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Celebrating the centennial of Huron County 4-H

By Richard Russell • Aug 21, 2017 at 8:00 AM

4-H clubs with names such as Classy Clovers, Tri-Community Bits and Pieces and Ripley Nifty Needlers and Cookers, among others, should be familiar to everyone following last week’s Huron County Fair.

If you were there, you witnessed members of 4-H clubs from all over the county showing their skills in projects ranging from cooking and sewing, woodworking and welding, photography and archery, along with their many and varied animals.

And one family of those 4-H’ers can trace its lineage back 100 years ago to one of the founding members of 4-H in Huron County.

Amelia, Nevan, Anita, Anessa, Abecka, and Annaka Ruggles are the children of Marc and Betsy Ruggles, of Monroeville. According to research done by Marc, the children’s great-grandfather, West Ruggles, was one of the original Huron County 4-H members when the “Corn Club” organized in 1917.

West Ruggles, along with Donald Heyman, John S. Hyde, Mary Pilkey, Pauline Zipfel, Clarence Jones, Earnest J. Salvidge and Clayton Schild, participated in a corn growing contest that year, sponsored by the Boys and Girls Club Department of the Agricultural College at the Ohio State University (OSU). The next year, farmers in the county made a request to OSU for a farm agent and Marice Laird was appointed to that position, along with Leah Ascham as the home demonstration agent later in the year.

From 1919 to 1921, clubs for food canning, pigs, calves and clothing were organized with a total of 174 members. William Sengstock served as the project leader for the county. In 1921, farm agent Max Phillips and home demonstration agent Nancy Folsom assisted in re-organizing the Huron County Fair after a hiatus of 26 years.

Potato, poultry, vegetable gardening and “own your own room” clubs were added over the years. In 1930, a pickle growing club was formed, the same year the county switched from project clubs to community clubs. For 4-H awards that year, members who received “A” or “B” grades earned a trip via the interurban electric railway to neighboring cities and excursions on a Lake Erie steamer. In 1936, the Norwalk Kiwanis Club sponsored the A Grade Banquet, a tradition that continues to this day for the Kiwanians and 4-H members.

Marc Ruggles said that they have looked for other descendants of those original eight 4-H’ers, but it appears that his children might be the only ones who are active in the program 100 years later. As members of the Ridgefield Country Kids 4-H club, the Ruggles’ projects include market broilers, market lambs, shopping savvy, photography, public speaking and many other learning experiences.

And it’s certain that their efforts to “make the best better” would make those original 4-H members proud.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Richard Russell is a Reflector photo correspondent and a 10-year member of the Beech Grove Boys 4-H club. You can follow Richard and all his photos from the Huron County Fair, along with many other places, at the "Official" Richard Russell Fan Page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Official-Richard-Russell-Fan-Page-286230283971.

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