AMES, Iowa -- Florine Swanson, executive director of the Iowa 4-H Foundation, will retire on June 30.
Swanson first became involved in 4-H as a child in Benton County and has been directly involved ever since. She spent 10 years as a 4-H member in Benton County, 15 years as a volunteer leader in Wright County, 11 years as a trustee of the Iowa 4-H Foundation and 18 years as the executive director of the foundation. She has accumulated more than 50 years of 4-H experience.
Swanson became the executive director in 1987, after serving on the board of directors. The Iowa 4-H Foundation has grown from having $750,000 in assets in 1987, to nearly $6 million in 2005.
"Iowa has one of the best 4-H programs in the nation," Swanson said. "We have a wonderful partnership between the program and the foundation."
Since 1987, the number of names in the foundation donor/alumni database has grown from 500 to 25,000. More than 100 scholarships are available to college-bound 4-H members, compared to the six available in 1987. The Iowa 4-H Foundation's annual budget has increased from $125,000 to $1.6 million.
Swanson enjoys working with people who are passionate about the 4-H program and understand its importance and impact on children.
"The best part of my job is working with the incredible people who serve on the board of the foundation and who are donors," Swanson said. "I get to meet people who care so much about 4-H."
In 1990, she created the first county endowment funds to help support the 4-H program.
"We now have 56 counties that have endowment funds with the Iowa 4-H Foundation," Swanson said. "These funds give a solid base to the 4-H program."
Since her debut as the executive director, the Iowa 4-H Center has improved through a variety of changes and additions. Swanson's first major change to the center was the construction of a pond and wetland area. Other additions include an exercise court and playground, the tallest climbing tower in Iowa, a new bathhouse for the swimming pool, a state-of-the-art central kitchen and dining hall, air-conditioning in most buildings and a paved road to the front gate of the center.
Swanson added higher donor recognition levels, including 4-H 2,000, 4,000 and 10,000 levels of giving. There also is a planned giving program and seminars for donors who wish to pass on their legacy to the Iowa 4-H Foundation.
"Her passion and commitment to 4-H and the Iowa 4-H Foundation is remarkable," Jim Patton, president of the Iowa 4-H Foundation board of directors, said. "She has the unique ability to focus on how the foundation and the 4-H program can work together to serve the greater needs of Iowa's youth. Her network of 4-H contacts has been crucial to the success of the foundation."
Swanson hopes the Iowa 4-H Foundation continues to grow and expand the number of programs that are not supported by tax dollars.
"I have nine grandchildren, so I want a strong 4-H program for the future of my own grandchildren," Swanson said.
In her retirement she plans to write a book on the history of Iowa 4-H and assist small non-profit organizations with fundraising through Swanson and Associates Development Advisors. Swanson will spend more time with her family and continue doing volunteer work.
The Iowa 4-H Foundation was founded in 1949 with the construction of a statewide 4-H camping center. The foundation exists to provide financial resources for Iowa's youth to reach their full potential working and learning in partnership with caring adults.
Carol Ouverson, Continuing Education and Communication Services, (515) 294-9640, email@example.com