Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on April 11, 2017 at 9:59 PM by Emily Saveraid

The first record of women’s activities in the county was in 1919 and was stated in the negative when the Farm Bureau Board voted not to sponsor home project work because of lack of funds.

The year 1923 (April) a county-wide women’s organization meeting was held and the women asked for a clothing project.   Miss Martha Foster, extension specialist, conducted dress form demonstrations to sixty-five leaders who attended five one-day training schools.  A total of about 650 were reported made in the county.  During the next year a three-day millinery course was held with their goal worded, “Five Satisfactory Hats for Each Township Represented.”

The home project set-up of township chairmen, co-operators and local leaders was started in 1925 and has been in effect ever since.  The organization was probably the best during 1929 and 1930 when they had 73 active school districts from the twelve townships.

In 1932, prizes for meeting requirements were:  for having every member present in uniform – one box of fruit jars bearing the 4-H emblem; for every club taking part in the music pageant – one box of jars: for a club having the highest percentage of parents present – one box of jars.

Miss Beulah Graves was named “Healthiest 4-H Girl in Chickasaw County at the Big Four Fair in Nashua and represented Chickasaw County in the health contest at the Iowa State Fair in 1938. 

Dean Barnes was Extension Director and Marjorie Sickles was County Home Economist in 1952.  Mae Rogers was a leader from 1952-63 and on the Youth Committee from 1964-69.  Mae brought in numerous items for our centennial for the display we had at the Carnegie Cultural Center from the 20’s and 30’s.  Hadwen Kleiss of Fredricksburg, through his outstanding dairy records, had been awarded a trip to the National 4-H Club Congress in Chicago, Nov. 26-39, 1952.  From 163-75, he was a 4-H leaders.  Currently, Hadwen and wife, Luann are still actively involved in 4-H and every year help their grandchildren with diary projects at county and State Fair.  In 2000, Hadwen became a 4-H 1000 donor to the Iowa 4-H Foundation. 

Also in 1952, Dick Schilling received a ribbon for winning samples at the grass silage and hay show.  Today, Dick is a Big Four Fair board director.  He and his wife, Joyce (Ambassador 1971-73) sponsor plaques for the fair and Dick also presents the Outstanding Family Award at the county banquet.  Their son Bill was on the Youth Committee from 1994-1999.  He has served as a 4-H leader of the Devon Dreamers for over 10 years and chaperones for the teen lock-ins.  Bill has received the county 4-H Alumni Award.

In 1953, 73 head of beef (with the sale averaging $33.25 @ head) and eleven head of market pigs were sold. 

“Breathe deeply,” “A little less noise, please,” “Ready for the next.”  These were commands heard as over 100 4-H girls went through the health examination line, army style.  Over 60 of these girls were examined in a two hour period.  Doctors in New Hampton, Nashua, and Fredericksburg donated their services to check these 4-H’ers over the county in an effort to improve the health of the farm girl.  It was hoped that the girls themselves would make the necessary follow through in correcting the defects found by the doctors.


Spencer Williams became Extension Director in 1954.  Ann (Steensland) Webster of the Merry Maids of Saude Club was elected President of the County 4-H.  Brian Webster, who currently works for ISU at Ames, is Ann and Bob Webster’s son.  Ann now volunteers as a fair superintendent in Home Economics at the Nashua Fair and enjoys watching her grandchildren who are involved in 4-H.  Ann’s daughter and son-in-law, Sue & Gene Anderson, have been 4-H leaders for over 10 years and received the 2002 Outstanding Family Award.

Leo Heying, Deefield township representative to the Chickasaw County Agricultural Extension Council, was elected to serve as the first chairman of the council.  Robert Rockufeler, Chickasaw township, vice chairman’ Mrs. Vincel Eslinger, Washington Township, secretary’ and Cale Ransom, Richland township, treasurer.  All council members were elected by voters at township election meetings held on June 9, 1955.  The law provides that council members will be elected for terms of 2 years, with half of the members elected each year.  To make that possible, half of the members elected to take office, January 1, 1956, will be selected for one year term and the other half for two year terms.

