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4-H pledge comes of age

4-H Pledge

By the 1920s, 4-H club work appeared in every county's plan of work. In 1927, based on the term 4H-Club work and the fourfold concept of head, heart, hands and health, Extension adopted the well-known 4-H 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 family, my club, my community, and my country.

Minnesota and Maine were the only states to add "my family"? to their pledges. The only other change, in 1973, was the addition of "world"? to the pledge.

Minnesota farmers become acquainted with soybeans


As early as 1937, southern Minnesota farmers were experimenting with soybeans as a new oil crop. Extension tried to hold off promoting this until it was clear whether it was really marketable. The farmers insisted, however, and Extension listened. By the 1940s, soybean variety demonstrations were among Extension's regular agricultural programs. University soybean geneticist Jean Lambert developed new varieties that made Minnesota a leading soybean state. Extension introduced the varieties to farmers through field days, publications and the mass media. Farm income from soybean production alone was huge, more than the entire University budget in the 1950s.

Women pioneers lead way in home economics

Woman next to a Model T

As early as 1911, rural schools had hot lunch programs, thanks to Mary Bull, Extension's first state home economics leader. Before World War I, Minnesota's home economics staff grew by only four. But in 1917, with U.S. Department of Agriculture funding, Extension added 11 home demonstration agents. They expanded their reach through judging county fair exhibits, demonstrating baking and canning, and holding short courses at farmers' institutes. Specialists backed them up with popular leaflets on milk, fish, eggs, conservation, textiles and recreation. Today's Extension learning circles still help families use their resources wisely, from food and nutrition to family finances.

First milk cooperatives assist dairy farmers

Milk Trucks

In 1915, dairy farmers in the Twin Cities area were struggling to get fair prices from milk dealers. In 1916, four Extension county agents, led by Hennepin County agent K.A. Kirkpatrick, helped form the Twin City Milk Producers Association, a marketing cooperative. Kirkpatrick became the general manager and held the post for many years.

In 1917, the cooperative was attacked for "the offense of representing farmers" to sell their milk collectively, but in two years, the association was accepted. Extension went on to help organize two other cooperatives now known (and still thriving) as the Central Livestock Association and Land O' Lakes, Inc.

Hog cholera hits western Minnesota

Examining an ill pig

A disastrous hog cholera epidemic in 1913 threatened the swine industry in Minnesota's west central counties. Renville County Extension agent W.E. Morris helped save hog producers close to $1 million. Renville County cholera losses dropped from 56 percent in 1913 to less than 5 percent in 1914, and Minnesota set a nationwide record in controlling the disease.

Morris organized a team of swine raisers in each township to help inform their neighbors and help veterinarians. In 1923, the legislature asked Extension to set up hog cholera vaccination schools led by Extension veterinarians. The veterinarians also taught improved herd management, and by 1972 the disease had been eliminated from the state.

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