With 100 years of Dallas County history to celebrate, many past and current members of the Sugar Grove Sunshine 4-H Club gathered at Lake Robbins Ballroom Friday and Saturday to renew beloved rural traditions and look forward to a future of making the best better.
According to Sugar Grove Sunshine (SGS) history, the club was originally founded as the 4-H Sewing Club in 1917 during World War I. The 10 founding members were led by Mary Hayes. They exhibited their handiwork at the Iowa State Fair that year and marched in the fair parade behind the 168th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army, stationed at Camp Dodge in Johnston.
Saturday afternoon’s activities included the SGS chorus singing many 4-H Club songs, followed by a rally and the Ceremony of the Clover.
Three former SGS leaders and one present leader were recognized and honored as part of the Ceremony of the Clover: Lorna Baldner Grow, SGS leader from 1965 to the present; Ruth Brewer, SGS leader from 1959 to 1967; Ann Baldner, SGS leader from 1967 to 1972; and Marilyn Greif, SGS leader from 1976 to 1993.
In the Ceremony of the Clover, a stately procession of 14 SGS female members, dressed in navy blue dresses with white piping and midnight blue kerchiefs, entered the ballroom bearing a long garland of clover. The dim lights of the Lake Robbins Ballroom lent a quasi-religious reverence to the ceremony.
The girls arranged the garland on the floor in the shape of the 4-H symbol and then introduced the club’s past leaders. The honored former leaders were escorted from leaf to leaf of the clover, and the club’s four virtues were described: head, heart, hands and health.
The ceremony concluded with a recitation of the 4-H Pledge,: “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.”
Fundraising included t-shirt sales and decks of playing cards, with each card bearing an item of Dallas County historical trivia. Proceeds help to fund the summer 4-H camp and help cover travel costs for members attending the state 4-H conference at Iowa State University in June and the annual 4-H Focus Citizenship trip to Washington, D.C.
Tami Foley of Dallas Center, whose daughter, Emma, 11, is a member of the Sugar Grove Sunshine 4-H Club, said the club teaches important skills to the young people.
“I remember my own 4-H experiences so well,” Foley said. “You get a lot of factual knowledge in 4-H, but the social skills it teaches are just as important, from properly introducing yourself to a new acquaintance to speaking before a group.” She said she was active in state 4-H in South Dakota and in collegiate 4-H.
Sugar Grove Township Clerk Thomas McMullin of Minburn attended Saturday’s open house and said the event brought back fond memories of his own 4-H days. McMullin has served as township clerk for two years.
Teresa Shafer, who led the Dallas Discoverers 4-H Club from 1982 to 1992, said she looks back with joy on her 4-H years.
“To see the growth of the girls from when they start at 9 until they go off to college is about as fulfilling a joy as you could ask for,” Shafer said.
Shafer shared memories Saturday with her friends Ardelis Miller, an SGS member from 1958 to 1966, and Miller’s mother, Ruth Brewer, an SGS leader from 1959 to 1966.
Along with a time for history, the SGS 100th anniversary allowed plenty of time for dancing at Lake Robbins Ballroom. Julie Lee and her White Rose Band played both nights, with young and old alike dancing to the band’s wide variety of songs.
The Friday and Saturday dances were sponsored by the Central Iowa Polka Club.
The 4-H Creed was made visible in the 100th anniversary celebration of SGS:
- I believe in 4-H Club work for the opportunity it will give me to become a useful citizen.
- I believe in the training of my HEAD for the power it will give me to think, plan and to reason.
- I believe in the training of my HEART for the nobleness it will give me to be kind, sympathetic and true.
- I believe in the training of my HANDS for the ability it will give me to be helpful, skillful and useful.
- I believe in the training of my HEALTH for the strength it will give me to enjoy life, to resist disease and to work efficiently.
- I believe in my country, my state and my community and in my responsibility for their development. In all these things
- I believe and am willing to dedicate my efforts to their fulfillment.