Katherine Rickart inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame

Kathy Rickart in a pumpkin patch
Photo Credit: Greeley Tribune

Katherine M. Rickart of Greeley, Colorado was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame on October 12 for her lifetime achievements and contributions to 4-H.

Honored by the National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals (NAE4-HYDP), Rickart was one of 20 people inducted during the ceremony held at the Kellogg Conference Hotel at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC.

The National 4-H Hall of Fame honorees are nominated by their home states, National 4-H Council; the National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals; or the Division of Youth and 4-H, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)/National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) based upon their exceptional leadership at the local, state, national and international levels.

Honorees were presented with a National 4-H Hall of Fame medallion, plaque, and memory book during the ceremony. The National 4-H Hall of Fame was established in 2002 as part of the Centennial Project of National Association of Extension 4-H Agents in partnership with National 4-H Council and National 4-H Headquarters at USDA.

“We are proud to recognize the 2021 National 4-H Hall of Fame honorees for the passion, dedication, vision, and leadership they have shown toward young people during their many years of service to 4-H,” says Jeannette Rea Keywood, National 4-H Hall of Fame Committee Chair.

Making a difference in youth lives has always been one of Katherine (Kathy) Rickart’s guiding principles throughout her long and distinguished Extension career. Dedicating 30-years, as an Extension professional in Colorado and New Mexico, Kathy broke the mold in Colorado becoming the first full-time female director in Elbert County; where she had also served in the youth development, home economics and interim agriculture positions during her 23-year tenure. Kathy then transferred to Bernalillo County, New Mexico where she supervised the 4-H program for seven-year with the New Mexico State University Extension Services.

During Kathy’s Extension professional career, she lead an active 4-H horse program, a strong military program, served in all the offices of Colorado’s Association of 4-H Agents (CAE4-HA), and also was a trustee for the Colorado 4-H Foundation. She ensured youth had opportunities and experiences that expanded their life and viewpoint and participated actively in interstate exchanges with several states and counties. Kathy replicated much of those same experiences when she moved to the New Mexico Extension Service and added supervisory responsibilities. Kathy provided an excellent role model for new extension professionals as she served in dual roles as a 4-H and FCS and then as an administrator. With each of these experiences, she served as a role model of excellence in programming and professionalism.

With a passion for the 4-H profession, Kathy eagerly devoted energies promoting and increasing the value of those working with the 4-H Program’s youth and volunteers. She enthusiastically served as the Western Regional Director twice – once early in her career and once before retirement. In this role, Kathy communicated with the membership through newsletters, personal phone calls and in-person trainings. She was the link between the National Board and membership. The Western region spans numerous time zones and has very urban and very rural communities and Kathy navigated those differences serving to bridge and connect new extension professionals with those of longer tenure.

Not only did Kathy serve twice as a Western Regional Director, but Kathy also committed to leadership as Board secretary to keep minutes for historical and future purposes where she was responsible for all of NAE4HA’s historical records from 1946 to the present until arrangements were made for archives at National 4-H Council.

Once completing her two-year term between 1980-1982 as secretary, Kathy accepted the Editor’s position of NAE4-HA’s News and View magazine where she served a four-year term from 1982 to 1986. In the position, Kathy wrote, and edited articles submitted for the publications. Additionally, she was responsible for labeling, sorting, and bundling the magazine before mailing. To complete the mailings, Kathy used the local county 4-H youth to complete this task.

Even after retirement, Kathy continued to provide leadership for NAE4-HA, serving as the inaugural Life Member Chair for the 2000 NAE4-HA Conference in Denver. She planned, coordinated, and facilitated programs for the retirees attending the conference. As the first Life Member chair, Kathy provided a foundation for value-add to future NAE4-HA Conferences for Extension retirees.

Kathy continues to pay forward and since retirement, Kathy has remained active in several organizations locally and statewide with 4-H, Coalition for Elder Rights and Adult Protection, Bethel Lutheran Church, and Costume Castle.

She has served with the Weld County Fair as a Division Superintendent; 4-H Awards Chair soliciting sponsorship for 400 awards amounting to more than $12,000; and judging poultry, demonstration, and speech contests. Furthermore, Kathy provides leadership for community service projects for local 4-H clubs, assists with fundraisers through the Tigges Farm Produce & Pumpkin Patch (co-owner), educating young people on horticulture-related projects and promotes 4-H through her business.

Additionally, Kathy designed and managed an original website for the Colorado Conservation Tillage Association. During 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic, Kathy made 400 face masks and gave most away to grocery store workers and farm customers. She worked with church volunteers and sewed 18 PPE gowns made from donated bed sheets for a nursing home in Fort Morgan that could not find PPE gowns.

Kathy has an amazing ability to find the positive in any situation and looks for the possibilities, whether it is raising funds for a band or youth group or developing elderly services in her state. Kathy is the epitome of ‘Making the Best Better’ for her club, community, country, and world. Kathy was recognized by her peers as the national Life Member Award recipient for NAE4-HA in 2016 in New Orleans for her life member contributions. Kathy has had a lifelong commitment to 4-H, its pledge and motto.

Learn more about Colorado 4-H at Colorado4H.org

Story courtesy of Jeannette Rea Keywood, National 4-H Hall of Fame Chair

Office of Engagement and Extension Staff