Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on August 21, 2018 at 3:16 PM by Global Reach

Maryln Johnson started raising llamas in 1988. This year will be her 27th llama show at the Hardin County Fair and her 27th year as llama superintendent. In 1991 it all started with two pens under a tree by the show ring. At that time, Jim Johnson was the Extension Director and wanted Maryln and Allen to bring their llamas to create a new fairgrounds attraction. Over those 27 years, Marlyn has had 441 4-Hers participate in the llama project, with an average of 18 kids per year. There were four kids the first year and one year she had 32!


Each spring, Maryln and Allen opened their farm to host classes on weekends from late April to fair time. The 4-Hers would learn proper handling of the llamas and the showing procedures. The Johnson’s would supply the llamas to show as well as the halters, leads, feed and all the show supplies needed for each participant. Some 4-Hers would also go to open shows in Iowa and Maryln and Allen would transport the llamas and essential gear for them and help and encourage them along the way. Maryln Johnson

Maryln has been honored as a founding member of the Iowa Llama Association, holding the treasurer’s position for 8 years. She also received the Governor’s Volunteer Award in 1997 for her 4-H work. Hardin County had the first llama project in the state and Maryln started llama projects in nine other counties in Iowa and two counties in Minnesota. She has also judged 4-H and open shows in Iowa, Minnesota, and Missouri. Three of her students have gone on to become judges and one of those is also a national judge.

Allen was by her side for every show helping overcome any obstacles, driving the trailer to shows, visiting with many friends they made throughout the years and spending time as the ring ‘pooper scooper’!

Llamas created a new interest for kids, with a lower capital investment than other animals and allowing those kids to be in 4-H. A neat fact is that some of her early 4-Her’s now have kids that are in her group! One of Maryln’s greatest joys was having her grandsons Colin and Dylan Johnson show llamas.

Sadly, Allen passed away in 2017, but his memory and all he contributed to the Hardin County Fair will always be remembered. According to Allen and Maryln’s family, “Our family is very proud of what mom and dad have done over the years for and with 4-H. I know dad is smiling down on mom saying, ‘good job honey, this award is well deserved’ ”.

Categories: 2018, Hardin

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