Garsts to be honored for service to 4-H youth program

On the last day of the Iowa State Fair, individuals from each county will be honored for outstanding service and dedication to the 4-H youth program.

Iowa State 4-H and the Iowa 4-H Foundation will induct volunteers into the 4-H Hall of Fame in ceremonies Aug. 18 in the 4-H Exhibit Building at the Iowa State Fair.

Dan and Lou Ann Garst, of Fort Dodge, are the honorees from Webster County this year in light of their three decades of service.

Dan Garst has led the Fort Dodge Falcons for more than 30 years and supports the food stand by storing the supplies at his business, Party Productions.

“Dan has been very instrumental working with the flea markets over the years,” said Linda Cline, Webster County Extension youth coordinator.

“With one good person, there’s always a second good person in the background, and Lou Ann had always helped with her daughter’s club stuff,” she said, “so that’s why we decided to recognize both of them.”

Lou Ann Garst has also volunteered with the food stand and sometimes makes dessert treats, Cline said.

Dan Garst said he became a leader when asked by Bruce Wilde- who retired in 1994 after 26 years as youth and 4-H leader for Webster County – but Garst had no 4-H experience before that.

“It took a while to get used to the routine,” Dan Garst said. “You felt a little bit lost while you’re sitting through the meetings trying to catch up. Most of the leaders were 4-H’ers before, and most had kids in 4-H. To me it was something different.”

4-H was going through changes at that time, too. Before, there was an emphasis each year for everyone in the county; now it’s more of a free-for-all where everyone can choose their interests, he said. It also started to focus on the town kids and not just rural and livestock, adding in rocketry, computers and photography categories.

“I had prior experience working with a Boy Scout troop. That was fun, but when this opportunity came up I thought I’d give it a try,” he said.

“I think it’s one of the nicer programs, because the kids pick what they want to learn.”

Helping with the food stand was one of the first things he did.

“We helped store things in between, so they didn’t lose food, because they had no storage out there,” he said. “They were fighting with the mice for it.”

Dan Garst found out about their selection for the honor at the county fair, after the judging of the fair queen and king contestants.

“That surprised us a little bit,” he said. “My wife wasn’t as surprised as I was. She was getting suspicious when her daughters made her do some things that weren’t normal, and she’d gotten some calls that weren’t normal.

“It’s one of those things where you just never think about something like that. That was not even on the radar.”