Jessie Field Shambaugh


"There has been some discussion as to who was the 'Daddy' of boys and girls club work, but there isn't the slightest doubt on the part of anyone as to who is the 'Mother' of the 4-H club movement. That great honor goes to Miss Jessie Field."
— R.K. Bliss, 1948

Jessie Field Shambaugh founded the modern 4-H movement. Born in 1881 on a farm near Shenandoah, Shambaugh taught country school, creating practical farm and home courses for her rural students as part of the regular curriculum. She introduced clubs and competitions in modern agriculture, such as soil testing and corn judging, for both boys and girls. Later, as Page County superintendent of schools, she expanded these clubs and contests to include all rural children. Within three years, her methods attracted national attention and the national 4-H youth movement was begun. Shambaugh wrote several books including Country Girl's Creed, which memorializes the 4-H movement. In 1912, she became national YWCA secretary for rural work. Shambaugh died in 1971 at age 90. Shambaugh was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1977.