The Seventh Decade

J. M. Feltner Extension Agent 1921-1944The Kentucky 4-H program came under new leadership both at the beginning and end of the seventies. Conrad Feltner became Assistant Extension Director for 4-H in 1970 following the tenure of Dr. Ray Ranta.

Feltner was not new to 4-H. He had served in several Extension positions and was a member of the state 4-H staff when he assumed the director’s position. John Conrad Feltner was the second Feltner to make a place for himself in Kentucky 4-H. His father, J. M. Feltner, was an Extension agent from 1921 to 1944, and it was this Feltner for whom the 4-H camp at London is named. Conrad, affectionately known as the “Head Clover,” served in the assistant director’s position until 1978 at which time he was succeeded by Coleman White. White came to the State 4-H office after serving as an agricultural agent and in Extension administration as area director.

Kentucky 4-H Expansion

Early in Feltner’s tenure 4-H became involved in an expansion program. Recognizing the need to make 4-H available to a larger audience, a committee composed of Extension agents, specialists and leaders, worked for nearly a year assessing needs and creating a plan to meet the needs. The program took on the name “Kentucky 4-H Expansion.”

The goal became 250,000 members and 45,000 adult volunteer leaders by 1978. Along with this member/leader goal, the plan called for careful attention to designing projects that would be both educational and fun—an incentive to keep young people involved in 4-H after their initial contact.

Looking again to its volunteer force, 4-H found the help it needed to put its plan in place. T. Jefferson Wright Associates of Louisville donated their efforts to help plan a public awareness campaign. Radio and television stations, rock music groups, newspapers, outdoor advertising companies and artists all became part of a team donating their time and talents to promote 4-H. Outdoor billboards were designed; radio and television tapes were donated by T. Jefferson Wright and WHAS. Clever print pieces were prepared for use in newspapers and other publications. The theme for the expansion program was “4-H: It’s Where You’re At.” 4-H Expansion Marketing Packet

The 4-H Expansion program did pay off. The membership and number of volunteer leaders increased steadily during the decade, and by 1979, 254,000 young people participated in 325,000 4-H projects—making 4-H the largest youth organization in Kentucky.

The adult volunteer leadership goal fell short—increasing 3 percent in enrollment; however, there was a 12 percent increase in minority leaders.

Urban Programs

During the 1970s a second block of federal earmarked funds allowed states to expand 4-H into urban areas. Previously youth in urban areas could participate in 4-H but emphasis was not given to designing programs more accessible to urban youth. Para-professionals were employed to work with Extension Agents to manage this program expansion. “Special interest” and “school enrichment” curriculum was designed to introduce youth to 4-H. Before long they became programs used for classroom subject matter. Some examples are: chick incubation; windowsill garden; forestry; natural resources; and in the mid-70s—energy. The energy program was triggered by the gasoline shortages.


As always, programs for 4-H’ers of the 1970s were designed to meet current needs of young people. Several projects were added and the traditional projects continued to serve Kentucky young people.

Traditional Programs—Some projects that traditionally held the interest of 4-H’ers more than held their own; they grew in the 1970s. For example, there were 19,086 members in Food and Nutrition in 1970 and 29,518 in 1979. Home Garden projects increased from 5,835 in 1970 to 19,988 in 1979; Public speaking increased from 5,760 in 1970 to 10,339 in 1979; Personal development increased from 5,646 to 10,259. In 1976, home economics projects increased 12,244 for a total of 81,542, although clothing dropped overall from 27,331 in 1970 to 15,590 in 1979. Agricultural Engineering projects increased by 18,140 from 1974 to 1975 for a total of 65,388. Camping increased from 6,334 in 1970 to 10,311 in 1979. Total membership increased from 83,837 in 1970 to 221,648 in 1979.

Citizenship—In the 1970s, a series of citizenship project books were developed by Extension personnel in the southern region. The series of projects began with citizenship in the family, neighborhood, community, then moved to how government works at state, national and international levels. By the teen years, members often traveled to Frankfort to see state government in action. Youth learned about state law-making and history. If visiting during a legislative session, delegates got to see the house and senate in action and visited historical sites, including the Old Capitol, the Governor’s and Lt. Governor’s homes and the History Museum. Ultimately, about 250 youth each year traveled to Washington, D.C., to learn more about federal government and visit many of the historical landmarks which are significant to the foundations of democracy.

