2008 4-H Leader of the Year: Betty Mysak

Congratulations are in order for Betty Mysak, 4-H Horse Project leader, who was awarded the 4-H Leader of the Year award at the 2007 Jefferson County Fair. In the photo l. to r.: Julie Clouse (Silver Spurs club leader), Mrs. Govia (County Mounty's), Melinie Perry (County Mounty's club leader), Betty Mysak (4-H Horse Project leader), Irene Marble (Silver Spurs), John Ludwig (4-H Council President), and Sue Hay (4-H Council Vice President).

Betty has devoted years of her life to serving youth through 4-H and has been an instrumental leader in our county-wide horse project. Her high standards of performance and social skills provide our county youth with a high standard to strive for. Congratulations, Betty!

Betty Mysak: 2008 4-H Leader of the Year

Are you a dedicated but sometimes worn out parent, raising your kids through the unique challenges of the 21st Century? Ever feel like you are isolated and alone in this endeavor? Well, if you could use a little help to inspire yourself and your child, you need look no further than Betty Mysak, the 2008 4-H Leader of the Year. Betty has been a local volunteer 4-H leader for over 11 years and currently leads the 4-H Horse Project, a free educational program for youth in Jefferson County. Betty's 4-H Horse Project is growing exponentially this year with five clubs and almost 50 youth participating. It seems clear from those numbers that Betty's intense love of horses is positively influencing youth and families across the county.

Betty grew up in a little California town, Santee, where horses were an integral part of her life. Speaking with emotion she shared, "I loved horses when I was a little girl – to start with I collected horse statues. When I turned 10 or 11, we kept our horses boarded with an elderly Navaho man, Ron Hunga, who had 60-70 acres for cattle."

Betty's Navaho Indian pony, Pebbles, was an older Roman-nosed horse. "He was the best babysitter you ever saw. We used him as a diving board in the summer, in fact we would swim with him and he would then roll in the sand and lay with his head in our laps."
Betty was about 14 years old when she acquired another 2-year-old horse, Dude Boy, from Ron Hunga. He was brought in off the range in a stock trailer and was not as calm as Pebbles. With Ron Hunga's guidance she trained him for trail riding and bareback (partly because she didn't like the work related to saddling him).

After becoming an adult and moving to Jefferson County, Betty became a 4-H parent and club leader when her own daughter, Crystal became interested in horses. Betty and Julie Clouse then co-lead the Silver Spurs 4-H club for 3-4 years. Asked why she continues to serve 4-H youth today, even though her own daughter is now an adult, Betty stated, "I want to help the younger kids coming in. It's hard to explain why, but when you see the younger kids coming in who are shy and bashful and don't know much, and you see them grow up through 4-H and see them become poised young men and women, gain in confidence and go on to college - it's such a transformation."

Betty feels that 4-H activities provide kids with an exciting, supportive environment. "It's something that when you are in school, some kids like English, Math, etc. In 4-H everyone's doing something they love. It makes it exciting that they share a common interest together."

Of course, the horse shows and other large events that Betty leads could not be accomplished without teamwork and she is the first to always recognize her team members. "We have parents, 4-H youth, leaders and community members who all pitch in and enjoy doing it. We have families, Halcombs, McMillans, Crosbys, Norcutts, who continue to contribute and participate even though their youth have graduated."

Asked about the satisfaction of being a 4-H leader, Betty stated, " I go to sleep at night with a smile on my face because of the rewarding aspects of this work. It's a positive experience for everyone. It's fun and energizing to work with youth."

To join 4-H or to become a 4-H leader, call Pamela Roberts, 4-H coordinator, at 379-5610 ext. 207 or go to http://4h.jefferson.wsu.edu.