BY SUSANA GONZALEZ
FOR KING CITY RUSTLER
KING CITY — In honor of National 4-H Week, Oct. 1-7, King City Blue Ribbon 4-H interviewed former club leader Mary Hughes, whose 4-H history began with Greenfield as a child before becoming the King City community leader for more than a decade.
What is your background with KCBR 4-H?
I joined Greenfield 4-H when I was in fourth grade, 45 years ago. I remember taking the project called furnishing with Ginger Gianolini as my leader, making a hanging flower basket, refinishing a toy chest and making a Mickey Mouse bulletin board. I also took a couple years of sewing, lifelong skills that I can still do today. I raised sheep for the Salinas Valley Fair. The sheep back then looked much different than the sheep we see at today’s fair. My dad and brothers were also very involved in the Greenfield club as leaders. But then I got to high school, I quit 4-H because I didn’t think I had time to do both sports and 4-H.
When my oldest daughter Hillary entered fourth grade, 4-H became a part of my life again. That was in 2003. In 2005, I became the co-leader of KCBR 4-H with Esther Kosty, and after that became the community leader for the next 11 years. All three of my daughters were in 4-H from fourth through 12th grade.
What inspired you to become a 4-H leader?
What inspired me to be a leader was the fact that I like to be involved and help out, especially if it is something I am passionate about I saw the need and stepped up. Being a 4-H alumni, I know the benefits of the program and wanted to make sure it was available for the youth in our community. I felt I had the knowledge and prior experience to make sure the club ran smoothly and not only benefited the members, but also the community.
What are some of your 4-H memories as a leader?
I have many memories as a 4-H leader. It’s always fun to create new experiences for the kids. With the help of other wonderful volunteers, KCBR started the Bowl-O-Rama, a countywide event. This year will be the ninth annual. I loved it when my crochet group crocheted baby hats and booties that were donated to the newborn babies at Mee Memorial Hospital. We also crocheted squares and took them to Michaels, where they were connected and made into blankets for a shelter. I took a few leadership groups to Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk, that was fun, until one of the rides broke into pieces when we were on it — scary! I also loved when we delivered cookies every Christmas season to the local businesses and people who support our club.
Another favorite memory is Veterans Day every year, when Mrs. Domingos teaches the kids what it means and then we honor our local veterans by placing poems at their graves at the King City Cemetery. This last year we started a Scavenger Hunt collecting food for our local food pantry. Of course our Pedro parties were always fun thanks to the wonderful donations from our community.
And, we can’t forget the Salinas Valley Fair, probably the kids’ favorite, but also time for me to see the accomplishments of our members, whether it be a ribbon won for a market animal or a best of show on photography, quilt, baked goods, a poster, crocheted item or any other project. A sense of pride comes over you, knowing that these members were from KCBR 4-H. The end-of-the-year celebration at STAR Farms is also a great memory, not just for the wonderful food, but seeing our club’s families enjoying themselves at a wonderful venue. 4-H has been a big part of my family’s life and I am thankful my three daughters were able to participate and get so much our of the program. They’re better individuals because of 4-H.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
One of the accomplishments I’m most proud of is the fact that some of our members have learned the importance of giving back to our community and by doing so, the community knows who King City Blue Ribbon 4-H is. Our members are visible participating in different community events — serving at the Golden Jubilee, Clam Chowder, Crab Feed, IOTA TAU Luncheon, baking for many fundraisers, picking up trash for Bloom, participating in Memorial Day and Veterans Day at the cemetery, donating canned food to our local food pantry, donating coats and blankets to the Red Cross and stuffed animals to the Sheriff’s Department, painting the school playground and cleaning up the garden, decorating the Leo Meyer Center, etc.
Another accomplishment I’m proud of is the participation of our members at county events as well as the honors some of our member have won — gold medals on record books, platinum star winners and placing in SVF livestock judging.
Which 4-H projects did you lead?
I have been a leader for the leadership project, beginning 4-H, crochet, cross stitch, pie making, candy making and pedro. I hope those who were in my projects learned some lifelong skills.
What does the 4-H motto “To Make the Best Better” mean to you?
I think the 4-H motto, “To Make the Best Better,” means to me that when you become a part of something, you do what you can to improve it. I think it refers to people, your club, your community, your county, your country and the world. If a 4-Her is asked to help at a community event, that event should better because of the 4-Her helping. I hope that the youth who join 4-H become better people by learning the importance of giving back to the community.
Susana Gonzalez is the club reporter for King City Blue Ribbon 4-H.