Clarkston, Michigan 48016
For several months, a group of engine and tractor collectors in Oakland County have been struggling to establish a club. The interest is high with about 25 members signed up.
We were continually bogged down with the details of a non-profit charter, insurance, meeting hall rent, and a suitable place to hold a show; the very same items that I'm sure bite almost every new club. These things had us stopped. Every discussion on future plans or ideas ended the same; we simply could not come up with the cost for lawyers, insurance and rent. The real purpose of the club, to swap stories about tractors and engines, was being destroyed, and many members stopped attending the meetings. We had to do something to become better organized. We needed an inspiration.
Thinking about the agricultural roots of tractors and engines, the county fairgrounds as a good place for a show, and the phrase 'you can tell the age of the boy by the cost of his toy,' we contacted the county Cooperative Extension Service. We asked how old a boy had to be to join 4-H and reeled out the whole sad story, including the average age of the club members. The county co-op people gasped several times, (like an engine running lean) and promised to get back with us after they had a chance to do some checking.
Happily, the extension people could find no age restriction requirement for 4-H youth, and we were on our way to becoming the first all adult 4-H Club since its beginning in 1908.
On March 10, 1981, the members of the Oakland Antique Engine and Tractor Club voted in favor of joining 4-H. In our opinion, the benefits of 4-H are numerous. There are no apparent strings, rules or requirements that interfere with the operation of the club. We are provided a meeting place, insurance, charter and an opportunity to exhibit our toys at the annual Oakland County 4-H Fair. The fairground is available to us at a greatly reduced rate should we plan to have a separate show sometime in the future.
The real challenge for us, as a 4-H Club, is the opportunity to create a program for the younger generation that will pass along the skills and abilities of the members of the Club.
So, if you have the germ of an idea to start a club, or are part of a struggling club, you might consider the possibility of affiliating with your County Extension Services 4-H Organization.
And as you are walking through the County Fair at Davisburg, Michigan, the first week in August, stop by the tractor and engine exhibit and say hello to the oldest bunch of 4-H kids in the USA.