Charles Smith receives Friend of Extension Award
Photo: Charles Smith's wife Jane accepts the Friend of Extension Award on his behalf.
Each year during Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Week the Dubuque County Extension Council selects an outstanding member of the community to receive the Friend of Extension Award. This year’s honor has been awarded posthumously to Charles Smith, a life-long 4-H member and Extension Council volunteer. Mr. Smith passed away unexpectedly while doing chores on January 22, 2014.
In an age when long-term commitments are hard to come by, the dedication shown by Charles Smith to Dubuque County 4-H and Extension was truly remarkable. Smith was a 4-H volunteer leader for over 50 years and worked with several generations of youth in the Epworth and Farley communities. He also served on the County Extension Council on two separate occasions, including his recent election in 2012.
Charles’ wife, Mrs. Jane Smith, received the award on his behalf. “Volunteering for 4-H and Extension was his passion,” said Mrs. Smith. “He just loved it. He had a real knack for connecting with kids and he enjoyed making a difference in their lives.” She noted that Smith was particularly dedicated to taking youth to the State 4-H Conference and trying to open them up to broader experiences. “4-H and working with youth were like a magnet for him – he was just drawn to it,” she recalled. Mrs. Smith said she was quite touched by the number of sympathy cards she received from youth who had fond memories of Smith and noted the positive impact he had on their lives.
When Smith was a boy, his mother was a leader for a girls-only 4-H club with his older sisters, but he had to wait until high school for a boys-only club to form close enough to his home. He immediately became very active and started taking leadership roles in his club, including attending state leadership camps and exhibiting at the Dubuque County Fair. He was chosen to be the first 4-H King in Dubuque County.
As a leader, Smith gave back to the 4-H community what he received as a young man. He became a 4-H leader in 1962 and remained active until his unexpected passing. He had not missed a Dubuque County Fair since 1956. He served on the county Youth Action and Youth Leaders committees and faithfully chaperoned youth events like overnight lock-ins and trips to Washington DC for the Citizenship Focus. His outstanding service was recognized through several different awards, including the Alumni Award, Leader of the Year Award, and Dubuque County 4-H Hall of Fame.
Smith married Jane in 1967 and they have three adult children and six grandchildren. His children were also active in 4-H. He worked on his family’s century farm since childhood, but he also began working off the farm at manufacturing jobs in the 1980s to supplement his income. Smith had a passion for raising registered short horn cattle, and his son Matthew also keeps sheep on the farm. He served over 20 years on the Dubuque County Extension Council and was elected to another four-year term in 2012. Smith also served on the Dubuque County Fair Association Board for 18 years.
It will be impossible to replace a dedicated volunteer like Charles Smith, but this award will help recognize his many contributions and serve as inspiration to the next generation of 4-H leaders and Extension volunteers.
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