There are 74 4-H clubs in Mahoning County with a collective 1,237 members.
By MARALINE KUBIK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CANFIELD -- In 1902, an Ohio educator organized an extracurricular club in which boys and girls could learn about agriculture by doing a variety of farm-related projects.
This summer, hundreds of thousands of members of that club, which evolved into 4-H, are celebrating the organization's 100th birthday in all 50 states and more than 82 countries.
The first club meeting, organized by A.B. Graham, superintendent of Springfield Township schools, Clark County, attracted 85 children ages 10 to 15. Today, members' ages range from 5 to 19.
Children ages 5 to 8 join Cloverbud clubs that complete a series of short-term, noncompetitive activities. Youngsters from 9 to 19 complete individual projects of their choice, said Diane Reese, secretary at the Mahoning County Extension office.
With more than 200 projects to choose from, members can complete projects in everything from aerospace science and beekeeping to cultural awareness, photography, tractor operation and market livestock.
"You can live in an apartment and still be in 4-H. You don't have to live on a farm," Reese said. "I know one man who works at NASA who started with a 4-H rocket project."
In Ohio, 286,000 youngsters belong to 4-H. There are 74 4-H clubs in Mahoning County with a collective 1,237 members, Reese added.
The first 4-H club in Mahoning County was founded in 1915, she continued; the oldest, Greenford Busy Bees, is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year.
Fifty years ago, Reese said, Graham visited Mahoning County to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the organization he founded.
This year, the Mahoning County 4-H program will have a 100th birthday party from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the new Darrel Bacon memorial gazebo near the 4-H complex at the northern end of the fairgrounds.
4-H mascot Chris Clover will distribute goody bags, and cake and punch will be served. The party is open to the public.
To raise funds for a multimillion-dollar Ohio 4-H Center to be built in Columbus, Mahoning County 4-H will raffle a gift basket containing football game tickets and a football autographed by Jim Tressel, head football coach at Ohio State University and former head football coach at Youngstown State University; Andy Geiger, OSU's athletic director; and Archie Griffin, associate OSU athletic director and the nation's only two-time Heisman Trophy winner. The trophy is annually awarded to the nation's best collegiate football player.
Raffle tickets are available at the county extension office.