Recently I have had my attention drawn to 4H, by friends and other people around me. For me and growing up in the city I have no idea what 4H even is or what is their purpose. On the 4H website one statement that is mentions is that “young people learn by doing.” The organization provides multiple programs for kids to get involved. The main purpose of 4H is to help kids to develop skills to succeed in life.
A little bit of history: the 4H club was started in Ohio in 1902. The start of 4h was after school clubs and fair to get kids involved. The 4H did not become official until 1912 after the creation of the logo in 1910. Since then 4H has spread throughout different communities other than strictly agriculture communities. There are more diverse programs other than animal science programs to reach out to more kids.
4H even has their own pledge:
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.
For me this sounds like Girl Scouts which is what I participated in growing up. Both provide the opportunity for youth to gain skills that they will use in years to come. While Girl Scouts focused more on the encouraging the girls to be a better version of themselves, 4H teaches skills such as farming and agriculture based skills. For me if I had the opportunity to do 4H I would have because in many of my classes the students who have taken 4H understand the material more than those who haven’t. Growing up I learned a lot from the camps and the different activities that I did taught me a lot. I also had a great community of friends through different Girl Scout events that I even talk to today. I can only imagine what 4H does for those kids who grow up in a small agriculture town and what it helps them accomplish. The purpose of 4H is to help kids learn by doing and I think that programs like this should be more popular in all areas to get kids outside more instead of staying inside and playing videogames. Kids have become less active in the past 10 years and the issue needs to be addressed. For kids in the city 4H will give them the opportunity to get the outdoors experience that is lacked when living in the city. For kids living on a farm setting, it gives them the chance to build upon the skills that they learn at home and to have a break from home life and to hang out with kids in similar situations.
In today’s culture movies are a pig part of everyday lives. If you are an equine enthusiast like me, then you have probably already seen the movie War Horse by Steven Spielberg. This time watching it, I paid more attention to the beginning of the movie where they focus on the lives of the farmers. In the beginning of the movie the poor farmer went to an auction and bought a horse to help plow his field. The importance of getting the horse was to help make farming easier on the old father. While the wife was furious because they could not afford the horse, the son kept him and trained the horse to plow. The farmers lived simply and did not have much. After reading the hierarchy of farming, I would consider them sharecroppers since someone else owns their house and the land. If the farmers did not have crop for that season they could lose the house. After a horrible storm the crops that were already planted were ruined. While the mother lost all hope, the father and son kept their faith. Since they couldn’t plant again in the same field they turned to a challenge of clearing a field with giant rocks. With the determination and hard work of both the horse and the son, they were able to accomplish the task.
After watching this movie it really put into perspective what goes into farming. It truly is not a simple task and anything can make or break the season. In the movie the rain was the reason they had to start all over. The soil was soaked and roots had not taken a hold of the ground. Farmer’s whole lives revolve around the production of crop for the entire year, without it they could lose everything. Even on the worst days these hard working people keep up their faith and see how everything goes. This movie showed what farmers might go through on an everyday basis. Other than the loss of crops the movie also gave me an idea of what challenges farmers need to overcome and the fears that they may have. During this time it was World War I, in Germany, where there was a lot of changes and most of the money and men were going towards the war. I can not even imagine living as a farmer during that time.
Every once in a while you get the opportunity to travel back in time. If you’re like me, you do not carry a time machine with you. Luckily my Dad has ansetry.com which is pretty much the same thing. Looking back in time I discovered new information about my family. In my family, my great great aunt’s dad was the most recent documented farmer as an occupation. He started out as a dairy farmer back in 1910 before owning his own grocery store and gas station in 1929 in New York. His name is Frank Bowen Gates; his family tended to do farming with other work as well.
In the 1900s farming was growing bigger and bigger. At the time the total farm population was about 32,077,000 people, with 6,366,000 farms that had an average of 138 acres. Dryland farming started to become popular in the Great Plains, farm credit was becoming a rural issue, and the Farmers’ Equity Union was organized. When Frank was a dairy farmer Agriculture exports were $1.9 billion/per year. Commercial Fertilizer, at the time, was used at 6,116,700 tons/year. Just 35 minutes away from where Frank lived the first Farm Bureau formed. A few Years later World War I broke out. Between 1910-1925, more roads were built and people started using automobiles more often.
Frank started as a farmer with his father before learning mechanics where he turned it into a business. Unfortunately, when Frank first got his grocery store and gas station the Great depression struck between 1929-1939. This caused farm prices and income to drop. In the 1930’s the farm population was at 30,455,350, with 6,295,000 farms, with an average of 157 acres, with the addition of 14,633,252 irrigated acres. The use of farm-to-market road were becoming more popular in government road building. By the time Frank passed away in 1965, the Trade Expansion Act was developed. The Appalachian Regional Development Act was also put into place where there is a voluntary 4-year price and adjustment program. The stats for farmers have continued to increase since the great depression causing more of the population to do other forms of work.
Frank’s farm was passed down to my great great uncle and his family. When my Dad was a kid, his family also owned a farm. It was a personal ¼ acre farm that grew corn, green beans, carrots, blackly, beats, with a plum tree and peach tree. My immediate family doesn’t own a farm but it was interesting to find out how someone in my family were apart of major events such as the Great Depression. That’s how I found my roots.