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Lee Foster, 4-H guiding light, named to Hall of Fame

OSU/Hood River County Extension

June 29, 2005

Hood River County is honored to have Lee Foster selected as one of 10 individuals to be inducted into the Oregon 4-H Hall Fame on June 22, 2005. The Oregon 4-H Hall of Fame was established in 2004 to recognize individuals that have had a significant impact upon the 4-H Program and/or its members and leaders.

Since 2004 was a centennial year for the Oregon 4-H program, one hundred people were inducted, one person for each year 4-H had existed in the State of Oregon. Bea Scott was selected from Hood River County as a 2004 inductee into the Oregon 4-H Hall of Fame.

Each following year up to ten individual will be selected to the Oregon 4-H Hall of Fame. Lee Foster received this honor in 2005.

Lee Foster retired as a Hood River County Extension Agent in 1973 after a 37-year career with the Extension Service. He started his Extension work in 1936 as an Agricultural Agent in Lincoln County, Washington. Then in 1947 Lee moved to Oregon as the Agricultural Extension Agent in Milton-Freewater. His final career moved was to Hood River in 1949 to serve as the Agricultural and 4-H Extension Agent.

4-H has always been an important part of Lee’s life. He realized that 4-H was a program that would help young people gain confidence and develop skills that would help them throughout their lives. Lee believed that the values represented by the four H’s are very important and would strive to instill that in everyone. He viewed 4-H as a primary way to develop character and citizenship.

Through Lee’s career he impacted hundreds of 4-H leaders and club member. He was always there for the kids whether it was helping them to find ways to finance their pigs, to working their gardens, to helping them to learn how to grow things more productively. To this day, Lee has former 4-H’ers write him letters or stop him on the street to thank him for what he did for them in 4-H.

Throughout his career Lee chaperoned at 4-H camps and OSU Summer Schools, organized and helped at the county and state fairs, helped organize county forestry days as well as livestock field days. He believed in the value of 4-H members giving demonstrations because he knew they would gain knowledge and confidence through the process.

He and Jennie Clark (the home economics/4-H Extension agent) put Hood River County on the state map in the 1950s with successes of 4-H youth doing demonstrations, champions at State Fair and the number of kids going to 4-H Club Congress and National 4-H Conference. His livestock judging teams were among the strongest in the state. Lee even found time to be a 4-H Leader.

While in Hood River County, Lee also served as the Staff Chair. In this position he realized how important it was to have the community and community leaders be supportive of the Extension Service and the 4-H programs. He worked hard to keep them involved so the program would be successful and continue to grow. He strived to have the whole community be involved in someway.

It was Lee who came up with the idea and encouraged the fair board to work with the school district to develop the present site for the Hood River County Fair. This amazing idea allows the fair board to utilize the school during fair, when it needs extra space without having to have building under used throughout the rest of the year. In fact at one time the grandstands at the Wy’East football field were also used as the livestock barn during fair. This concept is very unique to Hood River and a wonderful use of resources.

It is said that Lee liked to be the instigator of ideas and have other people get the credit for them. Lee also contributes his success to all the volunteers’ leaders he worked with over the years.

Lee has spent a lifetime of living by the 4-H ideals. To this day he continues to be a promoter of 4-H and supports it in many ways. His legacy continues as his daughter and son-in-law, Anne and Randy Holmstrom are 4-H Leaders in Cascade Locks plus his grandson Peter Holmstrom is also an active 4-H Member.

Congratulations to Lee Foster for his work in helping youth and adults in our community through his leadership and support of the 4-H program. His name is well deserved to be among the Oregon 4-H Hall of Fame members.

*****

Billie Stevens can be reached at:

billie.stevens@oregonstate.edu

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