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Pratt Named To Iowa 4-H Hall Of Fame

By Staff | Jul 26, 2016

HALL?OF?FAME - The late Margaret Pratt was named as Palo Alto County’s inductee to the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame. Julie Naig, left, announced the honor to Pratt’s daughter, Mary Jane (Pratt) McWilliams,. - Dan Voigt photo

A long-time resident of Palo Alto County who played a huge role in the growth of 4-H in the county has been named to the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame. In ceremonies Thursday night, the late Margaret Pratt was accorded the honor as Palo Alto County’s inductee for 2016. All 99 counties in Iowa have the opportunity to recognize volunteers who have exhibited outstanding service in their county-to-county 4-H programs and youth by nominating them for induction into the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame.

Since this is the year Palo Alto County is celebrating 100 years of Extension service, it was only fitting to choose Pratt due to the huge role she played in the county’s Extension history. Margaret Pratt began working in Palo Alto County as a Home Demonstration Agent in February of 1936. Just four 4-H clubs existed in the county at this time, and Margaret thought there should be clubs where there were none. A short time later, there were girls’ clubs in each of the 16 townships in the county. Along with the formation of clubs, Margaret recruited and trained adult leaders, who in turn, worked directly with the members. Nearly 400 girls participated in a very successful youth program. In the early 1960’s two girls from Palo Alto County became state 4-H officers and it wasn’t a coincidence that girls began receiving state and national honors after Margaret was in the county.

Margaret was always attentive to ensure the needs of women and young people were properly recognized for their service. She placed a strong emphasis on education and training, always thinking that everyone deserved an opportunity to learn. As an innovative leader, she believed educational opportunities should be offered to everyone, including those who were challenged. This was a new and unique concept at the time, but she stood firm in her belief and encouraged families and friends to stand firm as well. Her reasoning was simple it was the right thing to do.

Margaret’s two daughters, Mary Jane McWilliams and Ruth Neppl, have lots of memories of thir mother and 4-H, and all those memories continue to influence them in their adulthood. Margaret made a huge difference in so many lives and her influence continues to help “Make the Best Better” in the lives of not just young women but all 4-H’ers. Margaret’s work with 4-Hers was her most rewarding work. She derived so much pleasure from seeing girls grown and develop through their 4-H activities.

In 2003, Margaret’s four children set up a scholarship to help 4-Hers attend the Iowa Youth Conference in Ames. Since then, 78 4-Hers have had the opportunity to attend the conference at a reduced fee, keeping Palo Alto County well-represented at this state event.

Margaret will join past inductees Julie Nelson, Angie Beem, Ray Brown, Merrylea Clasing, Helen Anliker, Tim Naig, Dan Voigt, Ann Stillman, Terry Rouse, Bert and Julie Naig, Devona Perkins, Karen Schwartzkopf, Roberta Hersom, Estee Fogarty and the late Keyron Fogarty.

The Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies take place on the last Sunday of the Iowa State Fair at the 4-H Exhibits Building at the State Fairgrounds. The Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame was established in 2002 to help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of 4-H.