Posted on August 24, 2015 at 9:39 AM by Global Reach
Marla Mass’s first experience with 4-H began as a nine year old when she joined the Wapsie Best 4-H club. Little did she know the impact 4-H would have on her life.
As a 4-H’er, she enrolled in the usual projects, home improvement, food & nutrition, photography, sewing, and market and breeding beef. Marla was an active member of her club, participating in every workshop, trip, and activity, loving every minute of it. A yearly highlight was showing her beef animals at the Iowa State Fair. Staying in the fairground dorms became an opportunity to create many fond fun memories.
When Marla’s kids became old enough to create 4-H memories, she took on the challenge of 4-H leadership, a position she loved for 18 years. She kept her club active in county events and activities, planning overnight club trips, workshops, making sure her club members had the great memories and opportunities to learn as she did.
Marla’s story sounds typical of many 4-H alumni, paying back as an adult to the program that gave her so much in her youth. However, her claim to fame goes beyond the regular duties of a leader by bringing back the Kiddie Barnyard to the Muscatine County Fair and adding a Hall of Fame. The Kiddie Barnyard had gone by the wayside over the years due to the inability to find a volunteer to set it up, locating animals, and managing it throughout the fair. Also, the pens needed updating with new gates.
The Hall of Fame was an idea Marla had to add to the history of the fair. Many fair goers are past 4-H and FFA members and the fair is a perfect place to reminisce about the “good old days”. Her idea was to gather up old photos and news clippings, copy the originals, frame, and hang them across the aisle from the Kiddie Barnyard for all to view. Her idea was also to provide a place where people can hang out and talk about the “good old days”, provide water and snacks for them to enjoy, and a few board games if someone wanted to kill some time.
The problem was her ideas took money. Marla rallied her club members to prepare a community wide meal that has raised huge amounts of funds. All of the food was homemade by club members, including pie. Thousands of dollars were raised for both projects, allowing the club to not only get the Kiddie Barnyard and Hall of Fame up and running, but sustained for several years. After Marla’s retirement in 2012, club has continued her legacy by setting up and taking down both additions to the fair.
Muscatine County is proud to honor Marla Maas for her dedication and willingness to take on the big projects, teaching her club members wonderful life skills in fundraising and giving back to their community.