Bicycle Safety—For a time in the early and mid-seventies, bicycle safety was Kentucky’s fastest growing 4-H project. While any 4-H’er could benefit from this program, it was particularly popular with urban youth. It started with 16,681 participants in 1971 and finished the decade in 1979 with 18,971.

Community Pride—This civic-spirited program was designed to motivate young people to a greater awareness of their natural and social environment and to develop means to improve it. Community Pride projects allowed young people to serve others and learn to be responsible citizens. In 1976 when 13,500 4-H members in 74 counties participated, a total of 734 4-H units comprised this group. Part of their success was cooperation with the community development arm of Extension.

In 1979, more than 20,000 4-H’ers worked together in local government, emergency preparedness and safety, community planning, and volunteer service projects. Under the umbrella title “Community Pride,” 818 special-interest and school clubs aimed their efforts at everything from tree planting to recreation for the handicapped. Each year a state Community Pride workshop is held to train key leaders and staff members and an annual awards banquet recognizes the top three 4-H clubs working on community pride projects.

The Fulton County 4-H Teen Club sponsored three inmates from the West Kentucky Prison Farm to speak to 1,300 junior and senior high school students about drugs, alcohol, and crime. A Jefferson County group of low-income 4-H’ers was involved with the identification and restoration of historical buildings. Meade County 4-H’ers raised the money to purchase a Jaws of Life tool for the local ambulance service. There are hundreds more examples of Kentucky 4-H’ers using their imaginations and their efforts to improve their communities from the ground up.

4-H EFNEP—In November 1968, Congress authorized and funded the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program to deal with the problem of hunger and malnutrition in the United States. Since the program was administered by the Cooperative Extension Service, there was no better way to reach the young people of low-income families than through 4-H.

By 1979, the 4-H EFNEP program was helping over 51,000 young people learn the essentials of good nutrition, how to prepare satisfying meals, how to manage available resources and the principles of food sanitation.

Mulligan Stew—A variety of teaching methods were used to teach nutrition but perhaps the most visible was launched in 1973—Mulligan Stew. The six programs were broadcast by KET (Kentucky Educational Television). Extension agents arranged for classroom teachers to use the program as part of their classroom curriculum. Over 136,000 fourth graders tuned in to this 4-H delivery method during the first three years. It was common to hear youth humming the catchy tunes while walking down the hallway. Many agents and teachers introduced the series by serving Mulligan Stew, made from the recipe in the curriculum. See the recipe...

A New Camp--With the closing of the old J.M. Feltner Camp in Johnson County in 1975, as part of the flood control effort, Northeast Area leaders became concerned and organized a nonprofit corporation for the purpose of replacing the lost camp facility. They purchased a camping facility in Boyd County, originally a girls riding camp, called Irish Acres from John and Ada Diederich.

The facility consisted of 50 acres of hill land, a large winterized lodge with dining and sleeping facilities, a swimming pool and a bath house. The purchase price was $295,000, less $100,000 donated by the Diederichs. Local fund raising plus remunerative funds from the Army Corps of Engineers paid for the camp and improvements, which was re-named Diederich 4-H Camp and became operational in the summer of 1976.

This camp was overseen by its own board of directors made up of volunteers from the Northeast Area and Extension staff.

Friends of Kentucky 4-H

One of the significant 4-H historical events of the seventies was the formation and incorporation of Friends of Kentucky 4-H in March 1974. This nonprofit, tax-exempt organization provided a channel through which private financial gifts could be solicited, received and managed in support of the Kentucky 4-H program.

Incorporating the organization were Conrad Feltner, John Henderson of Southern States Cooperative, and Lynwood Schrader of Kentucky Utilities Company. In addition to the three, the Board of Directors included Jodie George and Robert Miller. Since its inception, the Friends organization has attempted to have one board member from each Extension area, plus members at large. The board’s purpose was (and remains) very straightforward—to provide leadership in identifying and obtaining resources for the 4-H program.

The board, with the help of the 4-H staff, identifies specific areas of need, then solicits, receives and disburses funds—many of which are designated for favored projects or programs with particular needs.

One goal of the early board was the construction of a facility that would serve as a setting for leadership development conferences and meetings. The concern for leadership development that was manifested in the sixties remained a high priority for the 4-H staff and volunteer leaders. Although significant progress on this goal was not made until the decade of the eighties, the interest and early planning was very much a part of the first years of the Friends organization. More...

