Posted on August 28, 2017 at 8:50 AM by Emily Saveraid
Deb VanWaardhuizen has been involved in 4-H many years - starting as a member in two clubs in Warren County and later as project leader for the Franklin Friends 4-H Club of Marion County.
She exhibited photography, clothing and foods. Two of her proudest projects were making her prom dress and modeling it for the club’s annual “Spring Tea” and restoring a “camel-back” trunk that was exhibited at the Iowa State Fair.
While on vacation in 1974, she and her husband brought home a full grown St. Bernard. A couple years later, along came a litter of 11 pups. At the age of 4 months one pup was selected for dog training. After training a competition was held and she and her dog finished with a second placing overall.
Deb was bitten by the ‘bug of dog training’ once again when her eldest daughter joined 4-H. Additional helpers were needed for the training sessions and Deb stepped up. A few years later she assumed the role of dog project leader. She was responsible for starting the agility portion of dog training in Marion County, then other counties sought her help to start their own program.
During this time Deb started judging 4-H dog, pet, and goat shows in area counties. Her first dog show was the Ottumwa Expo with temps reaching 104 degrees. That show only lasted 4 hours!
She is extremely proud of their daughters as they continue to be involved with the 4-H dog training program. Last year Deb turned the superintendent role of the dog project over to her youngest daughter but she is still involved in training and guiding the fair’s dog show.
She is proud to say that all 7 of her grandchildren have now been involved in 4-H, with the youngest one in Clover Kids. And yes, the dogs were, most often, one of their projects.
Family has been a big factor for Deb to accomplish her leadership roles and she truly appreciates them for all their help. She also credits the Marion County extension staff for their support on more than one occasion.
Being part of the Marion County 4-H program has led to a lot of friendships throughout the state and Deb feels blessed to have this opportunity.