In 1969, Mary Ann Muench became leader of the Jolly Blue Bells and serve on and off for 20 years.  Her husband Bob was auctioneer at the county fair.  Now every year at the 4-H Awards Banquet, the Mary Ann Muench Scholarship is given to an incoming college freshman attending any two-year community college.

Janet Kottke and Sara Hewitt of Fredericksburg were the first to model the new 4-H uniforms in 1963.  Janet’s mother, Jeanette Kottke was a 4-H leader at that time and remained so for 15 years for the Boyd Victorettes.  Rosemary Schwickerath was a leader for 20 years for the Charming Cherries and to this day she and her husband visit the county fairs to view exhibits done by 4-H’ers for ideas.

In 1975 Betty Soukup, a 4-H leader at the time, did a demonstration on “Antiquing and Other Wood Finishes”.  Betty and her husband bob were Ambassadors from 1973-1977.  Betty later went into politics becoming an Iowa State Senator.  Jan Pacovsky conducted a session on “Choosing Correct Accessories for the Home.  Jan is still very active in 4-H as a fair judge and Trees Forever.

Majella Koudelka and her children were honored with the Outstanding 4-H Family Award in 1979.  Majella was on the Youth Committee and served as a project leader for 17 years.  Majella’s daughter, Shirley Sabelka, is the present Office Assistant at the Chickasaw County Extension Office and has served in that position for 25 years.

In 1980, three outstanding 4-H’ers were chosen:  Jeffrey Gunderson, Myrna Kolthoff, and Joanne (Poppe) Tupper.  In 1984 Joanne’s parents, Ed and Alma Poppe, received the Outstanding 4-H Family Award.  Alma was on the Youth Committee for 11 years.  Joanne is still actively involved in 4-H.  In 2001 Joanne received her 15 year Pearl Cover Award.  She has been on the Youth Committee, and currently is fair superintendent, 4-H leader of the Ionia Rustlers, and organizes the BBQ at the fair working the Beef and Pork Producers.

The Discover Iowa Trip for Northeast Iowa Intermediate 4-H’ers took place on two very hot and humid days, June 26 and 27, 1990.  The group toured Terrace Hill, had lunch in the Terrace Hill Gardens, and then turned the Capitol.  They viewed shows at the Museum of Science and Industry, and took a tour of the Botanical Gardens.  They then departed for the Iowa 4-H Camping Center at Madrid where they spent the night.  While at the camp they cooled off in the swimming pool and later went on a nature hike.  The next morning they departed to visit the Living History Farms in Des Moines, had lunch, and then went to the Des Moines Zoo.  Those attending from Chickasaw County were Scott Bohaty, Chris Fisher, Amy Boldt, Shanna Palmersheim, Melissa Bonfig, Nicole Miller, Sara Franke, Sara Wickman, and Kiara Kriener.  Chaperone was Carol Bohaty. 

In 1990, Sue Beckman received her Pearl Clover Award for 15 years of service.  Today Sue is still judging fairs.  Also Kimberly (Bohaty) Gannon was chosen as one of 40 teen out of 180 applicants to participate in a newly-created art apprenticeship program for teens that was sponsored by ISU Extension, Iowa 4-H Foundation, Iowa Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, and Arts Education within the Iowa Department of Education.

In 1992 Kendra Crooks became the 4-H Program Assistant and held that position until 2000 when she became Youth Development Specialist in Butler, Chickasaw and Floyd counties.  Kendra was awarded the Pride of Extension Award and became a 4-H 400 donor to the Iowa    4-H Foundation. 

Mary Schrandt Prouty became the Chickasaw County Extension Director in 1992.  Ten years later, Mary received the Excellence in 4-H Youth Programs Awards from Stanley R. Johnson, Vice Provost for Extension.  In the fall of 2004, Mary became the new Northeast Iowa Area Director.

