Posted on August 22, 2022 at 10:51 AM by Cade Cameron
Bart and Jody Pals have 4-H in their blood. Bart’s 4-H journey started as a youngster showing chickens at the Hancock County fair and the Iowa State Fair. Bart’s love of poultry never faded, and he has served as the Cerro Gordo County poultry superintendent for 38 years. He has extensive knowledge of poultry and has enjoyed judging countless poultry shows on the local, state, and international levels. While judging 4-H shows, he makes sure the exhibitors know about their birds but also about the basics of 4-H. His favorite way to test members’ knowledge is to ask what the four H's stand for during showmanship. The competition is important, but the foundation of 4-H is just as important in his eyes. Bart enjoys nothing more than helping a young 4-H member get started in a project by teaching the basics, from washing a broiler or learning how to make a stained-glass project.
Bart and Jody's children wanted to join 4-H in Cerro Gordo County. In 1998, Bart and Jody contacted their local county extension and realized there was not a club in Mason City. So, they took it upon themselves and were instrumental in starting the Mason City Challengers 4-H Club. They also single-handedly changed the perspective of 4-H in Mason City. There are not many families with livestock in Mason City. To build a club they had to convince people that 4-H is more. Their club was one of the most successful clubs at showing static 4-H exhibits. They also focused on community service, and communications presentations, and conducted workshops on project areas to build knowledge. As leaders, Bart and Jody made sure to teach many of the important values of 4-H such as leadership, parliamentary procedure, and community service. Jody was always doing the behind-the-scenes actions; balancing funds, baking, scheduling meetings, and coordinating share-the-fun practices. Her selfless service was imperative to the success of the club. The Mason City Challengers 4-H Club was created over 20 years ago, Bart and Jody continued as leaders until 2020, well after their children graduated.
Together Bart and Jody positively influenced countless lives and families in Cerro Gordo County. They exuded the 4-H motto “To make the best, better” with their time, commitment, and passion over the years. Their dedication shows they truly pledged their “hands to larger service” for Cerro Gordo County 4-H.