By Beth Ingli
Pierce County 4-H Alumni
In 1958, the Helping Hands 4-H club in Prescott, Wis. was started by Ray Sieben. With 13 members the original club was called the Oak Clif 4-H club. I spent a few hours learning about the club’s history with former 4-H club leader, Iris Most. 94-year-old Iris has kept all of the club history throughout the years by scrapbooking all the photos and newspaper articles since 1962. She became club leader in the early 1960’s of this 63-year-old Pierce County 4-H club.
When visiting with her and looking through all the club’s scrapbooks, one thing that made this 4-H club unique was the recycling shed they built in the 1970’s. Iris recalls that her husband, Melvin, took out a loan for $1000 in 1971 to build the shed for the 4-H club’s recycling project. The club paid the Mosts back within two years. Old newspapers brought $15 a ton in the early 70’s. The Helping Hands used the profits to give back to the Prescott community by planting trees, purchasing picnic tables and trash barrels, along with giving money to the Shriner Children’s Hospital. The 4-H club’s newspaper recycling shed continued for more than 20 years.
Iris was involved in the 4-H club for over 50 years, along with the title of “general leader” for more than 20 years. Iris gives credit to Cleo Howe, who was her co-leader and a big help with the club. Iris and Melvin’s children, in laws, and grandchildren all have taken their turns as members and leaders in the Pierce County 4-H program. The Most family photo shows the generations of this “4-H green” family, and by the smiles on their faces one can tell they have very fond memories of their 4-H adventures.
Iris proudly displayed three 4-H dolls she purchased in 2000, sold by the Danbury Mint. A portion of the sales went to support educational 4-H programs. Iris gifted these 4-H dolls to the Pierce County 4-H office this past summer. They are displayed on a shelf for visitors to see when they come to the office.
By visiting with Iris Most for a couple of hours, one gets a sense of the passion she still has for the 4-H program and the benefits it brought to so many youth she mentored as the 4-H club leader of the Helping Hands of Prescott.
That enthusiasm and passion can also be seen by looking at the photo from the 1966 4H Awards program of the 4-H club leaders. As Pierce County 4-H continues to celebrate it’s 100-year anniversary, do you know someone who is currently in 4-H? Feel free to ask that 4-H member or leader to share their favorite 4-H memory and can you see that sparkle in their eyes? You never know where the conversation will take you, but I guarantee you, you will learn so much by listening as they share their story with enthusiasm and passion just as the members did back in 1921.
4-H continues to grow confidence, independence, resilience, and compassion in today’s youth. As the 4-H pledge states, “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.”