Livestock. Friends. Family. Memories. These are just a few things that come to mind when Mary (Kaiser) Veatch thinks back to when she was a 4-H’er. Mary was a 10-year 4-H member of the Monroe Happy Hustler 4-H Club and a four year Benton County Council Member. After graduating from Union High School, Mary did not run away from 4-H, she was the Benton County Summer Intern for three years (2000-2002) and the State 4-H Summer Intern- Livestock (2003-2004). In December, Mary will celebrate her tenth year as the Iowa County Youth Coordinator.
Along with her siblings; older sister Katie, twin sister Carrie and younger brother Mark, Mary participated mainly in the Swine project area. The whole Kaiser Family could be seen showing hogs at the local, state and national levels. “Every show we attended, my parents had a standard that we were encouraged to speak to industry leaders and meet new friends. On our trip back home, we had to share who we met and what we learned after the show; the judges’ comments were not an acceptable answer,” Mary said. “Too often we get hung up on the show/judge/time of year and we completely miss the value of learning something new and the possible networking for potential jobs in the future.” These livestock showing friends are still very active in the swine and beef industries today.
Mary had multiple favorite 4-H memories from exhibiting hogs at the Iowa State Fair and beyond, and staying at the Youth Inn with her hog showing friends. It is a standing joke that the Kaiser Family never took a family vacation without a truck and trailer. “Looking back on those memories, I would not change a thing. It was what our family did and we worked together to accomplish our goals,” said Mary. However, a 4-h highlight was attending Citizenship Washington Focus trip in 1997 with her twin sister Carrie and fellow Benton County 4-H’ers Dawn (McKenna) Janssen and Katie Grace.
Mary met her husband Rob, a Davis County 4-H’er, in 2006 while presenting at the Iowa County Beef Workshop. Rob led the fitting and grooming portion of the workshop, while Mary helped with Beef Showmanship. The couple has been married for five years.
Mary and Rob are still active in livestock project areas assisting Iowa County families at state and local shows, they also help their cousins Elijah and Noah Kaiser at the Benton County Fair and nephews Riley, Gavin and Caden Veatch in Schuylar County, Missouri. Livestock projects have always been a passion for Mary. One thing that remains consistent with Mary and Rob, they are always willing to help 4-H’ers with their projects. “You are never too old to learn and give back,” said Mary.
"Growing up with 4-H, I never realized the impact it would have on my life and career choice. 4-H taught me leadership skills, responsibility and confidence that I use daily. It wasn’t until I was the Summer Livestock Intern with Denise Schwab and Mary Clancy, did I think I would make 4-H a career,” said Mary. “Working with those two ladies and their impeccable leadership abilities really shaped me and my career choice.” Now ten years later, she is still working with Iowa County 4-H, a decision she does not regret. She loves to challenge herself and Iowa County 4-H’ers to try something new and think outside the box.
“4-H has never left me and I still bleed green as much as I ever have. I find myself challenging Iowa County Youth with their livestock projects, robotics and anything else connected to the Iowa 4-H Program,” said Mary. A program highlight under Mary’s tenure; Iowa County’s own 4-H First Lego Team, Robotic Raiders won a Finalist Award for the 2013 Global Innovation Award with their board game, Cyclone Survivor. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be assisting a Lego League Team. It wasn’t until coaching Lego League, did I realize that the interest to a non-traditional audience would be so rewarding,” said Mary. “The divide of urban and rural communities is becoming wider and it’s important to keep up with change and reflect this in direct programming across the county. It is critical for staff to expand their knowledge and reach out to new audiences. It is another reminder that 4-H is more than cows and cooking!”