Goodhue Gesundheits 4-H Club To Observe 90th Birthday


A potluck picnic will be held at noon on July 24th at shelter one in Rosie Park in honor of the Goodhue Gesundheits 90th birthday.  All past and current members, parents and leaders are encouraged to attend.  The event coincides with the open house at the Historical Society Museum from 1-4 the same day.  Please bring any former fair projects you may have so they can be displayed during the events.  Contact Shelly Strusz with any questions 651-380-9993.

The following story is a brief history of the club

By Shelly Strusz, adult leader

The Goodhue Gesundheit 4-H Club was formed from an existing community social club in May of 1931 by Miss Hilda Bartlett, the county 4-H leader.  The first official club meeting was held in the St. John’s Lutheran Church East of Goodhue.  In August of 1931, the Goodhue Township 4-H Club chose the name Goodhue Gesundheits, finding the German word meaning “good health” fitting for a club pledging the 4 h’s:  head, heart, hands and health.  The first club had around 9 members with Raynold voth as the first president and Bernice Matthees as the secretary and treasurer but no adult leader. 

Meetings were, and still are, held monthly with the exception of August since the county fair is during that month.  In addition to meeting at St. John’s, the club has utilized Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Goodhue Township Hall, the Civic Club Meeting room in the basement of what was the dentist office at the time, and at members’ homes.  The club currently meets in the Lions’ Building.  Membership has been anywhere from 9 to 80 with current membership around the average of 20. 

In the early years of the club, meetings were a social time for the youth with a little business meeting, singing songs, speakers, games and of course, lunch.  A few years later, older youth called Junior Leaders, were asked to plan the games, do demonstrations and suggest areas that youth would like to learn more about.  Around 1958 Junior Leaders and Adult Leaders took on roles as Project Leaders in the club.  These leaders would plan a meeting around their project expertise.  In the 50’s the club had a Contact Leader, 2 Assistant Leaders, 1-2 Demonstration Leaders and an Exploring 4-H Leader.  The main project areas were: dairy, beef, poultry, and sheep, child development, creative arts, veterinary science, fishing, clothing and home environment, indoor and outdoor gardening, needle art, shop, safety and fire prevention, and photography.  Today’s club plans the meetings in September with each family choosing a month to have an educational demonstration and provide a snack.

Looking through the old secretary notes, books, and by asking past club members if they remember much of community service work, I found that although it was present since the 1960’s, it really didn’t become a focus of the club until the late 80’s to early 90’s.  At first the community service was picking up road ditches.  Around the year 2000, the Goodhue School was looking for funds to build a new playground.  The Gesundheits began collecting aluminum cans to raise money for the playground.  It became such a huge success that through the years money was donated not only to playgrounds but also to the Ag Museum, Rosie’s Park, pianos and library books for the school and upkeep on the ball fields to name a few.  The Goodhue Gesundheit 4-H Club today enjoys making and delivering fruit bags to senior homes and a Grandparents Bingo Party.  We still do the regular road ditch pick up because you never know what you may find (one year we found a $50 bill).

Our cub was not in existence for the early projects of Corn Club and Canning Club.  In the 30’s, baking and livestock were big project areas.  In the first club, 6 of the girls took the cake baking project and met at different homes to bake.  Then they tried to judge their baking to the best of their ability to make the best better.  In 1935, one of the parents was quoted as saying, “If we only had had 4-H when we were boys and girls.”  In the 50’s I kept coming across this “better grooming contest”.  Marlys and Joyce Hinrichs helped me find out that this was a contest for 4-H girls put on by the county.  Girls were judged on posture, nails, hair, walking and manners, although you needed to dress nicely this was not like the fashion revue. Speaking of the fashion revue, the Goodhue Gesundheit 4-H Club had a member named Fashion Revue Queen in 1959.   Looking through the records of projects listed for club members we find out that the Gesundheit club has always had a very diverse group of members and projects.  All livestock species have been shown by members as well as a wide variety of food and gardening projects.

Outside of the club and projects, many members have attended camps. One of the first camps mentioned was held at the Frontenac Methodist Campus where 2 club delegates were sent in 1959.  Members also participated in the Jr. Leadership Conference in the Twin Cities and National 4-H Congress in 1956.  More recently, members have participated in the Missoula Theatre productions, dairy judging teams, shooting sports, dog training, Citizen Washington Focus, regional camp, Cloverbud Day Camp, and Project In The Park Camp. 

If you read through the books that are in the Goodhue Area Historical Museum library, you may find parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents or even great grandparents names that were members.  I found that my children were 3rd or 4th generation Goodhue Gesundheit members.  If you are ever looking for a fun time, come to our club meetings.  I call them “organized chaos with so much fun in between”. 


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