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4-H’ers make an impact despite the disasters of 2008

While many 4-H clubs, volunteers and staff from across the state came together to overcome the disasters of 2008, we received many stories regarding the impact of these efforts. Despite the disarray caused by the disasters, 4-H youth and families were able to overcome these challenges and help those in their communities and around the state.
Click on the comments below to read these heart-warming stories.


  1. Cheryl Collins, County Youth Coordinator in Linn County, shared that there was one 4-H leader who lost her house and belongings, but she didn’t lose her determination to keep the clover green. Just three weeks after the floods hit, the leader didn’t miss a beat. She was at the county fair setting up the booth, helping her club members with last minute projects, and even helped recruit new members to 4-H.

    Abigail Chihak, a Linn County 4-Her volunteered her time at the 211 center in Cedar Rapids, the United Way center that put callers in touch with the community services they needed. Abigail spent hours on the phone during the floods. In her record book, she shared how this experience strengthened her communication skills. (And yes, despite the impacts of the flood, she and many other 4-Hers still found time to complete their record books!)

    The Linn County Extension office also distributed more than 600 books to area child care centers and after school centers. The book was titled, “The Flood That Came to Grandma’s House.”

    Linn County was also touched by many from across the state. Gift cards were sent by a club in Iowa County. One of the recipients wrote, "We have valued (our child's) involvement in 4-H for almost three years, but did not realize the full extent of the wonderfully supportive community we had joined. Please know your gift came at just the right time and made a big difference."

    The Highland Cruisers 4-H Club in Palo Alto County chose to donate the funds they had raised during their annual pie sale and concession stand sales at the local Bully Bullhead Weekend festival to Linn County 4-H during National 4-H Week.

  2. Efforts across the state
    Though they are located in Northwest Iowa, residents (especially young people) of Dickinson County didn’t lose sight of the many families in Eastern Iowa affected by the severe flooding.

    The Superior Lakers, a 4-H club of 43 members, conducted a hat and mitten drive to help youth across the state prepare for winter in Iowa. “The donated hats and mittens [went] to an excited group of young people at Taylor Elementary,” remarked Ann Torbert, southeast area youth field specialist,.

    A second, youth-led relief effort in Dickinson County was a trip to eastern Iowa sponsored by the Spirit Lake High School Student Council. 27 young people planned a two-day work experience in the Parkersburg area. They secured dates, transportation, and housing. As of the second planning session, the students had over 50 young people committed to the two-day community service learning project. “The session re-established the ideas of why character and service are important. It inspired our student council to stay steadfast with our service projects,” commented a council member.

  3. 4-H Quilt Shows How Life Can Change for Parkersburg Youth

    One quilt and one afternoon made all the difference for a Butler County 4-H’er.

    The pink, blue and green zig zag children’s quilt was Laura Edeker’s home improvement exhibit for the county fair. The day was May 25, 2008.

    “My family lives in Parkersburg, but we were in Clarksville that afternoon at my grandparents’, so I could work on my quilt,” Edeker wrote in her exhibit report.

    She’d learned the basics of quilt making at a 4-H workshop. She’d learned to sew straight lines and triangles, and make mitered corners — not bad for a fifth grader. On this particular afternoon, her grandmother was helping her with the binding.

    “It was lucky that I decided to sew my quilt at my grandma’s that day,” Edeker wrote. “While I had been busily working on my quilt, our house in Parkersburg had been completely destroyed by an F5 tornado, with barely anything left to salvage. It was hard to believe that everything was gone, but we were so thankful that we weren’t at home when it happened.”

    Edeker earned a purple ribbon and the right to exhibit at the Iowa State Fair, but her quilt has far more meaning than any ribbon can convey.


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