Longtime 4-H volunteer shows no sign of slowing down

  • Published: Friday, May 8, 2020

Elaine George is no stranger to 4-H. For more than 30 years she’s been club leader to the Hallsville Go-Getters, and there’s no sign of her slowing down. Her club is among the largest in the state. “It’s just a part of my life,” Elaine said.

During the COVID-19 response, clubs can no longer meet in person. But that doesn’t stop Elaine from connecting with her 4-H sheep project members. “I send them an activity to do every Monday, and they are compiling a notebook, so whenever this is over we’re going to go over our notebooks and everything they have learned in this time,” Elaine said.

During this time they would normally be purchasing and working with animals. Instead, 4-H’ers are keeping journals, like Luke Ketchum is for his sheep project; it helps him know what to look for when purchasing an animal and learn about its care, nutrition, exercise and general health.

“Elaine sends us writing prompts about the sheep, and we answer them in our notebooks,” Luke said. “We write about what is important when selecting sheep, taking notes over the anatomy of sheep and taking notes over videos.”

By having youths keep a journal, Elaine hopes they can demonstrate what they have learned when it does come time to head to the farm to select their animals. “We’re a very motivated, hands-on group,” she said.

Elaine and her family have been recognized as a Missouri Century Farm family for more than 100 years of involvement with 4-H. Her three children and seven grandchildren all went through 4-H. One of her four great-grandchildren will be old enough to join 4-H this year. “4-H is a very important part of my life,” she said.

A self-described “people person,” Elaine met some of her best friends throughout her 4-H involvement.

Over the years she’s been very involved in committees at the local, county and state levels. “I did a lot of traveling during my younger years,” Elaine said. She’s attended numerous conferences to learn about other 4-H clubs.

Elaine believes that Missouri 4-H is important because it has the resources, skills and leadership to provide for our youths.

“Kids are such a joy because you work with them at the beginning of the year and then you see how they progressed towards the end of the year, which is very rewarding and satisfying as a club leader,” she said.

Elaine says she’s learned how to be respectful, how to work with other people, and how to have patience. Patience is needed now more than ever with the effects of COVID-19.

“My husband and I are in our 70s, so we are locked down in our home, mainly by our children,” she said.

“Our 4-H club is a very tightly knit group: We have a connection where we can call each other if we need help getting through a situation.”

Her 4-H’ers are eager to know if they will be able to go to fairs and other 4-H activities. “I keep saying, we just have to be patient.” Elaine’s perseverance and dedication to her club is inspiring to all.

Photos available for this release:

Elaine George, 4-H club leader for the Hallsville Go-Getters.

Luke Ketchum is raising an ewe and lamb for his 4-H sheep project.

Luke Ketchum is pictured holding his journal documenting his 4-H project raising registered Dorpers.

Writer: Jordyn Bensyl

Jordyn Bensyl has been an intern with the Missouri 4-H Foundation since October 2019. Bensyl, from Kansas City, Missouri, is a University of Missouri journalism student focusing on strategic communication with plans to graduate in December 2020. Though never a 4-H’er herself, Bensyl’s two younger sisters participated.

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