My 4-H Story
The words in the title to this article are words Betty Featherstone Carter might use to describe her 4-H experiences which began when she joined the Arlington 4-H Club at the age of 9. “My leader was Etta Mae Burgess, a high school student, and I remember she taught me to make shoes out of corn shucks,” says Betty. “She also helped me with my first sewing projects, which turned out to be my main project during my years in 4-H.” Betty recalls making a sewing box, a pin cushion, a tea towel and an apron in her first year in the sewing project. Her 2nd year she progressed to a skirt and a blouse, shorts and a skirt in her 3rd year. Later on she recalls making pajamas, a dress, tailored suits and a cocktail dress. One of her tailored suits featured a navy jacket and 3 skirts - one navy, one white and one pink. “Then I made a white collar and a pink collar which could be attached to the jacket and changed , depending on which skirt I wore with the jacket”, Betty said. “All my projects were made on a treadle sewing machine”, she adds. By the time she was in high school at Milburn she was a good enough seamstress that she made the girls’ cheerleading uniforms for the 1951-52 school year. In 1951 she was vice-president of the Milburn 4-H Club and also became a leader for the younger members. She remembers fondly a fund raising activity conducted by the club known as an “Old-Fashioned Fiddler’s Contest”. The club conducted this activity to raise funds for a sewing machine, club field trips, and fabric for youth who wanted to sew but couldn’t afford to buy fabric. “James Ellegood was the club president and his mom drove us around to ask for donations for the contest,” Betty recalls. “The donations were used for prizes for the winners - the winning “fiddler” got $25, which was a lot of money in 1951. I remember one person won a bag of flour for one of the other contests, which included things like hog calling, husband calling and wife calling.”
“I have fond memories of my 4-H years”, says Betty. “The fact that I had been a 4-H member helped me get my first job after I left home and moved to St. Louis. I encourage any young person today to get involved in4-H. It will help you prepare for the adult world.”
Carlisle County 4-H alumnus
as told by Peggy Rexroat
I was always in 4-H growing up—talent show, talk meet, sewing and cooking classes, crafts, fair exhibits, probably more—but what holds the most memories for me was 4-H camp at J.M. Feltner 4-H Camp in London. I went, I think, 8 years. I went as a camper, a teen leader and even as an adult leader during my senior year in high school. Some of the friends I met then I still keep up with today or think about from time to time. 4-H camp was such a big part of my growing up years. I can connect lots of things to it.
There is a guy named Jon from Estill County who was a year younger than I was. He went every year I did except my first year. We had lots of the same friends, met the same people, and experienced the same things. We both remember walking down to the public pool in London, before the Feltner camp had its own pool.
When I was a sophomore and he was a freshman in high school, 4-H had the American Heritage Conference in Washington, D.C. Each county sent two local 4-H members; they could be a boy or girl, but they had to either be a freshman or sophomore in high school. I was chosen as well as this guy I mention, Jon. I still remember that trip well to this day. It was the first time I'd been that far from home and we were gone a week (over spring break). We got snowed in near Charleston and had to stop. He and I still talk about that trip.
After high school, I lost touch with Jon. He moved around. A couple of years later, I got married, had kids, etc. Anyway, I always had a crush on Jon growing up. We shared a lot together.
When my oldest child was finally old enough to go to camp, I had no worries about letting him go (although I admit I went to check on him midway through the week and my agent told me I should know better!!). He had heard me talk so much about camp. He seems to love it as much as I did.
I'll never forget, one day, a few weeks after he got back after his first year, a song came on the radio and I told him that they always played that song last, on the very last night of camp. He said, “Guess what, Mom, they still do!”
Well, things happen and I was divorced. I ran into Jon's sister one day and asked about him. The next night, we had our first date. I had run in to him only briefly 3 times over the last 10 years. My son met him at my cousin's house about 3 yrs ago. He came home and said he met this cool guy who was a friend of mine from camp, his name is Jon. Well, since that date, Jon and I have been inseparable. We already knew each other's families from years earlier. We were married in 2006. And the song I chose for our first dance was that song from camp, all those years ago!
Estill County 4-H Alumnus
Douglas Johnson was a camp counselor for Powell County and Elizabeth Richardson was a counselor for Estill County when they met at 4-H camp in the summer of 2003. They were introduced to each other by their 4-H agents and three years later they were married. Douglas and Elizabeth are one example of couples who met future spouses through 4-H involvement.
Growing up, Douglas and Elizabeth were actively involved in 4-H in their respective counties. Elizabeth was a member from grade school through high school. Following high school, they attended Eastern Kentucky University. Douglas studied to become a police officer. Elizabeth majored in juvenile justice and plans to become a lawyer, focusing on cases involving youth. They both enjoy working with youth and plan to continue as 4-H volunteers by starting a hiking club, part of Extension’s Get Moving Kentucky program.
Elizabeth Richardson Johnson
Estill County 4-H Alumnus