne, who was thrilled when he learned that she knew who his grandfather was!

Lydia Schofield accepting her prestigious award and being congratulated by John T. Wayne

So just how does an eleven-year-old write a book, get it published, meet John T. Wayne and other celebrities, AND win an award? According to Tiffany, Lydia’s mom, “Her independent 4-H writing project helped her with the learning tools needed to write and publish Bendy-Wendy.” And it just goes to show, practice really does make perfect since it was her second book that received the Spur.

“I used to get really upset when I thought I was bad at something because it didn’t come out the way I wanted it to. Then through my 4-H Cloverbud group, I learned about Benjamin Franklin and how many times his experiments failed, but he kept on trying until he got it right,” Lydia explained. “I’m glad that he never gave up on his invention ideas! I’m also glad that I didn’t give up on my writing because now my book, Buckaroo Bobby Sue, has won a national award.” And what role did 4-H play in all of this? “4-H has taught me that it’s totally okay to make mistakes when doing something new because that is how we learn the most from something,” responds Lydia.

There is no question that Lydia is a good writer. But just what is it about writing that draws her to it? According to Lydia, “It makes me feel free like I can go anywhere or do anything right from my own chair.” However, it is the READING part that adds the emphasis. She says, “I learn about other places and people and how difficult situations can make us a stronger person. The possibilities are endless and nothing is impossible when I’m reading a story and feel like I’m in the story with the characters.” And then she adds, “This is a lot like how 4-H makes me feel, too.”

In 4-H, members are asked to use what they learn in 4-H to better their communities. Lydia is no different from other 4-H’ers. According to Tiffany, Lydia wasn’t always a great writer or reader. So now “Lydia’s passion is to let other kids know what she went through, and that it is normal for many kids to feel frustrated, but how it is so important to keep working at it (whatever it is: writing, reading, sports, etc.) because it will eventually get better and then you’ll unlock your true potentials.”

It is a message Lydia wants to make sure as many young people as possible can hear. “No matter how difficult it becomes, don’t give up.” It is a message she has given during programs at numerous schools and libraries, large and small, including a presentation to over 250 Saco students one afternoon.

Tiffany explains that during Lydia’s presentations, she describes “her personal journey of starting out as a struggling reader and writer and how spending time at libraries as well as being involved with her 4-H group encouraged her to keep trying no matter how difficult it felt.” Her programs conclude with the realization that through help from a teacher and by varying the forms of her expression, she was able to overcome her problems.

It is an effective message, too. At the end of one of her presentations at an elementary school, a third-grader raised her hand and told Lydia how she struggled with the same reading and writing issues. Eyes teared for many when that third-grader said she was so glad to know there was hope.

By nature, Lydia is a shy individual. So how is it possible for her to do, and plan to do, so many public presentations? Tiffany explains, “She has truly embraced the 4-H motto of head, heart, hands, and health. Her experiences through 4-H — presenting show animals in front of crowds, public speaking exercises — has catapulted her public speaking skills beyond anything she dreamed possible.”

Ron Drum with Lydia SchofieldSo it all comes back to 4-H and what her mom calls her “writers heart.” “She’s just having fun with a passion that has ultimately transformed her life in wonderful ways and now allows her to inspire other children.”

On August 24, 2016, I got the chance to meet Lydia in person! She was very nice. She even shook my HAND! I was inspired by her, too! I caught up with her in Clinton at her Maine Farm Days “Build a Book” booth, a booth that encouraged her visitors to read and love books by making one of their own!

She was also signing her books and I got her to sign my copies! See?

books signed by JoJo

If she looks tiny in the photos, it’s because she is! However, don’t let that fool you! This kid’s a power house! Once you start talking with her it opens up a whole new world! I was reminded of the song Groucho Marx made famous in the 1939 movie “At the Circus” called “Lydia, the Tattooed Lady”! Not because Lydia has any tattoos, none I’m aware of at least, but because of the song’s last line, “You can learn a lot from Lydia!”

Never heard of JoJo Thoreau?!

You will.

…of Lydia Schofield, too.

And maybe, one day, you’ll even get to shake her hand.

On February 24 the 4-H Fix will travel back in time, 100 years to 1916, to meet another 11-year-old 4-H’er, this one named Emily Morse, Maine’s first State 4-H Champion! Her story is called “She Set the Bar High!”

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!

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, January 27th, 2017

Firsts: Part 2!

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

Happy New Year! Wait, I said that already, in Firsts: Part 1. So here we go with Part 2!

All of the 4-H FIRSTS reported in Part 1 were happening in Maine and the darn program still wasn’t even officially called 4-H yet! Some places in the country did, others used Junior Extension Club, 3-H Club, Boys’ and Girls’ Club, Young Farmer’s Club, and so forth. By 1915, although Maine was calling them “Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs,” we were already using the 4-leaf clover with an “H” on each leaf for an emblem and following the motto “To Make the Best Better.” In 1919 the Maine Extension newsletter reported that Kansas was using a “dandy” (their word, not mine, although I do agree!) new pledge that began, “I pledge my head to clearer thinking….” It became official nationally when it was approved by the National 4-H Camp in 1927.

