Area 4-H’ers are headed to the Iowa State Fair

Washington Winners leader will be inducted into the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame on Aug. 19

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
JoAnn Lennon, of Duncombe, poses with a photo of her and Webster County 4-H’ers in Washington, D.C. Lennon, co-leader of the Washington Winners 4-H club, is being inducted into the 4-H Hall of Fame this year.

DUNCOMBE — JoAnn Lennon is very active within Webster County 4-H, but that wasn’t always the case.

Though Lennon is a leader of the Washington Winners 4-H club, and has supported numerous 4-H activities, including chaperoning the Citizen Washington Focus Trip to Washington, D.C., she did not have a childhood rooted in the club.

Instead, she married into it.

“I married into a family that both my husband’s sisters were in it,” Lennon said. “Their cousin was a leader for 35 years, so it was just an obvious thing to get my children into it.”

When Lennon found out she was being inducted into the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame, not only she was surprised, but she felt she didn’t deserve it.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
JoAnn Lennon, of Duncombe, looks over a pillow with the 4-H creed on it at her home. Lennon is being inducted into the 4-H Hall of Fame this year at the conclusion of the Iowa State Fair.

She and her entire family will be at the state fairgrounds in Des Moines on Aug. 19 for the induction ceremony.

Though she wasn’t, all five of Lennon’s children, who range in age from 18 to 35, were involved in 4-H.

“Some really participated a lot and some of the other ones were move involved in sports,” she said. “They weren’t as involved in 4-H.”

In 2008, Lennon took on a new role in 4-H when she and her sister-in-law, Sharon Mitchell, were recommended as leaders for the Washington Winners. Linda Cline, who at the time was the 4-H county youth coordinator, asked if they were interested and Lennon said they both accepted.

“We led the meeting every month,” Lennon said. “We made sure that all the kids knew all the opportunities that 4-H was offering them so they could apply for trips or just keep on top of things. We helped them with the record books and the write-ups for the fair. We led the community service ideas and how to help out the community.”

Besides co-leading the Washington Winners, Lennon has had other involvement with 4-H as well.

“My kids have always been in the poultry and the rabbit (projects),” she said. “While I have not been one of the project leaders, whenever they need help doing whatever, I’m one of the ones that usually helps out. And I was privileged enough to go on the Washington, D.C. trip, when my fourth child went, as a chaperone.”

“That was the trip of a lifetime.”

Seeing first-hand how 4-H has impacted children has made Lennon a big supporter of the organization.

“Watching my own children develop their leadership, citizenship and communication skills,” she said. “All of my kids love doing the working exhibits, where they’d put something together and get kids to come in and make something and be educated.”

She’s seen kids go from scared fourth-graders too scared to even stand up in front of people to middle-schoolers confidently speaking to complete strangers.

“They are more aware of those around them because of the citizenship that they have instilled in them,” Lennon said. “They are able to communicate better and they are more willing to jump in and help the community be good members of society. And the make lifelong friends.”

In fact, Lennon admits that, after seeing her children and so many others go through 4-H, she wishes she had participated as a child.

Other area inductees include:

Dawn Clark

Calhoun County

Dawn Clark, of Lake City, served as the 4-H leader for the Jackson Pioneers 4-H club for 10 years.

During her tenure as leader, the Jackson Pioneers received a number of county and state awards. Several members also applied for and received 4-H scholarships.

Clark planned activities for the club that included trips to Perfect Games in Ames, bowling, annual picnics, swimming and helping to coordinate the club’s annual fundraiser.

“It was also very important for Dawn to provide several opportunities for her club to give back to their community in different civic engagement events,” Clark’s nomination form stated. “Some of the ways Dawn arranged for them to give back was delivering Meals on Wheels, packing snacks for farmers during harvest, volunteering at the local movie theater, collecting can(ned) goods for the local food pantries, and helping with different holiday events throughout the years.”

