Geraine Eisentraut, of Waupaca, was recently inducted into the Wisconsin 4-H Hall of Fame,
She was among 100 laureates inducted into the brand-new Wisconsin 4-H Hall of Fame on Saturday, Nov. 15.
The University of Wisconsin-Extension 4-H Youth Development Program’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony was the final statewide event celebrating 100 years of 4-H in Wisconsin during 2014.
The Wisconsin 4-H Hall of Fame was established to recognize 4-H volunteers, financial supporters, staff and pioneers who made major contributions to 4-H at the local, state and national levels. The honorees represent 4-H in the broadest sense, according to Wisconsin 4-H Youth Development State Program Director Dale Leidheiser.
“We are inducting volunteers, supporters and UW-Extension employees who had an impact on the lives of children, their community or state through significant contributions of time, energy, or financial resource to 4-H and its members,” Leidheiser said.
Since 1914, Wisconsin 4-H has helped youth grow the leadership, critical thinking and communications skills necessary to be successful in a constantly changing world.
To learn more about the individuals who supported 100 years of growing Wisconsin leaders, visit fyi.uwex.edu/wi4hhof.
Waupaca County 4-H is proud to be represented by 4-H volunteer Geraine Eisentraut in the 4-H Hall of Fame.
Eisentraut’s influence has impacted over 500 members – youth and adult – since 1955, when she founded the Casey Lake 4-H Club.
She has shared her gifts with the countywide Waupaca County 4-H Leaders Association. Her roles included president of the Waupaca County 4-H Leaders Association, advisor to the Waupaca County Ambassador program, and co-operator of the 4-H Food Stand.
She was a representative on the Central District 4-H Council, and in 1963 was a delegate to the National 4-H Leaders’ Forum in Washington, D.C.
A cancer survivor of 41 years, Eisentraut has worked with the American Cancer Society for the past 41 years, including serving on the Waupaca County branch of the Relay for Life’s board.
Every summer she enlists club members as volunteers for the local relay, from fund raising efforts to assisting at the actual event.
Both Geraine and her late husband Joe were members of the VFW and Auxiliary. Joe passed away July 12, 2005, after 58 years of married life.
In 2004, Geraine Eisentraut was recognized as a Community Service Outstanding Volunteer by the Ladies Auxiliary. She still spends one day a month playing bingo with the residents at the Wisconsin Veterans Home in King.
Eisentraut is celebrating her 60th year as a 4-H leader. As a tribute, the members of Casey Lake 4-H Club nominated her to the Hall of Fame, stating that her nomination would be a fitting tribute to her service.
The club nomination application stated:
“Awards aside, perhaps her most valuable achievement is decades of commitment at the club level: overseeing meetings, instructing Explorers, and readying young people for fairs.
“If anyone embodies the tenets of “The 4-H Pledge,” it is Geraine Eisentraut, her heart and hands clearly pledged to greater service, and the better living of our club, community, country, and world is indebted.”
Through the years, she has received the following honors: Waupaca County 4-H Distinguished Service Award (1987), Wisconsin 4-H Alumni Award (1996), and the Waupaca County FFA’s Distinguished Service Award (2007).
Eisentraut is an active member of the Waupaca United Methodist Church, where she has taught Sunday school for 44 years. For 63 years she’s been a member of the Homemakers (HCE) serving at times as co-president and program chairperson.
Her present ministry includes reading to the blind at Bethany Nursing Home, and weekly sewing sessions making “School Kit Bags” for distribution to those in need. For years, Casey Lake 4-H Club members have played bingo with Bethany residents under her tacit encouragement.
As the “presiding matriarch” of a large, extended family – four children, nine grandchildren, and 15 great grandchildren – all of whom are actively farming, Geraine Eisentraut exemplifies commitment to the farming legacy.
At times her family has expanded to include exchange students from Kenya, Australia and Japan. She has also enjoyed the role of “foster great grandmother” to numerous foster children sponsored by her daughter Kari Riley’s family.
Eisentraut said that 4-H has been rewarding for her. It has helped her grow.
“It is a learning tool for both the members and leaders,” she said. “The Explorers are so much fun to work with and the rewards cannot be measured.”
She feels that she is still needed, more like a grandmother figure, by being there for that word of encouragement or a hug.