Heading to 4-H Hall of Fame

Rick and Sue Hammen to represent Wright County

-Submitted photo
Rick and Sue Hammen, of Clarion, were named to the 2019 Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame, representing Wright County.

CLARION — While neither Rick or Sue Hammen were 4-H club members as youth, they were both honored as Honorary 4-H’ers from Wright County in the past. He received the honor in 2004; she received it in 2009.

Now they will be inducted in the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 18 during ceremonies at the 4-H Exhibit Building. The event recognizes volunteers or staff who have made a significant contribution to Iowa 4-H. The couple is being recognized for parts of four decades as volunteers in Wright County.

While the couple resides in Clarion, they are crop and livestock farmers north of Clarion.

“I was raised in Belmond,” said Sue Hammen. “Rick was raised in Clarion.”

It was Rick Hammen who first became involved in 4-H as part of the Wright County Cattlemen’s Association.

“It was 1987 when I started volunteering to help grill at the 4-H food stand,” he said. “The next year I helped with the fundraiser to build the enclosed food stand.”

He continues to be involved in grilling with representatives for the county’s pork producers. He and Ron Spangler switch shifts, with one of them being “on duty” during the five-day run of each fair.

Their two daughters, both Clarion-Goldfield graduates — Kelly in 2005 and Katie in 2009 — were eight-year members of the Lake Clovers 4-H Club.

“At one time, we exhibited nearly every kind of animal,” said Rick Hammen. “Every night we looked like a feed truck arriving at the fair.”

The couple has been involved in Wright County’s bucket and bottle calf program since its beginning. Every year they spend time with other couples, interviewing the young exhibitors, prior to each year’s fair.

“During the interview, we tell the kids, we will look them up in the barns at the fair to see them with their calves. And we do,” said Rick Hammen.

This is the first year their granddaughter will be one of the 38 exhibitors of bucket and bottle calves at the Sunday show.

Sue Hammen, who is compliance administrator at First Citizens Bank in Clarion, works with Mike Marshall, leading the Clarion-Goldfield-Dows 4-H and FFA buying group.

“We work to get businesses, organizations, and individuals together to buy 4-H’ers’ livestock at each fair auction,” she said. “We want to be sure that all the kids get a good price for their efforts. We don’t want to leave anyone out.”

She also served several years at the co-leader of their girls’ 4-H club with Cindy Marshall.

Both Hammens were surprised and humbled by their selection to represent Wright County as this year’s 4-H Hall of Fame inductees.

“We are more behind the scenes people,” said Rick Hammen. “It is, and always has been, about the kids.”