When Stan Geiken says he’ll go green to increase 4-H club enrollment, he keeps his word. So on March 30, in a high school gym packed with 150 cheering 4-H witnesses, he went under the aerosol can as Benton County 4-H council members sprayed his hair green — bright green. It was his light-hearted gift to Benton County’s 4-H members, leaders and volunteers for doing their part to increase 4-H enrollment in the county by 5 percent.
Geiken, ISU Extension education director for Benton County, issued the challenge last fall. “I had challenged our leaders and members to a 5 percent growth goal if they wanted me green.”
Statewide 4-H has set a goal of increasing club membership of fourth through 12th graders by 3 percent, said Chuck Morris, director of ISU Extension 4-H Youth Development. 4-H currently reaches one in four Iowa youth.
Benton County was one member short of a full 5 percent as of the 4-H volleyball tournament where the greening occurred, but Geiken figured that was close enough. Since then the goal has been reached and surpassed.
“We didn’t do anything special,” Geiken said, “but the kids were ready to turn me green all year long. I do know that the challenge kept the community interested.”
Geiken sported his new hair color for two and a half days, including a conference in Ames with his Iowa State colleagues. “You should have seen people look at me,” he said.
Geiken retired from ISU Extension at the end of May, but that won’t spell the end of the 4-H enrollment challenge. Michelle Thomsen, the Benton County 4-H youth coordinator, has issued her own challenge. If the county 4-H club program meets its enrollment goals next year, they can spray her hair any color they want. And Geiken plans to help.