Tom & Cora Lynch were awarded the Outstanding 4-H Family in 1996.  Their daughter, Karen Bebel, a Chickasaw 4-H alum, worked for ISU extension as a Youth Development Specialist following college.  Both Tom & Cora have been involved in the Chickasaw 4-H program for over 20 years and are still coordinating the 4-H & FFA Achievement Show Auction which r=wraps up the county 4-H & FFA fair each July.  Their four children were all active county council members and showed at the Iowa State Fair.

Heavy rains and the “100 year flood” hit Chickasaw County during the 2000 fair.  Due to roads being washed out, the fair was put on hold for a day.  A skeletal crew of the Extension Director, 4-H Program Assistant, the local FFA Advisor, a swine superintendent and a handful of 4-H’ers remained at the fairgrounds to do all the chores for day because others were unable to get to the fairgrounds or were dealing with the flooding at home.  The animals had to be fed and cared for, so what feed and hay were available on the grounds was distributed to all the animals, being careful of what was given to each.  Being mid-July the day was also hot, so there had to be plenty of water to be delivered as well.  Staff managed to be at the fairgrounds because they spent the night in town at Ed and Alma Poppe’s house just a few blocks from the fairgrounds.  The Poppe family have been long time 4-H supporters and had children and grandchildren involved at the fair.  By mid-afternoon donations of hay were coming from local farmer s who knew the fair was going on and that the 4-H and FFA families weren’t able to get to the fair grounds.  The next day the hog show as delayed a few hours so everyone could regroup, but then the show went on. 

Garth and Nancy Griffin received the Outstanding 4-H Family in 2000 and in 2004 received the Meritorious Award for their long time dedication to the county 4-H program.  Nancy is currently on the Extension Council and is a former club leader of the disbanded New Hampton All-Stars.

Elizabeth Skilton, daughter of Christine and David Skilton was selected for national 4-H congress for her leadership, citizenship and overall achievement in the 4-H program.  Elizabeth also received state project awards and State Fair clothing award.

At the 2001 fair, Michelle Tiemessen entered the breeding beef Cow Calf Class with a set to triplets which only happens one in ten thousand.  She was the hit of the livestock show. 

The 4-H Centennial in 2002 was a memorable time for the 4-H program.  At Carnegie Cultural Center an in depth 4-H history display titled, “Head, Heart, Hands, Health – 100 years of 4-H” was the focus of the month.  The event had tremendous response with displays dating back to the 1920’s up to the present day.  One person said, “It was a trip down memory lane.”

The Chickasaw County 4-H program has had a strong connection with the local FFA chapters over the year.  Long time FFA Advisors Ron Zelle, George Friedhof, and Dennis Steele worked closely with 4-H staff and volunteers to make the county fair a large success.


County Council and other 4-H youth have been involved in community parades over the years.  One year the 4-H mascot, Chris Clover, walked the parade routes with the youth.  Other years trailers and vehicles were decorated.  And then there was the big year of going “top class” and council members rode in a donated limo to draw attention to the 4-H program.

Jeff Kennedy, KWWL-TV Storm Team Meteorologist, did a live weather cast at the county fair after gathering a group of youth around him and the champion lamb owned by Leslie Bailey.  During the interview the sheep insisted on giving his input about the weather with an interrupting “Baaaaaaa” right through the interview.  Jeff just laughed and said, “When you are live anything can happen!”

In 2002 Katie Oswald was crowned the County Fair Queen.  Following the crowning ceremony and Katie and the other candidates, Megan Perkins, Justina Sheets, Theresa Edson, and Kaia Kriener, decided to participate in the annual Tug-O-War contest in their long formal gowns, much to the surprise of the crowd.  Needless to say, their dresses needed to be cleaned.  Joan Mueterthies, a leader for over 30 years for the Lawler a Lassies and Lads, became the first inducted in the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame and received her award from the State 4-H Director, Joe Kurth.

