‘Gentle leader’ Angie Ehlers enters Iowa 4-H hall of fame

Leadership is the lesson behind all the ribbons


Forget about the color of the ribbons.

Angie Ehlers says her 4-H passion is driven by the memories created when kids work together and achieve far more than they could alone.

Ehlers joins the statewide Iowa 4-H hall of fame with a nomination that attests to her commitment.

“She is one of the people that others ask to help as they know her work will be excellent, she will be happy to help and her example to young people is of the highest quality,” Becky Bray wrote in Ehlers’ nomination.

Ehlers lives in Blue Grass township, just south of Walcott. She answers calls from lots of parents. Jennifer Weyeneth is among them.

“Angie is a gentle leader. She encourages others to make an impact in world around them,” said Jennifer. She had three daughters, Maddie, Abbie and Ellie in 4-H.

Ehlers was Blue Grass chapter leader when the youngest, Ellie, began.

“We were on the fence, trying to decide, do we want to continue?” Jennifer Weyeneth remembered. “She was in so many activities, sports, honor bands, student council. And I have to say it all stems from 4H. Through Angie’s mentorship, it just became a natural way to learn.”

Ehlers said all of 4-H – the livestock, projects, essays, presentations, ribbons and awards – helps kid experience successes and losses in front of their peers. Competition is tough. But it’s among kids who support each other.

“Half of our members never go to fairs,” Ehlers said. “It’s to learn life skills. You could have a taste of a lot of different things and see what sparks your interest.”

Ehlers said 4-H introduces kids to parliamentary procedure, the orderly way of conducting public affairs that is used by elected councils, business and social clubs.

“It helps kids find their voice, and learn how to share it with others,” Ehlers said. “Being able to get up and talk in front of people is so important. It’s so fun to see them grow over time. By the second or third time they do this, they’re more and more comfortable.”

That’s the outcome Weyeneth has seen in her own family. “Angie makes it so it’s not stressful, not end-result driven. It was a process and a journey. The excellence shows at end of the day,” she said.

The Weyeneth home is overrun with ribbons, projects and memories.

There is no app for that. Literally. 4-H has not succumbed to virtual competition. All activities root kids in a real world.

Ellie’s 4-H confidence fueled her Assumption High School activities, where she is in volleyball, honor band, choir, student council, as well as Quad-City Youth Concert Orchestra, while earning community college credits.

“Her years in 4H have definitely given her the confidence to try new things, speak in public, advocate for herself, and excel in leadership positions. We are thankful for Angie Ehlers and the incredible patience, kindness, and encouragement she has given Ellie over the years,” Jennifer Weyeneth said.

New 4-H Hall of Fame inductees were honored on the last day of the fair, but Ehlers couldn’t make it. Too busy.

“We’d already been to the state fair twice,” she said.

After helping others win hundreds of ribbons, Ehlers confessed a little nervousness about getting her own award.

“I know I don’t deserve this award because so many others do the exact same thing. I feel almost guilty. It’s a big deal, and I appreciate it. I just don’t want it,” she laughed. “To be a 4-H leader, they’re all devoted when you have passion like I do for 4H. Of course, there’s other things that don’t get done at my house. But all volunteers know that.”

Angie Ehlers, Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame, Becky Bray, Jennifer Weyeneth, Maddie Weyeneth, Abbie Weyeneth, Ellie Weyeneth