Additionally, for the past four years, Clark was a member of the Calhoun County Extension Council.

Clyde Johnson

Palo Alto County

The nomination form for Clyde Johnson, of West Bend, called his support of 4-H and FFA programs in Palo Alto County “truly astonishing,” and further stated that the organizations “have been a lifetime commitment for him.”

Johnson was involved in 4-H himself while growing up in Buffalo Center, and after graduating from college, became the West Bend-Mallard school’s FFA adviser in 1991, serving there for 17 years, then served in the same position at Laurens-Marathon from 2008 until his 2015 retirement.

He also served as the Fern Valley 4-H’ers club for eight years, and currently serves as vice president of the Palo Alto County Fair Board.

Additionally, he is the sheep/meat goat superintendent for the fair, and has helped run the livestock judging competitions at the county fair for more than 20 years.

Judy Krips

Pocahontas County

Judy Krips, of Havelock, has been involved in 4-H for her entire life.

As a child, her participation in 4-H included making a yellow sundress and baking cookies and breads.

After she left 4-H as a teenager, Krips continued to be involved, leading a group in Pocahontas County for 15 years. She also managed the 4-H food stand for 12 years.

Her daughters showed pigs for 4-H, and that led to Krips and her family starting their own business, Krips Kreations Show Pigs.

“This has really kept the family invested in not only the pigs, but also the importance of 4-H in our community,” her nomination form stated. “Judy is so grateful for the opportunity and is son honored to receive the 4-H Hall of Fame award.”

Krips also believes that 4-H helps youths to become more involved in the community, and that it creates challenges for those involved as well as helps create lasting memories.

She said that she is still friends with many people she met while in 4-H.

Faye Kuhlmann

Kossuth County

Faye Kuhlmann was not in 4-H herself, but she’s been very actively involved in the group for decades after her three oldest children joined the Cresco Chums 4-H club.

In 1972, Kuhlmann became a leader of the club and spent more than 20 years in that position.

She also spent “countless hours” developing the 4-H program book, according to her nomination form.

In 1998, she began serving as the inaugural chairperson of the Friends of Kossuth Youth and 4-H Foundation, a position she still holds today.

“Faye and her late husband, Robert, coached and encouraged their four children; Bob, Kathy, Casey and Mike and numerous other youth through the Kossuth County 4-H program,” the nomination form stated. “They encouraged them to participate in club activities as well as county and state activities.”

Rich and Jan Mason

Sac County

Rich and Jan Mason, of Early, have both been actively involved in Sac County 4-H. Both were leaders of the Early Achievers 4-H club for five years, and have helped with the county’s horse show for more than 20 years.

Despite being retired as 4-H leaders, the Masons still help out with the Early Achievers, assisting the 4-H club with data entry every year.

“Rich and Jan support the club’s fundraising efforts for Relay for Life by attending the club’s annual Valentine Dinner,” the Masons’ nomination form said. “They faithfully help on the state level with the Iowa 4-H Foundation Golf Tournament and support 4-H at the annual Iowa 4-H Awards Gala where they have purchased many delicious cakes.”

The couple has also received other honors over the past few years. Jan Mason was named one of Iowa’s top 100 nurses in 2014, and Rich Mason was inducted into the Iowa Draft Pony Association Hall of Fame during last year’s state fair.

Marilyn Middleton

Hamilton County

Marilyn Middleton, of Webster City, has spent 20 years serving as a board member of the Hamilton County 4-H Foundation, where she has been an advocate for the organization.

Among her contributions to 4-H is her annual speech she gives to 4-H members and families at the organization’s awards night.

“In her speech, she simultaneously stirs passion towards further involvement from our members, while also encouraging the caring adults to support our program through service and giving,” her nomination form stated.

Middleton has also traveled throughout Iowa as a 4-H judge.

“Hamilton County 4-H is strong, vibrant, and growing thanks to years of service by many, such as Marilyn,” the nomination form said.