Joyce Johnson’s involvement with the Page County 4-H program began in 1972 when a group of girls started a new club, the Peppy Pals. Her oldest daughter was a charter member. To support their daughters, all the farm moms were designated as project leaders. Joyce was the Food and Nutrition leader. Each month she would host a program so the girls could improve their skills, like learning how to cook a meal outside. After a few years, Joyce was the Peppy Pals club leader and was asked to help in the Horse Division.
Joyce became one of the mainstays of the Horse Division. She assisted in whatever needed to be done at fun days, horse camps, and the two-day horse show at the Page County Fair. As her family grew to five children, each deeply involved in 4-H, she took three days of “vacation” from her job at a local factory to occupy the crow’s nest for more than 36 years.
Joyce spent many hours before the Page County Fair working closely with the Extension staff to ensure the 4-H members had correct class entries. Then, she assembled programs and gathered supplies. She took great pride in making sure everything was organized before the horse show. Invariably, some problem appeared at the last minute that she fixed behind the scenes so the show would run like clockwork.
Even after her children completed their 4-H careers, Joyce continued to manage the crow’s nest. She thoroughly enjoyed seeing the youth succeed with their horse projects and formed special bonds with many 4-H members. After her retirement, her 4-H responsibilities expanded to helping at the Page County Extension office during the year. She prepared teaching aids for summer camps and the Afterschool program and worked on special projects.
In 2012, Joyce received a thank you letter from a former 4-H youth who often was very vocal when things did not go her way at the horse show. She is now the mother of a 4-H member. She thanked Joyce for putting up with her “when she was young and knew everything!” and for always being there when she had a question. She was so appreciative of Joyce’s patience. In her letter she wrote, “You were one of the people who helped me become the successful person I am today.” Joyce laughed and then cried before she finished reading the letter. For her, helping all those years was never about self-satisfaction, it was about helping children learn and grow into responsible adults.