SHIRLEY STAKEY (BS ‘57 home economics education) is an Iowa State Fair legend and the “Face of 4-H” for hundreds of Iowans since serving as superintendent of the 4-H Exhibit Building for 26 years. She also provided oversight for the state 4-H award recognition process and state judges training. She worked 35 years at Iowa State University Extension, eventually helping to operate the program that had helped her find her way in the world.
“My parents taught us love, honesty, integrity and the value of a strong work ethic to always complete any and all responsibilities ‘to the best of your ability’,“ Stakey said. She also credits her early 4-H experiences, such as being a youth delegate to the National 4-H Conference, with opening doors to new growth opportunities and experiences. The encouragement from her 4-H leader and home economics teacher also lead her to pursue a degree in home economics.
Her first job was in Cass County as Extension Home Economist, followed by county-level positions in Adams, Webster, Hamilton and Wright counties. In 1977 she joined the State 4-H staff at Iowa State, where she was program specialist until retiring in 2001.
Among the recognitions she has received are the ISU College of Home Economics Helen LeBaron Hilton Award, the ISU Alumni Association Superior Service Award, the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents Distinguished Service Award, the American Spirit Award, the Carol Ringgenberg Award and the Jerry Parsons 4-H Youth Development Professional Award. Fittingly, the year Stakey retired she received the Iowa 4-H Alumni Award at the Iowa State Fair. In 2017 she was also awarded the Iowa 4-H Foundation Individual 4-H Supporter Award.
Over the years, however, the most important things have been her family, church community and friends. After retirement she served on the Heartland Senior Services and Bethany Manor volunteer boards. She was a co-leader of the Extension Powerful Tools for Caregivers Extension program and facilitated an Alzheimer’s support group.
Stakey’s personal philosophy mirrors the 4-H pledge to use your head, heart, hands and health to create a better world. Here is how Stakey puts it: “To live, love and do, for and with others, will bring purpose, fulfillment and enjoyment to each day.”
“Friendships, both old and new, are a blessing,” she said. “Occasional or frequent contacts include special friends from 4-H days, school days, college days, the church family, Extension co-workers, neighbors as well as special friendships from the different places I have lived and worked.”
Stakey is a lifelong Iowan and lives in Story City. She and her husband (deceased) raised a son and a daughter, who live in Iowa with their families. She has five grandchildren.
Dean of the College of Human Sciences, Laura Jolly: We chose to honor Shirley Stakey as an alumna of the College of Human Sciences and award-winning extension and 4-H staff member who served 23 years as superintendent of the 4-H Exhibits Building at the Iowa State Fair encouraging youth to be their best!