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About 4-H

4-H is a worldwide youth development program available in every state and over eighty countries. It is open to all youth aged 5-to-19, who want to have fun, learn new skills, and explore the world.  In return, youth who participate in 4-H find a supportive environment and opportunities for hands-on or "experiential" learning about things that interest them.  They also get what all young people need to succeed in life--the confidence, compassion and connections with caring adults to make contributions to their communities.  The mission of Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development is to unleash the power of youth and adults through diverse opportunities that meet community needs.

4-H is a community of 6 million young people across America learning leadership, citizenship and life skills. The 4-H community also includes 3,500 staff, 518,000 volunteers and 60 million alumni. 4-H'ers participate in fun, hands-on learning activities, supported by the latest research of land-grant universities, that are focused on three areas:

Mission Mandates

Citizenship - Civic engagement is the broadest mission mandate; it incorporates youth voice, leadership, respect, history, community youth development, SET, and Healthy Lifestyles. 

Healthy Lifestyles - "Choose Health" is an initiative of the Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development Program intended to help all of us confront and take action to change the statistics of childhood obesity.  This link includes project resources, promotional materials, and more!

Science, Engineering and Technology- Kids who participate in science activities outside of the classroom are more likely to be comfortable with science.  This link takes you to numerous  4-H Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) projects that give families science enrichment opportunities and connect kids to Cornell’s science outreach programs. 

Learn More!

Find out more about the history of 4-H and what it can offer you by visiting the other pages on this site, then get in touch with a local 4-H staff person today!  We're looking forward to welcoming you to 4-H in our county!

Cortland County 4-H Years 1928-1948

The Forming of 4-H In Cortland County 1928-1948

History of 20 years of 4-H club work in Cortland County. It is difficult to trace accurately all events leading up to the organization of the work , however with help of many who watched it grown, a sincere effort has been made to gather information and should be there inaccuracies or valuable information ommitted the 4-H office would be glad to know it.

  Although 4-H work was formally organized in Cortland County on April 1, 1928 there was considerable youth work prior to that date.

As early at 1918, a canning club was formed near Marathon to teach girls better methods of homemaking. The leader of this club was Miss Mae Reagan, now Mrs. MJ Phalen. Among the members of this club was Leotta VanGorder, Leona DeLilah, Hilda Reagan, Magdelene Reed, Mary Barry, Ruth Harris, Marcena Cater, Arlene Wightman, Edna Rundell and Grace Hollenbeck. In the fall of 1925, another club was formed in Texas Valley with Mrs. LE Harvey as leader. Members included Ruth Harvey, Helen Miller, Edna Lindgren, Mildred Knickerbocker, Lois brown. The following summer, the girls were helped in canning by Miss Krebs, homemaking teacher in the New High School at Marathon.

About 1925, a girls club in Truxton, led by Mrs. Charles Moore, was sponsored by the Home Bureau, Which later became a mixed club. At this time among the early 4-H members were Marian Potter of Truxton and Betty Jones of the Scott Road who were receiving their project helps directly from Cornell University.

In 1926, L.E. Harvey started junior project work in connection with the Marathon school as did Mr. Paul Orvis in Homer. Among the first boys i the Homer club were Harold Buchanan, Rutherford Bell, Olin Spencer and Leslie Thomas who had the first champion purebred show by a Junior at the Junior Show in Cortland (1927) and later won at the State Fair in Syracuse. Winning at Syracuse earned for him the privilege of representing New York State at the National Dairy show held that year in Memphis, Tennessee. Paul Hartquist represented the New York State in the Dairy Judging Contest as an alternated on the State Dairy Team.

Also in 1927 a club was organized on Scott Road with Mrs. Harry hall as leader. In this club were Lois & Lawrence Perry, Franklin Webster, Roland Wilson, Wendell Baldwin, Norma Reynolds Robbins, and others. They later merged in a club in the Homer Jones School District with Mrs. Eva Blanchard as leader. Miss Charlotte Keep was later a long-time leader of this club. These groups and perhaps others were going prior to the formal organization of the work in 1928.

Apparently through the efforts of the aforementioned youth leaders and other interested adults a great deal of interest aroused during 1927, in formally organizing Junior Project Work.

To established the Junior work, interested people solicited funds to start the organized work on April 1, 1918 with Chalmers Henderson as the first agent. He did such a fine job creating interest in boys and girls work in 1928, that interested citizens persuaded in the Cortland County Board of Supervisors to make the first county appropriation of $2500 for the work for the year beginning January 1, 1929. Among the first contributors in 1928 were: Cortland Co. Poultry Council; Bank of Cincinnatus; Cortland Trust Company; Homer Bank; First National Bank; Second National Bank; Phalen & Smith, Marathon; Marathon Cooperative Store; South Cortland Home Bureau; B.C. Durkee, L.D. Ticknor, G.L.F of Cortland, Homer and Cincinnatus, S.D.I-Homer 8; Homer 7; Preble 6; S.D.3-Freetown3, Marathon, 4;Virgil 16, Virgil 5; Dairymen's League.