The Economics of Self-Reliance

In one respect it can be said that the total 4-H program is directed toward fighting the consequences of inflation. By teaching young people practical skills for self-reliance and educating them in basic economic principles, they are equipped to become better producers and consumers—more aware of their own place in the economic system, able to deal with its problems, and able to effect the changes necessary to its continued growth.

On a fundamental level, every project in food preservation, clothing construction, livestock production or energy conservation can be seen as a direct aggressive answer to the problems created by an inflated economy. Intrinsic to each project is the economic value of the 4-Her’s achievement: How much was spent? How much was earned? How much was saved? What were the costs and earnings? What could have been changed to increase productivity? The list goes on. The vital importance of the economics of self-reliance in 4-H cannot be over-emphasized. The hands-on “learn by doing” approach utilized by 4-H means that the 4-H’ers are not only taught a problem and a solution, they experience it.

The American Private Enterprise System (often referred to as APES) is designed to teach 4-H’ers basic economic fundamentals, business decision-making, marketing skills, and corporate organization. Through workshops and seminars led by local business leaders, 1,351 4-H’ers learned how Americans organize to do business in 1975.

Consumer education is one of the fastest-growing areas of 4-H in Kentucky: from a first-year enrollment of 5,383 in 1976 to 8,600 in 1979. A colorful series of leaflets called Consumerama was produced to help 4-H’ers learn to make smart buying decisions on stereos, used cars, camping equipment, and bicycles. Other projects involved them in analyzing the influence of advertising messages and marketing techniques.

As a result of increased interest in consumer awareness, consumer education was included in every school curriculum in Kentucky. Extension agents cooperated with the state school system to secure teaching resources and conduct special programs.


The energy crisis created widespread interest in the 4-H energy project. The initial enrollment of 650 in 1976 grew to 19,445 in 1979. Conducted primarily through the schools, the 4-H energy projects were aided by a series of imaginatively illustrated, easy-to-read booklets beginning in the fourth grade and continuing through junior high school. 4-H’ers not only studied sources and uses of energy but were encouraged, through projects and record-keeping, to become conscientious about energy conservation at home and in their personal use. The Extension program was instrumental in making Kentucky young people energy-conscious—an invaluable skill as we prepare to tackle the problems of the future.

Improved Income

While most 4-H’ers in the 1970s did not earn a regular income, they became intimately acquainted with the world of work while completing projects. 4-H projects result in achievement, pride in a job well done, a sense of self-reliance and mastery of skills and knowledge. One of Kentucky 4-H’s major concerns has been the task of equipping young people with the skills to make prudent and useful career choices when they leave home to enter a different type of working world.

Career Exploration projects, developed in cooperation with the State Department of Education and the State Department of Vocational Education, were introduced in 1978. A record 11,546 4-H’ers explored a variety of careers on different levels in 1979. Workshops, on-site job visits, games, and quizzes made up just part of the activities 4-H’ers enjoyed as they tried on different careers for size. 4-H’ers learned more about themselves, their communities, and the world of work.

Management of Natural Resources

In one of the most beautiful states in the country, it’s only fitting that young people take an active interest and pride in the abundant resources around them. Through projects in geology, soil and water conservation, forestry, meteorology, and ecology, youth have gained an appreciation of natural resources—what they are, how to use them, and especially how to keep them.

A total of 19,036 4-H’ers participated in projects related to ecology and natural resources in 1979. The Kentucky 4-H land judging team, which appraises the physical nature and capability of soil, placed third in the International Land, Pasture, and Range Judging Contest in Oklahoma City this past year.

Nutrition and Health

From gourmet cooking to mice nutrition, the 4-H food, nutrition, and health programs offer just about anything a 4-H’er could want in structured classes, project clubs, or individualized self-study. One of the most popular program areas in Kentucky 4-H—with a total enrollment of more than 32,000—nutrition and health projects bear directly upon improving the family’s quality of life as 4-H’ers learn how to can and freeze home-grown food, cooking skills, nutrition and diet information, physical fitness and health education.

Nutrition and health also went to 4-H camp throughout the Commonwealth and with great success. Nutrition day camps, such as Fun and Food Camp, attracted 11,128 young people in 1979, and in many counties there was a waiting list of 4-H’ers wanting the opportunity to attend. In all, more than 47,000 young people were reached through the efforts of Extension agents, nutrition assistants, and volunteer leaders by home visits, school programs and day camps.

