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Wisconsin inducts nine into 4-H Hall of Fame

University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension
Wisconsin 4-H Hall of Fame

Wisconsin 4-H Youth Development has announced this year's Hall of Fame Laureates including nine volunteers, supporters, and staff who have impacted Wisconsin 4-H.

“As I read the biographies of these laureates, I was amazed at all they have each accomplished and feel sincere gratitude for their tireless championing of 4-H,” said Dondieneita Fleary-Simmons, Wisconsin 4-H Program Manager in a news release. “It is an honor to recognize these laureates for their leadership and contribution to 4-H in Wisconsin. My commitment to these individuals is to uphold their legacy by continuing the great work that they started so many years ago, the work of developing civically engaged leaders, and creating opportunities-4-all youth to belong to and thrive in this life-changing organization.”

The Wisconsin 4-H Hall of Fame was established to recognize 4-H volunteers, financial supporters, staff and pioneers who made major contributions to the 4-H movement at the local, state and national levels. The candidates represent 4-H in the broadest sense – people who had an impact on the lives of children, their community or state through significant contributions of time, energy or financial resources to 4-H and its members.

2020 HOF Laureates

Kay Hobler

Kay Hobler, retired 4-H Youth Development Outreach Specialist

Kay Hobler joined the Wisconsin State 4-H Staff in 1993 as International Programs Assistant and retired in 2016 as Distinguished Outreach Specialist. In that role, she coordinated WI youth participation in state, national, and international programs. She says nothing could have prepared her for those roles, except for traits of being inquisitive, open minded, and committed.

Every day provided an interesting learning opportunity, even after 24 years! Kay loved observing the positive program results and exchanging ideas with youth, volunteers, and county, state, national, and international colleagues. 

National borders did not limit Kay’s efforts, as she coordinated annual WI 4-H International Exchanges and facilitated national trainings for colleagues in the field. She strengthened host family screening and trainings while collaborating with States 4-H International Programs, the WI IFYE Association, and colleagues to improve support, preparation, and reflection for participants.

Joe and Linda Pribek

Linda and Joe Pribek, Wisconsin 4-H Horse Association

Kewaunee County 4-H Leaders since 1980, Linda and Joe Pribek are synonymous with the Wisconsin 4H Horse Project. Each served as a State 4-H Horse Association Director and Officer during the early development of the program and continued to give key leadership throughout its growth and success. Linda is the Executive Secretary since 1997, handling responsibilities that helped the Wisconsin 4-H Horse Expo grow to almost 1000 youth participants at its peak.

The Pribeks have been integral in the development of statewide events and multiple educational events. They were part of Area Animal Science Days for 25 years serving as officials and instructors for the multi-county youth audiences. They coached youth in educational activities including Hippology, Horse Bowl, Judging and Public Speaking.

They have assisted with the Regional and National 4-H Competitive Horse Events and are positive role models as Fair Judges and when training new judges. In 2000, Pribeks founded the 4-H Used Tack Sale and thousands of dollars have been raised to support educational events for the 4-H Horse program.

In over 40 years, Linda and Joe helped many volunteers and parents realize the 4-H Horse program is about youth first and horses second. This is where the Pribeks have truly made a difference.

Sherry Helmer

Sherry Helmer, Dodge County 4-H leader

Sherry Helmer has been dedicated to the Dodge County 4-H program for 45 years as a project, activity and general leader, while being passionate about working with youth and her community. She values the educational aspects of 4-H and the important role volunteers have in a successful program. She is willing to devote whatever time it takes to plant seeds of learning, grow a strong program, and to “make the best better”.

She is dedicated to empowering youth and adults to take active leadership and participant roles, especially in the Horse Project. This encourages everyone to fully engage and optimizes learning

Sherry is a superb role model for youth and adults involved in the 4-H program and beyond. Individuals who work with Sherry are impressed by her sincerity and commitment to creating meaningful experiences for youth.

Dorothy Harms

Dorothy Harms, Sauk County 4-H leader

The foundation of life-long service was deeply rooted in Dorothy as a 4-H youth. Using the skills, she developed in 4-H, Dorothy’s mantra is “give your best efforts ALWAYS, lead others by service, and grow leaders for the next generation.” In giving her best efforts, Dorothy is a respected voice for agriculture and has a lifetime dedication to community service. She has served as a role model for the hundreds of 4-H youth she encountered through her service to others.

