Press release

MADISON — A former Kewaunee County 4-H youth development educator was inducted into the Wisconsin 4-H Hall of Fame last month.

Sheboygan resident Merry Klemme, who now lives in Sheboygan, was one of five inductees honored during a ceremony at Green Lake Conference Center on Nov. 2.

“We see the impact your volunteer service makes today and are encouraged to think how 4-H youth will shape the families, communities, and our world,” says Dondieneita Fleary-Simmons, Wisconsin 4-H Program manager. “We know that bright futures are more possible because of all you do. We cannot thank you enough for Making if Happen!”

Merry Klemme, a one-time member of the Merry Belle’s 4-H Club, a Sheboygan County 4-H volunteer leader and UW-Extension 4-H youth development educator is a youth advocate, mentor, and educator.

Resilience throughout her professional life and a passion for empowering others are key leadership qualities Merry demonstrates. Merry was active around the table reminding others to include youth voices in program design and implementation. Her initiatives included a “youth center without walls”, empowering youth to serve on boards and fostering additional leadership opportunities for youth. Her dedication to citizenship was demonstrated through her work securing a grant and supporting a program that connected immigrant youth with mentors.

Merry initiated multi-disciplinary programs working collaboratively with other UW-Extension program area colleagues to address their county needs. A rural Safety Day and a school age child care program are examples of these collaborations. Merry served Kewaunee, Manitowoc and Calumet counties during her work as a 4-H youth development educator.

Throughout her career, Merry led communities in developing positive youth-adult partnerships and supporting youth voices. Her influence among colleagues and volunteers keeps everyone asking, “What can we learn from youth?”

After retirement Merry returned to volunteering for 4-H, founded the Sheboygan County Silent Auction, and she currently teaches cultural art project “fun” shops every year in several different counties.

Merry reflected on the impact 4-H and Extension has had on her and her family. Her parents were Extension Agents as well as her brother, and now two of her seven children are 4-H Educators here in Wisconsin, and she’s proud to pass on, not only the passion, but the career to future generations.

The Wisconsin 4-H Hall of Fame was established to recognize 4-H volunteers, financial supporters, staff and pioneers who made major contributions to the 4-H movement at the local, state and national levels. The candidates represent 4-H in the broadest sense – people who had an impact on the lives of children, their community or state through significant contributions of time, energy or financial resources to 4-H and its members.

Other 2019 Wisconsin 4-H Hall of Fame Laureates are Greg Hutchins, retired Wisconsin 4-H Youth Development Director; Ben Brancel, community leader, former Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture; Helen Augusta Hornby, Kenosha and Vernon County 4-H Pioneer (In Memoriam); and Dr. Ronald T. Schuler, Retired UW-Extension Specialist, mechanical sciences.