Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on July 18, 2012 at 3:09 PM by Global Reach

JoAnn BirkbyJoAnn Birkby started out as a nine year 4-H’er in Nodaway County Missouri.  During those nine years, she had cattle, cooking, sewing, and home improvement projects.  JoAnn said those were the days when the whole family went to the 4-H meetings.  They played games, had a great time, and each family hosted a monthly meeting.  There were also good project meetings.  She feels one of the main reasons we have 4-H’ers today is because of the old 4-H families—those involved with 4-H over the generations.

JoAnn’s fair career in Fremont County started out as a newlywed.  The first year she was married she attended the fair and viewed the open class exhibits.  The following year, JoAnn, who is an avid gardener, entered her onions and won a blue ribbon.  The rest, as they say, is history.
JoAnn and her husband Jerry have four children and raised a fifth:  Lora Lee; Mark; Erika; Damon and Mike.  Their four children were all 4-H’ers. They are members of the Iowa 4-H Foundation 4-H 400 contributors.   JoAnn recalls two favorite stories of Erika’s days in 4-H.  Erika started baking cherry pies as a 4-H’er.  Her goal during her 4-H years was to win the cherry pie contest.  She did win reserve champion three years and was honored by winning the grand champion pie her very last year in 4-H.  JoAnn recalls with pride another time when Erika took cookies to the fair.  The judge thought the cookies were beneath Erika’s capabilities.  Erika informed the judge that her mom had been busy volunteering at the fair and that she had to bake the cookies all by herself.  The judge commented that the cookies may have cooked too long.  Erika informed the judge that the family liked the cookies that way—crispy on the edge and chewy in the middle.  Erika did get a blue ribbon on the cookies!
JoAnn has been a prominent fixture of the Fremont County 4-H program and fair for many years.  She helped as a 4-H mom, as a 4-H leader for 12 years, as a Fair Board member for 24 years, and 35 years as the cherry pie superintendent at the fair.  To some, cherry pie superintendent may not seem like a major or stressful job!  However, the 4-H’ers (70 last year) make their pie crusts in front of an audience, add the filling to the crust, and hand the pies over to JoAnn to bake.  They are then sold at auction to raise funds for the Citizenship Washington Focus trip.  The pies are a major fundraiser for the CWF 4-H’ers.  Some families request JoAnn to have her picture taken with the cherry pie bakers every year!
Asked about her involvement with the fair, JoAnn responded that she most enjoys BEING at the fair.  Seeing the beautiful painting and fabulous woodworking things at the fair is another source of enjoyment.  The most unusual exhibit was a child sized bulldozer that actually worked.  She loves to visit with people of all ages who make entries in the open class area. 


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Categories: Fremont

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