By DEBORAH GERTZ HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Marilyn Hyde said she didn't put "two and two together" when Cheri Myers asked a few questions about her long ties to 4-H.
Not even when Myers, 4-H and youth development program coordinator in Pike County with University of Illinois Extension, emailed a few more questions tied to a potential award for Hyde.
But it all made sense when Hyde got an invitation to the Illinois State Fair as part of the Illinois 4-H Hall of Fame Class of 2013.
The Pittsfield woman, Sharon Tenhouse of Liberty and 63 others were inducted Aug. 10 as part of the ninth, and largest-ever, class for the hall of fame. It was established in 2004 to honor and celebrate extraordinary 4-H alumni, volunteers and former 4-H staff.
"I really appreciate it. It really shocked me when I got the letter in the mail," said Hyde, a former member and leader of the Independence Hustlers 4-H Club who serves as president of the Pike County 4-H Foundation.
"I do love 4-H. I really do. My kids were both in 4-H, and I have grandkids in it now," she said. "I think it's a great organization. There's a lot of responsibility, a lot of leadership taught. It's something they can take on in their life and can become very helpful to them with a job, with raising a family."
Hyde joined 4-H at the age of 10. She showed Shorthorn cattle for the next 10 years, then became a leader before getting involved in the foundation, the fundraising arm for 4-H.
Tenhouse's 4-H involvement began as a club member in Champaign County for 10 years, then a junior leader in high school and college. "I just kept going," Tenhouse said.
After moving to the Quincy area in 1978, "there was an opportunity to help with the local club, the Burton Flyers 4-H Club, and I've been doing it ever since," she said. "I enjoy the kids. We have wonderful families involved. It's just a great organization."
Tenhouse is one of five leaders for the club with 45 members.
"The Quincy area is really blessed to have many 4-H leaders who are lifelong leaders, who still believe in the program, still believe in kids," she said. "I've always enjoyed working with young people."
Both women have seen the organization expand into a wider range of projects and activities while still helping young people develop leadership, citizenship and life skills.
The variety "is what makes it so fun," Tenhouse said. "What it's all about is sparking that interest in someone. Maybe it will become a career."
Angie Barnard, director of the Illinois 4-H Foundation, commended the inductees for their commitment to the youth development program.
"These long-time volunteers fully embody what 4-H strives to instill in youth," Barnard said in a news release. "They are caring, dedicated, generous leaders. The Illinois 4-H Foundation is extremely proud to be able to provide this honor to each and every one of them, and we thank them for their service to this wonderful organization."