Posted on August 28, 2017 at 8:31 AM by Emily Saveraid
It was inevitable that Tom Wall would be a 4-Her. His parents, John and Mary Ellen Wall, were 4-Hers as youth. Tom observed his older Wall cousins working with their beef projects each summer.
When he became old enough, Tom joined the Graham Champions 4-H Club. It was fun making new friends, attending the meetings and events and showing his hogs and calves at the club tours, county, and state fairs along with his sister, Mary.
But he was also learning to keep accurate records, public speaking skills,to work with others, and to be a leader.
Tom went to many of the 4-H activities offered – livestock judging contests, camps, County Council, State Conference, National 4-H Congress, etc. As he got older, Tom realized what he had gained from 4-H. Those life-skills he gained as a 10-year member shaped him as an adult.
When he returned to Wall Farms after receiving his Iowa State farm operations degree, he returned to help young people gain those life skills he had developed during his 4-H career.
Tom joined his mother as a Graham Champions leader. Mary Ellen retired in 2016 after 40 years as a leader. Tom, in his 34 years as a leader, always said he was going to surpass his mother’s tenure; however, a farming accident in late May of 2016 ended Tom’s life. The Graham Champions members led the 4-H pledge to end his visitation.
Tom took pride in watching each 4-H member grow and accomplish goals including his three children. The club grew from around 20 to more than 60 members during his tenure.
The Graham Champions, under Tom’s leadership, were always among the fruit sale leaders, raising over $50,000 over the years to benefit 4-H, members, extension, the Johnson County Fair and the community. Part of the profits funded Graham Champions member grants, enabling members to attend 4-H camps and state 4-H conference. The club also donated to the Johnson County Extension Office, horse arena, the Solon Library and the 4-H’ers for 4-H campaign.
Tom was a six-year member of the Johnson County Youth Development Committee and the Johnson County Fair Board. During his time on the board he was an advocate for the extension office rebuilding on the fairgrounds. He served as superintendent of the Johnson County Fair’s Swine Department for 25 years and organized the 4-Hers serving at the Special Olympics Banquet for 15 years.
The Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame is an honor for a lifetime of service. For Tom Wall, that service started as a youth and extended for his entire life.