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State 4-H Roundup – going strong 97 years later

STILLWATER, Okla. (July 20, 2018) – When you look around the Oklahoma State University campus, you’ll see many beautifully landscaped flowerbeds, lush green spaces and wonderful Georgian architecture. And, not surprisingly, you’ll see a lot of orange – a lot of orange.

State Officers

This photo of the state 4-H officers was taken on the Oklahoma A&M campus June 4, 1948. From left they are Ted Davis, president; Don Stiver, vice president; Marjorie Ball, secretary; and Buddy Brixey, song leader.

But for a few days every July, the dominant color on campus is green – 4-H green. For 97 years, Oklahoma 4-H Youth Development members have been gathering on the campus of this land-grant university to take part in State 4-H Roundup, the largest event 4-H has on the state level. While many things about Roundup have changed over nearly a century, there are some things that remain steadfast. Delegates make new friends, compete in contests, participate in educational workshops, recognize the achievements of club members and make memories that will last a lifetime.

While most of these activities take place in the various air-conditioned buildings on campus, that obviously wasn’t the case in the early days. Events took place under large tents on the campus lawn between Hanner Hall and Thatcher Hall. There was no building on campus big enough to hold the 1,500 or so delegates.

Sometime in the early to mid-1930s, the Oklahoma weather showed its true colors and blew down the tents. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt. Along this same time, then Oklahoma A&M College students had outgrown their classroom space and had resorted to having classes in tents on the lawn.

In an effort to meet the needs of the space crisis on campus, Oklahoma legislators were asked to review the requested appropriations for several buildings on campus. One request in particular was for a field house that would be called the 4-H Club Building.

Then-representative Sam Whitaker of Stephens County said at the time, “Calling it the 4-H Club Building is just a way to get you to vote for it. 4-H members won’t use it except once or twice a year. The rest of the time it would be used for other student activities and basketball games.”

Funding was approved and the 4-H Club Building was built. It was officially dedicated during State 4-H Roundup, June 1, 1939. That same building still stands on campus today and is known as Gallagher-Iba Arena, one of the rowdiest arenas in the Big XII. And, it still is used by 4-H’ers for State 4-H Roundup every year.

Fast forward to 2018 and club members around the state are preparing to make their trek to campus to participate in the 97thState 4-H Roundup.

For many, like Cathleen Taylor, 4-H Roundup is near and dear to the heart. She’s experienced this event through three different perspectives – as a club member, as a 4-H Extension educator and now as part of the planning committee through her position on the state staff.

“When I was attending Roundup, I had no idea that one day I’d be involved in planning the largest event of the year,” Taylor said. “It wasn’t until my last few years in 4-H that I knew I wanted to become a county educator and work with 4-H youth.”

As a club member in Pontotoc County from 1997 to 2005, Taylor said she always participated in public speaking and loved getting up in front of a group. That skill served her well in her role as a county educator, especially since she continued to help with speech contests by serving as a judge and room monitor.

As a county educator, both in McCurtain and Pottawatomie counties, she said she loves seeing Roundup through the eyes of a first-time delegate.

“Now, as a member of the State 4-H staff, I see the many, many hours of work that goes into planning this event. I also have the privilege of working with the State 4-H Council and trying to make their vision of the Roundup theme and events come to life,” she said. “Each council is great to work with and they’ve dedicated their time to really making sure Roundup is about everyone.”

It’s obvious Roundup means a lot to Taylor. This will be her 19thconsecutive State 4-H Roundup.

“I never missed a Roundup, even when I was in college,” said the former inductee into the State 4-H Hall of Fame, which is the highest honor a 4-H’er can receive at the state level. “I really learned about the OSU campus as a club member and that has helped me now that I work here.”

State 4-H Roundup remains a time of learning as delegates participate in many different workshops. While the topics have evolved over the years, learning remains a key component of the educational workshop.

In keeping with tradition, Roundup serves as a time to recognize the hard work and achievements of club members of the last year. Most any club member can attest to the challenges of compiling their record books on their project areas. And for some, that work is rewarded during the Honor Night Assembly when state record book project winners are announced. During the assembly, Oklahoma 4-H’ers walk away with about $140,000 in educational scholarships, thanks to the generosity of many donors.

Two club members get to see their dreams come true when the new inductees into the Oklahoma 4-H Hall of Fame are announced. Roundup also is the stage on which the new state council members are introduced, and soon that group of new leaders will begin planning the 98thState 4-H Roundup.

Kevin Allen, state 4-H program leader, said he is excited to have nearly 800 delegates, county educators and volunteers on campus soon for 4-H Roundup.

“4-H Roundup is a great opportunity to welcome back old friends and introduce newcomers to all the wonders OSU has to offer,” Allen said. “This is the time when youth from all over the state with similar interests come together to continue the tradition that began nearly a century ago and help lay the groundwork for the next generation.”

The three days of 4-H Roundup will go quickly for the Oklahoma delegates. They’ll spend their time learning, sharing, experiencing, recognizing achievements, seeing new leaders emerge, renewing old friendships and making new friends that will last a lifetime. And who knows ... without even realizing it, they might even meet their future spouse.


Trisha Gedon
Agricultural Communications Services
Oklahoma State University
159 Agriculture North
Stillwater, OK  74078
405-744-3625 (phone)
405-744-5739 (fax)

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078

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