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It’s all for the kids

Webster County couple inducted into Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame

-Messenger photo by Kriss Nelson
Lonne and Karen Anderson, who have been selected for the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame, post at the Webster County Fairgrounds.

If you attended a race or truck pull last week at the Webster County Fairgrounds you can thank Lonne Anderson.

If you saw an advertisement, Facebook post or have enjoyed some of the open shows at the Webster County Fair in the past, you can thank Karen Anderson.

To recognize the Fort Dodge couple’s support of those efforts and the Webster County 4-H program, they are the most recent inductees into the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame for Webster County.

The couple said they found out about the honor in a peculiar way.

“We didn’t know until we found out on a Zoom call,” said Karen Anderson. “We were happy and excited. I have seen other people that have been chosen, it was never anything I thought would happen to us.”

“We appreciate it,” said Lonne Anderson. “It’s a cool deal.”

Although both Lonne and Karen Anderson are thrilled with the induction into the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame, they both agree, they’re not letting it get to their heads.

“It’s an honor, but it won’t change anything, we will just do what we do,” said Karen Anderson. “As long as we can do it, we will.”

Lindsay Kavanaugh, Webster County Iowa State University Extension and Outreach youth coordinator, is grateful for everything the Andersons have done for the Webster County 4-H program.

“Karen and Lonne are such a special and hardworking couple,” she said. “They are the type of people who would do anything for anyone and never expect anything in return. They spend countless volunteer hours helping with 4-H and fairgrounds related events out of the kindness of their hearts.”

A long 4-H career

It all started for Lonne Anderson as a youth. He was a member of the Clay Champions 4-H Club. He followed in his father’s footsteps by joining the Webster County Fair board for nine years. For eight of those years he served as president.

Lonne Anderson, who is sales manager and co-owner of Anderson Implement of Fort Dodge, looked at the future of the Webster County Fairgrounds, knowing it needed more events, so he helped to build the first tractor pulling track and racetrack.

“The idea was you got to have some place for the fair. You got to have things that support the fair,” he said. “It’s for the kids. That’s why we are having the fair. We’ve gone past the stage of where it’s just the kids come, get their stuff judged and go home and the buildings sit the rest of the year. You’ve got to be doing something to support the projects that are going on. You have to keep upgrading and you have to make the facilities better.”

Although no longer a member of the Webster County Fair board, Lonne Anderson can be seen helping anywhere he is needed throughout the fair and other times of the year, as well.

Karen Anderson, owner of Hearts Desire Beauty Shoppe in Otho, was a 4-H member of the Lehigh Leprechauns.

She supported her children throughout their 4-H careers, but it was later when she really became involved.

“I started getting more involved when they were going to cancel the teen dances,” she said. “I had some ideas of things they could change to be able to still have them. I went to one of the County Council meetings and I got asked to be on the Youth Committee. I was on the Youth Committee for many years.”

During her time serving on the Youth Committee, Karen Anderson helped with county interviews and record book judging.

“I have worked with so many great people,” she said. “I learned a lot from all of those people that were judging record books with me.”

Although Karen Anderson no longer serves on the Youth Committee, she continues to help with county interviews and record book judging.

“They kept asking me to come back and do interviews and come back and judge record books. So I did,” she said.

During a time when the Webster County Fair was struggling, Karen Anderson said she was asked to join the Webster County Fair board.

“They needed more people on the Fair board to get the fair built back up,” she said.

She was on the board for three years.

Karen Anderson felt serving on the Webster County Fair board wasn’t where she could do her best to help out.

“That’s not my priority,” she said. “The kid’s side –that’s more of my priority. I love listening to these kids and the ideas they have. They’re great –these kids have a lot of talent and so that’s the part that excites me so. I won’t leave because I like watching them.”

During her time on the Fair board, however, she served as vice president with the goal of trying to add more open shows and other events.

She also worked on a lot of the marketing for the Fair board and continues to do that today.

With the cancellation of the 4-H events and open shows at the Webster County Fair, both Lonne and Karen Anderson missed a lot.

For Karen Anderson, it was the open shows.

“I really missed the Bill Reilly show, because I got that back out here,” she said. “Then I always help with the open baking show. I also get in touch with people that do the trivia and help them out the night they do trivia, which is the night of the sweet corn feed. I missed the sweet corn feed.”

The couple has gotten to know many people with all of their years dedicated to helping at the Webster County Fair.

“A lot of it, I missed this year, was the people,” said Lonne Anderson.

The couple enjoys the family time they get each year at the Webster County Fair, as well. Often, all of their children and grandchildren will come back and they pitch right in and help.

“My favorite time is the fair, our kids come back,” said Karen Anderson. “They all call and say ‘I’m coming back. What can I do?”

Why 4-H?

Lonne and Karen Anderson both agree there are a lot of opportunities for youth to gain through the 4-H program.

“These kids learn,” said Lonne Anderson. “If you look at most 4-H kids, they have more common sense, they act better around people, they learn to be more outgoing with their public speaking and talking.”

Karen Anderson said 4-H’ers tend to be more goal oriented.

“These kids learn you have to set goals. You have a timeframe and some don’t get it done on time and that is a lesson learned,” she said.

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