Dorothy has served in multiple 4-H leader roles since 1982 and served 10 years on the Sauk county 4-H Senior Leaders Board. In 2015, Dorothy chaired the Constitution/Bylaws committee in a major rewrite that created a youth/adult partnership board. The Board now includes 4-H older youth as voting members. Little has given her as much satisfaction as seeing youth grow from bright-eyed, eager Cloverbuds to engaged and responsive adults for the betterment of the future.

Bob Hagenow

Bob Hagenow, 4-H dairy volunteer leader

Bob Hagenow grew up on a dairy farm in Manitowoc County participating in many 4-H and FFA programs including dairy judging. He attended UW-Madison graduating with a Dairy Science Degree in 1985. 

The 4-H program has been an area where Bob has invested a lot of energy. He financially supports local and state dairy programs and was board president of the Wisconsin 4-H Dairy Fund. He coached many dairy judging teams to success and regularly volunteers as an official for student contests. He has judged dairy shows in well over half of Wisconsin counties. 4-H was very formative to the development of Bob’s leadership skills and ability to work with many different people. Skills he has used throughout his lifetime.

Throughout his career, Bob has placed a high value on volunteering and giving back to the community. He currently serves as secretary/treasurer of World Dairy Expo. He volunteers at dairy promotion events such as Cows on the Concourse in Madison and numerous dairy breakfasts. Bob has helped the local Columbia County 4-H dairy program, and several other counties, as a coach and mentor.

Judy Lewis, Sauk County Extension 4-H secretary and volunteer Leader (In Memorium)

Judy Lewis

Judy Lewis played an essential support role in the formation of the Sauk County 4-H program and the Circus City 4-H Club. Judy’s love and admiration for youth never stopped from the day in 1964, right out of high school, she walked into the Sauk County Extension Office, and remained until her retirement.

When Judy reviewed record books and project summaries, she gave each youth positive feedback to inspire them and encourage their development. She was also a prominent organizer of the 4-H activities at the Sauk County Fair and was the go-to-person when questions or situations arose.

Dr. Duane “Dewey” Wachholz, retired Extension Livestock Specialist

Dr. Duane “Dewey” Wachholz enjoyed a distinguished career in Animal Science Agriculture and was a well-known role model and teacher of 4-H clientele across the state of Wisconsin. He was a constant presence at county, district and state 4-H Livestock events for many years. 

Duane Wachholz

Whether it was Judging contests, leader training or youth shows, Dewey was there interacting with 4-H youth and adults. He got to know many of the youth who were interested in animal science and encouraged them to pursue further education. His warm personality and good sense of humor made him a popular Extension Specialist among the 4-H participants.

Dewey was a faculty member at UW-Platteville and UW-River Falls and a small percentage of his job (10-33%) included Extension responsibilities. Even though his Specialist job was only part-time, Dewey was always willing to work with 4-H and always gave more than was expected.

Dewey served as a Youth Livestock Specialist from 1974 until 2001. He played a key role in the development of Area Animal Science Days each one of those years, led 4-H leader training in the Meat Animal Livestock projects, consulted with many counties about their Livestock auctions and educational programs. He also was a resource for volunteers who coached judging teams.

Kathy Geraets

Kathy Geraets, Pierce County 4-H Volunteer

Kathy Geraets, has been a 4-H volunteer in Pierce County for 43 years and has served in a variety of leadership roles: Rock Elm Skyrockets 4-H Club General Leader, a countywide Photography project leader, and on the Pierce County 4-H Adult Advisors Council to name a few.

When Kathy took on the leadership role of her club, a goal was set to keep young people involved in the community. She nurtured a robust partnership between the 4-H Club and the Elmwood area. Through her leadership and grant writing, the club revitalized the gardens at Veteran’s Park, created and placed the UFO sighting signs, created a butterfly garden for the local care center, and annually planted more than 20 flower containers to beautify the town.

Kathy exudes confidence and pride as she speaks about what 4-H has meant to her and how 4-H participation keeps both young people and parents involved.