Dorothy Schilling was recently inducted into the Illinois 4-H Hall of Fame.
Schilling, a longtime Fults resident, was given the honor Aug. 13 at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield.
Illinois 4-H Hall of Famers must “have a track record of exemplary service to 4-H or outstanding career and community achievement,” according to nomination requirements of the Illinois 4-H Foundation.
Schilling has served as co-leader of the Maeystown 4-H Clovers club for over 20 years, helping with club meetings, fundraisers, club outings and more.
“When help was needed, Dorothy was always there with a smile on her face ready to do any task,” said Kelly Brandt, program coordinator for 4-H and youth programs with the University of Illinois Extension office in Monroe County.
Schilling said it was “an honor to be an alumni (of 4-H), let along to be a hall of fame recipient.”
“It’s really a great program,” she added. “It’s neat when your friends and family are in it.”
Schilling recalled being able to work with a large 4-H membership, including her sons, over the years.
The Maeystown 4-H group “is a big club, usually 60 to 80 members,” Schilling said. “We had a central location for all of the farming communities in the area.”
Brandt gives Schilling credit for the size of the Maeystown club.
“Dorothy was often the encouragement that youth needed to assume leadership roles or spend more time learning and sharing about their projects,” Brandt said, noting that “club enrollment grew during her tenure.”
Schilling claims to have taken a more hands-off approach with helping club members with their projects, choosing instead to let them learn on their own and explore topics that interest them personally.
“4-H gives kids an opportunity to do things they might not otherwise have a chance to do,” Schilling said.
Schilling also acknowledged she was not alone in keeping the Maeystown Clovers a thriving 4-H club. She pointed out that Lisa Schwartz, a 2013 hall of fame inductee, was “a great person to work with.”
Schilling also remarked that club members helped make the experience enjoyable.
“Most of the kids did their own projects. Sure, there were a few you had to knock on the head, but I was lucky to have a great bunch of groups,” Schilling related.
Schilling has since passed on leadership responsibilities for the 4-H Clovers, but she is still active in the club and the community.
“Even though she has ‘retired’ from her leader status, Dorothy still makes time to help the club when she is asked,” Brandt explained. “Dorothy has also spent many years volunteering with the Monroe County Fair Board, dedicating her time to ensure that the county fair is a successful event for local youth.”
Schilling and her 4-H Hall of Fame medal will be featured on a float during the Waterloo Homecoming Parade this Saturday. The theme of this year’s parade is “Agriculture: Past and Present.”