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New bill honors ‘Mother of 4-H’

New bill honors ‘Mother of 4-H’

Jessie Field Shambaugh is credited with founding the modern 4-H movement

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

An Iowa Congresswoman has introduced a bill to rename a post office in the state after an important figure in 4-H history.

On July 9, Rep. Cindy Axne, who represents Iowa’s third congressional district, unveiled House Resolution 7502 which, if passed, would “designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 101 South 16th Street in Clarinda, Iowa as the ‘Jessie Field Shambaugh (1881-1971) Post Office Building.’”

Shambaugh is credited with starting the modern 4-H movement.

Born on June 21, 1881 on a farm near Shenandoah, she became a teacher at Goldenrod School in Page County in 1901. During her time as an educator she started the Boys’ Corn Club, the Girls’ Home Club and expanded each to include soil testing and corn judging competitions for girls and boys.

Jessie Field Shambaugh/Iowa Department of Human Rights photo

In 1906, Field became the superintendent of the schools for Page County. She started the Corn and Home clubs for all 130 schools in the county with boys learning farming techniques and girls learning homemaking skills.

From there the 4-H movement started to spread across the U.S.

In addition, Field is responsible for creating the logo synonymous with 4-H.

The symbol initially started as a three-leafed clover with an H on each leaf. The Hs represented Head, Heart and Hands. In 1910 she added a fourth leaf and H to represent Home, which has since been replaced with Health.

In 1914, the Smith-Lever Act, which created a national extension system through the USDA, formalized 4-H clubs across the country and solidified Field’s design as the organization’s logo.

It’s because of this kind of work she’s been dubbed as the “Mother of 4-H”.

And why the post office should be renamed in her honor, Rep. Axne said.

“Miss Jessie – as she was affectionally called by her students – was a trailblazer, educator, mother, author and radio contributor,” Axne said in a statement. “And I look forward to honoring her legacy in Page County by cementing her place in the heart of its community.”

Axne hopes the resolution will pass by the end of the month.

Members of Field’s family attended Axne’s announcement, held at American Legion Sergy Post 98 in Clarinda.

The honor is special in remembering the work Field did.

“On behalf of my family, I want to thank Congresswoman Axne for this kind and thoughtful honor to our grandmother,” said Seth Watkins, Field’s grandson, the Clarinda Herald-Journal reported. “I believe my grandmother would have been especially touched knowing you bestowed this recognition upon her.”


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