TOWANDA BUSY BEES 4-H CLUB (AKA- TOWANDA Agriculture (or Boys) 4-H, TOWANDA BUSY DOERS 4-H) by Pat Pulokas, Towanda, IL A Leader in the Towanda Busy Bees 4-H Club July, 2005 In The Towanda History Book written by Mildred Roberts and Elizabeth Winter in 1976 it states that "The first adult leader was William B. Brigham, who was Assistant County Superintendent of Schools at the time. Towanda was represented in the early county history of 4-H by Mary Vanneman. In September 1917 she was chosen as a delegate from the State of Illinois to the Leader's Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts, and in 1920 won a trip to the International Livestock Show in Chicago.' The Towanda area has been well represented by 4-H clubs in the past 88 years. In the early years, as there is today, there was two clubs active in the township: Home Economics and Agriculture. It is unknown exactly when the Towanda Boys" 4-H Club was organized but we know of its existence in the 1920's and 30's. This was called a boys club but girls were members too if they wanted to take agriculture projects. The leaders of this group included Clarence Keghin and others and were leaders in the 1930's & 40's. At some point this group was chartered in 1948 to become the Towanda Busy Doers and was in existence until 1971-72. The leaders of this group included Leslie Hoffman, Bob Jones John Manahan, Emerson Guth and others. In March 1982, John White and Bob King, former members of the Towanda Busy Doers wanted to start up a club that would include both boys and girls. At the time there was only one 4-H club in Towanda and it was the Towanda Girls Club. Bob and his wife Vicki became the founding organizational leaders and served for many years. Malissa Josephson and Barb Jurgens became the organizational leader each for a year following Bob's retirement from 4-H club leadership. Pat Pulokas and Esther Brokaw became the organizational leaders for the next 5 years and following Esther's service, Pat Pulokas and Jeff Marquis. a former Busy Bees member became the organizational leaders. In 2002, Jeff and his wife Debbie became the organization leaders and in 2004, Debbie Marquis and Tom & Janet Morris have led the club. Our earliest club, the Towanda Boys Club, just took agriculture-related projects. Girls could belong but often belonged to another club as well to take home economics-related projects in a girls club. Boy's it is said were the only ones who played softball. The meetings were held in the leaders' or members' homes. There was a lot of fun with tractor pulls, ice cream socials and Share the Fun contests. The Towanda Busy Doers met in members' homes and eventually met at the Towanda Grade School and the Towanda Community Building. They also participated in tractor pulls, and Share the Fun contests. This was known as an agriculture 4-H club but they weren't limited to just agriculture projects.
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The Towanda Busy Bees has been off and running from the start and of course we have the most information to relay. We've had state winners in Moira Kinsella; Jeff Marquis; J. J. Lehan; David Sweeney and Brendan Lehan (2001). One of our claims to fame occurred in 1998 when two of our clubs' members became king and queen of the McLean County Fair: Valerie Jurgens, Towanda, and Paul Hester, Hudson. We think this is the only time in McLean County 4-H history that that has ever happened. Our club is always in the news with our community service related activities. We've worked closely with the Towanda District Library to help with upkeep of the library grounds and have planted and weeded for many years there during the summer months and working there on "Make A Difference Day" in the Fall and Earth Day in the Spring. We've helped with community clean-ups, planting of flowers, putting out birdseed at the Wesley-Boyd Park, food collections, blood drives and working with the Towanda Senior Citizens Group and with nursing home residents in Lexington and Normal as well. Our club saw the Towanda North Park's bandstand needed a facelift and in 2002 we spent man hours of labor into this project and the rewards were a much-improved bandstand. Many of our members' parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were around when the original bandstand was replaced in 1947 and were to become members and leaders of the Towanda Busy Doers Club. Our club has won awards each year in a variety of categories thanks to many hours of leader, member and parent involvement. We are proud of our history and background. In looking to the future, we expect to be around giving boys and girls chances to exercise their leadership skills and become an active person in their communities.
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Illinois State University, Milner Library, Normal, IL, 61790 - for the Towanda Area Historical Society/Towanda District Library
Towanda Area Historical Society/Towanda District Library
The images in the Towanda Area Historical Society digital library may be viewed, downloaded, and printed for personal or educational use, but any commercial use is prohibited, without permission. Questions may be directed to the historical society at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the Towanda Illinois District Library at (309)728-2176.