The below excerpt is taken from “Centennial Edition Wednesday, May 17, 1954.”

Rural Youth was organized in the early 1930s. In the dozen or so years between the end of World War I and the crash of the stock market in late 1929, the surplus farm youth left the farms for seemingly more attrac­tive positions in the cities and towns. Pay was good but living costs were high, and few if any put aside any savings. These young people, when things seemed alright, found themselves stran­ded in the cities without jobs, money or homes. There was only one thing left for them to do — go home to their parents’ farm. Soon the rural communities were over­crowded with the influx of young people augmented by the steady flow of young folk growing up.

Father George Nell of St. Joseph’s Church in the Island Grove rural community realized the need of a program for the rural youth. Father Nell went to the office of the farm adviser, George Iftner, early in October 1931 and said to him “Iftner, I have 28 young men and women who in normal times would be either married and farming for themselves, or would have found employment anywhere. They are literally piling up in the farm homes.

“They share what work there is, but there is so little money com­ing in that they are almost des­perate. They need a program. My church is doing everything it can, but they need more. There is only one place where they can turn — to the Farm Bureau and Exten­sion Service.

“You represent both here in the county. You can draw on the re­sources of the University of Illi­nois and on the Illinois Agricul­tural Association. You can reach all groups regardless of religious or political beliefs. It is a great opportunity to you. I challenge you to take advantage of it and pledge you my wholehearted sup­port.”

Father Nell was so convincing, so enthusiastic and so resourceful that Iftner accept­ed the challenge and went to work. The Farm Bureau board appointed a county steering com­mittee of the following youthful leaders: Orthello Laue. Roland Soltwedel, Walter Schottman, Ma­rie Schottman, Clarence Schmohe, Henrietta Goldstein, Emil Engel, Edna Kirchhofer, Ward Buzzard, Edwin Grobengieser, Julia Winter, Russell Davis, Luetta Schwarz, Dan Ordner, Sophia Hank, Vance Hulbert, Grace Gieseking, Charles Homan, Helen Homan Sylvester Zerrusen, Irene Moeller, Norbert Soltwedel, Charlotte Krone, Laura Pals, Anna Bernhard, Gertrude Brummer, Alvin Davis, Edith Feldhake, Barbara Lidy, Oscar Moeller, Alice Osthoff, Cecilia Ordner, Corrine Price, Rolland Moeller, Fay Yount, Urban Goldstein, Alph Hartke, Selma Moeller, Helen Buzzard, Geraldine Goldstein and Lawrence Sur.

This committee met several times in the fall of 1931 and for­mulated a program stressing five essential points — Social activi­ties, recreation, education, leader­ship and service and moans of support. These became the foundation stones in the Illinois Rural Youth movement.

Effingham County Rural Youth now (i.e., by 1954) has approximately 50 active members. The present offi­cers are Norman Kirchhofer, pres­ident; Dorothy Lewis, vice presi­dent; and Shirley Meinhart, sec­retary/treasurer. They meet monthly in the recreation room in the new Farm Bureau Building located at 101 South Henrietta. The past years of Rural Youth progress in the many counties have been filled with activities that can be classified properly under one or all of these above mentioned five foundation stones, laid down in late 1931 and early 1932.

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