Idaho County Free Press
“The programs would not run like they do without the huge assortment of volunteers from throughout the county who do a terrific job,” she said. “I am only one cog in that process.”
In the late ‘80s, Heckman, a graduate of Grangeville High School, began serving as office manager for the Idaho County Extension.
“We all --- Jim Church, Mary Schmidt and Carl Crabtree – worked with the 4-H program and had various 4-H and fair duties,” she said.
However, that was not Heckman’s first taste of the 4-H program. Growing up as Susie Groom, she took aa cooking 4-H project with leaders Nancy McGregor and Bev McDonald.
“We were the Cute Cookie Cutters,” she laughed.
Although Heckman realizes the fair is the culmination of the end of a 4-H year for members, she also said she understands the group work hard all year long.
“It’s a celebration of everything that has gone into making a 4-H project a success,” she said.
In time, Heckman went from office manager to program director. The job includes a wide variety of responsibilities including overseeing all the 4-H volunteers and making sure judges and helpers are in place at the fair. It also includes overseeing the 4-H Ambassadors and Mod Squad programs.
Throughout the years, Heckman said some of the greatest changes at the fair have been the facilities and the technology.
“New buildings have been constructed and improvements are constantly being made. It used to be everything from showing to fashion shows were in one building so we had to completely clean and decorate and take down and move things after each event,” she recalled. “It’s much nice now and much more convenient.”
Having everything computerized also leads to quicker turn-around for posting results and cutting checks, she said.
Nearly 500 kids from across the county participate in 4-H. Many members stay on the fairgrounds in campers and tents during fair week.
“It’s a very exciting time every year and one of the most fun times where I get to see all the kids and what they’ve done with their projects,” Heckman said. “I also Tuesday, the beginning of the week, when everything just begins to appear and be decorated and it all comes together so quickly.”
Heckman and her husband, Dion, own and operate a ranch in the White Bird area. For 4-H questions she can be reached at the U of I Extension office, Grangeville, 983-2667.