4-H Clubs of Nevada Records

Identifier: 83-05

Scope and Contents

The growth of 4-H clubs in Nevada demonstrates the success of the Cooperative Extension and volunteer leaders in encouraging wholesome, practical, and creative activities for rural youth. Cooperative Extension correspondence, reports and project plans suggest a watchful eye towards county needs in general, and a responsive attitude towards communities and their youth. Annual reports describe specific goals and objectives, and include detailed accounts of extension projects and where and how agents spent their time. Leadership conferences, workshops, retreats, and training sessions emphasize the importance of adult guidance in shaping youngsters into productive, caring citizens.

Detailed accounts of club participants and their projects give evidence of participating youngsters' imagination and industry, and reveal distinct cultural values. For example, during the early 1940's victory gardens became popular, canning projects increased, and income derived from poultry production went for War Bonds. In the 1950's, clothing and cooking grew in popularity and gardening projects lessened. And in the 1960's, citizenship, health, and service projects gained in popularity. Members' project reports, awards acceptance speeches, and personal testimonies attest to the significance 4-H Club membership has played in their lives.

Documents detailing the purchase and development of the 4-H Club Camp on the south shore of Lake Tahoe demonstrate the truly cooperative effort put forth by the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, the Nevada Farm Bureau, and 4-H volunteers and members to create a place of learning and relaxation for youngsters. Camp programs show the themes, structure and content of camp activities, and photographs reveal the sense of community, achievement, and purpose behind 4-H membership.


  • 1918-1980
  • Majority of material found within 1930 - 1960



Collection is open for research. Materials must be used on-site; advance notice suggested. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Administrative History

4-H Clubs began informally in the early 1900's, usually with crop and canning contests sponsored by commercial or civic groups. Most early clubs were short-lived due to lack of leadership and direction. The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 established funding for Cooperative Extension work nationwide, encouraging university outreach and practical education. Extension agents were appointed to each county and began to formalize their youth services programs. Nevada's 4-H Club program functions as the youth services element of the University of Nevada's Cooperative Extension Service.

The goal of the 4-H Club program is to develop youth potential in order to make communities better places to live. Club members, with the assistance of extension agents, volunteer leaders, and parents, develop projects designed to increase their own personal skills and to contribute to society. 4-H members elect their officers, conduct their meetings, and plan their own programs. Early Nevada projects include gardening, canning, sewing, and rabbit and poultry production. In 1915, 830 boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 14 were enrolled in 4-H; by 1968, 8700 members were enrolled in 580 clubs in Nevada, with girls outweighing boys in participation 2 to 1. Members must plan, document, and demonstrate projects in a variety of categories, such as agronomy, conservation, or home management. Project winners at the county level proceed to state and national competitions.

4-H Clubs began forming in Nevada about 1917 with the help of the University of Nevada's Cooperative Extension Service. Club members plan, document, and demonstrate projects relating to agriculture, home management, livestock production, and citizenship under the guidance of extension agents and volunteer leaders.

In 1938, 30 acres of land on the south shore of Lake Tahoe were purchased for an outdoor 4-H Camp, called the Nevada State 4-H Institute and Exhibit. Each county in Nevada contributed to the cost based on the number of 4-H members in the county. Camp activities include water safety, nature study, skits, contests, awards presentations, demonstrations, and workshops on topics ranging from apron construction to citizenship. The camp is also used for 4-H leadership conferences and retreats.

The 4-H Club remains active in Nevada today, with a wide range of projects and activities for participants to choose from, including horsemanship, photography, cooking, citizenship, heritage, and sewing, among others. One ongoing project involves Guide Dogs for the Blind, which consists of raising and helping to train guide dogs under the supervision of licensed instructors.


3.25 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials



Included are enrollment summaries and analysis, Cooperative Extension project plans and reports, leadership training programs, purchase and incorporation records for the 4-H camp at Lake Tahoe (called the Nevada State 4-H Institute and Exhibit), photographs, and publicity materials from 1918-1980.


Arranged into the following series:

Series 1: History and Membership

Series 2: Projects and Awards

Series 3: Leadership Education and Training

Series 4: Cooperative Extension

Series 5: 4-H Club Camp

Series 6: Publicity

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Raymond Cox in 1983.

Separated Materials

The photographs, including several panoramic views of the 4-H camp in Lake Tahoe, have been transferred to the Special Collections Photo Archive as collection number UNRS-P1997-42.

A Part of

Originally part of the Nevada women's archives.



Guide to the 4-H Clubs of Nevada Records
Victoria Yturralde
March 1996
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. Special Collections Department Repository

Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno Nevada 89557-0322 USA
775-682-5724 (Fax)