The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

4-H Club Chosen As Grand Marshal of Summerfest Parade

by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher/Owner

The La Harpe 4-Leaf Clovers 4-H Club will be honored as the Grand Marshal of the 2016 La Harpe Summerfest Parade.

Anyone who has been involved in 4-H is invited join the club parade float Saturday July 23.

For more information about the joining the parade and about 4-H in general, contact the Hancock County Extension Office at 217-357-2150.  

County records show the first 4-H club in La Harpe was organized in 1941 by Mrs. Ernest Painter, Sr.

The La Harpe Club now known at the 4 Leaf Clovers was honored a few years ago as the longest active club in Hancock County. According to Mrs. Pat Painter, the family stayed very involved in 4-H through the time when grandchildren of the organizers were active members.  

The actual lineage of leaders has been a challenge to track down fully. So many parents have helped in official and unofficial roles. Some names we know from the mid 1950s on include Opal Schroeder, Lowell Blythe, Roger and Marj Crum, Steve and Susan Pratt, and Leta Shumaker.

For more than 20 years, until 2014, Paula and Rob Blythe were leaders of the La Harpe 4 Leaf Clovers. The kids lucky enough to have them as leaders are so thankful for the time they gave to ten or more meetings each year, annual county 4-H fairs, service projects, fundraising cookouts, many trips to Cardinals games, along with lots and lots of pizza celebrated the accomplishments of members with the projects each year.

There are not as many clubs in Hancock County as there were a generation ago, and the ones that remain are active and growing. Within the past several years, the Colusa Country Kids and the Durham Dukes and Duchesses Clubs have disbanded and many of their members and youth from those areas now come to the La Harpe Club.

A group of parents, led by Jeff and Natalie Lionberger, took over after the Blythe's last child graduated and they decided to retire as leaders.  Jeff's parents were leaders of the Colusa club for many years, and the 4-H tradition continues.   

Over the years 4-H experiences have given countless memories and blue ribbons, as well as pride, confidence, and life skills to so many 4-Hers.  

By stepping up to show and tell a judge about your project --whether it s an animal, a tasty treat, a wonder of science, or an artistic creation-- is excellent practice for life in the future, including interviewing for jobs and communicating effectively as an adult.

These are the skills learned above and beyond the actual project preparation. So many projects are available and many are not just for farm kids. There is a project for any kid who has turned 8 and is not yet 19 by Sept. 1. Cloverbuds are also welcome to participate from 5 to 7 years old with beginner projects.

At each meeting, a 4-H member recites:

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.

According to, 4-H is a global network of youth organizations whose mission is engaging youth to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development.  Throughout the world, 4-H organizations exist in over 50 countries. The 4-H name represents four personal development areas of focus for the organization: head, heart, hands, and health. The organization has over 6.5 million members in the United States, from ages 5 to 21, in approximately 90,000 clubs.

Locally 4-H looks like parents, many of whom were 4-Hers themselves, guide club members in raising healthy animals, grandparents help sew and make woodworking projects and volunteers help children learn and grow, making the next generation better and better through the ideals and activities of 4-H.