Alabama 4-H Wall of Fame

The Catchings Family

Joseph Maurice Catchings,
Margie Catchings Wingard,
Josephine Catchings Malone
Coosa County 4-H Partners

Inducted November 10, 2011

Joseph Maurice Catchings* joined the Coosa County Boys Corn Club in 1909 as a charter member. He and other boys were taught by the legendary Sam Day, employed part-time by the USDA, how to grow more and better corn per acre of land by using improved agricultural practices. In 1911, the Coosa County boys grew the highest yield of com in the district and by 1913, Catchings produced 87 bushels of com per acre at the cost of 31 cents. The selling price that year was $1 per bushel.

In 1914, Catchings grew the most com per acre in the district and was given the first individual award, a short-horn bull calf, and a trip to Auburn for a 10-day course on “Better Farming Methods.” At 13 years old, he rode the train to Auburn (the first time away from home and the first time on a train) where he was joined by 100 other Com Club boys from across the state.

As Catchings aged, he continued to be an active member and supporter of 4-H. Catchings never graduated from high school; however, after his trip to Auburn University, vowed that future Catchings generations would finish high school and engage in secondary education. He was a firm believer in the mission and value of 4-H: First -Family; Second -Church; and Third -4-H was his motto growing up and raising his family. He lived the 4-H pledge and instilled the importance of hard work, independence, commitment, and contribution to the community to his family of many generations.

ln 1985, Catchings’ daughters, Margie Catchings Wingard and Josephine Catchings Malone, began giving $100 annually to support two awards, called the J.M Catchings Most Outstanding Boy and Most Outstanding Girl 4-H Member Award in Coosa County. They have continued this award for 26 years. Along with the cash award, the name of the recipients are placed on a plaque with the previous 26 recipients nameplates and is displayed in the Coosa County 4-H Clubhouse. Some of the 4-H members on the plaque are now school teachers, engineers, biologists, foresters, and parents of current 4-H members.

In addition, Josephine Catchings Malone established the Joseph Maurice Catchings Memorial Fund for Coosa County 4-H Clubs with a $10,000 gift to the Alabama 4-H Club Foundation, Inc. in 1985 to help meet the programming needs of the youth of Coosa County.

Through Catching’s determination that the mission and philosophy of 4-H be prominent in his family life, all the Catchings generations have strived “To Make the Best Better” for generations to come.

Nominated by Coosa County Extension