Wright County, Birthplace of the 4-H Emblem
Early in Theodore Roosevelt's administration, he set up a commission to investigate the growing lack of interest among young people in remaining on the farm. In Wright county, figures showed that 91% of the farm boys and 89% of the girls intended to leave the farm. It seems hardships, long hours, small profits and crude ideas of farm life were exemplified rather than the dignity of farming and the many splendid advantages of rural life.
Wright County's superintendent of schools worked to change that perception. O. H. Benson encouraged teachers to correlate every subject of the class work with work of the farm and home. In order to link home life with school work, clubs were organized based upon the pupil's interest in farm projects. Boys became members of beef clubs, garden clubs and pig clubs. Girls had clubs that had to do with poultry raising, gardening, canning, bread baking, millinery and home management. Contests were held in rural schools, townships, and at county fairs.
One day in the spring of 1906, Wright County Superintendent, O. H. Benson was driving through the country visiting schools. He came upon a country school during recess. He found the teacher and a group of children out in the clover patch hunting for four leaf clovers. As he approached the group, he was met by the teacher and pupils bearing their good luck emblems. The teacher suggested they give the county superintendent a bouquet of Good Luck.
The teacher rang the school bell and pupils took their seats. Just before lunch, the teacher asked the superintendent if he would say a few words to the pupils. With his good luck bouquet I his hand, he faced the little group, and in a short speech, outlined for the first time the 4-H emblem and it's good luck story. He told them that he had been looking for a more suitable emblem for the agricultural clubs in the rural schools of the county and they had just given him the idea, the 4-H clover emblem - Head, Heart, Hand, and Health. Head to think, plan and reason; Heart to be kind, true and sympathetic; the Hand to be useful, helpful, and skillful; and Health to resist disease, and enjoy life.
The rural school where this took place was Lake # 6. The 4-H club work in the Wright County schools was eventually introduced into a national program and the 4-H emblem was adapted for this program. Mr. Benson was appointed national director of this work as part of the US Department of Agriculture. 4-H expanded to all 50 states.
To commemorate the foresight and vision of O.H. Benson, that rural school where the vision began, Lake #6 was purchased and in 1952 was moved to the Clarion city park where it has remained. It is furnished in country school style and houses displays of the period of 1907-1908. It serves as a museum of the early days of the 4-H Clubs and is dedicated to the memory of O.H. Benson, the originator the 4-H emblem.