Florine Swanson of Galt, a tiny town in Wright County in north-central Iowa, was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame during a special ceremony October 8 in Washington, D.C. "It's fitting that Florine officially received this honor during National 4-H Week," says Chuck Morris, director of Iowa State University Extension 4-H Youth Development. State 4-H officials originally announced Swanson's honor August 22 at the Iowa State Fair.
October 3 to 9 was also 4-H Week in Iowa. The state proclamation ties in with National 4-H Week activities in Iowa and throughout the country.
"4-H is in Florine's DNA," Morris says. "Her 4-H involvement has spanned more than 50 years — from her years as a 4-H club member to serving as a volunteer leader, a 4-H exhibits judge, a member of the Board of Trustees and, most notably, executive director of the Iowa 4-H Foundation. She also has mentored 4-H program and foundation staff members across the country."
Long list of accomplishments while heading Iowa 4-H Foundation
Swanson served as executive director of the Iowa 4-H Foundation from 1987 to 2005. During her tenure, the foundation's assets grew from $750,000 to more than $5 million and the annual operating budget increased from $150,000 to more than $2 million. She established an endowment fund totaling more than $3.5 million and led fundraising efforts for the Extension 4-H Youth Building on the Iowa State University campus.
But the bottom line, says Morris, is that under Swanson's direction the Iowa 4-H Foundation increased support for 4-H programs. For 17 years, Swanson secured a special $50,000 appropriation from the Iowa Department of Agriculture to fund program grants to counties and a part-time agriculture program specialist.
She grew the 4-H scholarship program from a single scholarship into a program that now offers more than 100 scholarships, ranging from $500 to full tuition, valued at more than $100,000. She also established a special fund to provide financial assistance to Iowa 4-H members for activities such as attending 4-H camps and conferences.
Florine Swanson's impact on 4-H reaches far beyond Iowa
In addition, Swanson coordinated more than a million dollars of improvements to the Iowa 4-H Center, including a new dining hall and kitchen, swimming pool renovations and a new 60-foot climbing tower.
Swanson's impact on 4-H reaches beyond Iowa, says Morris. Swanson served on the National 4-H Leadership Trust and the team that produced the National 4-H Strategic Plan, "Power of Youth in a Changing World," creating a new vision and mission statement for 4-H programs nationwide. In 2002 Swanson served as a consultant in Armenia with USDA MAP to help establish a foundation for the country's new rural youth program.
Swanson continues to be involved with the Iowa 4-H program as the grandparent of 4-H members, a volunteer at the Iowa State Fair and a 4-H exhibits judge.
About the National 4-H Hall of Fame. In 2002, the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents, National 4-H Council and 4-H Headquarters created the National 4-H Hall of Fame during 4-H's centennial year. The National 4-H Hall of Fame was established to recognize 4-H volunteers, financial supporters, staff and pioneers who made major impacts within the 4-H movement at the local, state and national levels. Biographies and more information about inductees can be found at www.nae4ha.com/hof.
About the Iowa 4-H Youth Development Program. 4-H is the nation's largest youth development organization, serving more than 6 million young people across America with programs in leadership, citizenship, communication and life skills. One in five Iowa school-age youth participates in 4-H. In Iowa, 4-H Youth Development is headquartered at the Iowa State University campus in Ames. 4-H is supported by federal, state and county funding, private grants and donations, and fees. For more information about joining 4-H, contact your Iowa State University Extension county office at www.extension.iastate.edu/ouroffices.htm or visit www.extension.iastate.edu/4H.