The support from the Board of Supervisors has continued each year to the present time, with $8,000 appropriated for 1948. To guide Junior Project program, a committee of interested person has also way served an an advisory group.

The Junior Project (now 4-H Club work) soon became a natural with rural and village boys & girls. It received a good start with Mr. Henderson in 1928 for 376 boys and 269 girls were enrolled in 25 clubs with 42 leaders.

From 1928 to present there has been steady growth for the first 20 years to 1948.

Some outstanding events for remembering with Alumni 4-H'ers were:

Fun in the club, fair championships, Kings and Queens crowned at the fair, Camps, Schools, Rallies and Roundups, Achievement Programs, Officers' Training, Softball games & championships, Dress Revues, Demonstrations Days, Club and Council Picnics, Council meetings & trips, State Club Congress at Ithaca, national 4-H Camp at Washington, National Club Congress at Chicago. As for State and National winners, Cortland County has had its share for at least 5 members who have received National recognition in Chicago. 1930 - Raymond DeHart - in poultry work; 1937, Louis & Blanche Sharpe - National Health Champions; 1945 Kathryn Johnson -National Clothing Winner and that same year, Ernest Young - National Dairy Winner.

A complete list of Cortland County delegates to National Club Congress in Chicago follows: 1930 Raymond DeHart, Marion Potter; 1934 Marion Buchanan; 1936 Chars. Buchanan, Doris Cross, Doris Sharpe. 1937 Evelyn Biley, June Parker, Blanche Sharpe, Byron Dever, Louis Sharpe,; 1938 Laura Elwood, Cleon Barber; 1939 Marjorie Brown, Betty Palmer, Carroll Buchanan, Malcolm Dever; 1940 Chester Smith; 1941 Anna LeFever, Carol Olmstead, Chars. Dever; 1942 Agnes Phalen, Phillip Brong; 1943 Irene Marion; 1944 Rodney Sellen, Phillip Brown; 1945 Ernest young, Kathryn Johnson; 1946 Clinton Cotterill; Harry Underwood, Jr. State Achievement Winner but unable to attend because of previous state winner.

Other recognitions: National 4-H Camp - 1939 Betty Sweetland; 1947 George Bull Jr.; National Leadership is 1947- Clinton Cotterill 3rd place, 1948 Clyde Cotterill ; State Champion Holstein boys: 1934 Harold Buchanan; 1944 Roger Coon; 1946 Harry Underwood, Jr and Clyde Cotterill and 1947.

Advisory Committees - the Junior work always  guided by an interested group of adults. The first group was called the Cortland County Board For Junior Extension: Pres. Dr. J.L. McAuliff, Vice Pres. Fred J. DeHart, Secretary Mrs. Roy E Rathbun, Treasurer R. Tyler Space.  (Others members of the board) Paul N. Orvis, W. Kirkpatrick, Claude D. Carter, Glenn Alexander, Manley Clark, Mrs. R. Tyler Space, Mrs. A.E. Brigden, Mrs. Frank Whitmarsh, Fred J. Warner, N.F. Webb, John Greenman, Bert Conrad, Burr Cleveland, R. Elliott Owens, D.E. Bennie, George Fitts, Mrs. William Albro and James Waters.

Chairman of Junior Boards & Executive Committees: 1928-Dr. J.L. McAuliff, 1929-1931-A.H. Cross (Junior Extension and Vocational Board)

Chairman of Executive Committee of Junior Department: 1932-1936 Frank Wavle, 1941-1943 Fred Saltsman, 1944-Norman Brown, 1945-Frank Wavle, 1946-1948 C.E. Dickinson.

Chairman of the Cortland County Farm and Home Bureau and 4-H Club-Association (Executive Committees of the 3-departments) 1932-1934 L.E. Harvey, 1935-1937 H.L. Creal, 1938-1940 Mrs. E.B. Bickford, 1941 Wilbur Forbes, 1942-1943 Burt D. Jones, 1944-1945 Mrs. Harold Griswold, 1946 Frank Wavle, 1947 Mrs. Ralph Kimmich and 1948 Gerald Young.

County 4-H Club Agents:  

Mr. Chalmers C. Henderson was the first club agent and served from April 1, 1928 - February 28, 1934.  

Miss Elizabeth Woolley-Assoc. 4-H club agent  February 7, 1029 to March 31, 1935; 1936-1938; 1939-1940.

David B. Fales - 4-H club agent May 1, 1934 to February 29, 1936

Mrs. Stella Gould Fales-Assoc. 4-H club agent - October 1, 1938-September 30, 1939

Mr. Ralph L. Highley -4-H club agent - March 1, 1936-October 15, 1942

Miss Pauline Young - Assoc. 4H club agent - July 1, 1940-March 31, 1943

Mr. Joe S. Taylor - 4H club agent October 16, 1942-March 32, 1944

Margaret S. Potter - Assoc. 4-H club agent June 1, 1943- January 15, 1945

Robert P. Blatchley - June 15-1944 - 1972

Adelaide Kennedy Underwood - January 1, 1945-June 30, 1962

Last updated June 8, 2022