Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on August 24, 2015 at 9:41 AM by Global Reach

Gene and Sharell FritzGene and Sharell Fritz’s life-long passions began in 4-H.  Both began their 4-H career in 1951.  Their parents were club leaders, and Sharell’s grandmother was also a leader.  They have guided two more generations of youth in 4-H; their own three children:  Melissa, Greg, and Guthrey and grandchildren.

Gene’s love of raising cattle began in 4-H.  He was a member of the Westside Feeders livestock club.  He has fond memories of playing softball with his club on Sunday afternoons, but everyone had to be home in time to do chores.  His passion for cattle led him to assist with starting the Pottawattamie County Fair livestock sale, as well as the Santa Gertrudis Open Show at the Iowa State Fair in the 1980’s.  Gene continues to feed cattle everyday on the farm. 

Sharell was first a member of the Knox Four Leaf Clover Club, then the Botna Valley Blue Belles.  When she was in 4-H, members studied one project area per year.  She remembers four sisters working on four sewing machines at once, each creating fair exhibits.  Sharell’s hand sewn shirt-waist dress, with covered buttons, was her only exhibit ever selected for the Iowa State Fair.  Sharell’s Home Grounds Improvement project developed into a life-long love for gardening.  Sharell shared her passion helping as an Open Class Superintendent at the fair, following the steps of her parents and grandparents.  Today, Sharell enjoys not only flower gardening, but sewing, and spending time with her grandkids, as well as traveling with Gene.  One of their travels led them to re-visit Camp Minnewanka in Michigan, fifty years after Sharell camped there, as a 4-H youth. 

Gene and Sharell were married in 1961 and lived on the farm until moving to town in 2003.  While Gene was building his farming career, Sharell spent a couple of years in nursing to pay for their first tractor.  Like their parents, Gene and Sharell were each 4-H club leaders.  Gene was a leader of the Westside Feeders.  Sharell was a leader of both the Gene and Sharell Fritz receiving awardWestside Feeders and the West Nishna Belles.  As leaders, they both remember evaluating record books, Sharell sometimes working at it until three in the morning.  Gene has fond memories of club livestock tours, where forty to fifty cars would parade to member homes, and conclude with a potluck.  Sharell remembers organizing club achievement shows where member exhibits were selected to go to the county fair.  Their trips to exhibit 4-H livestock at the Iowa State Fair, often led to chaperoning ten kids sleeping in the same motel room. 

To the Fritz’s, 4-H is a pleasant way of life and a great way to bring up youth to become better adults.  Learning Parliamentary Procedure in 4-H has given them the ability to conduct meetings and keep minutes in organizations in which they are involved.  Keeping and finishing records has become part of their vocation for their family and farm.

Gene and Sharell are Honorary Members of East Pottawattamie 4-H, members of the Oakland Saddle Club, and of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Oakland, where Sharell has given many years as their treasurer and secretary.  Gene is a past president of the Iowa Santa Gertrudis Association and they continue to be members of the Mid-America Santa Gertrudis Association.

Categories: Pottawattamie (East)

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