In the late 1800s, researchers were investigating new ideas and techniques about farming but met with reluctance from the adult farming community. In their efforts to improve agriculture, sewing, livestock, gardening and canning, they discovered that young people were more open to new thinking. They would experiment with new ideas and share their experiences with their parents. Thus the first local agriculture clubs were formed in Ohio in 1902 and by 1912, they would be known as 4-H clubs. 4-H was one of the first youth organizations to provide “hands on” learning. Many states took notice and began forming their own 4-H clubs after school, having parents as the leaders and volunteers. With the teaching of these new techniques by the volunteers, the 4-H slogan was born; “Learn by Doing.”
In 1914, the federal Smith-Lever Act was passed, creating the Cooperative Extension System at USDA and making 4-H a national program. In that same year, Nevada hired its first employee, Norma Davis. Her responsibility was to give home demonstrations and supervise 4-H work. After World War II, 4-H clubs began to thrive through the base of volunteers and leaders. 4-H kept the original base of agriculture but also began to expand interests to include more urban ideas. This attracted more youth and today, nearly 50,000 young people each year in Nevada learn life skills in clubs, school and after-school programs.
The 4-H program still remains active in White Pine County thanks to a strong volunteer base that stretches the distance from Duckwater, Lund, Ely, Baker, and Ibapah. One of the long-time favorite activities of the White Pine club, has been 4-H camp. 4-H camp began prior to 1959 and has been held at White River Camp, leased today from Charlie Brown. For decades, generations of parents and volunteers have kept this long-standing tradition in motion.
At the White River Camp, there stands a mess hall and four cinderblock cabins. Through donations and fundraising, there are refrigerators, stoves, and sink basins. The mess hall is where all the work and magic is done at 4-H camp. For almost two decades, Dee Dee Sandoval has graciously and generously volunteered part of her summer to organizing, ordering food, cleaning the kitchen and preparing meals for 30-75 people for the four days of camp. The variety of food she prepares is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters. Everyone who has attended camp raves about at least one of their favorite dishes that only Dee Dee can make.
4-H camp can only exist and thrive through the energy and efforts of volunteers like Dee Dee. The Cooperative Extension staff, 4-H parents, leaders, volunteers, and of course, the members themselves, would like to thank Dee Dee for her numerous years of commitment and service to the development and success of 4-H camp. Dee Dee has decided to make this summer her last as camp cook. We are truly going to miss her and her macaroni salad. She is encouraging any member of the community who is willing to accept this challenge to come to camp this year and learn how the magic happens. She will share her grocery list and camp secrets. If there is a 4-H parent or a community member who is interested in carrying on this long-time county youth tradition, please call or come by the Cooperative Extension Office located in the library, 775-293-6599.