4-H officials honored Kathy Picklesimer Tuesday after the fair’s special interest project awards show. After 40 years, Picklesimer is stepping down as the leader of her local 4-H club, the Darby Clovers, and as county shooting sports coordinator. She said she hopes to remain connected with 4-H, even if she is not leading. Above, Picklesimer, center, speaks with her granddaughter, Maddi Sines, right, and Mindy Johnson, a 4-H advisor, left. (Journal-Tribune photo by Mac Cordell)
Involved as a participant then for 40 years as a club advisor, when Kathy Picklesimer thinks of 4-H, she has a lot to think about.
But it is the participants she thinks of most. Picklesimer recalled a young girl, shy and timid, who gave a very good demonstration to her club.
“We encouraged her to do it for the county,” Picklesimer said.
The girl’s nerves wavered and she didn’t know if she could.
“One week she said she would and the next she wouldn’t so we didn’t know,” Picklesimer said.
Eventually, with the encouragement of her club and leaders, the girl gave her demonstration at the county level. Picklesimer explained that she often tells club members they do not want their first interview to be for a job.
“She did so well,” Picklesimer said. “And you should see her now. Seeing that kind of stuff, that’s what I think of. That kind of stuff makes me feel good about 4-H.”
At the conclusion of Tuesday’s special interest project awards show, dozens of 4-Hers, past present and even some futures, gathered at the back of the pavilion at the fairgrounds to say “thank you” to Picklesimer.
After 40 years, Picklesimer is stepping down as the leader of her local 4-H club, the Darby Clovers.
“It was a very, very hard decision — very bittersweet,” she said, noting the club and organization has been central for nearly her entire life.
Picklesimer “grew up in 4-H.”
“It was just a big part of our lives,” she said.
Her mother, Dorothy Nicol, was a 4-H advisor for 50 years with the Darby Debs, the same club she had participated in. Picklesimer was involved in special interest projects, sat on the Jr. Fair Board and showed livestock.
“Of course, that was nothing like it is today,” Picklesimer said.
When her children got involved, Picklesimer did too. Like her mother, Picklesimer became a club advisor for the Darby Debs. Picklesimer and her mother actually led together for a while.
“We had a small club at the time,” Picklesimer said, explaining that it was less than 20 participants, all girls.
When boys got involved with the club, they wanted a different name and created the Darby Clovers.
In 1990, Picklesimer joined the staff at the Ohio State University’s Union County Ag Extension Office where she served for nearly two decades.
“I loved 4-H and I was very grateful that I got to work there,” Picklesimer said.
After her first husband passed, Picklesimer remarried. Her husband, David, had not grown up with 4-H, but learned a lot from Picklesimer.
While he didn’t have a 4-H background, he did have a passion for the shooting sports and teaching them to young people. So, the Picklesimers added county shooting sports coordinator to their list of duties. As leaders, the pair organizes other leaders, schedules range time, distributes books, coordinates safety education and teaches shooters from every club in the county.
Picklesimer said that when the shooting program started, there were only a few participants. Now there are more than 15 leaders to help.
4-H officials have said the Union County shooting program is one of the best in the state. In fact, shooting sports leaders from around Ohio come to Union County to see what they are doing and learn what they can model.
The Darby Clovers, which Picklesimer still leads, is now nearly 60 strong and some years has approached 70 participants. While she has helped thousands of participants, Picklesimer now wants to focus on 22 specific children, her grandchildren.
“They are becoming more involved in things and I want to be able to see them do things,” Picklesimer said.
She explained that 4-H leadership takes a lot of time. She added that even when she is doing other things, her mind will wander back to 4-H work that needs done.
“I am looking forward to being able to be away more and not thinking, ‘I have to get back to do something,’” Picklesimer said.
Local and county 4-H officials have said that while she will no longer serve as a club advisor, she will still be a mentor for other club and organization leaders. Picklesimer said she knows it’s true.
“I am not saying 4-H is out,” Picklesimer said. “I don’t know what I might get involved in.”
While she is stepping away, Picklesimer said she will always encourage children to get involved with 4-H.
“I can’t say enough how important 4-H is,” Picklesimer said. “You don’t realize till you are older what you learned in 4-H. It is a lot of work. Some children see it like school, but hopefully it is something they enjoy.”