Fishers residents hold long-time connections to 4-H
By Robert Herrington and Dan Domsic
Hamilton County Supt. of Schools John F. Haines organized the earliest Indiana boys corn club meeting of record on April 9, 1904. Ninety-three boys enrolled in that first corn club and each was given 1,200 kernels of corn for his project. At the end of the year members exhibited their corn in the courthouse walkways.
From this beginning of one project, the interest and growth of 4-H has increased to almost 2,000 youth in Hamilton County and more than 68 projects.
A decade later, the first Hamilton County 4-H fair was held in Noblesville at Forest Park. It was that year that a Fishers resident, Dorothy McKinstray, was the Food Preparation champion.
What has become a long-standing Hamilton County institution has been a part of Sandra Myers’ life for about 35 years.
Myers said she joined the Jolly Rogers 4-H Club 40 years ago and attended Fall Creek Elementary. That was when that area still had Noblesville addresses.
She would later be leader of that club for almost 20 years, she said.
A past 10-year member, as well as club leader, Myers dialed back her involvement, but she still takes time out to assist at the Collections Project, where 4-H’ers organize and catalogue everything from ceramic animals to baseball cards to coin collections.
She isn’t the only member of her family to put time in. Both her daughter and son, Lindsay and Hunter, had a 4-H experience.
Myers said some of her favorite memories are of her kids’ successes, such as when Lindsay was Miss Hamilton County 4-H Queen in 2005, as well as seeing the others succeed.
“I was always so proud of everybody in our club because they worked hard and did well at the fair,” she said. “That’s rewarding as a volunteer.”
Lisa Swain is another Fishers resident with major connections to the organization.
Growing up, she was a 10-year member in Huntington County. With years spent with the Llama Project (4-H participants lease and exhibit llamas), Swain started and is co-leader of the Fishers Showstoppers 4-H Club. She’s also a member of 4-H Council.
And like Myers, She, too, had a child go through the program, and a second is in her fifth-year now. Her husband, Rob, is also part of 4-H’s Extension Board.
“If your personal schedule allows for it, I think that involvement is really important, 4-H can always use as many volunteers as we can get,” Swain said. “I would hope that even after my youngest is through that I would still be able to have the personal time to continue to devote it to volunteer and have a club.”
One long-time volunteer and fair-goer sees the value in what 4-H has to offer.
Helen Musselman, 98, of Durbin started as an adult volunteer in 1936 and has been involved with the Hamilton County 4-H program for 77 years. She’s attended every fair except for the past five after breaking her hip.
“I love the enthusiasm kids have. They want to do things right. They help each other. To me, 4-H is the most wonderful organization there is,” she said. “I try to encourage everybody to belong to 4-H. They didn’t run the streets or get into mischief. They learned by doing and had to complete projects.”
“4-H has such a strong tradition of friendship and respect,” Swain said. “It’s been a neat experience to watch my kids have that same thing and hear them make some of the same comments I made when I was younger.”