Tuesday, July 26, 2011

4-H: A Family Legacy

Bob & Janis Moore, July 21, 2011

I pledge my head to clearer thinking

My heart to greater loyalty

My hands to larger service

And my health to better living

For my club, my community, my country and my world.

The 4-H Pledge, Written in 1919 by Kansas 4-H Leader Otis Hall

It would probably be a better world if all of humanity would think about the principles that 4-Hers vow to uphold. Clearer thinking, greater loyalty, larger service, healthy living, better living ... those are all attributes that would do this old world a whole lot of good.

For more than 100 years, 4-H has been changing lives. Back in 2006, we celebrated 100 years of Kansas 4-H. The youth program has been part of the national landscape since 1902.

The 4-H website says:

The 4-H idea is simple: help young people and their families gain the skills they need to be proactive forces in their communities and develop ideas for a more innovative economy. That idea was the catalyst to begin the 4-H movement, and those values continue today.

My family's involvement with 4-H started with my parents back in the 1940s. Both were members of the Lincoln Bluebirds 4-H Club in Pratt County, the club that my siblings and I later joined. All four of us and all seven of the grandchildren have been part of the 4-H program, two in Pratt County in the same club their grandparents attended, two in Stafford County and three in Clay County.

Last week, my parents received a surprise honor from the Pratt County Fair Association. The Kraisinger/Clarkson-Frisbie Service Award is given for outstanding service to the fair association.

During the awards presentation, my brother Kent read a couple of excerpts from life stories my parents wrote for their grandchildren.

My dad, who was a 4-H member for 8 years, wrote:
"I bought a bred registered Hereford heifer at the C-K ranch near Brookville, Kansas. The heifer had a calf, and I had a cow and calf project. I also had an Angus fat steer project. Sears and Roebuck had a program that would give a 4-H member a gilt. The only cost was your agreement to bring a gilt from the litter back the next year to the fair that would be given to another 4-Her. When I finally quit the pig project, I had many, many offspring from that gilt.

I remember going to the fair at the present location on the hill when there were no buildings. The cattle were kept under a very large tent. I stayed at the fair at night, sleeping on a blanket spread on the hay next to my calf. ... I gave project talks and demonstrations and learned how to conduct and participate in meetings."
My mom, who was a 4-Her for 9 years, wrote:
"I joined 4-H as a preparatory member at age 9. I belonged to the Hopewell club until the Lincoln Bluebirds Club was formed at Byers two years later. I gave the usual talks at meetings and for 4-H County Club Days. I attended 4-H camp northwest of Dodge City two summers. I was only gone for three days, but I was rarely away from home so it was a learning experience for me.

"In 4-H, I learned cooking and sewing, which is about all girls took for projects in those days. My mother was the sewing leader. I liked to sew and usually got blue ribbons on my work. My cooking, especially breads, was a different story. My sister always did well with breads, but I usually got red or white ribbons. I think she liked to play in the dough more and that is what it took to make good bread. My sewing carried on through school, and I sewed many clothes for my girls, including coats, dresses and casual wear. They learned to sew for themselves through 4-H and home economics classes at school."
As most former 4-Hers do, they again got involved in 4-H and the fair when their children were little. My dad served on the county fair board and fair committees. My mom was a community leader for the Lincoln Bluebirds (later Lincoln Climbers) Club, the very club she'd been involved with as a girl. She was our club's sewing leader from 1967 to 1978 and helped with projects on the county level as well.

But they didn't quit working with or caring about the 4-H program or the fair after their kids "graduated" from the program. They've continued to give their time and they've contributed financially to building projects in recent years, especially after a tornado destroyed many of the Pratt fair buildings in 2002 and to rebuild the livestock arena at the Stafford County Fair.

I think the award means a lot to the many volunteers who've received it through the years. The award was originally named for Steve Kraisinger, who was Pratt County Extension agricultural agent from 1950 to 1979. He was inducted into the Kansas Fairs and Festivals Association Hall of Fame in 1990. Jean Clarkson-Frisbie's name was added to the service award after her untimely death. She served as county extension agent for 36 years, from 1972 to 2008. Both were county agents during the time I was in 4-H and both were instrumental to the 4-H program and the county fair.

As it is with most 4-H families, we learned through example. My parents devoted time and energy to the 4-H program. As 4-Hers ourselves, we learned about how to conduct meetings, serve on committees, set goals and follow through on projects.

We used those skills to serve as community leaders for our kids' 4-H clubs. We've used those principles to serve in other capacities in our communities and churches. Our kids learned the same. And I figure that the great-grandchildren will eventually join 4-H clubs and experience the 4-H Motto:

To make the best better.

It sounds like something the world should aspire to.


  1. We love 4-H! I totally agree with you....wishing the world agreed too. :) Thanks for stopping by. Oh and congrats to your parents!!

  2. I was a 4-H'er, too. Congrats to your parents. How nice.