Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on April 5, 2011 at 2:00 PM by Global Reach

Donald C. SteffenFor decades, Don Steffen has been an active member, leader, voluntee4r and supporter of 4-H programs in Clay County and in Iowa.  Being a “4-H’er” has been a life-long endeavor – spanning an impressive 70 years!  Below are just some of the ways Don has contributed:
·    Along with his two brothers, Ingwer and Kenneth, Don became a 4-H member in Clay County in 1939.  He joined the Clay township club at age 10 and participated for nine years.  When asked about the group, he said there were probably only seven or eight members in the club.  At the Clay County Fair, Don showed cattle, hogs, and chickens.  In 1943, he was proud to exhibit the Clay County Champion Shorthorn!
·    After time in the Army during World War II and marriage to his wife Lucy, Don started a family.  When his children became 4-H members, he served as a 4-H leader of the Lincoln Lions 4-H Club and continued in that role for 23 years (1961-1984).  Since then, he has enjoyed watching his grandchildren actively participate in 4-H programs in Clay County.
·    In addition to his years as a 4-H Club leader, Don served as Clay County Fair Swine Department Superintendent for 17 years.  During this time, the program grew from 200 head of market hogs to approximately 600.  He also served eight years on the County 4-H Committee.
·    Don was elected to the Clay County Fair Board in 1982.  In 1985, the Executive Board of Directors asked him to serve as Liaison to the 4-H and FFA Departments.  Each day of the fair, you will see him monitoring the livestock shows to insure things are going smoothly.  
·    In 1997, Don was recognized for 35 years of Volunteer Service to 4-H programs.  At this time, he was interviewed by the Spencer Daily Reporter and quoted as saying, “4-H is important to me because it’s a learning experience.  I think one of the most valuable lessons the members learn is to lose graciously and to work to win.  To see the growth of 4-H members is quite phenomenal.”

In addition to his work on behalf of 4-H in Clay County, Don has been involved in a variety of leadership and service efforts.  When he returned from military service, he started farming south of Rossie.  Working by his side, Don’s children learned early the value of hard work and love of the land.  His gentle nature with both animals and people was passed on to them as they learned to care for livestock, whether their own 4-H projects or the hogs, cattle, milk cow or chickens of the family farm.  

While Don’s many accomplishments are impressive, through the years individual 4-H members have been touched by his quiet leadership in smaller but still significant ways…a nudge in the right direction when struggling with how to approach a new project, a piece of advice murmured in the ear of a young 4-Her before entering the show ring, a bid in the sale arena when someone needed a little better selling price for his or her livestock, an encouraging pat on the back when a blue ribbon was awarded and, more importantly, when it was red, and always a smile and a reminder when it was time to “get your chores done” after all the excitement and horseplay of the day!  He taught us to balance hard work with learning, fun, and involvement…And, young or old, we’re better for having followed his fine example.

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Categories: Clay

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