In 1917, Gertrude Warren, an educator from New York, joined the Extension Service Staff at USDA. She was a proponent of the name “4-H.” In 1918 she purposefully used “4-H” to describe on-going club work in a national Extension publication, the first time it was so used. So, not surprising, when a meeting was held by the USDA Extension staff in Washington, D.C. in the early ’20s to determine just by what name this work WOULD be called, Gertrude Warren said, “4-H Club Work.” Apparently, the discussion became quite heated but Gertrude held her ground. Read more about Gertrude Warren in the National 4-H Hall of Fame.

In February 1924 Ms. Warren visited Maine. Yes, she visited MAINE in FEBRUARY! She even stayed here for five days, in FEBRUARY. She spent most of those days meeting with the State 4-H team in Orono headed up by State 4-H Leader Lester H. Shibles. However, while here, in FEBRUARY, she also took in some of the countryside, visiting the Hampden Highlands Willing Workers Club led by Mrs. E. E. Wood. Before she returned to Washington, D.C., she sent a “4-H Club Greeting” to all Maine boys and girls club members through the state newsletter Echoes from Clubdom. It began, “It is a pleasure to send a greeting to the 4-H club boys and girls of the Pine Tree State.” That did it. Maine’s program was pretty much called “4-H” from then on!

Ms. Warren must have enjoyed her time in Maine because, just for the record, she returned in 1925 to be one of two special guest speakers, the other being Maine Governor Ralph O. Brewster, during the 12th Maine State 4-H Contest. Date it was held? December 30, 1925 – January 2, 1926. Maybe it was a warm New Years. It happens! Her message? Work hard because “you can’t get something for nothing.”

Communication. It’s important! That’s why, in June of 1919, York County issued the state’s first COUNTY 4-H Newsletter! In his annual report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1919, County Ag Ext Agent William. M. Gray reported, “…this year we are issuing once each month from May to December inclusive, a little four-page paper called ‘The Club Caller.’ This paper is sent to every leader and club member. Its purpose is to keep each one well posted on the things that are going on among other club members in York County…. Already other counties in the state are considering taking up the same thing.” So here is page 1 of Volume 1, number 1 of the York County Club Caller! But don’t tell anyone. According to the headline, it’s “A SURPRISE”!

Page from the June 1919 issue of The Club Caller

first Collegiate 4-H Club in MaineA group of UMaine students who were also former 4-H Members, organized an Orono campus club in 1924 that they called the College 4-H Club. They met for the first time on September 29, 1924 in Lester Shibles’ home. That would be the first Collegiate 4-H Club in Maine.

The year 1924 also saw the first delegate from Maine attend a National 4-H Club Congress. Velma Jewett of Head Tide was Maine’s representative on the 1924 New England Delegation, chaperoned by Maine’s Assistant State 4-H Leader, Mrs. Arra Sutton Mixter. Montgomery Ward Company paid the expenses. The December 1930 Club Echoes, the newsletter that followed Echoes from Clubdom, noted that Velma Jewett became a Home Economics teacher in Ashland, ME.

National 4-H Conference began as the National 4-H Club Camp in 1927. Maine was present! That first delegation included Norman Hamlin, Turner; Andrew Sawtelle, East Wilton; Lucinda Rich, Charleston; and Lucille Parker, Dover-Foxcroft.

Martha Corinne MerrillWith all of this happening in 4-H, I’m sure the County Agricultural Agents were becoming a tad overloaded. Relief came in 1928 when Maine finally hired the first Extension Agents who would focus exclusively on 4‑H. Five of them actually: Effie Jones, Kennebec; Evelyn Plummer, Oxford; Martha Corinne Merrill, Penobscot (pictured); Earle T. Blodgett, York; and Kenneth C. “KC” Lovejoy, Waldo. Evelyn Plummer was appointed as Assistant State 4-H Leader 1936-1940. KC went on to serve as the State 4-H Leader 1935 -1963 and then, after he retired in 1963, volunteered as Executive Director for the Pine Tree State 4-H Foundation 1964-1990.

Sometimes you just have to get away from it all, get yourself above it all. The Beaver 4-H Clubs of Houlton and Ludlow did just that August 8-11, 1930. They were noted in the September edition of the 1930 Club Echoes (v8, #3) as being the first Maine 4‑H Clubs to climb Mount Katahdin! Twenty-five members, eight guests, and two chaperones were recorded as having made the climb!!

Sometimes you’ve got to find a way to rise above it all and fly even higher! June of 1931, according to the August edition of the 1931 Club Echoes (v14, #2, page 7), saw the first Maine 4-H Club to go for an airplane ride! It was also a first plane ride for all of the passengers!

Eight members of the Scarborough Boys 4-H Club, two members of the girls club, and leaders Mr. F.H.B. Heald, Mr. Elwood Bessy and George Douglass were all “up in the air” in June. …From the Scarborough airport they were taken for a five-minute ride in a five passenger plane piloted by Lieutenant S.B. Chandler, commander of the airport. The club folks had a chance to see their homes and the surrounding territory from the air.

