Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on August 21, 2023 at 2:19 PM by Emily Saveraid

Van BurenRichard became a 4-H leader in 1975 when his son, David wanted to join 4-H. Richard gathered up some local kids and formed a club called the “Village Bucks”. His daughter, Jennifer, joined the club in 1977. The club focused on agriculture and the environment. 

Richard always said “everything is tied to agriculture” and he proved it. He was also enthusiastic about wildlife and conservation and he tried to instill that into the meetings and projects. One of the club projects was an area called the “Wildlife ditch”, where the club planted evergreen trees and made habitat for game birds and small animals. Another club project was erecting a big town sign in Selma Iowa in 1978 and rehabilitating the play area for the kids and, in true Richard humor, painted the outhouses in the park bright baby blue and bright pink. That sign still stands and was repainted in 1991 by an old club member He was instrumental in the sheep project area at the county fair and was a big influence in building the sheep barn and sheep pens. To build the sheep project area, Richard developed an activity called the “Sheep scramble”. After the ewe lambs were turned loose in the show ring, 4-H members that tagged a lamb were able to receive ownership and returned the following year to exhibit the ewe lamb. Many youth got their start in the sheep industry by this activity. 

Richard was also the organizer of the “Commodity suppers” held at the fair. Each night during the fair the sheep producers, pork producers and cattlemen would serve a free meal highlighting their commodity meat. These meals were always a hit and were looked forward to by not only the youth, but their families. 

Combining his high school teaching career with being a 4-H leader, Richard took great pride in passing his knowledge and passion about agriculture and the environment to the future generations. 4-H was an organization that gave him the opportunity to have a positive influence on the local youth. Many of his club members still joke about his ability to turn a brush pile into a wildlife refuge.

Categories: 2023, Van Buren

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