In a last minute move Jan. 5, President Donald Trump signed legislation authored by Rep. Cindy Axne to rename the U.S. Post Office in Clarinda in honor of Jessie Field Shambaugh.
Field Shambaugh is known as the “Mother of 4-H” for her work as a teacher, and later Page County School Superintendent, to lay the foundation for what would become the 4-H program known today. With the signing of the legislation, the post office will officially be designated as the Jessie Field Shambaugh Post Office Building.
“I am incredibly proud to see my proposal to create the Jessie Field-Shambaugh Post Office Building become a reality for Clarinda. I fondly remember my time as a 4-H kid, and this renaming not only cements her pioneering accomplishments, but also recognizes the values of leadership, engagement and community that have been instilled in millions through 4-H,” Axne said. “I am deeply thankful for my colleagues in the House and the Senate for their support and assistance in getting this bill signed into law.”
Axne unveiled her plans to introduce the bill during a program in July at American Legion Sergy Post 98 in Clarinda. Attending the July ceremony was Seth Watkins of Clarinda, who is the grandson of Field Shambaugh. Watkins was joined at the event by his daughter Tatum.
The bill introduced by Axne was cosponsored by the other three members of the Iowa House delegation in the 116th Congress: Reps. Abby Finkenauer, Dave Loebsack and Steve King. Iowa Senators Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst also supported the bill.
Although Axne was optimistic the bill would quickly move through Congress, the bill was not passed by the U.S. House of Representatives until Dec. 10. The U.S. Senate then passed the bill Dec. 18 and sent it to the desk of the President for his signature.
However, that was when confusion complicated the process. Initially, the Clarinda Herald-Journal was notified by Axne’s office on the morning of Jan. 5 the bill was not signed by the believed Jan. 4 deadline and had died.
Instead, President Trump actually had until the night of Jan. 5, not Jan. 4, to sign the bill and he in fact did sign the legislation just ahead of the deadline. The Clarinda Herald-Journal was informed of the passage of the bill Wednesday, Jan. 6, by Axne’s office.
“Our office was provided information by the Congressional committee that has jurisdiction over post offices that Rep. Axne’s bill, because it was not signed Jan. 4, would not become law. That was incorrect, because while the previous Congress had adjourned the day before, the bill was still eligible for the President’s signature until Tuesday evening – which is when the President signed the bill. We were informed of the signature on Tuesday evening by the White House, and immediately sought to correct the error in our information to the Herald-Journal. We deeply regret the error, and look forward to the official renaming ceremony later this year,” according to an email received from Ian Mariani, who serves as the Communications Director for Axne.
The Clarinda Herald-Journal will provide additional information on the renaming ceremony once those details become available.
Field Shambaugh began teaching in Page County in 1901, and formed the Boys Corn Club and the Girls Home Club. The Corn Club taught boys agriculture and farming techniques, while the Home Club taught girls homemaking skills like cooking and sewing.
After Jessie Field Shambaugh was elected Superintendent of Schools for Page County in 1906, she organized Corn Clubs and Home Clubs in all 130 schools in the county. Those clubs provided the framework for the 4-H program more than 6 million schoolchildren are involved in today.
The program is symbolized by a four-leaf clover. To boost participation in the clubs, Field Shambaugh created a three-leafed clover pin. The pin featured an “H” on each leaf. A fourth leaf was added in 1912 to mark the creation of 4-H clubs.
The “H” on each of the leaves stood for Head, Heart and Hands. The fourth “H” was later added for Health. Her design became the symbol of 4-H in 1914 when the Smith-Lever Act established the Cooperative Extension System at the USDA, formalizing 4-H clubs across the country.