Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on August 9, 2013 at 9:04 AM by Global Reach


Kenneth GilchristIn 1972 Kenneth Gilchrist started a boys’ 4-H club in the Douds area, which was named the Douds Livewires with 10 boys joining that first year. The year before this club began, only one animal had been entered in the Van Buren County fair from the area and that was from the girls’ club. Eventually, there were 35 head of cattle entered from the two clubs.

Besides working with the boys and girls on their cattle projects, Kenny met with members of the two clubs interested in horse projects. Every Wednesday evening they worked on the fundamentals of 4-H horse events. Three of the club members achieved top horse honors at the Van Buren County Fair that year.

The Gilchrist’s two children were both in 4-H showing both cattle & horses. Their son was recognized with the “Outstanding 4-H Boy” award in 1981. He showed Red Angus cattle at the Iowa State Fair.  He is still interested in 4-H and sponsors trophies. He is an auctioneer, and helps with the county 4-H livestock auction. Their daughter had exhibits selected for the Iowa State Fair. It was a family affair, with parents helping the kids get their exhibits ready for the county fair. The week of the fair they stayed the whole week in their camper. They were there for them and encouraged them in all that they did.

Kenny was on the Van Buren County Fair Board serving as president for three years. He also served as cattle superintendent and was on the Extension Council from 1977-1980 and served as president. 

More recently in 2003, Kenny and his wife were a part of the group that started the Iowa Meat Goat Association.   He was on the board of this organization for 6 years. During this time, through the influence of the IMGA, the Iowa State Fair Board decided to allow meat goats to be shown, but were placed on probation. Since that first year of allowing meat goats into the show ring at the Iowa State Fair, its popularity has grown. It now includes many of these animals, mostly the Boer goat breed, being shown by 4-H and FFA clubs and is now regarded as an important entity to the fair. He helped introduce the showing of Boer goats at the Van Buren County Fair.

Besides the learning experiences for the boys & girls, we also had fun. One year at the 4-H sale the auctioneer knocked off 14 rabbits to Kenny. This got a big laugh from the crowd. After the sale, a 4-H girl wanted to buy one of the rabbits. Rather than selling one he gave her one. Other 4-H kids wanted a rabbit so Kenny continued to hand them out. He also sponsored a rabbit trophy at the recognition event. It stood a foot higher than other trophies. The next year there were so many rabbits entered, additional cages were needed.

After starting the 4-H club in 1972, Kenny remained as 4-H leader until 1980. After 41 years, the Douds Livewire 4-H Club is still going strong impacting the community by the ideals which it teaches. Kenny and his family are thankful for the opportunities 4-H provided

Categories: Van Buren

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