Martha Metz put her oldest child in a 4-H club called the Eagan Encores in 1979 when they used to meet at Pilot Knob Elementary School in Eagan. They now meet in Mendota Heights but are still going strong, keeping up a long tradition of performance arts along with service learning and anything else members discover an interest in, from photography and cooking to rocketry and robotics.
"I just kept adding kids and becoming more and more involved," says Metz. "My grandson, Grant, a junior at Henry Sibley has been a member of the club since kindergarten. 4-H is a great organization for families and I have truly enjoyed my 40 years in the program."
She now serves on the Extension executive board in Dakota County and is known as a 4-H project judge who really knows how to ask questions that lead youth to reflect on and deepen their learning. "My own kids are done and some have moved on to helping judge at the Dakota County Fair," she says.
Metz's youngest child, Grant's Aunt Mara, continues to help at the club meetings that were so important to her in her own childhood and teen years.
Although 4-H has brought her family very close over the years with other longtime 4-H families, Metz always reaches out to share what 4-H has to offer with young people who may not have ever heard of the program.
"Martha has a wealth of knowledge, ideas and expertise in a variety of areas," says Rachel Rezac, Extension 4-H educator. "She is an asset to 4-H families and members, her club, community and to staff here in Dakota County. Her motivation, willingness to help, and commitment to the program is exceptional. I truly enjoy working alongside her and really appreciate everything she does for me and the program."
Read an example of Metz's volunteer work in Cooking up better life skills, 4-H receives Dakota County public health award.