By Sara Tischauser
Being part of a 4-H club can leave a lasting impression on many youth and serve them as they move forward in their lives and future careers.
Dorothy Paltzer, Black Creek, was a member of the Fairview 4-H in Black Creek as a youth and said her father and grandfather were also in the club. Paltzer said through her involvement in 4-H, she made lasting friendships and learned skills that helped her in the future.
In fact, Paltzer even met her future husband while she was in 4-H.
“In 1960, I met husband [Bill] at fair,” Paltzer said. “He was showing cattle. We got married in ’63.”
Paltzer said being in 4-H and participating at the fair is all about meeting people.
“That’s what members do, meet so many people at fair,” Paltzer said. “My children, in fact, met members that stood up in their wedding. It is lasting friendships you gain in 4-H.”
Paltzer has stayed active with 4-H even after she graduated from the program as a youth.
“I’ve been a [4-H] leader for 55 years,” Paltzer said. “I haven’t not been involved in 4-H for my whole life.”
As a child, Paltzer said she went to the fair with her father and continued going to the fair when she joined 4-H. As a 4-H member, Paltzer said she won the King Midas Bread Baking Contest when she was 15 years old.
After Paltzer was married, she moved to Appleton and became a leader at the Woodlawn 4-H. Then 16 years ago, when she was back in the Black Creek area, she restarted the Fairview 4-H where she, her father and grandfather had all grown up being members of that club.
As a 4-H member, Paltzer said youth gain many valuable skills that will help them as they prepare for life.
“Many of the members I’ve worked with learned life skills,” Paltzer said. “Leadership roles is a value that comes from their projects.”
She said she has seen many youth go on to teach other youth in project areas and share what they have learned from their own experiences.
One of the big parts of 4-H, Paltzer said, is the community service aspect. She said the Fairveiw 4-H Club are saving caps from bottles to make benches and picnic tables, which, once completed, are put in and around Black Creek. Paltzer said this not only prevents the caps from ending up in landfills but helps the youth learn something about responsibility.
In addition to collecting the caps, Paltzer said the youth are also responsible to raise the money to make the benches and picnic tables. She said this part helps them understand that not everything is free.
“Community service very important to me,” Paltzer said. “Members learn to give back to community.”
Her involvement in the fair has continued over the years, and Paltzer said she has been helping with the clothing project at the fair for 50 years. The clothing project was something Paltzer said she participated in as a 4-H member and now she continues to help with the project at the fair.
The clothing projects have changed over the years since Paltzer said sewing is not as popular as it once was. But youth still participate in the project and for the last 20 years she has been doing the recording for the clothing project judges.
As times change and projects may change, Paltzer said 4-H members are learning to adapt to what is happening.
“Members learn there is change in life through projects and meetings,” Paltzer said. “It’s okay to change.”
By Sara Tischauser