Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on August 24, 2015 at 4:30 PM by Global Reach

Ruth SchmalenbergerWhile contributions can be measured in many ways, the ultimate contributions most important to any 4-H program are those that keep strong the legacy of learning by doing.  In the case of Ruth Schmalenberger, her contributions have not only expanded the legacy and importance of the 4-H program through her family, but others with her volunteer work and financial support.  The lives and futures Ruth has touched is over eight decades long.  This includes family members, local club members, state scholarship recipients and others connected to the 4-H program and a future in Iowa’s agricultural industry.   

Since the early 1930’s, Ruth has been committed to the values the program inspired in young people and their families.  Ruth’s life was transformed early on as a member.  As a member of the Nifty Newark 4-H club, Ruth completed many project categories of the day.  Soon after her completion of a college degree, marriage and building her own family, Ruth was a club leader.  In fact regardless of her volunteer role in the local 4-H program, Ruth, found passion in sharing her skills and interests with local 4-H club participants.  Ruth’s skill, passion and values in keeping track of her own family’s history was shared with others early on as she shared her interests in photography by volunteering time to help young members of the Newark Beavers keep track annually of their activities and projects through their local historian’s book.   

Ask her sons, Steven and John, about Ruth’s impact on their 4-H experiences which came from a passed on dedication documenting ‘the story’ of a project, the year and lessons learned.  From her granddaughters’ perspective, it was passing down the history through refinishing a family heirloom or showing support by attending 4-H functions they participated in on the local, state and sometimes national levels.  Most importantly, Ruth’s experience and contribution to her family and the 4-H program is in the act of being a support however it may be to the developing skill set of a youth member.  Her passions for the stories that we all learn from has since transcended through her sons and two granddaughters most recently to her eldest great grandchild who has completed four years as a Clover Kid and is a current first year 4-Her in Madison County, IA.  The younger great grandchildren also hold 4-H close to their hearts as they attend and serve as helpers with their parents’ many 4-H volunteer responsibilities. 

While Ruth’s priority in experiencing the learning story has no doubt been impactful to her family, she too has contributed to many others that have been involved in the 4-H program.  For several decades Ruth has endowed through sponsorship the Carl and Ruth Schmalenberger Scholarship through the Iowa 4-H Foundation.  It’s through this investment that Ruth has helped many young adults start a leadership path in Agriculture. It is with this investment in the future and commitment to the interests of our youth that Ruth’s passion and legacy will live on through the current and future leaders she has invested in personally through scholarship support. 

Ruth has missed few Webster County Fairs.  She has attended over 150 county and state fairs to support 4-Her’s.  One of her grandchildren’s earliest memories was looking at 4-H exhibits with her.  She has been a   4-Her, a volunteer, a 4-H parent, grandparent, great grandparent and supporter. Ruth’s love for learning by doing has inspired her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren to become active 4-Hers, volunteers and supporters.  Ruth’s contributions to the Iowa 4-H program are not limited to these achievements. 

Ruth lives her life to make the best better. 



Categories: Webster

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