I haven’t written a column about the 4-H program lately, but it’s dear to my heart, and for some reason, I’ve been thinking about it the past few days. The 2022 4-H year should be getting under way by now.
During my growing-up years on the ranch at Morapos, my sisters, Charlotte and Darlene, and I (and in later years my brother Duane) were members of the Hamilton Busy Beavers 4-H Club, one of the community clubs in Moffat County . Among other county clubs were the Elkhead Wranglers and Breeze Basin and Maybell clubs. In addition, some specific project clubs met separately.
During our growing-up years there were lots of families in the Hamilton and surrounding communities, including those living on ranches and in a couple of oil camps, so there were lots of kids in the Hamilton Busy Beavers 4-H Club. The 4-H program was a family activity with some parents serving as leaders.
The Hamilton Busy Beavers met once a month at the Hamilton School. At the beginning of each year we elected officers—president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, and reporter. The secretary took roll at each meeting and kept the minutes in a special secretary’s book provided by the state. The minutes were read and approved at the beginning of each meeting. I think each member may have paid a small amount of dues which gave the treasurer a job. The reporter wrote a short article about each meeting which was printed in the “Craig Empire Courier.”
It wouldn’t seem so, but there was business to discuss during each meeting, perhaps about project deadlines and county activities such as National 4-H Week. We also planned parties and dances to be held at the Hamilton School.
There was also the 4-H County Council which met once a month at the courthouse in Craig. Local clubs elected a delegate (or perhaps two) to represent them at the meetings. The Council also elected officers and discussed business regarding county and state activities, such as the Moffat County Fair and 4-H Conference.
There were plenty of 4-H activities to attend during the year, and some of them were planned for fun, such as the dances that were hosted by the Hamilton Busy Beavers. They were held about once a month at the Hamilton School and were family events. People from the community were invited as well as 4-H members and families from other county clubs.
Sometimes musicians from the community played music for the dances, but more often it was provided by records. There was always someone there to call square dances, especially popular in those days, but we danced schottische-type dances and waltzes, too. It’s where most of us learned to dance in those days.
About halfway into the evening the mothers served refreshments (cake and maybe sandwiches, coffee and punch) in the basement of the school where school kids ate their hot lunch. After that, we danced until about midnight. Although we didn’t know it at the time, we kids were learning social skills.
The 4-H program provided incredible opportunities for us to learn life skills that prepared us for our adult lives. More about that later.