Georgia Master Club History
The history of the Georgia Master 4-H Club begins with the organization of a boys’ Corn Club in 1904 by Mr. George Claude Adams (1868-1949), a school teacher in Newton County, Georgia. These Corn Clubs were followed several years later with Tomato Canning Clubs organized for girls. As these project clubs evolved into 4-H Clubs, a spirit of competition became evident. More projects were added, and soon, county wide competitions, then district and finally state contests were organized by the State 4-H and Extension staffs. By about 1910, some state winners began to attend regional and national events such as the National Dairy Show. The first National 4-H Congress was held in Chicago in 1920. National 4-H Club Camp (now Conference) in Washington, D. C. and specialty national competitions such as bread making and poultry judging were begun the same era.
At these events, Georgia 4-H winners met 4-Hers from other areas of the country. They learned some states had organized state winners into a club to foster friendships and encourage continued interest in 4-H. The concept of such a group had appeal to Georgia 4-Hers, many of whom came home enthusiastically advocating the formation of such a group in this state.
These advocates found state 4-H leaders, G. V. Cunningham, Emmie Nelson, A. S. Bussey and others willing listeners and ready to help in such an organization. In early 1935, Mr. Cunningham met in the office of Bibb County Agent, D. F. Bruce for the organizational meeting of what was to become the Georgia Master 4-H Club. The Macon Telegraph reported on February 22, 1935, “Organization of the Master 4-H Club was underway here this afternoon under the direction of G. V. Cunningham of Athens, State Club Agent. The meeting was held in the office of D. F. Bruce, County Agent, in the Federal Building”. Mimeographed documents preserved by the State 4-H Council meeting which was held in conjunction with State Farm & Home Week. Documents indicate that there were 38 charter members, growing to 102 by the end of the first year. George Oakley from Macon County served as the first Master Club President.
In 1936, Mr. Cunningham wrote a letter to Dr. C. B. Smith, Chief of the Extension Service at the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington, D. C., sharing news of Georgia Master 4-H Club and suggesting that such a group be formed on a national basis. In this letter he writes, “We have found in undertaking this that there is much enthusiasm among those who are entitled to membership, and we have quite a large number eligible for membership when you take into consideration that there are those who were members all along from the year 1910 up to this date who have won out-of-state trips and honors”. The reply he received suggested that Georgia change its method of determining Masters, (i.e. not base membership primarily on those who had won an out-of-state trip or state championship) so that the Club would “train for cooperation rather than further develop the competitive features existent in our present program”.