Devoting half a century to community

Anne Scheiderer’s first 4-H project in the 1950s still brings a smile to her face. “It was a summer lunch, and I made a salad, sandwiches and a rhubarb and gooseberry punch because we had a rhubarb patch and had gooseberries,” said Scheiderer, now 72. She was 10 then, and 4-H has been a part of her life ever since.

Her dedication to 4-H — she’s been an adviser for 56 years ­— and decades of volunteer work for the Union County Farm Bureau made her a natural to be honored as one of the 2018 Central Ohio Farm Bureau Agriculture Woman of the Year recipients. A committee of peers has selected a Woman of the Year since 1983 to celebrate women who dedicate their time and talent to agriculture.

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Scheiderer visits with friends and animals at the Union County Fair, where she has been involved for more than half a century.

“One of my sisters said that I’ve touched more lives than I’ll ever know, and I probably have,” said Scheiderer as she sits in her crowded farmhouse living room in Milford Center surrounded by several sewing machines, sewing baskets and stacks of fabric she’s bought for her 4-H kids’ sewing projects. “I probably won’t quit until I can’t do it anymore.”

Scheiderer grew up on a dairy farm in Chuckery, a small Darby Township community south of Marysville. After seven years in 4-H, she was asked to be an adviser during her senior year at Fairbanks High School. She enjoyed passing on the knowledge she’d gained during her years creating projects to show at the county fair, especially in cooking and sewing. She wanted to help others as she’d been helped by numerous advisers that included a cousin and an aunt.

After she married farmer Jim Scheiderer in 1965 and moved three miles down the road to Milford Center, she vowed she’d stop being an adviser when she had her own girls to teach sewing and cooking to.

“But I never had any girls,” she said with a laugh. “I had three boys.”

As the wife of a hog and cattle farmer, Scheiderer decided she’d volunteer with the local Farm Bureau to keep up with agricultural advances. Forty-five years ago she became a board member, where she’s served as president and, for more than a decade, as secretary.

She loves sharing agriculture, so for the past 17 or so years she’s taught busloads of kids in the Farm Bureau’s education barn at the Maize at Little Darby Creek in September and October.

“I have corn cobs and corn meal and popcorn and I teach them all about corn,” said Scheiderer. “I’ll hold up a dried ear of sweet corn and say, ‘Do you know you eat it green?’”

Vera Miller, who was the organization director for Farm Bureaus in Hardin, Logan and Union counties for 22 years, said Scheiderer has been a jack-of-all-trades at the Union County Farm Bureau.

“There wasn’t anything she wouldn’t tackle and she had the ability to do any job she was asked to do,” said Miller, who retired 15 years ago.

Scheiderer also has volunteered at the county Extension office, demonstrating how to use a sewing machine for the legions of children who may never have even seen one.

“There’s always kids who say, ‘Can you teach me to sew?’” Scheiderer said. And so she’s continued at 4-H, helping members prepare sewing and cooking projects.

She still teaches them how to make a pincushion out of wool and stuff it with hair — she used her own when she made her first one — because the lanolin in hair keeps needles and pins lubricated. She takes members to the fabric store to pick out clothing patterns, explains how to read the information on the pattern and how to pick out appropriate fabric to complement their looks. This year she helped four members with sewing projects, a far cry from the days when she’d have large groups of girls working on sewing projects in her living room and kitchen for weeks on end.

Scheiderer said 4-H members learn much more than sewing or cooking from their projects.

“They learn to be patient and be responsible for their own projects and learn to communicate with an adult, because they all have to give a demonstration and show a judge that they know what they did,” she said. “I always tell the kids that they’ve won if they’ve learned something and enjoyed their project.”

Gayle Earl, a 4-H adviser who has known Scheiderer all her life, said Scheiderer is the same today as she was 50 years ago.

“She does a lot of one-on-one work with the kids and she doesn’t teach down to them. She has a great sense of humor that the kids enjoy and she remains true to 4-H, true to God and true to herself.”

At the Farm Bureau, Miller said Scheiderer has been the “ultimate volunteer.”

“She loves what she does and she’d do anything in the world for you. If you are a friend of Anne’s, you can depend on her for anything.”

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