I’m thinking it was a crowded plane ride. I’m counting 13 people listed, not including the pilot, as having taken that ride but note that the plane is described as a “five passenger plane.” Makes me think of MOST of my plane rides! I guess things never change.

And yes, Mr. Heald is the same F.H.B. Heald recognized as Maine’s first 4-H Volunteer and yes, the club is the one noted to be the first Maine 4-H Club. Crowded or not, I’m sure it was quite an experience; one that took a bit of courage to achieve!

If anyone has a photo of either of these events, the Katahdin climb or the Scarborough plane ride, I’d LOVE to include it in a future 4-H Fix!!!

Now, since this is Part 2, we’ll end on a SECOND, February 2 that is, 1962. That’s the day the Pine Tree State 4-H Foundation, now known as the Maine 4-H Foundation, held its first meeting. Yes, on Ground Hog’s Day, reported to have been the coldest day of that winter! The first president elected by the trustees was Claude Clement, a banker and 4-H supporter from Belfast. Mr. Clement was famous in Maine for establishing the Maine Banker’s Association Calf Project, which awarded purebred heifers, “Clement Calves” as they came to be known, each worth approximately $225, to worthy 4-H Members — 75 of them! For that, and his many other philanthropic activities in support of Maine 4-H, Mr. Clement was awarded the National 4-H Distinguished Service Award, which he received during the 1962 National 4‑H Congress in Chicago. He was the first Mainer to receive this award.

What were your 4-H Firsts? Tell me about them, and, if granted permission, I might just include your firsts in a future 4-H Fix!

How about THIS Maine 4-H first? The first Maine 4-H’er to become a national award-winning author! The 4-H Fix will tell her story, the story about JoJo Thoreau, on February 10!

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!

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, January 13th, 2017

Firsts: Part 1!

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

Happy New Year!

That’s what we yell on the first day of the year. Anyway, I yelled it, myself, again, this year. Did you?

So, January FIRST! It’s good to be first. Everyone wants to be first. Nobody wants to be last. Or even second! I think those are the two placements that most folks find to be the least favorable: second and last. It’s a bit of a toss-up, I think, which of those two is seen to be the worst, unless second IS last. Then, I guess, it is a tie. But truth be known, I actually, personally, like second, or even last, more than first, since you learn more from them than you do from first, unless it is a job interview. In that case, first is better. Just saying.

But this post will be about firsts! But first, a thank you is in order. I was at a loss over how to find some of the information I needed for this post and a few other stories that I wanted to tell. Almost as a last resort, I stopped by the Special Collections Department in Fogler Library and asked them if they had any ideas of how I might learn some of the information I needed. Archivist Desiree Butterfield-Nagy thought she might have a few ideas, asked me to have a seat, and disappeared through a door marked “STAFF ONLY”! In no time flat she was back with more books and documents for me to review than I could have imagined existed, much of it written in the hand of the persons I had been looking for! Desiree was a HUGE help! In fact, she has been a huge help EVERY TIME I’ve visited the Special Collections Department of Fogler Library! So many thanks, Desiree!

Now second, here are those promised firsts!

The University of Maine first established its Department of Extension in 1907, 110 years ago. Maine Extension work had actually begun earlier, beginning almost as soon as the university was established in 1865 with publishing of papers and giving lectures. By 1903 demonstration farms were helping farmers see how newly discovered methods could be useful on their farms and Arthur W. Gilbert, in 1905, had begun to provide some direct Extension Outreach to individual farmers. However, the whole business quickly needed to be organized and coordinated, so a Department was created in 1907.

The first County Extension Agents in Maine were appointed in 1912. The honor for being the VERY first, however, goes to Ernest M. Straight, Cumberland County! He started work on November 1, 1912. George A. Yeaton, Oxford County, followed close behind being appointed on December 1, 1912. Arthur L. Deering was appointed December 16, 1912 in Kennebec. Washington County welcomed Clarence A. Day on February 15, 1913. Maurice D Jones began work in Penobscot County on August 16, 1913. And George N. Worden’s first day in Hancock County was March 1, 1914. By then Maine had some of the new Smith-Lever Federal funds! But Hancock wasn’t the first county to get some of those funds; Franklin was! They used it to bring on Wilson M. Morse on July 1, 1914.

Dr. Leon S. Merrill

Dr. Leon S. Merrill

Those new, first agents knew they had their work cut out for them. Deering, who later became Maine’s 2nd Extension Director, summed up the problem for everyone when he said in his first report, “The Kennebec farmer needs to have more confidence in farming as a business.” By the way, they weren’t called Extension Agents then. They were “Directors of Farm Demonstrations.” As 1st Extension Director Dr. Leon S. Merrill often pointed out, it was Extension’s job to get the knowledge gained through university research, Demonstration Farms, and Experiment Stations and “take these truths out to the farms and set them at work!” By the way, not that it makes that much difference, but Dr. Merrill really was a doctor. His degree was a medical degree!

