4-H leader in Kiowa celebrates 50 years and joins an elite group of volunteers
Over the years, Betty Hood has taught hundreds of 4-H kids how to sew on buttons, design quilts, grow vegetables, and can tomatoes.
Hood has been a volunteer leader of the Kiowa Community 4-H Club in Elbert County, southeast of Denver, for 50 years.
That’s a remarkable level of dedication to anything – especially a volunteer undertaking that often amounts to a full-time job managing kids, their skills acquisition, and their development as citizens.
In August, Hood joined an elite group of volunteers with 50 or more years invested in the Colorado 4-H program.
How elite? Well, Colorado 4-H has more than 11,000 total volunteers working across the state, and 23 have reached the 50-year mark.
“It’s amazing,” said Jean Glowacki, state 4-H program director with Colorado State University Extension. “I think our volunteers are motivated mostly because they know they’re making a difference in the lives of young people.”
Hood became a 4-H leader through her three children: They joined the Kiowa Community 4-H Club, and she soon became a project leader to support her kids and others.
As a project leader, she helped 4-Hers with home economics projects – mainly sewing, gardening, and canning. Then she rose to leadership of the entire club.
Through the years, its membership has ranged from 60 to 120 young people, ages 8 to 18; their 4-H projects involve livestock, horses, home economics, health and science, pet care and training, leadership, arts, and more.
Hood now works with a second generation of 4-H youth – the children of her earlier charges – and she’s tickled to see the resurgence of classic home economics projects, such as gardening and sewing, whose renewed popularity is fueled by the locavore and maker trends.
“Hundreds of 4-H youth over the past 50 years have been nurtured, scolded, encouraged, guided, and loved by a remarkable and talented soul – a soul who has poured her heart and energy into making the best better for our youth, our families, our community, and even our world,” Ben Duke, a fellow 4-H leader, wrote of Hood in an Elbert County newsletter.
Hood also is a charter member of the Elbert County 4-H Leaders’ Council and was Outstanding 4-H Adult Leader in Colorado in 2006-2007.
“4-H is something I believe in,” she said, “because it’s useful to kids.”