Nominated by two of her 4-H’ers, Ames resident Deanna Collins, will be added to the list of Iowa State Fair Hall of Fame members this year. Her award was announced at the Story County Fair on July 22, and she will be officially inducted during the state fair in August.
Retired Story County Extension Director Carolyn Manning said the honor goes to people who have contributed significantly over a long period of time to 4-H. “She (Collins) has been a leader for more than 20 years and she just loves the kids. She helps them all along in any way she can,” she said.
Collins is well-known in the central Iowa 4-H world. She started as a leader with the Clover Kids and later combined that with the Washington Happenings. In addition to the hundreds of kids she has influenced over the years, both of her daughters were raised in 4-H and made careers out of the passions they discovered there.
Her oldest, Katie, became a self-employed dog-groomer at age 17, which earned her a 4-H scholarship to college. Katie has had the honor of grooming dogs at the Westminster Dog Show in New York City three times. She currently travels all over the east coast working for dog handlers.
Her younger daughter, Bailey, focused on horses throughout her 4-H career and received an equine management degree from Iowa Falls Community College. She specializes in horse training and has worked for horse trainers in Illinois and South Carolina. She also shows horses on a national level, including at the Pinto World Show in Tulsa, Okla.
“My kids were very mature as teenagers and it’s because they knew what they wanted to do,” said Collins. And she believes 4-H played a big role in that.
Collins said involvement in 4-H grows maturity in young people. Her girls are not the exception. Kids are encouraged to learn, to follow their passions, and to step out of their comfort zones. All of this while being surrounded by adults like Collins who guide them along the way.
“I love seeing the success in the kids and how much they grow in self-confidence and self-esteem,” she said.
4-H has been a huge part of Deanna Collins life since she was a kid. Growing up in southern Iowa, she was a devoted member of her 4-H group, concentrating on cattle, horses and dogs. Her passion as an adult is horses and she is a committed leader in the 4-H equine world. Collins is currently the Co-Story County horse superintendent (she serves alongside another Iowa State Fair Hall of Famer, Claire Hall), the Horse Project leader and the hippology (study of horses) coach. She also serves on the Iowa 4-H Horse Committee. In addition, she works in the animal records department at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
As Story County Horse superintendents, Collins and Hall lead a Wednesday night horse school for several weeks prior to the Story County Fair. They also have monthly project meetings and periodically hold a variety of clinics, including jumping, western pleasure, horsemanship and ranch riding.
Collins commitment to hippology has helped her students earn many trips to Denver, Colo., to participate in the Equine Extravaganza. This national competition includes a wide variety of subject areas, including internal and external anatomy, digestive system, musculoskeletal system and more. In advance of the competition in late March, Collins and co-leader Kiersten Sevold meet with students once per week, beginning in January, to study and prepare.
Neighbor and friend Karen Blum said, “She chaperones the competitions and works tirelessly to fundraise and teach the youth whatever she can about their areas of interest. But more importantly, she teaches them citizenship, kindness, giving back to the community and helps them grow into compassionate adults.”
Collins said one of her favorite things about being involved in 4-H is seeing the youth who’ve grown up in 4-H come back to help with the various programs.
“One thing we’re really proud of in Story County is that our older kids come back and help out,” she said. “They love it so much that after they graduate they don’t want to leave, so they come back and help the younger kids.”