Also by the way, and this time it does matter, these county agents didn’t only do county agricultural outreach work, they also organized the Boys and Girls Club Work! Which meant they needed some guidance from the top.

So Dr. Merrill appointed a State Club Work Leader, what we’d now call the State 4-H Leader. Franklin Harold Bickford — F. Harold Bickford in official documents, Harold to his friends — was appointed on August 18, 1913 as the first “State Leader of Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs in Agriculture and Home Economics.” He stayed at it for one year. Under his leadership, Maine established thirty-two 4‑H Clubs (24 Potato Clubs, 5 poultry Clubs, and 3 Canning Clubs), enrolling 80 boys and 16 girls. In 1914 FHB left Extension to help establish the Pentecostal Church in Maine, primarily in Aroostook County. You can read more about FHB by visiting the National 4-H History Map. Zoom in on Maine until the Maine icons appear. Click on the human figure just below Bangor. There you will find a few links to additional information about F. Harold Bickford.

F.H.B. Heald

F.H.B. Heald of Scarborough, organized the first active 4-H club in Maine in 1913.

The first active Maine 4-H Volunteer was also attached to the initials, FHB! F.H.B. Heald of Scarborough organized the first active Maine 4-H Club there in December of 1913. It was a club for boys interested in growing potatoes. This “FHB” is also on the History map and you can visit him there as well. This time click on the green pushpin closest to the coast. There you will find a few links to additional information about F. H. B. Heald and the Scarborough Boys Potato Club.

What the heck, while in the map, why not click on all of the icons in Maine? You’ll find the first Girls Club (1914 in Macwahoc) and their leader, Ava Chadbourne, there, too, if you look in Aroostook County! If you know of someplace or someone you think ought to be on the map, you can nominate it! Here is the form. If you need help, let me know.

Contrary to what one might think, this Boys’ and Girls’ Club Work idea was not all that popular with community members, even parents, in the beginning! As a way of building knowledge of the benefits of club work, counties held contests, sort of like fairs, sometimes called exhibitions, to which all the county’s club members would bring their projects and compete with each other to see who would be named champion! The first County Contest was held in Waldo County, Belfast, November 5-6, 1915.

This picture shows the boys who attended that contest. I don’t know where the girls were. Maybe girls didn’t attend! Odd.

Boys who attended the first County Contest was held in Waldo County, Belfast, November 5-6, 1915.

If you look close, you may be able to see the five boys on the left-hand side in the back row leaning on each other’s shoulders. I guess boys will be boys.

The 1916 contest in southern Aroostook County was certainly a success! The Macwahoc 4-H Leader, Mrs. Harriet Pratt, who took over from Chadbourne, described the situation saying, “From the first we worked up hill all the way.” Apparently, there was a little resistance from the parents. “I found the…parents strongly opposed. So much ridicule and objections from all sides discouraged the children.” Really?! But then she adds, “The local exhibit held here in November…stirred up considerable interest. One man who was heartily opposed…has since remarked: ‘these clubs were the finest thing that ever happened in my community. I want to see the children try again so that I can encourage them.’” By golly, it worked!

The first year EVERY county “unit” held at least one county contest was 1918. The Twin Counties unit held one, but Knox and Lincoln each held their own. Northern and southern Aroostook County each held one as did northern and southern Oxford! The rest held one each.

The first State Contest was held December 21-23, 1914 on the UMaine Orono campus. Emily Morse of Cherryfield was named the first state champion. Well, she was named the 1914 state winner in the garden and canning project. They actually didn’t call them “champions” until 1915. But I say she earned the title anyway. Then she did it again in 1916 and 1917, which in my book proves it!

In this photo we see the 4‑H’ers who attended that first State 4-H Contest. They are standing on the front steps of the Carnegie Library. The man pointed out by the green arrow is F. Harold Bickford, first State 4-H Leader.

4‑H’ers who attended that first State 4-H Contest

Cherryfield’s Emily Morse is the short girl in the front row, third from the right, wearing the light colored coat with the two big, black buttons.

For having just gotten started, there was a lot happening 4-H-wise prior to 1920! The year 1916 saw the first group of Maine 4-H’ers head off to the FIRST Eastern States Exposition held in West Springfield, Massachusetts! It was more than New England back then. The state Extension Newsletter reported that “on October 13, Club Members from ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA and DE will present exhibits to compete for prizes at the Eastern States Agricultural and Industrial Exposition.” The author, Ralph P. Mitchell, State 4-H Leader, then added, “It rests with you boys and girls to show these other states what we can do!” And they did! Maine sent five judging teams (canning, corn, dairy, potatoes, and poultry). The potato team came in FIRST and got $30 in gold.

Hmm. Maybe first IS a good thing after all.

