Schneider bestowed with Hall of Fame honor
PLYMOUTH CO. — In a presentation on the opening night of the Plymouth County Fair, Fair Board President Loren Schnepf announced Carol Schneider as 2022 inductee into the Plymouth County Fair Hall of Fame.
The announcement preceded the king and queen crowning on the Pioneer Village Stage.
Schnepf stated by saying, “Our inductee has been a part of the Plymouth County Fair in many capacities. From a 4-H leader, to Plymouth County extension director, and fair board member; 4-H county fairs have run through her roots from a young age.
“As a Story County native and an Iowa State University graduate she got her first job in Polk County working in urban 4-H then followed doing 4-H work in Mills County. Next she arrived in Plymouth County the week of the Plymouth County Fair. She first worked here with 4-H and then served both Plymouth and Cherokee Counties as the home economist. She then stepped away from Extension to raise her children and taught school until she returned to Plymouth County Extension as the county extension director.
A Great Supporter
“She has been an exemplary leader and a dedicated volunteer within Plymouth County. She has organized and presented hundreds of quality programs for the county residents and the Northwest area. She has conducted programs for both youth and adults, has been a valued member of the Plymouth County Fair board, and was co-founding 4-H club leader of the Fredonia Country Club and leader of the Classy Clovers 4-H Club. She was instrumental in getting the Plymouth County 4-H Foundation started, and coordinated and chaperoned several delegations of 4-H’ers to the Citizenship Washington Focus trip to D.C.
“She has been recognized with numerous awards including, the ISU Alumni Service Key Award, College of Family and Consumer Science Alumni Service Award, and the County Extension Director Achievement Award. In 2014, she was inducted into the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame. Locally, she has been honored by Plymouth County Farm Bureau, Plymouth County 4-H, and Le Mars Chamber of Commerce.
“She and her husband, John reside on a century farm near Le Mars and together they have two children and five grandchildren. She is an active volunteer with the Plymouth County Fair and the Le Mars Rotary Club.
“She is a great supporter of 4-H and the Plymouth County Fair. Her generosity and thoughtfulness go far beyond expectations. She has helped shape the Plymouth County 4-H program, he said.
“Please help me congratulate Carol Schneider as we induct her into the Plymouth County Fair Hall of Fame,” he said.
It took a bit for Schneider to make her way to the stage, while applause greeted.
After presenting Schneider with the plaque, Schnepf handed her the microphone.
“I guess you get more attention if you don’t show up,” Schneider said, noting she was suppose to meet with her family, but apparently had the wrong spot.
“This means a lot to me and my family. And I love the Plymouth County Fair. Thank you, thank you,” she said.
A Welcome Surprise
Later in an interview, Schneider said the award was a surprise.
“Our kids were both here which is a little unusual, that should have given me a clue. I was late coming up on the stage because I understood we were meeting all three families behind the Rotary stand. Then JoEllen came and said, ‘mom, they’ve called your name,’” she said.
Thirty Years of Service
Schneider has been a part of the Plymouth County Fair since she came on in 1980 as a 4-H staff member. In that position, she was automatically a fair board member.
“I had all the responsibilities and rights, so to speak, of a fair board member. Lots of big decisions were made over those years. If you remember, moving the Round Barn here was a big decision that the board made,” she said.
Schneider was familiar with Plymouth County as her mother grew up in Kingsley.
“So as a child I came to Plymouth County for years, I was well aware of Plymouth County,” she said.
“The board members welcomed me as a young person relatively speaking. I had a 4-H background in my home county, of course, but it was unique compared to Plymouth County. So it was a interesting learning opportunity for me and 4-H families were absolutely awesome and amazing to work with and the 4-H volunteers and then the system that was already in place here was really sound and that made it very easy to work with and enjoyable at the same time,” she said.
“One of the nice things about Plymouth County is the networking and the way people work together. We know each other and help each other out and make phone calls, and get ideas and connect,” she continued.
Thankful for Her Mentors
Schneider gives credit to one fair board member who became her mentor.
“I learned from the best, and that is Ruth Peters. She was on the board as the other female, and I learned from her. She had a wonderful rapport with the community. She could get things done and she could see the big picture. Ruth was a great mentor for me,” Schneider said.
Bringing a Little Bit of Fun
While in Mills County, Schneider had attended clown school.
“My first assignment here, they knew I had gone to a clown school when I was in Mills County and had developed a personality as Clover the Clown. So they had me pass out the ribbon placing envelopes at the Clothing Revue Contest at the end of the runway,” she explained. “That was my introduction to Plymouth County.
“Remember when Plymouth County Pork Producers and the fair board had a celebrity hog show to spur some interest in the pork industry? I was in that show as Clover the Clown, and I won a trophy and everything,” she added.
An Array of Capacities
Schneider served as a 4-H staff member for six years, and then moved to the home economist position after she and husband, John, started their family.
While no longer on the fair board, Schneider said the position was still very supportive of everything the fair board did. “So I was still very involved,” she said.
Schneider left the Extension Service for a while following a reorganization, which would have meant a position working in multiple counties. She chose to stay at home and work on the farm. She soon was volunteering at Kluckhohn Elementary where her children attended school, renewed her teaching license and returned to teaching.
She was encouraged to apply for the county extension director post following the retirement of Jack Frus, and took on that job.
“I stayed 10 years after that, and that was the era where the Iowa State University Extension eliminated county director positions and many of us stayed in our counties and continued to work as a county paid staff member. I chose to do that for about eight years,” she said.
Following that, she taught at Gehlen Catholic School for nine years before retiring.
New Ways to be Involved
Schneider continues her involvement in the fair as a superintendent in the Open Class Department Food & Preservation exhibits. She is also a member of the Floyd Valley Federated Garden Club, which shares exhibit space with the foods entries.
“I really enjoy it, it’s a lot of fun,” she said. “It’s fun to see people continue to learn and to look for comments that judges make and strive to do something different. I’ve seen more than one generation of exhibitors come through.”
A Family Honor As Well
Schneider reflected on the Hall of Fame honor and what it means to her.
“I sat on the board when they made those (Hall of Fame) decisions for many years and it was always a very interesting conversation. Names that came forward were always very worthy people. Sometimes the board had more than one person they would really like to give the award to, and so I know it comes with thought and consideration, and I’m not the only person that makes contributions here, so it’s very special in that way,” she said.
“And it meant a lot to my family. You know my Extension career, they had to be a part of it. And if I had a lot of night meetings, they had to do their own stuff, correct their own homework and get help from Dad on math problems. They knew what I did was important,” she continued.
“One of the reasons I came back to Extension that second time is my children were just starting their 4-H careers and I could tell if I were a part of their Extension program, I would have more of a contact with them in their learning and their growing up, and their peers,” she said. “I’ve always enjoyed children, seeing them grow and learn and mature, so it was something that I prayed about and it seemed like it was something I should do. And like I said, I don’t have any regrets.”
Schneider also commented on the support the fair board receives.
“The fair board has had great support from the media, from all auctioneers. They come year after year, businesses come as bidders, and now that premium auction has expanded to even poultry, rabbits and those kids get a chance for a ribbon premium. It’s that partnership and support that I found very encouraging,” she said.