Spurred to lead county 4-H club

Profile

Howard At Play

July 30, 2000

Name: Shirley Geis

Job description: Leader for 34 years of Spur and Stirrup 4-H Club of Howard County. Club has 50 members, $600 budget. Coordinates six horse shows at the county's Schooley Mill Park annually, riding clinics and the Horse Bowl. Also coordinator of the annual statewide 4-H dressage show.

Age: "Let's just say I'm a senior citizen."

Residence: Clarksville.

Personal: Pennsylvania native. Bachelor's degree in zoology, master's in microbiology from Michigan State, where she also learned livestock judging, "the most important thing I ever did." Retired from National Institutes of Health. Became a 4-H leader when son Dean, now a farrier, was riding. Leased a horse in high school and has been riding since. "Horsemanship, you learn over the years, and when you quit learning, you might as well pull down the lid on the casket." She and her husband, Aelred, have been married 49 years.

Best part of her 4-H work: "Seeing kids accomplish their goals and seeing them grow. You take a shy kid at age 8 who doesn't know how to look you in the eye and can barely speak to you, and by the time they're 18, they're giving demonstrations at national competitions and doing public speaking."

Group's biggest challenge: "Making sure the stragglers don't get lost. You always have some kids who are outstanding, but you have some who don't want to work. And you can always use more volunteers - a typical horse show takes about 50 people."

Nancy M. Jackson

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