OYENS – Thirty years working with Plymouth County 4-H’ers has not dulled Carol Schneider’s desire to help them become responsible adults.
Having left Iowa State University Extension to teach sixth-grade pupils at Gehlen Catholic School, in Le Mars, Schneider said, “I hope in both instances I have and can today continue to inspire these young people to make the most of their lives and their future careers.”
Schneider was the recipient of two 2014 awards for her years of working with youths – Farm Bureau Service to Agriculture Award and 4-H Hall of Fame induction.
Most of her professional career was spent with ISU Extension working with 4-H youths in Plymouth, Cherokee, Polk and Mills counties.
In 2013, Schneider resigned as Plymouth County Extension director to take the teaching post in Le Mars.
Schneider said receiving the 2014 4-H Hall of Fame honor, presented during the Iowa State Fair, was an honor both humbling as well as meaningful, especially in light that she joins others she respected that were inducted before her.
She said the Plymouth County Farm Bureau’s Service to Agriculture Award, presented last spring, came as a total surprise.
Schneider said she and her pupils were called to the school library for an expected announcement of a future field trip, when the ceremony was held.
The awards cap three decades of Extension service beginning as an alumnus of the Mills County Franklin Friendly Farmerettes and Happy-Go-Lucky 4-H clubs, while attending school in Gilbert. Following graduation from ISU, Schneider worked in Polk and Mills County before arriving in Plymouth County in 1980 just in time to take on responsibilities at the Plymouth County Fair.
The pre-fair organization and fair week would would find Schneider with non-stop days in order to assist the county’s enthusiastic 4-H membership.
While dividing her time with husband, John, rearing two children, Schneider directed efforts to organize new 4-H clubs, including the Fredonia County club and taking on leadership of the Classy Clovers 4-H Club.
She assisted in the formation of the Plymouth County Foundation and held a chair position with the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce.
Schneider’s co-workers said she is known for putting her heart in everything she does.
They said her “professionalism and leadership skills and encouragement” have been responsible for bringing out the best in her co-workers as well as 4-H’ers, especially youths participating in Washington Focus trips.
Schneider said her new role in the classroom is similar to working with 4-H’ers.
“The response of the 4-H members to learning the lessons of working hard, giving leadership when you can and at the same time using the opportunity for self-discovery and goal-setting has been evident as I’ve watched these young people grow and become a part of their respective communities,” she said.
A number of her former 4-H’ers have since become her students at Gehlen. She said others comment that “everybody has been your 4-H’er.”
Schneider said 4-H work has changed, but the goals remain the same – help youths face the future.
“While some of the foundation principles remain solid for its membership,” Schneider said, “(4-H) has adapted with the advent of urban clubs to reach young people with added project opportunities to help them grow.
“We as adults have the responsibility to make it happen be it as volunteers, as Extension workers or educators.
“There’s little more rewarding than hearing my students or 4-H members ask what they can do for service or leadership in the community and to know that we can be responsible for helping make their decisions responsible ones showing respect for all.”
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