4-H volunteer continues family tradition
By Becky Long Chaney/For Farm News
The saying goes, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” and in Linda Hedges’ case, nothing could be truer. A 20-year 4-H volunteer from Jefferson, Iowa, Hedges is proud that she comes from a family with a history rich in 4-H.
Hedges grew up in the 4-H program in Greene County, where her mother found time to be a 4-H volunteer, while raising eight kids. She even has an award pin her late father received for showing beef in the 1930s.
Still a resident of Greene County today, Hedges continues her family’s 4-H tradition; she and her husband, Randy, are leaders of the Greenbrier 4-H Club – 32 kids strong.
“I was a nine-year member of 4-H and I like what I learned from it,” said Hedges. “I wanted to help my children, as well as others, learn more about communication, leadership and citizenship, while working in project areas like foods, clothing and animal science.”
The 4-H enthusiast said the organization develops responsibility, teamwork and communication skills in young people.
“4-H is a unique organization where time is taken to let young and old youth of differing abilities and interests learn to work together for the betterment of society,” said Hedges. “Under good leadership, these youth see the value of caring for others, working together, making good decisions, while they are learning about subject matter of interest to them – leading to a career choice in the future.”
Hedges stated that being a volunteer is investing in the country by helping youth become responsible adults, with the skills to make a living and be active participants in their communities. She believes “4-H can change a child’s world.”
“Every child should have the opportunity to experience the warm feeling of a caring adult that they know supports him or her and will help guide them in learning,” Hedges said. “There are so many options in 4-H to offer kids, but we need good mentors to guide them. It is fun to watch youth grow and learn, and accomplish things they never thought they could.”
Iowa State University Extension 4-H Youth Development Program Specialist Annette Brown believes that it takes committed volunteers like Hedges to have a successful 4-H program.
“Linda is dedicated, reliable, patient, and caring,” said Brown. “She values positive youth development which can be seen in the 4-H’ers she has mentored as a club leader as well as her own children.”
During the 20 years Brown has worked with Hedges, she’s seen firsthand how Hedges had juggled many clubs and 4-H activities. “Linda most definitely makes a difference in the lives of the youth she touches through 4-H,” Brown said. “Youth are learning leadership, communication, citizenship, personal life management skills and gaining knowledge to use today as well as into the future.”
Hedges was honored to be a workshop presenter at this year’s State 4-H Volunteer Retreat on Saturday, Feb. 27, at Des Moines Area Community College Campus.
“The biggest reason I like to attend is the encouragement I receive each year,” said Hedges. “There are motivational speakers and others who tell 4-H success stories, or how 4-H has benefited their community, companies or work places. It is inspiring to hear how the hard work put in by 4-H leaders is recognized across the country. I always come home pumped with ideas and a renewed energy to start on the next year.”
Sponsored by Monsanto and a project of the ISU Extension, the 4-H Retreat will provide opportunities for volunteers to network and learn about innovative programs that will help bring fresh perspectives and activities to Iowa 4-H programs.
Monsanto supports volunteers across the country through its sponsorship of the National 4-H Volunteer Initiative, which provides leadership forums nationwide. Monsanto is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality.
“We are proud to support the dedication of 4-H volunteers across the country as they help youth become active citizens and community leaders,” said John Raines, Monsanto Vice President of Customer Advocacy, U.S. Seed and Traits Division. “As a company whose only focus is agriculture, Monsanto is committed to investing in the volunteers who nurture our youth, the future of the agriculture industry.”
Monsanto sponsors 4-H volunteer development programs in Iowa and 48 additional states and three U.S. territories. The company also sponsors four Regional 4-H Volunteer Forums.
Chris Gleason, ISU 4-H Program Specialist, appreciates Monsanto’s continued support.
“These youth are at the highest level of achievement because of the many caring adult volunteers in their lives,” said Gleason. “Monsanto’s support of volunteer training enables Iowa 4-H to make sure volunteers have the skills they need to mentor 4-H members throughout their 4-H experience.”
In addition to being a dedicated 4-H volunteer and the mother of four adult children, Hedges has been a substitute teacher for 30 years. She and her husband were inducted into the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame and join 10,000 other Iowan 4-H volunteers in their commitment to youth across the state.
Please Enter Your Facebook App ID. Required for FB Comments. Click here for FB Comments Settings page