Pennsylvania 4-H and Bedford County have a rich history with cooperative extension. The board of trustees of the Pennsylvania State College, now Penn State University, created the Department of Agricultural Extension on January 23, 1908. Three years later in the spring of 1910, the U.S. Department of Agriculture appointed A.B. Ross as the nation's first county agent. He was located in Bedford County and served several counties from his Schellsburg office.
It was not until 1920, that the Bedford County Commissioner's appropriated funds for Cooperative Extension, which was then known as Farm Bureau. L. R. Mollenauer accepted the position as Bedford County's first County Agent and began work on February 19th, 1920.
The earliest record of a youth club forming in Bedford County was in 1921. According to Mollenauer's annual report, "The purchase of a Babcock Milk Tester by the people of the New Paris community made possible the organization of a milk testing club which consisted of twelve pupils of the New Paris school. The club met once each month beginning February and continued until October when the membership scattered to higher schools to complete their education. Each member brought samples of milk from cows at home for butter fat test and in addition weighed the milk from each cow for which records were kept."
"A team of three, Rayford Wright, Mary Thomas, and Charles Nunemaker were selected to represent the club during Junior Farmer's Week at the Pennsylvania State College. Here the team gave a demonstration showing the use of the Babcock Milk Tester and told of its important place in the dairy industry. Over 100 boys and girls from all over Pennsylvania witnessed this demonstration."
County Agents in those days were the leaders and teachers of the youth clubs. The earliest mention of a volunteer assisting with club development was Rev. W. D. Bicksler who helped organize a seven member Chester White Pig Breeding club in the Loysburg area in 1922. Even then, L. R. Mollenauer reported the need of local leaders to carry out more educational programming.
Contributed by Dwayne A. Hay