On Saturday, October 11 the Houston Cardinals 4-H Club celebrated their 100 years of service to the local community with a celebration held at the Houston Fire Hall. A member of the national 4-H organization, the Houston chapter shares the commitment to developing future leaders through citizenship, volunteerism and community service. Bringing together past and current 4-H members, the Houston Cardinals 4-H Club honored members of the Club that were instrumental to the success of reaching the 100 year milestone.
The Houston 4-H Club began in 1914 with the commitment of several individuals including George Dewey Sapp of Milford. Sapp is known as the organization’s first laureate and is generally recognized as the first person to enroll in a Delaware 4-H Club. He was a state corn club champion and later the first Delaware representative at the International 4-H Training School at Camp Vail. By 1919 Sapp had accumulated a purebred dairy stock worth $1,800 and became a local leader at age 21. He was a director of the Kent-Sussex Fair and later Superintendent of the 4-H Department at the fair. Sapp passed away in 1940. after serving as a state representative from 1937 to1938. He had 3 daughters, all of whom continued the 4-H tradition and attended the National 4-H Club Congress.
“Dewey, as many people referred to George Sapp, formed the foundation for where we are today,” stated Lynn Watkins, Administrative Assistant for 4-H Youth Development. “He led through example that community service is a very important part of 4-H on a local and national level.”
Laureate Floyd Blessing was recognized for carrying the torch for the Houston 4-H Club during World War II, as America was heavily engaged in the international conflict. 4-H was a part of Floyd Blessing’s life since the early age of 12 years old in 1939. Floyd joined a 4-H club in the Harrington area at the age of 12, and after moving to the Houston, DE area, he transferred his membership to the Houston Cardinals 4-H club where he remained a member until he aged out at 21 years old. One vivid memory that Mr. Blessing shared was the collection of newspapers each month that were sold as proceeds and donated to support the war efforts. In later life, Floyd served as the Organizational Leader for the Houston Cardinals 4-H Club for many years along with his wife, Helen. He was dedication to the program and enjoyed working with the youth. Mr. Blessing was one of the original Directors of the Delaware 4-H Foundation that was started in 1978. Mr. Blessing has been an active member of the Kent County 4-H Links for over 60 years since his induction in 1947.
Martha Benson was honored at the event for her work as the Organizational Leader for Houston Cardinals 4-H Club for many years beginning in the early 1950’s. Houston’s population at that time was 350, the smallest town in Delaware, but the 4-H club under her direction was the largest in the state with over 60 members. The Houston Cardinals 4-H Club had an excellent reputation for being active in all 4-H events and activities, and was a club of youth that were well known for being prepared while finishing at the top of many of the competitions in which they competed. The club was the recipient of the Silver Club awarded to the state’s outstanding club and won it several times 3 years in a row where they were able to retire the current trophy each time. The group handled all the charity drives held in the community including national charity drives for March of Dimes, the Heart Fund, American Cancer Society, and the Crippled Children’s Fund. During her 4-H volunteer work, Mrs. Benson was the recipient of a highly bestowed honor that she received at the 35th National 4-H Congress in 1957 for outstanding work in 4-H. Mrs. Benson’s two children, John and Susan, raised and showed Jersey cattle as well as poultry, and won numerous awards. She was a frequent contributor to the National 4-H News and served as Secretary of the Kent County Jersey Cattle Breeders Association.
Through the memory of these three active members the Houston Cardinals 4-H looks forward to their next century of community service and leadership among local youth. “It is wonderful to recognize those that have set the example for our youth and created the framework for our success,” commented Watkins. The Houston Cardinals 4-H now has approximately 60 members and continues to grow as they serve the Greater Milford Area.