Posted on August 23, 2020 at 12:00 PM by Global Reach
Owen “John” Kalsem has been involved in the 4-H program his entire life. Whether he was a 4-H member/exhibitor, parent/4-H leader, Story County Extension Council member, Story County Fair Board member or just a lover of 4-H, he found himself involved at the local, county, and state level.
John grew up on the Kalsem farm northwest of Huxley, which has been part of the family for well over 125 years. He, along with his brother, David, and late father, Orville, have all been recognized as Master Farmers.
John followed in his father’s footsteps and became an active 4-Her in both the western horse and beef cattle projects. He has fond memories of club tours and showing his club calves and horses during the county and state fairs as a member of the Palestine Peppy Pushers 4-H club.
During the 1940’s, when John was growing up, one of his goals was to win grand champion steer at the Story County Fair, and he was thrilled to achieve that goal his final year. As an avid collector, John still has the $204 bill he paid when he purchased that winning steer.
Once John became a parent, he continued his involvement as a 4-H leader with his children Jeff, Sharon, Karen and Clint. He was dedicated to teaching them the importance of setting and carrying out goals for a variety of projects, as well as caring for, working with, and practicing showmanship with their animals. Each year he helped organize the annual club tour for local 4-H members.
John served on the Story County Fair Board, was president of the Extension Council, and was the horse and cattle superintendent at the county fair various years. Whenever there was an opportunity to help, he was eager to lend his support.
John, along with his wife, Ann, enjoyed working with youth and served as chaperones for a group of 4-H’ers taking the Story County Chicago Award’s trip. He can still recount the names of the 4-H’ers who took that trip and the fun they had. With a lifelong love of riding and showing horses, John went on to judge county 4-H horse shows across Iowa. He also led horse judging clinics at the Story County Fair and serving as an official judge at Iowa’s state horse judging contest.
You'd never guess it, due to his good genes and strong Norwegian blood, but John is 89 years young, and remains an enthusiastic promoter of 4-H.