(Photo by Paula Buenger)
Later, his children began showing calves, sheep and hogs, spurring their father to get involved again. He is currently the chair of the Clay County sheep committee and a member of the beef committee.
His hard work has not gone unnoticed, as he was inducted into the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame at the Iowa State Fair. Thursday at the Clay County Fair, he was recognized for his achievement during the sheep show.
"Mike Schoning's contribution to 4-H was widely felt," said Bonnie Dalager, ISU Extension and Outreach Clay County Program Director. "Mike has been on the sheep and beef committees for many years, encouraging youth and working to offer beneficial learning opportunities through the Clay County 4-H program. Those in the program and his fellow volunteers all seem to say something similar--that Mike has the best interest of the kids at heart."
Schoning believes 4-H experiences are beneficial for both youth participants and adult volunteers.
"4-H is good for kids because it teaches them competition and also to get along with others," he said. "It gives adults satisfaction to work with kids and see a smile on their face. Some times they have tears in their eyes, too."
In his capacity as a board member, Schoning is very involved in the Clay County Fair and enjoys meeting people from other areas, helping them while in Spencer and staying in touch with them over the years.
That connectivity and service on a statewide level lines up with the purpose of the 4-H Hall of Fame, according to Iowa State University Extension and Outreach 4-H Youth Development Program Director Chuck Morris.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for the counties and state to recognize and celebrate 4-H volunteers and staff who have shown outstanding service and dedication to Iowa's 4-H program," Morris said.
The distinction caught Schoning by surprise. He was quick to deflect the attention to those around him.
"I was very surprised and felt very honored," he said. "I work with very good people on the committees and, through the years, I've worked with very good extension people, too."