This Vintage 4-H Dress was submitted by a friend of Extension in Douglas County.
Memories shared by friends of Extension
A friend of Extension in Norman County presented the original pie plate that was the inspiration for the educational package called Grandma's Yellow Pie Plate. This series of resources from Extension family development faculty helps family members make decisions about passing on or dividing up non-titled property.
Dean Bell from the Hegne Hustlers 4-H Club submitted a display of 1920s 4-H State Fair buttons. The annual 4-H State Fair buttons are a tradition that continues today--4-H youth still cherish the pins they receive when they earn a trip to the State Fair.
This poster about 1931 4-H member Vida Haake includes a handwritten letter asking to become a 4-H member, cake club project documents, a letter to Haake about her winning project, and details about the value of 4-H in the life of this 1930s-era youth.
Extension friends in Murray County created a poster documenting Extension work in making mattresses for rural families during the 1930s and 1940s. Mattress making was one of many ways Extension helped Minnesota families survive the Great Depression.
A friend of Extension in Watonwan County submitted this pink chiffon dress, made as a 4-H project in 1933 and worn by the State Fair 4-H Style Revue Queen, along with related newspaper articles.
George Miller, my grandfather and namesake, was an early organizer and instructor of boys' clubs (forerunner of 4-H) in Minnesota. He was a dairy industry pioneer who realized the vast possibilities of dairying in Minnesota and the Northwest. He attended the Dairy School of the University of Minnesota and later assisted in teaching short courses there relating to creamery and dairy work to young people in the early 1900's.
During his first experience as a butter maker in charge of the creamery in Rassett, Minn., he made a survey of the prevailing methods of dairying in the community and concluded that proper training of the youth of that community would be the most definite and rapid method of bringing dairying up to a sanitary and profitable basis. He invited patrons of his creamery who had boys between 14 and 20 years old to meet and discuss his plan. It was explained to them that by better housing, better feeding methods and selective breeding, cows could be made to produce more for less cost. He asked the families to allow their son to have one cow from their herd to be treated according to his directions in feeding a proper ration of feed, sampling and testing its milk, and then recording this production of milk, while the rest of the herd was fed as usual. They soon noticed the improvement, used these methods for their entire herds and brought general improvement to dairying in the entire community.
This very constructive work with these boys played an important part in expanding progressive dairying in Minnesota. By his involving and instructing the youth, he helped lay groundwork for what developed into the successful 4-H Club program.
Compiled by George P. Miller
Extension was a part of our family since its inception in 1909, long before the Kastanek family joined 4-H in 1963, but my story is about 4-H. I was nine years old when Miss Corinne Nelson came out to a neighboring 4-H family's home and gave a demonstration on salads.
At that time I believed that the reason for the food demonstration was to show us how to put a scoop of cottage cheese on top of a leaf of lettuce, stick half a banana upright into it, and top it off with a maraschino cherry. I realize now that Miss Nelson was teaching so much more, such as how to teach others. To this day I use her model of demonstration every time I teach a co-worker a new computer technique. (What are we going to learn? Why? How? How does this skill apply to our job?)
Miss Nelson was also teaching nutrition and parenting skills. The "candle salad" showed up often on our dinner table. Even Dad ate it when I put it in front of him, although he hated cottage cheese and lettuce. He knew he was setting an example for good nutrition, building my self esteem, and encouraging my budding culinary talents.
Miss Nelson always sent us home in a state of excitement. We couldn't wait to try the new ideas she had presented. I would be so disappointed when she said, "But unfortunately we don't have time to try this idea today, so try it after you get home, and please, let me know how it works for you." Today I know that "try this at home" was another of her techniques that made her such an effective community educator.
Many of our family stories and scrapbook pages include references to the Extension educators who were so important to us. My brother and sister, my children, and the grandchildren of our family and friends tell stories of similar experiences of motivation, cooperation, building self esteem, and just plain having fun—the qualities of successful family living.
(Note: Miss Corinne Nelson was an Extension home agent in Morrison County for many years, and continued to volunteer for Extension until she passed away in 1996.)
Story submitted by Colleen Kastanek