The information that follows was taken directly from Harlan G. Copeland and V. Joseph McAuliffe's Windows to a Wider World: The Payne/National 4-H Fellowships 1931-1969. Saint Paul, Minnesota: Alumni and friends of the Payne/National 4-H Fellowship programs, 2008.
The seeds that blossomed into the Fellowship idea were probably planted by Gertrude Warren, Organization Boys' and Girls' Club Work, in the office of Cooperative Extension Work, United States Department of Agriculture. In corresponding with Ella Phillips Crandall, National Committee for the Study of Juvenile Reading (later to become The Payne Fund), Warren thought that a book about life planning would be of interest to Crandall and the Committee. Crandall later requested information about "the custom of the Department of Agriculture to have two of the outstanding boys and girls of each state come to Washington in June as representative of their state 4-H organizations". Upon receiving the literature of the 4-H Clubs from Warren, Crandall responded and requested an appointment for a young staff member, S. Howard Evans, to meet with Warren. Warren extended an invitation to Evans to attend the National 4-H Club Camp. Warren learned from Evans that one of the problems of young people seemed to be that of learning how their own community life linked up with that of the nation and the relationships of their own county government to that of the state and national.
The Payne Fund, Inc. of New York City (founded 1927) had its origin in the National Committee for the Study of Juvenile Reading and was founded by Frances Payne Bolton. The original purpose of studying reading materials for promoting citizenship among youth was expanded to include studies of the effects of mass communication on social values. The Payne Fund established the Payne Fellowships for 4-H members as an experiment with the goal that the Fellowship would be the nucleus of a larger number of fellowships for young people.
The National 4-H Club Fellowship awarded by the Payne Fund consisted of the following:
- Two fellowships of $1,000 each (1 for girls and 1 for boys) awarded for nine months' residence and study at the U.S. Department of Agriculture for 1931-1932.
- Qualifications required of the candidates were a college degree in Agriculture or Home Economics, four years' participation in 4-H Club Work with interest continuing through college, a definite interest in Extension work in Agriculture or Home Economics, not over 25 years of age, and graduation at the final college or university commencement for the academic year 1930-1931.
- No one section of the country was awarded the same Fellowship in two consecutive years.
- Each state had the privilege of nominating one young man and one young woman who had shown outstanding ability in school and club work and who gave great promise of future leadership in agriculture and home economics.
- The Office of Cooperative Extension accepted responsibility for introducing the successful candidates to this storehouse of knowledge at the United States Department of Agriculture as it related to the other departments of the Federal Government and various states.
After the first year, there were some changes. Compulsory courses on research in extension and the development of the Extension programs and other recommended postgraduate courses offered by the USDA Graduate School were added. Each Fellow had to decide on a research project which would be his or her major occupation of the year. Fellows would study relationships in the Department of Agriculture and how the financial side of government operates. The fellows would prepare a report of each month's activities.
The Payne Fellowships were originally undertaken as a two to five year experiment. Because the experiment was viewed as a success in the judgment of the Payne Fund officers and by officials in the Department, the Payne Fund officers authorized Evans to raise five million dollars to expand the program to all economic interests represented in the federal government. With no success in raising funds to expand the fellowships and because of economic conditions, the Executive Committee of the Payne Fund voted to discontinue its annual grant for the maintenance of the National 4-H Club Fellowships beyond 1938-1939.
National 4-H Fellowships
The National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work became interested in sponsoring two National 4-H Fellowships beginning in 1939 and continuing 22 years. This was probably due to the influence of Kenneth H. Anderson, a 1937-1938 Fellow who had joined the Committee's staff following the completion of his Fellowship. The Committee continued the grants with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, selecting the recipients, and supervising their studies. The name of the grants was changed to the National 4-H Fellowships.
The National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work was officially formed in 1921 to provide a way for business and industry to channel their financial support efficiently and without duplication in support of 4-H Club work. An annual National 4-H Club Congress brought 4-H members from the 50 states to Chicago for education, entertainment, and to receive national recognition. A magazine - The National 4-H News - was created for local 4-H leaders. As a non-governmental agency, the Committee testified before Congress in support of increased funding for 4-H Club work. Donors were obtained for the National 4-H Awards Programs to provide educational trips, county and state medals and college scholarships for national winners. The National 4-H Fellowships were listed among the many awards programs organized by the National Committee.
This 14-year period in the history of the National 4-H Fellowship was interrupted by World War II - when no Fellowships were awarded (1942-1947) - and by the Korean Conflict (for Donald E. Foltz).
The Massey-Harris Company - A New Partner and Benefactor
Through arrangements made by the National Committee, the National 4-H Fellowships increased from two to six when the Massey-Harris Company (later known as Massey Ferguson) became a benefactor of the program. Their sponsorship resulted in an additional 64 Fellowships during the remaining 16 years of the Fellowship program.
There is a lack of documentation about how Successful Farming magazine and the E.T. Meredith Foundation agreed to sponsor one fellowship in 1961-62.
The Fellowships End
It is unknown when the decision to terminate support of the Fellowships with the 1968-1969 program by Massey Ferguson and the National 4-H Service Committee occurred. In the book 4-H: An American Idea 1900-1980, A History of 4-H, Thomas and Marilyn Wessell suggest that National 4-H Fellowships were discontinued "when private donors withdrew their support because of economic conditions." Wikipedia reports that a series of financial difficulties and downsizing had led to Massey Ferguson being broken up before what was left of the original firm disappeared in the 1990s. A set of unsigned notes acknowledge the discontinuance of support from Massey Ferguson, but also added "Decision of Federal Extension Service (FES) to study and possibly restructure program" as reasons why the Fellowship program was discontinued (1970). There is no documentation to explain why the National 4-H Service Committee withdrew its support as well.
In summary the characteristics and advantages of the program are listed below.
Characteristics of the program should be noted:
- The target audience was young men and young women many of whom were in their first position following college
- The minimum length of the program was nine months and was extended to twelve months in some years
- The program consisted of non-credit liberal arts component (i.e., the study of national government) and graduate study towards a master's degree
- The program was conducted in Washington, D.C.-the nation's capital
- The program was a successful example of a public-private partnership which continued for almost 40 years
This program was considered a success from the point of view of almost all of the participants. From the vantage of the Extension Service, the program:
- uncovered Extension 4-H workers with exceptional ability, interest and motivation
- brought "fresh thinking' to the national office form the local area
- provided much needed public relations for Extension with other agencies and associations through the groups' asking and answering questions during their appointments and contacts
- brought an important exchange of ideas and philosophy among states; and
- provided an understanding of the mission and role of the federal office