The University of Wisconsin-Extension 4-H Youth Development Program inducted 100 laureates into the brand-new Wisconsin 4-H Hall of Fame Saturday, November 15. The Hall of Fame induction ceremony was the last statewide event celebrating 100 years of 4-H in Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin 4-H Hall of Fame was established to recognize 4-H volunteers, financial supporters, staff and pioneers who made major contributions to 4-H at the local, state and national levels. The honorees represent 4-H in the broadest sense, according to Wisconsin 4-H Youth Development State Program Director Dale Leidheiser.
“We are inducting volunteers, supporters and UW-Extension employees who had an impact on the lives of children, their community or state through significant contributions of time, energy, or financial resource to 4-H and its members,” Leidheiser says.
Wisconsin 4-H is proud to be represented by Verne Varney in the 4-H Hall of Fame. Verne is remembered as the “Father of IFYE”, the International Farm Youth Exchange, which was renamed International Four-H Youth Exchange in 1974. A visit to Germany in 1950, visiting with many rural youth, adults, and leaders, sparked his interest in promoting international understanding through these exchanges.
In 1951, Verne started the Wisconsin IFYE program. He recruited participants, directed the orientation, and scheduled presentations for IFYEs when they returned. He also recruited host families and provided appropriate orientation.
Verne and his wife, Dorothy, hosted many youth as they first arrived in Wisconsin. Dorothy remained a contributor to WI-IFYE even after Verne died. She helped pay for registration fees for some foreign IFYEs when Wisconsin hosted the U.S. conference.
His hard work was characterized by an outgoing personality, outstanding leadership, and a true belief in the value of 4-H and IFYE.
Since 1914, Wisconsin 4-H has helped youth grow the leadership, critical thinking and communications skills necessary to be successful in a constantly changing world. Visit the Wisconsin 4-H Hall of Fame website to learn more about the individuals who supported 100 years of growing Wisconsin leaders.