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Cottonwood motto includes good old stuff
michelle beran
Michelle Beran

We found some “Good Old Stuff” to quote one of my favorite TV hosts, Erin Napier for the show, “Home Town.”

We moved our office at the end of 2021. Just like your home, if you haven’t moved for a while, you unearth a lot of stuff ... some interesting and some in the category of “why on earth!” 

I took some time in the last couple of weeks to go through a few old boxes and found quite a bit of Good Old Stuff and more “why on earth” than you can imagine! 

In the good stuff category, we have the Barton County Cooperative Extension annual reports back to 1917! The best part is that these very thin, hand-typed documents are in fairly good shape and include interesting information. While we are required to maintain these files, we often don’t know how well preserved they may or may not be. Additionally, I located the original application to form a Farm Bureau organization which was submitted to the Barton County Commissioners in 1917! That was pretty neat!

Some of the “why on earth” things included dozens of copies of the 4-H songbook – both the version from the 1940s and from the 1970s! Also, a box of cat trophies, books of skits that are sketchy at best, and blurry, unlabeled photos.

One of the things that I found interesting was a recurring theme across the years of how to improve letting the public know what service and education Extension can provide. We still discuss how to reach new audiences, how to better serve our current audiences, and how to share the programs and projects we work on with our communities. 

While our name changed with the formation of the Cottonwood Extension District in 2017, our mission to provide research-based education and resources for youth development, agriculture, and health and wellness have not changed. You will see agents at community partnerships, in schools and libraries, as well as holding programs from “Stay Strong, Stay Healthy” to “Crop Plot Tours”, to “Women in Ag.” It is easy to think of 4-H Youth Development in relation to the county fair but that is just one showcase event for project learning. Other youth opportunities include Club Days for public speaking, judging contests to test decision making skills, and day or overnight camps.

Be sure to let us know how we can share a program with your group as we continue conversations to reach wider audiences.

Our 4-H motto is “To Make the Best Better” and I’m glad that includes some “Good Old Stuff”!

Keep learning. Keep showing grace and kindness.

Michelle Beran is the 4-H and Youth Development Agent for the Cottonwood District, Barton County office. For more information on this article or other 4-H Youth and Development related questions email her at or call 620-793-1910.