The 2003 fair brought rain and storms.  The fairgrounds consisted of water holes and mud.  At 2:00 am fair security moved everyone staying overnight at the fairgrounds to the most secure area, the old bathroom.  One of the youth had their dog with him.  This dog helped ease the fears of the group with his upbeat face that looked like, “What are doing in here?”  The good news was that the storm went around the town and the fairgrounds was not hit.  However the rain didn’t, stop.  Staff found themselves going to plan D by Wednesday, the day when the big BBQ and kiddie carnival evening is usually held and draws hundreds of people.   Thanks to Scott McGregor’s flexible thinking the BBQ seating and serving was moved to the newly remodeled, horse barn which was emptied and cleaned.  With the help of the very dedicated 4-H volunteers the BB! Was just as successful as in years past.  Despite the occasional drizzle over 700 loyal 4-H friends and families came to the BBQ. What more can you ask for?

Viola Almersheim was inducted into the 2003 Hall of Fame.  Vi worked for the Chickasaw Extension Office for over 23 years and was an Ambassador for 13 years.

Leon Sheets has taught so many youth during the Livestock Judging Contest at the fair for the past 14 years.  The Sheets family has a history of 34 year of 4-H members.  Leon and Barb were from different counties and met during an area 4-H trip.

Megan Mueterthies and Megan Seamans were recipients of the 2004 outstanding 4-H awards.  Suzanne Edson and Megan Seamans won state awards and had many state fair exhibits.  Charlie Edson became the 2004 Hall of Fame recipient.  Jessica Kuehner from Lawler Chickasaw County in the State Fair Horse Show.  Sally, Adam, and Tim Kleiss, children of Dog Keiss and grandchildren of Hadwen Kleiss from Fredericksburg took dairy to the State Fair.

There are many great people and families in Chickasaw County that giver their all for the 4-H program.  If it weren’t for all the volunteers, supporters, contributors, parents and youth, there would be as fantastic program as the county has. 

In 2005 the following people worked really hard, Youth Committee members:  Kevin Gilbert (2004 Alumni Award winner), Christine Knoll, Janiece Kueker, Nancy Poppe (Fair Superintendent and & Outstanding Family in 2001), Mark Schmitt, Laurie Tiemessen, Dev (Webster) Underwood, Barb Sheets, Mark Mueterthies, and Mike Booth.  The 4-H leaders included Beverly Haeflinger, Liz Geerts, Charlie Edson, Cathy McGregor, Bill Schilliing, Linda Tiemessen, Mary (Oswald) Wiltgen, Betty Franzen, Gayle Jirak, Joanne Tupper, Cindy Kolthoff, Diane Brown, Marguerite & Sarah Ashle, Michele Boji, Joan Mueterthies, Joann Wurzer, Connie Edson, Patty Seamans, Kendra Gilbert, Judy Vsetecka, Gene and Susie Anderson, Kim Havens, and Kandy Quass.  The 4-H County Council consisted of Leslye Bailey, Jim Bearman, Megan Brown, Luann Cooper, Samantha Fisher, James Frantzen, Glen Geerts, Molly Glaser, Matt Goddard, Sara Hageman, Gina Havens, Ann Kolthoff, Alex McGregor, Brendan McGregor, Patrick McGregor, Matt Mueterthies, Megan Mueterthies, Daniel Oswald, Adam Schilling, Casey Schnieder, Megan Seamans, Kathryn Skilton, Emily Throndson, Michelle Tiemessen, Laura Underwood, Tyler Underwood, Jeremy Wurzer and advisor, Joyce Mueterthies.  In the future the 4-H county councils will continue to have Junior Fun Day, Super Saturday, Communications Day, Lock-in, family bowling, family roller skating, award banquet, fair responsibilities, and a hospitality room for the New Hampton Magical Moments night by providing hot chocolate, hot apple cider, and cookies and bars and craft for youth.

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