Which brings us to the end of the first part of FIRSTS, or FIRSTS: Part 1, as they say! There were so many firsts for Maine 4-H, I sort of got myself into a 4-H FIX! The story was getting to be too long! I had to break it into two parts! Come back to the 4-H Fix on January 27, 2017 to read Part 2 of Maine’s 4-H Firsts.” You’ll discover the name of the first Mainer to attend National 4-H Congress, which 4-H club was the first to take a ride in an airplane, and much more!

In the meantime, what were your 4-H Firsts? Tell me about them, and, if granted permission, I might just include your firsts in a future 4-H Fix!

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!

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, December 16th, 2016

Maine, the Way Gifts Should Be

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

I may have mentioned a few times in previous posts that I used to work here. I was a member of the UMaine State 4-H Staff from 1992-1999. It was the chance of a lifetime. But an opportunity to coordinate an Air Force and USDA collaborative effort to put 4-H Clubs on Air Force Bases got me to head south out of Maine in 1999. After that, and a few other experiences “away,” I was again given the chance, a chance of a lifetime, to return and once again become a member of the UMaine State 4-H Staff. My first day back was August 24, 2015.

Perhaps “chance” is the wrong word. Perhaps “honor” or “privilege” would be better. It is both an honor and a privilege to work for this university, in this state, with this 4-H program, and with the good people of Maine. But the best word, I think, is “gift.” It is a GIFT, one I’ve been given TWICE!

Since this is the time of year when gifts are usually on many people’s minds, I thought I’d let you know.

It is a gift that keeps on giving! It was here that I learned what the phrase “it took my breath away” really means. It was summer, probably 1993 or 1994, and I was driving from Bangor to Machias on Route 9 for some sort of meeting or other. It was a beautiful, sunny day; hardly a cloud could be found in the deep, clear, blue sky. As I rounded a curve, the landscape dropped off on my left revealing a lush, rich green valley below. A stream meandered back and forth across this valley’s floor, reflecting the deep blue sky, as it cut through the rich green meadow.

It was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever been granted the privilege to see. It actually caused me to expel the air I had in my lungs as I gasped, “wow!” Then I gasped “wow” again when it struck me that the beauty of that valley had actually taken my breath away.

Bald eagle in pine tree

Photo by C. Eves-Thomas

It happened again when I first saw Mt. Katahdan, the waves crash into Schoodic Point, the loons dive into Moosehead Lake, the autumn foliage almost anywhere in Maine, my first bald eagle, my first osprey, and my first moose.

Harold “Brownie” Brown showed me the moose.

One morning Brownie came into my office and asked me if I had ever seen a moose before. Outside of zoos, TV shows, or pictures, I said no. “Come on!” he said, “Let’s go find a moose!” First we found a day that we both could take off and then off we went for a tour of the Allagash, dodging logging trucks all the way! We found a moose. Actually, we lost count of the moose we found that day. I think it was 21! One bull we found was found a bit too close for my comfort! As we came over a crest in one of the dirt logging roads, Brownie suddenly slammed on the brakes because there, standing squarely in the middle of the road right in front of us, and not budging one bit, was my first “up close” MOOSE! The ones we’d seen earlier were across ponds or some distance off in a field. This one was staring me right in the face! I could almost feel his breath! “Uh, oh,” I heard Brownie murmur as he shifted the car into reverse, getting ready, not that it would have helped, to “floor it” if the moose charged. He didn’t. There we sat, looking at each other. After some passage of time, which was probably quite short but seemed like a lifetime at the time, a logging truck approached from the opposite direction and the old moose, I guess figuring the community was getting a bit overcrowded, meandered off the road and we continued on our way. Maine is a beautiful place.

Ron Drum with newborn son Philip in 1995.

Me and my newborn son Philip, August 1995.

Maine’s beauty, for me, however, is not all in the landscape. Some is in memories. It was here, for example, that our son, Philip, was born. The first part of Maine he ever saw, or would have if newborn babies could see that far the day they are born, was the Penobscot River through the window of Bangor’s Eastern Maine Medical Center hospital room August 10, 1995. Beautiful.

ice on trees

Photo by C. Eves-Thomas

And talk about beauty, even the weather is beautiful! I was here for the ice storm of 1998. That storm was a beauty! It began quietly, late on January 4. Hardly anyone foresaw what was about to happen. It didn’t take long, however, for it to turn half of Maine into a world of crystal. It was wondrous to see! But the beauty faded more and more each day the electricity stayed off, and it stayed off, for many people, for weeks! On January 14, Lavon Bartel, Extension Director at the time, wrote me saying, “The storm has about worn me out! No power, running water, little heat, etc., and no lantern fluid to be found in the four major outlets I went to yesterday. Whew, will I be glad when our home has electricity someday again.” With no way to get their milk to the cooperatives, dairy farmers had to pour it into the fields. Food spoiled. Emergency vehicles couldn’t get to emergencies. For a while, it wasn’t pretty at all, but it sure was beautiful.

