By: James Stewart
To date the “Better Living In North Carolina” project has posted over 300 Cooperative Extension Annual Reports and Plans of Work online. Researchers can explore historic qualitative and quantitative data about home demonstration, animal husbandry, plant pathology and other divisions of the extension service. For this post we will highlight the 4-H Youth Development Plans of Work, ranging in date from 1929 to 1981.
The plan of work was a statement of intended goals and objectives for the coming year. The plans display the fascinating work that went into organizing annual camps, club weeks, radio broadcast, and new camp locations, and demonstrate the research of extension leaders and staff working at NC State University and North Carolina A&T State University. The remainder of this post introduces several of these documents and some of the men and women who put them together up until the early 1960s.
It was a little over 90 years ago when, on January 1st, 1926, L. R. (Lera Rhinehart) Harrill (1897-1978) became the first State 4-H Club Leader, a position he would hold until 1963. Harrill was an outstanding 4-H leader and a pioneer in agricultural education and youth development far beyond North Carolina. His devotion to the 4-H rural and urban youth of North Carolina and abroad earned him the title “Mr. 4-H.”
Some of the statewide 4-H reports are co-authored by Frances MacGregor Wall (1909-1949), a home demonstration agent who served as Assistant State Leader of 4-H from 1937 to 1946. Following MacGregor, contributors to the Plans of Work included assistant club leaders and district agents Jesse James, Eleanor Barber, Mary Sue Moser, Ruby Pearsons, and O. H. Philips.
Sample of Plans of Work from the N. C. State Extension Office by L. R. Harrill and various Assistant State Club Leaders.
- 1936 – State Plan of 4-H Club Work For North Carolina 1936
- 1938-1939 – Plan of Work for Extension Project in 4-H Club Work
- 1939-1940 – Plan of Work for Extension Project in 4-H Club Work 1940
- 1947 – 4-H Annual Plan of Club Work
- 1961 – 4-H and YMW Plan of Work
While Harrill and MacGregor were the state leaders, the services for African-Americans in 4-H were directed out of the N.C A&T Extension Office beginning in the mid 1930s and until the program was integrated in the mid 1960s. During this time, information about African-Americans in 4-H was included in the statewide reports from NC State as well as the Plan of Work or Annual Reports for Negroes in 4-H.
Robert Earle (R. E.) Jones (1908-1991) became State 4-H specialist for African-Americans 80 years ago in 1936, overseeing 28 counties and 10,000 children. In this role he completed the State Plan of Work for Negroes beginning in 1937.
William C. Cooper was the state 4-H leader of the A&T extension office, beginning in 1947. Cooper was previously an extension agent in Anson County, NC. Assisting Cooper for several years as Assistant State Agent was Mrs. Idell Jones Randall.
Sample Annual Reports and Plans of Work from North Carolina A&T Extension Office by Jones and Cooper.
- 1937 – Plan of Work For 1937, Negro 4-H
- 1938 – Plan of Work for 1938, Negro 4-H
- 1946 – 1946 Annual Plan of Work
- 1950 – 4-H Annual Negro Plan of Work
- 1953 – 4-H Annual Negro Plan of Work
For more about the history of 4-H in North Carolina search Historical State and our previous Extension-related digital project “Green ‘N’ Growing: The History of Home Demonstration and 4-H Youth Development in North Carolina”. The 4-H Youth Development Annual Reports were digitized under this project.