By Jennifer Ely
The Caledonia Rockets 4-H club was founded in November of 1952 by Leonard and Bernice Sylling, Albert Diersen, Joe and Ruth Schieber, Mildred and Charles Albee and Gene and Gladis Kohlmeyer.
The club started out small but over time became very popular. The Caledonia Rockets 4-H meetings were held in an old country school building until 1983 where the meetings then took place in various places.
Joe Schieber is the son of Joe Schieber Senior, one of the founding members. He had nothing but great things to say about the Caledonia Rockets 4-H club.
Joe said he really liked 4-H but one day in particular sticks out in his head, and that day is “Play Day.”
Play Day was put on by all 4-H clubs. “On the first Saturday of August a Play Day would be held at the fairgrounds where all 4-H groups from the county came together to play softball. This was an event most people looked forward to. Having all the 4-H groups come together to play ball and eat snacks was a good time,” Joe Schieber said.
With Caledonia Rockets came a lot of events such as a club tour and good grooming. A club tour is when everyone around the neighborhood would stop by people’s farms and houses to check out the family’s 4-H projects and animals and then stop for a quick bite to eat where potlucks were held throughout the tour.
Good grooming was a contest for kids in 4-H to be the best “groomed.” You had to look the best with the cleanest hands, fingernails, ears, brushed hair and clothes. You were then judged on your appearance to see who was better “groomed” to make it on to state fair.
After all those events were accomplished it was time for the county fair. The county fair was the biggest event – and possibly still is – for the Caledonia Rockets 4-H kids. This is where you got to show your 4-H project or animal to see if you would qualify for state fair.
At that time the fair wasn’t all about competition. It was more of a social gathering for families.
Joe Schieber was the first generation of the Schieber family to participate in Caledonia Rockets 4-H, and he said he had a lot of projects in 4-H.
“It was normal for everyone to have about 10 projects in 4-H. There were a variety of different things you could enter into the fair from beef cows, dairy cows, chickens, pigs, gardening, sewing, forestry, safety or even cooking.”
Joe even said he used to make bread for 4-H. “I enjoyed having my animals or projects in the fair. It was just the records and paper work that was a pain,” Joe Schieber said.
Caledonia Rockets 4-H meetings were held at 8 p.m. At the meetings a variety of things would take place from singing songs to playing games and then to having sandwiches. 4-H was a great way for people to get together and have some fun.
In fact, most people back then met their soul mate or accumulated relationships because of 4-H. Jim (Joe’s son) and Patty Schieber, for instance, met through 4-H events and social gatherings.
There wasn’t really an age limit in 4-H back then. You could start as young as seven and go until the age of 21. In 4-H today the ages are a little different. You can start participating at age of six and then continue on until the age of 19.
“4-H isn’t dying. 4-H is more or less changing, expanding,” Patty Schieber said, adding there are a lot more town people joining 4-H now rather than country kids.
“4-H is a great way to get to know your neighbors. 4-H is a family thing that has always been done together,” Patty said.
The Caledonia Rockets 4-H club even has a pledge that is said during meetings. The motto is “Make the best better.” 4-H, after all, stands for: head, heart, hands and health.
Additionally, 4-H helps young people acquire life skills such as public speaking.
In every 4-H club you have to demonstrate something in front of your club. In order to demonstrate your project you need to learn to be comfortable in front of your audience while providing information.
4-H is another great way to learn how to help your community. The Caledonia Rockets participate in a variety of different activities that help support our community, such as meals on wheels, roadside pick-up and visiting people in nursing homes.
4-H has been in the Schieber family for four generations; beginning with Joe Schieber (senior), followed by Joe Schieber, then Jim, the son of Joe, and today Jim and Patty’s kids Katie, Maria and Joseph.
Three generations of the Schieber family have gone to state fair. Joseph Schieber received a blue ribbon at state fair last year. Joseph shows corn, soy beans and pigs.
“I want to do 4-H not because I have to but because I want to. 4-H has been in my family for a long time, and I would like to keep it in my family,” Joseph said.
“4-H is a good thing for kids. They achieve good working skills and great speech skills and can get involved with the community,” Maria said.
Maria said she hasn’t made it up to the state fair yet, but she can’t wait until she does.
Jim Schieber said he thinks 4-H is a great way for kids to get involved in something if they aren’t involved in many other things like sports.
Patty agreed with Jim saying, “4-H continues to be a beneficial thing. If you don’t fit into sports you have something else to become involved in.”
“Just because 4-H is changing and expanding it still has the same meaning and goal as it did back in 1952. Sure, maybe there are different ideas, clubs and projects, but 4-H is still a family thing to bring the community together and become more involved,” Patty said.
Come visit the Caledonia Rockets 4-H stand at the Houston County Fair.
Or, Stop by the 4-H building during the fair Aug. 18 at 6 p.m. where the Caledonia Rockets will be celebrating 60 years.