4-Hers fish off the dock at Bryant Pond

Photo by Edwin Remsberg

I also find beauty in Maine’s people. These people are some of the nicest, friendliest, most trusting people around. In fact, one of my greatest concerns chaperoning Maine 4-H delegations to places like Chicago, Atlanta, Memphis, and Washington, D.C. was how much trust “my” Mainer’s exhibited! Always kind. Always friendly. Always wanting to help others. Always getting themselves into NEAR trouble when they trusted and/or were kind to individuals who were, let’s just say less kind and trustworthy than “my” Mainers were. Sometimes I had my hands full. However, compared to some of the issues other chaperones faced with THEIR delegations, I always felt the balance was in my favor with a Maine 4-H delegation.

And Mainers are smart, too, although you don’t often catch that at first meeting. Mainers have an “aw-shucks” — or should I say an “A-yuh” — approach to things that often is perceived by others as a lack of intelligence. And Mainers know this. And Mainers use this. It is their advantage. One day, while chaperoning a Maine delegation to Citizenship Washington Focus, I overheard a conversation between some of “my” boys and some very attractive girls from Alabama. In all the time I’d been with this group — we rode a bus together all the way from Orono to Washington, D.C. — I never heard as much “A-yuh-ing” or dropped “R’s” as I did during that “convehsation.” So later on I asked one of them what that was all about. “The Downeast thing?” he asked. “Oh we do that all the time! It causes people to expect less from us so they are more impressed with us later on!” I asked him, “Is that fair to do to people?” “No less than what those girls were trying to do to us with all that extra ‘Ya’ll’ stuff!” Now that’s smart.

The Mainers I’ve met and worked with are folks you can count on. If they say they will get a job done, it’s done. While I was here “the first time,” we did more things that hadn’t been done before or, at least, not for a while, in 4-H than one would have thought possible! It sometimes took a bit of talking to get them to agree to try, but once on board with the idea, it was done. For example, in the 90s we started a State 4-H Teen Council, which planned and implemented a State 4-H Teen Conference; a Regional 4-H Teen Council, which planned and implemented a Regional 4-H Teen Conference; Maine 4‑H Days; a Dog Team for Eastern States; a State 4-H Volunteer Forum; the 1999 Regional 4-H Volunteer Forum; and more, all of which, when the idea was first proposed, were considered impossible. Mainers will put their minds to the task, their backs to the work, and make Maine 4-H history.

What a joy it is to work here. What a joy it is to live here.

As I said above, and have repeated often, it is a privilege.

Indeed, it is a gift, the way gifts should be.

Return to 4-H Fix on January 13, 2017 to read about some of Maine’s 4-H Firsts!

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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, December 2nd, 2016

The 4-H Silver Cups of Franklin County

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

Sometimes things just don’t work out the way you had planned.

That’s one of those facts of life, I think. Oh, you may be successful in the endeavor, but the path to the success is just not quite what you had envisioned.

Take the case of the 4-H Silver Cups of Franklin County.

Across from Tiffany Wing sitting at the UMaine Extension Franklin County office reception desk, there in the closet, top shelf, far back corner, you’ll find two trophies (what in the trophy world are called “Loving Cups”); rather tall, ornate vessels, each with two handles. You have found the “4-H Silver Cups of Franklin County”! Silver polished away in places, a bit tarnished, a few dents and scratches here or there; they show their age (one is 88 years old and the other is 90), as do we all, but still standing proud!

And here they are! The 4-H Silver Cups of Franklin County!

2 trophies

Play the audio clip below and bask in their glory!


Loving Cups, by the way, apparently were originally used by newly-weds in ancient weddings to, together, drink wine (probably champagne) to seal the union. In more recent ancient times, they were used during victory celebrations to drink the “sweet wine of Victory” (probably more champagne). I don’t think either of the Franklin cups were ever used to drink any of “the bubbly,” or any other liquid, for that matter — not even cider. If they were, no one is saying!

But why are they there? A closer look at the cups provides a hint. Look close and you’ll notice there is an inscription on each of them. The shorter one, standing just 16” tall, reads:

4-H Club Cup
Awarded to
Franklin County
Highest Honors
1925 – 1926
Maine State Federation
Farm Bureaus

The taller one, stretching all the way up to 19”, reads:

Awarded to the 4-H Clubs of
Franklin County by the
State Federation of Farm Bureaus
For Excellence in Club Work
1927 and 1928

Jeepers! What the heck did Franklin County 4-H do to be awarded not one, but TWO silver loving cups — engraved, no less!? And while we are at it, just what is a “State Federation of Farm Bureaus,” what does it have to do with 4‑H, and why are they giving away cups?

The answers to all of these questions have to do with how this thing called Cooperative Extension got going.

We all know by now how the farmers across the country were either unaware of, or resisted, the new agricultural methods being developed by the Land-grant Universities. And how, in an effort to improve the situation, the universities placed educators into the communities to act as an extension of the university to teach the population the new methods. Funding for these “outpost operations” was catch-as-catch-can at best requiring some kind of local organization through which to function. This became especially so once the Smith-Lever Extension Act was passed in 1914 as it required some kind of local organization be identified to receive and administer the new influx of funds and carry out the duties the law defined. Counties in Maine originally looked to the Grange for this local organization. However, as Farm Bureaus began to show success, more and more counties turned to them.

