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Four generations of 4H in Cloverdale club

The Bensons of the Cloverleaf 4-H club represent four generations brought up through the organization.

Elwood Benson showed cattle with the Cloverdale 4-H Club at the Cannon Valley fairgrounds back in 1935. On Thursday, his great-grandkids Brandon and Patty Benson were there doing the exact same thing.

Four generations of Bensons have been involved with the Cannon Falls club, now celebrating its 75th year. Three of those -- Brandon and Patty, their parents Craig and Lori Benson, and their grandfather Gary Benson -- were all gathered at the 4-H Cattle Barn on Thursday preparing to show two steers.

"When they say it's a family activity, that's exactly what it is," said Lori Benson.

Still, a lot has changed for the club since Elwood Benson roamed the fairgrounds as a boy.

Cloverdale Contact Leader April Wojahn points to the original 1935 charter of the club as an example. It lists the original members and their activities -- and the reading is a bit repetitive.

"Dairy, cake, dairy, sewing, dairy ...," reads the list.

Wojahn said the group has steadily broadened its scope and activities over the years, moving from a group catering largely to farm kids to one that includes children from across a variety of backgrounds. 4-Hers can still show cattle, she said, but they can also display photography, present inventions, or create an original work of art.

"It was pretty narrow back then," she said of the 4-H activities at the group's formation. "Now, it's wide open. The kids have a lot of options these days."

Longtime Goodhue County Commissioner and Cloverdale 4-H Club alumni Richard Samuelson took a slightly different take. He looked out at the midway, cattle barns, and food vendors of the fairgrounds Thursday and commented not on how much things have changed, but how they've stayed the same.

"Things come back around, you know?" he said.