Long-time 4-H’ers to be inducted into Hall of Fame

VINCENT – A Vincent couple who have dedicated much of their lives to 4-H will be recognized during the State Fair as they are inducted into the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame.

John Bonner and his wife Sandee Bonner, of Vincent, will both be representing Webster County at the State Fair in August.

The couple said they were surprised and overwhelmed when they found out they were being inducted.

Both Bonners were involved in 4-H when they were in school, and continued their involvement in 4-H even after they outgrew the program.

“We’ve done more than just club work,” John Bonner said. “After we got out of college and got into the communities, we started both our boys in 4-H.”

Sandee Bonner was an assistant club leader when the family lived in Missouri, and when they moved to Iowa, John Bonner started a 4-H bucket calf project with Land O’Lakes.

“Our oldest son liked rockets, so we started the aerospace program that had over 500 kids involved with it,” John Bonner said.

Sandee Bonner has also remained active with 4-H.

“I was on the Webster County Youth Committee for many years,” she said. “I was also on the Webster County Extension Council.”

Both John and Sandee Bonner believe 4-H is important because of the life skills it teaches.

“We always encouraged our sons to take three projects; citizenship, leadership and communication,” John Bonner said. “Each one of those had to be tied back to their other projects somehow. They had to take those three projects first before they could start on rockets or self-determined projects.”

Sandee Bonner said those life skills impact everybody.

“It’s not just for people who are rural,” she said. “They teach computers and technology and so many things. They’re building those skills because 4-H also stresses setting goals, because you need goals to succeed.”

Another important interview skill is interviewing.

“We always encouraged the 4-H interviews,” Sandee Bonner said. “We knew that when our sons applied for jobs, scholarships, anything, that interviewing was not an issue.”

In fact, according to John Bonner, when their sons had interviews for jobs and school, both would tell their parents that the interview was easy.

Their eldest son Brent is now a 4-H leader himself, while their other son Brad owns a photography studio in Denison, where he also serves as the town’s mayor.

John and Sandee Bonner attribute their sons’ successes to 4-H.

“Can 4-H help you in your future life?” John Bonner asked. “You bet.”

The Bonners aren’t the only area individuals being inducted into the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame this year.

Pocahontas, Humboldt, Calhoun and Palo Alto counties also have 4-H’ers being inducted.

Marilyn Hundertmark, of Humboldt, said being a 4-H member helped her in many ways.

“It has opened up so many avenues of experience and interests that I would never had a chance to develop,” Hundertmark said.

Roberta Hersom, of Emmetsburg, has continued to work with 4-H over the years.

“I started in 4-H when I was in fourth grade,” she said. “I did the 4-H projects in the area and then later I became involved as the parent of 4-H’ers and I’ve been a club leader for 14 years. I’ve also done judging for county fairs.”

Nancy Jenson, of Pocahontas, is being inducted for her work as the former Pocahontas County Extension Director.

“I worked directly with 4-H’ers, 4-H leaders and parents,” Jenson said. “I was very excited to help the youth reach their full potential through 4-H projects. Many of them gained leadership skills that they have enhanced their lives with.”

Dale Haugland, of Clarion, led photography workshops for 4-H in Wright County and became the photography judge. Haugland said the best part of volunteering with 4-H was working with the youngsters.

“They are the best bunch of kids,” he said. “When they come to a workshop, they are not messing around; they listen and ask good questions.”

Other inductees include Pam Henderson, of Webster City; and the late Jamie Buenting, of Rockwell City. Buenting, a Rockwell City police officer, was killed in the line of duty on Sept. 13, 2013.

Kossuth and Sac counties do not have any inductees this year.