Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on March 31, 2011 at 1:39 PM by Global Reach

2005 State Recognition - Florine SwansonFlorine (Schulte) Swanson grew up in Norway, Iowa, where she joined 4-H at the age of ten. One of her fondest memories as a young member was traveling by bus to the 4-H Center near Madrid for three days of summer camp. Highlights of her 4-H career included a trip to National 4-H Conference in 1961 and to Germany in1963 as an International Four-H Youth Exchange (IFYE) representative.

After graduating from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education, Florine married Ron Swanson and moved to Wright County where she was a librarian at Clarion High School, the first administrator and teacher of a community nursery school, and director of the religious education program at St. John's Catholic Church. A mother of three boys, all enrolled in 4-H, Florine served as a 4-H volunteer in Wright County for 15 years.

In 1974, Florine joined the board of trustees for the Iowa 4-H Foundation, and in 1983 was elected the first president of the Iowa 4-H Foundation, a position formerly held only by the president of Iowa State (College)University. Florine came back to Iowa State University in 1986 to work as a program assistant for the Women in Science and Engineering program. She developed the very first "Taking the Road Less Traveled" career day for girls at Iowa State, a program that continues today under the same name and format.

Florine was hired in 1987 as the executive director of the Iowa 4-H Foundation, a position she held for nearly 18 years until her retirement on June 30, 2005. Florine's legacy to Iowa 4-H as executive director speaks for itself. Under her leadership, the Foundation's total assets grew from $750,000 to more than $6 million. During her tenure, the number of college scholarships grew from six to more than 100; donor recognition clubs expanded to include the 4-H 2,000, 4,000 and 10,000 levels as well as a planned giving club called the Emerald Circle; and the county endowment program was created with 57 counties now participating.

Florine oversaw many major improvements at the Iowa 4-H Center, including the additions of a new handicapped-accessible bath house for the pool, a new central kitchen and dining hall, and a new paved road to the camp entrance. In 1996, Florine and the board completed a successful three-year, $2.5 million capital campaign and six years later raised $1.5 million in private support for the new Extension 4-H Youth Building on the campus of Iowa State University.

Nationally, Florine is well respected by foundation directors in other states and is often called upon to share her expertise. She represented state 4-H foundations on the National 4-H Strategic Directions Team and the National 4-H Leadership Trust. In 2002, Florine traveled to Armenia to evaluate the prospect of establishing a foundation for their rural youth program.

Wherever she traveled, around the state or around the world, Florine represented Iowa 4-H by sharing the positive impact the program has in the lives of Iowa's youth, their families, and communities. Living the 4-H motto, To Make the Best Better, Florine continually put her best foot forward to find the financial resources that help young people reach their full potential and live healthy and productive lives.

During retirement, Florine will continue to be involved in 4-H through volunteer assignments and her grandchildren who are getting their start in 4-H. Florine also is working on an Iowa 4-H history book that will feature notable people and events from every county.

Categories: State Recognition

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