URBANA, Ill. – As a young girl living through the depression, the Ida Mae Riggs faced many challenges, but her mother and 4-H were constants in her life. For four generations, the values of 4-H and family still guide the Jackson Family. Their legacy is honored as the 2021 Illinois 4-H Foundation Family Spirit Award.
Ida Mae was an only child and, from the age of 9, was raised by her widowed mother. Together, they worked the Jefferson County farm which remains in the family today. Although opportunities were limited, Ida Mae joined a 4-H club where she learned to sew and preserve food.
She later married Henry Jackson, and the two built a home on the same rural Texico family farm, raising cattle, swine, chickens, and grain. Their four children were all 10-year members of 4-H.
Nine grandchildren were born, and all nine were 4-H members. Two of Ida Mae’s seven great-grandchildren are 4-H members. In total, the family has 146 years of 4-H membership and another 111 years as 4-H volunteers.
Though they traveled different paths, 4-H was their compass, a family spokesperson says, and influenced many of their career paths.
“The entire family still relies on the skills learned though 4-H, as they promote family and community.”
Until her passing at the age of 95, Ida Mae was still actively involved in 4-H. She assisted with the 4-H barbeque and presented awards to the winners of the tractor driving contest. And, she was still an active member of the Extension Home and Community Education Association.
The Family Spirit Award recognizes Illinois families who have benefited from 4-H and continue to advocate for the Illinois 4-H program over multiple generations. In addition to length of 4-H membership, families advocate for the county and state 4-H programs through their community service and philanthropy.
The Illinois 4-H Foundation’s mission is to build relationships to generate financial resources for Illinois 4-H, says Angie Barnard, Foundation executive director. “Funding from individual donors, our Illinois 4-H Project Partners, companies, and friends of Illinois 4-H help the foundation support statewide programming initiatives along with scholarships, assistance to national events, grant opportunities, and filling funding gaps.”
Gifts will be accepted in honor of the Jackson Family at 4hfoundation.illinois.edu.
SOURCE: Angie Barnard, Executive Director, Illinois 4-H Foundation
WRITER: Judy Mae Bingman, Interim Director of Communications for Illinois Extension
ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.
About Illinois 4-H Foundation: The Illinois 4-H Foundation’s mission is to build relationship to generate financial resources for Illinois 4-H. Funding from individual donors, our Illinois 4-H Project Partners, companies, and friends of Illinois 4-H help the Foundation support statewide programming initiatives along with scholarships, assistance to National events, grant opportunities, Teens as Teachers and assists us in filling funding gaps.