Operating on a grant from the National 4-H Council and the American Optometric Association, Kentucky 4-H piloted a vision screening and eye care education program. More than 1,600 4-H’ers were screened for vision problems and over 400 referrals to physicians were made as a result.

Human Development

The personal development of every young 4-H’er is the prime goal of the Cooperative Extension Service’s youth program. Whether it involves a project in woodworking, dairy farming, babysitting or money management—the 4-H’er is continually learning more about himself and his capabilities, learning to live and work congenially with others, and learning to take pride in his achievements at home, in school, and in the community. The whole of 4-H is designed and geared for this total development of the individual, which can be summed up in the four words which make up the 4-H motto: Head, Heart, Hands, and Health.

Programs specifically designed to address personal development—such as family life education, dating know-how, poise, and grooming—involved more than 16,000 4-Hers in 1979.

Leadership Development

Leadership development is considered a natural by-product of 4-H Extension work for youth, volunteers and agents. Through public speaking events, such as Talk meet and demonstrations; group work in projects and clubs; showing animals at State Fair; or just in helping another 4-H’er—leadership is encouraged and reinforced in every activity. In 1979, 9,700 Kentucky 4-H’ers were involved in leadership projects such as camp counseling, community youth councils, group dynamics, social recreation, and public relations. Within the 4-H organization more than 3,300 teens filled leadership roles—the largest number in the decade. Teens were involved with county and area councils, Expansion and Review Committees, leadership recruitment and training committees. Collegiate 4-H Clubs were established at three Kentucky university campuses.

In addition to teen leaders, 17,000 adult volunteers worked in the 4-H program on the county level in 1979. They participated in area leader forums, out-of-state forums, and special training sessions in subject matter areas.

The Impact of Title IX on 4-H

In the latter years of the seventies, Kentucky 4-H was made aware that in order to be in compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, separate activities for boys and girls could not be permitted. This meant that any activity with separate events or categories for boys and girls had to be changed. A club could not be called “Girls Sewing Club”; the club had to open to both boys and girls. Gender specific titles were removed. Some counties had traditionally identified a member as “Outstanding 4-H Girl” and “Outstanding 4-H Boy.” That was generally changed to “Outstanding 4-H Member.” Since boys and girls had begun participating in projects traditionally considered for those of the opposite sex for some time, compliance with title IX was not a big issue.

State Fair Exhibit Area Becomes Cloverville

Early in this decade, 4-H projects were exhibited in the East Wing of the State Fairgrounds in Louisville. Project entries in each class were lined up in order for display. Beginning in 1974, store fronts made from cardboard and a train were unique parts of the new set. In the late 1970s the 4-H exhibit area was moved to the West Wing. Ag Communications staff members made similar storefronts made of wood to create a small-town atmosphere and named it “Cloverville.” Exhibits in each class were no longer lined up and kept together. Items with similar themes were placed inside the storefronts. For example—The “Rock and Bug Shop” included insect collections and rock collections, but also featured jars of honey and arts/crafts or home environment items with nature themes. The “Farm and Home Shop” had a hardware store atmosphere where electric projects, fresh garden produce, casual clothing, canned products, etc., were displayed. Clothing items were pinned to the walls in every shop. Some of the shop names included “Formal Wear Shoppe,” “Casual Corner,” “Photo Shop,” and “Feltner School.” Kentucky’s 4-H exhibit area became known across the country as one of the most unique state fair 4-H exhibit areas ever.

Feltner Retires

Conrad Feltner retired from the Cooperative Extension Service in 1978. In 1970, 4-H enrollment was 83,000; by 1978, enrollment increased to 250,000. This growth was largely attributed to the involvement of volunteer leaders. Because of his belief in and strong support of volunteers, a leadership award was created in his honor. Funds contributed were placed in an investment account with the interest used annually to fund the Conrad Feltner Outstanding Leadership Awards, recognizing leaders at county, area and state levels. Since the State Teen Council came into existence during Feltner’s administration, it was considered appropriate that the teens plan the retirement banquet and awards program. The phrase—You done good!—for which Feltner was famous, served as an apt message to close out the Feltner years.

Coleman White Becomes State 4-H Leader

L. Coleman White moved into the Assistant Director of Extension for 4-H in August, 1978. White had served as an area director in Kentucky Extension for a number of years.