At the heart of 4-H are the children who participate and the adult volunteers who give of their hands and hearts in following the club’s motto, “to make the best better.”
Saturday afternoon, 46 adult 4-H volunteers who have each given more than 20 years in service to the organization were recognized for their efforts as they were inducted into the Missouri 4-H Hall of Fame.
Robert Curtis, of Pettis County, was one of the volunteers chosen for his dedication to the youth of Missouri.
“I’ve been a volunteer for 4-H for as long as I can remember,” Curtis said. “Ever since my two children were little I have helped the organization.”
His son Steven and daughter Stacy are now grown and have their own children. Spending time with his grandchildren is something Curtis is looking forward to a great deal.
“I got into 4-H because it was a way to spend time with my children doing thing that they were interested in,” Curtis said. “Now I am working with the children of the first set of kids I helped years ago.
“I get to talking to the parents and they will tell me about something that happened years ago,” Curtis added. “You don’t realize that you become a part of their lives and their memories.”
Curtis began as a Clover Kids leader and has gone on to work in numerous fields in the organization, including livestock and swine showing, campground cooking and camping, judging and shooting sports.
“Several years ago I started working with the shooting sports,” Curtis said. “I joined the Sedalia Rod and Gun Club and got our foot in the door. We couldn’t offer all we do without them.”
The facility has provided the members a place to hone their skills in muzzle shooting, pellet and BB gun, trap shooting, and archery.
Curtis became the county coordinator for the shooting sports and 19 years ago started the Pettis County Shoot Off. Curtis described the event as a state-like competition that has since expanded and is now open to participants from other counties.
“It’s been really rewarding to work with the kids in every area I have helped with,” Curtis said. “I think a lot of people don’t realize that.”
“We are very indebted to the honorees here today,” Cheryl Reams, Missouri 4-H Foundation Executive Director said after the presentations. “On the stage today were over 1,000 years of combined service. They are a very special group.”
For Curtis, the children are what make his work meaningful.
“There are always going to be some small aggravations along the way with planning and scheduling and things like that, but you have those with everything in life,” he said.
“The rewards far outweigh those,” he added. “To hear a child talk about what they are doing and watch them blossom and grow in their work; that’s what this is all really about.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484