The Eldon Advertiser and Miller County Autogram-Sentinel
1975 Bicentennial Salute
The first 4-H clubs in Missouri began in 1914 in Iron County in southeast Missouri. 4-H is an organization for boys and girls sponsored by the land grant universities as established through the Smith-Lever Act of 1914. It serves as a vehicle to extend to these youth the resources of the university.
4-H in Miller County is considerably younger than it is in the state. Miller County was first assigned a county agent in 1933. Edgar Lile who served in this capacity had responsibility for extension work in Pulaski and Maries counties and since extension at that time involved working with a number of United States Department of Agriculture programs little time was left for youth programs.
In 1935 Albert Hagan and R.D. Entriken were assigned to the county as assistant county agents. With this additional manpower some time could be devoted to youth work. During that year nine clubs were organized. Volunteer adult leaders are the key to successful 4-H programs and on Jan 5, 1935, T.T. Martin, state 4-H leader met with 17 prospective leaders. Two health and first aid clubs, two clothing clubs and one poultry club were organized at Brumley. Only one of these clubs completed the year's program.
A poultry club was organized at Mary's Home under the leadership of Mrs. Joseph H. SAnning with ten members, all of whom completed the year.
Mrs. W.W. Bunch organized a clothing club with five members. A poultry club was organized in the Pleasant Hill School District and Mrs. Lulu Farmer organized a clothing club in the Ginger Ridge community in the Little Saline Creek area.
Business picked up the following year according to the annual extension report for 1936 with 86 members "receiving instruction in making clothes, soil conservation, gardening and doctoring the body against disease and injury." C.D. Snodgrass, county superintendent of schools, is credited during these depression years as having been a great help in promoting 4-H through the rural schools.
4-H spread through the rural schools to a point that in 1937 the first county achievement day was held at Riverside Park in Tuscumbia giving members opportunities to demonstrate what they had learned. Clubs that year were located primarily in the northern part of the county. During that year Virginia Yarger organized a club in the Aurora Springs area that remained active for nearly 20 years.
Membership in 4-H fluctuated between 75 to 200 members until 1951, a peak year for membership until 1973 when county 4-H membership passed the 250 mark.
4-H has greatly broadened in scope since those early years when agriculture and home economics were the order of things. Extensive volunteer efforts have evolved 4-H into an organization to develop better citizens.
Missouri 4-H youth are actively involved in a wide variety of pursuits including conservation, career exploration, international understanding and community service.
In 40 years of 4-H in Miller County over 4000 youth, hundreds of volunteer leaders and a few professional extension workers have been striving for commitment of head, heart, hands and health to the improvement of the club, community, country and world.