Before coming to Florida in 1948, Lorene Stevens was a State Girls 4-H Club Agent in Texas, which gave her plenty of experience to take on her role as the first State Girls 4-H Club Agent at Florida State College for Women, now known as Florida State University.
Prior to her appointment in Florida, 4-H programs were supervised by the State Home Demonstration and the District Extension Agents in cooperation with specialists. Her appointment as the first State Girls 4-H Club Agent gave the 4-H program additional support and the program expanded under her leadership.
As state girls agent, Stevens was responsible for programming, organizing, and supervising 4-H girls participating in the National 4-H Congress and also in camps, state events and other meetings. Prior to her arrival, Florida 4-H girls had not fully participated in the national 4-H awards program. She expanded their participation and involvement in these areas, as well. Stevens nurtured and promoted the cooperation of girls and boys in these programs.
Health and recreation were two areas she promoted strongly during her tenure as state girls agent, and she even assisted with project areas for which there was no specialist. New projects were also designed, and the junior 4-H leader program was implemented, which allowed for youth ages 15 and up to serve alongside an adult club leader. They assisted younger 4-H members with their projects and often stimulated the development of additional 4-H clubs.
In 1948, leadership training and recruitment efforts built on expansions from the previous year. A second series of trainings were held throughout the state to encourage adults to support 4-H club work. The session trained 555 leaders and home demonstration agents from 45 counties. Home demonstration agents conducting training for 4-H members that year trained 5,749 4-H members at 407 club meetings.
In 1950, in-service training in home demonstration programming was conducted for extension agents. In 1952, this training expanded to include recreation programs, 4-H program planning and evaluation, food production, and fruit plantings for the home.
Common outreach methods for extension work during this time period were radio broadcasts, newspaper stories, home and farm visits, telephone calls, and demonstrations at public meetings. In 1950, 600 United Nations flags were made by 4-H club girls and home demonstration agents.
In 1951, additional specialists were appointed to help support the 4-H and home demonstration programs. A 4-H committee of ten home demonstration agents met to discuss the 4-H program and plan for improvements. By 1952, there were 16,286 girls enrolled in 740 4-H clubs.
4-H camp programs during this time emphasized developing junior leadership. To make their time at camp as productive as possible, district groups held pre-camp planning meetings that included 4-H club girls, home demonstration agents, and adult 4-H leaders.
During this time period, the 4-H program was already urbanizing, and interest from urban families increased. Approximately 21,489 girls were enrolled in the 4-H program in 1956. The program was already rapidly urbanizing, with about 60 percent of 4-H club girls not living on farms.
In a brief history of girls 4-H club programs, Alma Warren noted, “Thus, the 4-H Club Program, like all other Extension programs, is constantly changing with changing needs of people and the society in which they live. But the basic objectives and principles remain unchanged – to develop mature, responsible young citizens – leaders of tomorrow.”
Her leadership enhanced the program and provided multitudes of opportunities for young people. She has left a lasting legacy and her footsteps in organizing statewide project work were followed for many years after her retirement.