Posted on April 19, 2011 at 12:58 PM by Global Reach
Norm and Ruth Barker may not have been 4-H’ers growing up but that didn’t keep them from taking part in the town of Craig, Iowa’s 4-H Fair. This fair began in the 1940’s when the three area churches got together to hold the annual event that would take place for the next 30 years. It was a one day event that would allow the area 4-H’ers to exhibit livestock and the girl’s to bring in the home economic exhibits. An exhibit barn was even constructed for the one day event with lumber donated from the local lumber yard and then after the fair it was taken apart and the lumber was returned! The Craig 4-H Fair also had softball tournaments, the Le Mars Band performed, and a queen was crowned. A food stand was even open for spectators. Ruth recalls helping with the girls’ exhibits while Norm served as Fair Chairman. Little did Norm and Ruth know, but this was just the beginning of a lifetime of 4-H experiences! Ruth became a leader of the Preston Pearls for four years. Here she shared her knowledge of home economics with many young ladies. It wasn’t long before Norm and Ruth’s children would be of 4-H age. They joined the Grant Clever Clovers which was near their home and then Ruth became a leader of this club for the next eleven years. It wouldn’t be long before Norm was a leader of the Grant Little Giants where he would stay for the next ten years. His expertise in woodworking was valued by many. He held many workshops in his home for the club members and then would hold county wide workshops for any 4-H’ers wanting to learn more about woodworking. Norm and Ruth recall their three daughters: Lynn, Joann, and Jean were actively involved with exhibits in Food, Sewing, and Home Improvement. Their son Jim was involved in a lot of woodworking projects as well as cattle and hogs. They even hosted a foreign exchange student from Brazil, Ingrid, for a year and exposed her to the world of 4-H during her stay. 4-H has become a tradition in the Barker family as 9 of the 11 grandchildren have also participated in 4-H. Norm and Ruth still take time to share their expertise with their grandchildren as they help them prepare exhibits for the fair such as building a pitcher’s mound and baking rolls.
Even after they had retired from being club leaders they would still be actively involved with
4-H and Extension. Ruth served a four year term on the 4-H & Youth Committee and several more years on Fair Subcommittees. She has also served as a clerk for static judging day which she still currently does. Norm served on the Iowa 4-H Foundation where he helped solicit funds to improve the Iowa 4-H Camp. He also served on the Extension Advisory Board. Ruth remembers chaperoning a trip to State 4-H Conference as well as Intermediate trips to Madison County and the 4-H Camp and trips to Dubuque, Decorah, and Dyersville. They also fondly remember attending the Photography tour each year. Most recently, Norm and Ruth have been pioneers in getting the Barn Quilt project going throughout Plymouth County through the Arts Council. Their grandchildren constructed a barn quilt that is displayed on the barn at the family farm. Since then Norm and Ruth have given several presentations on the process. Norm has also maintained the Plymouth County Fair Model T truck that is seen in many local parades.
Norm and Ruth feel that their greatest contribution to 4-H is passing the tradition on to future generations. They have seen what a difference it has made in the lives of those they have worked with. The Barkers said it is heartwarming to have former 4-H’ers acknowledge them still today several years after they have been in 4-H. They are also proud of what their children and grandchildren have accomplished in their lives as a result of participating in 4-H. A few of them have followed in their footsteps as two of their daughters have been club leaders and both a daughter and a granddaughter has served on the State 4-H Council. That same granddaughter also served on the Iowa 4-H Foundation board as well as a son-in-law.
4-H roots run deep in Barkers’ blood. They have given so much of themselves but feel they are the ones that have benefited from 4-H. They have made many lifelong friends through the organization. Being able to share their skills, knowledge, and talents with others has enhanced their lives. Plymouth County 4-H has been enriched with these devoted volunteers. The Barkers have given of themselves not wanting or expecting anything in return, only to be able to help youth develop into mature young adults with a wealth in knowledge and skills they could have only received through participation in 4-H.