Head, Heart, Hands, Health

Betty Hood, Tony Frank, Terry Gale and Mark Trostel ride in the Grand Marshal's car
Betty Hood was marshal of the 2018 Elbert County Fair parade in recognition of her 50 years of volunteerism as a 4-H leader. She was joined in the grand marshal’s car by Terry Gale, driver; CSU President Tony Frank, rear seat, driver’s side; and Mark Trostel, former chief of the Colorado State Patrol. Photo courtesy of Ranchland News

4-H leader in Kiowa celebrates 50 years and joins an elite group of volunteers

Over the years, Betty Hood has taught hundreds of 4-H kids how to sew on buttons, design quilts, grow vegetables, and can tomatoes.

Hood has been a volunteer leader of the Kiowa Community 4-H Club in Elbert County, southeast of Denver, for 50 years.

That’s a remarkable level of dedication to anything – especially a volunteer undertaking that often amounts to a full-time job managing kids, their skills acquisition, and their development as citizens.

In August, Hood joined an elite group of volunteers with 50 or more years invested in the Colorado 4-H program.

How elite? Well, Colorado 4-H has more than 11,000 total volunteers working across the state, and 23 have reached the 50-year mark.

“It’s amazing,” said Jean Glowacki, state 4-H program director with Colorado State University Extension. “I think our volunteers are motivated mostly because they know they’re making a difference in the lives of young people.”

Hood became a 4-H leader through her three children: They joined the Kiowa Community 4-H Club, and she soon became a project leader to support her kids and others.

As a project leader, she helped 4-Hers with home economics projects – mainly sewing, gardening, and canning. Then she rose to leadership of the entire club.

Through the years, its membership has ranged from 60 to 120 young people, ages 8 to 18; their 4-H projects involve livestock, horses, home economics, health and science, pet care and training, leadership, arts, and more.

Hood now works with a second generation of 4-H youth – the children of her earlier charges – and she’s tickled to see the resurgence of classic home economics projects, such as gardening and sewing, whose renewed popularity is fueled by the locavore and maker trends.

“Hundreds of 4-H youth over the past 50 years have been nurtured, scolded, encouraged, guided, and loved by a remarkable and talented soul – a soul who has poured her heart and energy into making the best better for our youth, our families, our community, and even our world,” Ben Duke, a fellow 4-H leader, wrote of Hood in an Elbert County newsletter.

Hood also is a charter member of the Elbert County 4-H Leaders’ Council and was Outstanding 4-H Adult Leader in Colorado in 2006-2007.

“4-H is something I believe in,” she said, “because it’s useful to kids.”