Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on August 19, 2011 at 11:50 AM by Global Reach

2011 Washington CountyWhen you add their years of service together, Gale Whitacre and Harold Wylie have been leaders of the Washington County Horse and Pony Club for 64 years.  That is ironic when you learn between the two of them they only have one year of experience as 4-Hers themselves.  During their 64 years as leaders, they have seen a lot of kids and a lot of horses and both agree they have never had a bad one.  They also agree that they were all different.

Gale was never in 4-H, but participated in FFA.  He admitted there used to be a lot of rivalry between the two groups, but now they work hand in hand.  He got started as a 4-H leader by accident.  He had agreed to haul some 4-Hers and their horses to the workouts at the fairgrounds.  Someone noticed him bringing them regularly and asked him if he wanted to be a leader.  He’s been one ever since.  In addition, Gale has been the county fair horse superintendent since 1981.
Harold was in 4-H for only one year himself, but his daughter showed horses in 4-H for many years.  He always stayed to pitch in and help at the horse project workouts.  He, too, was soon recruited as a leader.   
Both men have had horses for a number of years.  Harold still uses horses to move cattle.  Gale raises horses, although he doesn’t ride anymore. 
They don’t just help the 4-Hers in the horse arena, they also encourage their members to participate in community service projects and be well rounded individuals.  They feel that 4-Hers have fewer problems in school and seem to plan for college earlier than other kids.
The horse arena has moved several times over the years and the men are very proud of the strides taken to improve the facilities at the fairgrounds.  They agree they are much safer with new stall gates, lights, an announcer’s stand and arena.  They have worked with a number of leaders in the horse department over the years and have fond memories of times spent at the fairgrounds working together with the youth to help them develop their skills.
They agree being involved with the 4-H Horse and Pony project has been a rewarding experience.  They have enjoyed watching the kids mature and grow.  They are gratified to see how kids, that may struggle with other parts of their lives, find something that helps them develop responsibility, a sense of pride and accomplishment and helps them experience success.
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