The actual first “farm bureau” was created as a department, or “bureau,” of the Broome County, New York, Chamber of Commerce. In 1911, they hired a “county agent” named John Barron, fresh out of Cornell University. Barron had grown up on a farm, so had a basic understanding of agriculture, which he combined with his college education to bring new knowledge to the Broome County farmers. Funding was provided by the Binghamton Chamber of Commerce, USDA, and the Lackawanna Railroad.

Barron’s endeavor was so successful that a number of other places created their own versions of a farm bureau and the “movement” took off. These county farm bureaus provided just the local organization that was needed to further the work of Extension. Farm Bureaus became, in many cases, the employers of the County Extension Agents!

Maine’s York County Agricultural Agent, W.M. Grey, in his annual report for Fiscal Year 1919 (July 1918-June 1919) noted the importance of the York County Farm Bureau to his work.

The Farm Bureau has been the dominating organization in agricultural advancement in the county during the last year. Organized in November 1917, by July of the past year it had found its place and was functioning smoothly, and in a very efficient manner, for the betterment of rural life in York County. It seemed to be the thing that had been so badly needed, bringing together all of the people of the county in such a way that their problems could be discussed freely among themselves, and definite plans made to meet them.

Now, after a year and a half of activity, the Farm Bureau has made good, and I sincerely hope will remain the principal organization in agricultural lines in the county.

Now, again, remember that farmers were resistant to the new agricultural methods these agents were teaching. And remember that the young people were very open to the new ideas. Agents realized that the educational process was more efficient if implemented in groups so youth clubs were developed. The first Maine 4-H Clubs were organized in late 1913 and early 1914.

If Boys’ and Girls’ Club Work was seen as important to Extension work, it was seen as VERY important to the Farm Bureaus. Echoes from Clubdom reported in its August 1925 edition that O. E. Bradfute, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said, “The Farm Bureau needs boys’ and girls’ club work; boys’ and girls’ club work needs the Farm Bureau. We can scarcely give it too much aid for the well-being of our children, our organizations, and our country.”

However, although very useful to Extension in accomplishing its educational goals, club work was just a part of the Extension Agents’ workloads and did not always receive the emphasis other work received. To encourage greater emphasis on club work, the State Federation of Farm Bureaus offered an idea. What if an award was established that encouraged counties to work harder on behalf of club work? So, a cup was purchased from Wallace Brothers Silver Company, Wallingford, CT. Actually, according to Donna at Research Replacements, ltd., a company that specializes in replacing lost or damaged silver goods, when asked about these cups said, “Unfortunately we have no information on these cups. They were probably just specially made for the 4 H club.” So, not “purchased” but “commissioned”!

And then the word went out across the state telling all of this glorious prize! The Penobscot County Farm Bureau News for May, 1925 (vol. 6, #2, p.1) proclaimed it this way:

A beautiful silver cup will be awarded as a trophy to the county in the state of Maine that makes the best showing in club work this year. …the county winning it twice to have permanent possession of the cup. Each year the name of the winner will be announced at the State Contest and will later be engraved upon the cup. …Interest is running high and we have brilliant prospects of coming out the winner.

The concept was that the Silver Cup would rotate each year to the next winning county to be proudly exhibited, a point of pride for the members and volunteers of that county, until it was awarded to the next county the following year. This process would continue until one county won the cup twice. That county would then keep the cup as theirs; another cup then being offered to continue the tradition.

It seemed like SUCH a good idea! I imagine the originators of the idea figured the cost of a silver cup would be small compared to the many years of excitement and encouragement it would give to all in Maine 4-H to strive to make their best better! And it was such a nice touch to add that if a county won it twice, they’d get to keep the cup!

Here is how the same edition of the News described the scoring system that would be used to select the winner:

  • 25 points for exceeding the previous five year average for project enrollments.
  • 10 points for exceeding the previous five year average for project reporting.
  • 25 points for exceeding the previous five year average for the number of clubs.
  • 10 points for each 10 percent or fraction thereof* of the number of clubs receiving a seal.
  • 1 point for each 10% or fraction thereof* of number of clubs finishing 60% or more.
  • 1 additional point for each 10% or fraction thereof* of the number of clubs finishing 80% or more.
  • 1 additional point for each club finishing 100 percent.

Note: A club shall consist of at least 5 boys or 5 girls or 5 boys and girls and a local leader.

*Except in case of a tie.

Ok, I admit it. I am SO confused! I’m not clear at all on how these points were awarded or how many points could actually have been earned. I don’t feel too bad about that, however, because I read four different reports, and all four gave a slightly different slant on the scoring system! Suffice to say, the county that grew their enrollment the most, established the most clubs, and whose members finished the most projects scored the highest. I think.

