Lifetime volunteer awardee recalls 4-H legacy

peggy spence

Peggy Spence, standing with Wink, was recently awarded a 4-H Lifetime Volunteer Award for Kent County. She has led Holler-N-Hooves for 18 years and seen “probably close to 100 children, if not more, come through the club.”

MILFORD — A six feet tall young man donning a black trench coat and a spiked necklace quietly, hoping no one would hear him, asked a woman offering pony rides, “Can I ride your pony?”

“If you can get up there and sit on that saddle, you can go for a ride,” she said. “And he did. He politely said thank you and walked off. It was his first pony ride.”

That is just one of many heartwarming stories Peggy Spence remembers from volunteering with Delaware’s 4-H for 18 years. She recently received a Lifetime Volunteer Award for Kent County during an awards ceremony held at the University of Delaware.

“I thought I was going up there for lunch. It was just awesome,” she said. “It’s nice to win something. But the best part is watching the kids come out of their shell and really excel. I judge it on my kids and not me. It’s what they can do, what do they want to do, where do they want to take the club.”

Although Ms. Spence didn’t begin leading a 4-H club until 1997, two years after her own children joined, she has been around animals, particularly horses, nearly her whole life. She now owns a farm in Houston with her husband, Byo.

When she’s not working in the admissions department at Wesley College in Dover, she keeps busy running her horse-focused 4-H club, Holler-N-Hooves with co-leader and local veterinarian Sharon Little.

“I keep thinking this might be it, but no. Sharon just keeps me sucked in,” Ms. Spence said. “I don’t think I’m as active as I used to be, but there’s always more to do. It’s too much for one person.”

Ms. Spence has led her group in activities such as local horse shows, demonstration contests, volunteering for local parades and state fair competitions to name just a few. Their involvement in the community at the local, county and state levels has earned the group the coveted Blue Club Charter Seal for years.

She says even to this day the group annually makes cards to be given to those at Genesis HealthCare in Milford for Christmas and decorates a tree with handmade ornaments for the kids’ playroom at Bayhealth Kent General Hospital in Dover.

 

As she looked back at her time volunteering for 4-H, Ms. Spence smiled as she named children she’s seen move through the program: an EMT, a pilot and airport manager, a veterinary science major, parents and 4-H leaders for example.

“We even had the first Delaware 4-H kid to be invited to the international conference,” she beamed. “Another went to South Africa to help children.

They told her she couldn’t leave for two years. She was happy doing that.”

While Ms. Spence’s 4-H club focuses almost entirely on horses, there are many other groups throughout the state with different focuses, and even some without.

“If there’s an interest a child has, there’s a book for it. The parent can even be the guide. Not every child wants to do the same thing,” she said, adding that interested families can contact the main office at 302-831-2501 or online at http://extension.udel.edu/4h/.

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at mc@newszap.com

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