Well, anyway, somebody understood the scoring system because in 1925 the silver cup was awarded. I am uncertain if the cup was his idea, but the Secretary of the 1925 State Federation of Farm Bureaus, A. L. Deering, who also happened to be Kennebec County’s Agricultural Agent, and who, in 1930, became Maine’s second Extension Director, presented the first cup during that year’s Maine State Contest. Echoes of Clubdom reported the cup was won “by steady and consistent work on the part of the club members and leaders of Franklin County.” Their total score was 99.

So the question hung heavy in the air: Which county would win the silver cup in 1926?

I didn’t find much about the 1926 cup, but Echoes of Clubdom reported in the March, 1927 edition:

At the annual meeting of the State Federation of Farm Bureaus it was voted to offer a silver cup, similar to the one presented two years ago and to be awarded on the same basis as last year.

Franklin County won in 1925 and 1926 the first silver cup offered and it became their permanent property. Now we have another. What county’s delegation will carry this cup home after State Contest?

Right. Franklin County took the cup home in 1926 not only marking itself has the state’s highest club work achiever two years in a row but necessitating the procurement of another cup! Now the question hung heavy yet again, who would take the cup home in 1927?

Dr. Leon S. Merrill, Maine’s first Extension Director, wrote in the Extension Annual Report for the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 1928, on page 48:

The year 1927 was an outstanding one for boys’ and girls’ club work in Maine. The largest number of standard clubs on record, the greatest number of judging championships awarded, the largest state contest and the highest record of percentage finishing ever recorded in the state, 78.2 per cent, as well as an astonishing record of 98 percent finish in Franklin County, which places it among the leaders if not the leader in the country.

Given that, the winner of the cup in 1927 was probably Franklin County.

Page 50 of the same report, under “Clubs and Banners” (which, by the way, I think was a typo and should have been “Cups and Banners,” which is how the category appears in the 1929 report and which makes a tad more sense) Merrill says,

One state cup, three county cups and two county banners were awarded during the year in recognition of excellence of state or county work. The state cup was offered by the Maine State Federation of Farm Bureaus as a means of encouraging quality club work. Franklin County which gained permanent possession of the first cup by winning it twice, won the first leg on the second cup, with a remarkable performance of 98 per cent finish.

Even Merrill is referring to Franklin’s third year in a row win as “the first leg on the second cup.” I think they all saw what was going to happen.

I’m imagining the reaction of the various county delegations attending the State Contest when Franklin County walks off with the first cup in ‘25; then the amazement when it happens again in ’26; and then the reaction when they win “the first leg” for the second cup in ’27! Having won three years in a row, I’m thinking, in 1928, if they win again, the Franklin County delegation probably shouldn’t even go to the announcement ceremony — just quietly pick up the cup on the way home the next morning!

However, heavier than ever, the question hung again: Who will win the cup in 1928?

On page 46 of the Extension Annual Report for FY1929, under “Cups and Banners,” Merrill writes, “The state cup was…won for the fourth successive year by Franklin County.”

Franklin County 4-H now owned two 4-H Silver Loving Cups.

Oddly enough, the State Federation of Farm Bureaus didn’t offer a cup in 1929 or any year thereafter.

Saved from the landfill at least twice during office relocations over the years, the cups still stand: a testament to the hard work of the Franklin County 4-H Members, 4-H Volunteers, County Agricultural Extension Agent George E. Lord, who became Director of Extension in the ’60’s, and Louis Quincy, followed by Leone Dakin, the County Home Demonstration Agents, during the years of 1925-1928. They also stand as a monument to the energy and excitement that was being generated for and around this new thing, in Maine just a dozen or so years old, called 4-H!

In the end, the award only lasted four years, however, it did serve its purpose. Even after only the first year, that was apparent. State 4-H Leader Lester Shibles, at the end of the first year, said the award, “without question has stimulated a great deal of interest and I think that it is more than a coincidence that there is so much improvement in all lines of club work.”

To make the point even more apparent consider this. In 1925 Franklin County won with a score of 99 points. In 1928 Franklin County needed 187 points to win. On top of that, in 1928 only ONE county scored LESS than the 99 points it took Franklin County to win back in 1925!

The goal was to help increase the efforts being put forth on behalf of 4-H in Maine and that goal was certainly reached, thanks not only to the Franklin County 4-H community but to the entire 4-H community of Maine!

Still, Franklin County 4-H deserves a cupful of pride for their efforts.

Make that TWO cups!

Ron Drum and Franklin County 4-H staff hold two loving cups.

Sometimes things just don’t work out the way you had planned, but it doesn’t really matter, just as long as they DO.

In writing this post I noted that, in addition to these state cups owned by Franklin 4-H, the 1928 report mentioned “three county cups” won in 1927. The 1929 report upped that number by four stating that there were SEVEN county cups won in 1928. So the hunt is on! Where are THOSE cups? If you know, let me know, and we’ll all see them together in a future 4-H Fix!

Stop back for another 4-H Fix on December 16 to read about “Maine, the way gifts should be!”

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!

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.

* Audio clip: Choir of voices sings, “Ahhhhhhh!”