For Charlotte Betler Hughes, becoming a 4-H’er was as natural as breathing.
Her parents, Mildred and Raymond Betler, were both 4-H members in Randolph County. Her mother attended the dedication of the Randolph County Cottage when she was a young camper and was a 4-H All Star. The program was a family affair for the Betlers, as all five children, Charlotte the oldest, were members of 4-H.
“Our parents were always supportive of our 4-H experiences,” Charlotte said. “Mother was a leader and the ‘go to’ expert for sewing advice for her club members and my friends. Daddy welcomed young 4-Her’s as they learned woodworking skills at his workbench.”
The Hughes, Charlotte and Bill, have placed the 4-H program in their wills, including a significant contribution to the Harrison County 4-H program to support their existing Hughes Family 4-H Endowment. The endowment currently provides state, county and weekend camp scholarships to Harrison County 4-Her’s. Charlotte grew up in Nutter Fort.
“This bequest will provide the funds that will allow qualified young people to participate in meaningful life learning experiences that will become a foundation for their life,” Bill said.
It was in the early 1950s that Charlotte joined the newly formed 4-H Club in Nutter Fort and remained in the program until she aged out at 21.
Sunday family outings were often spent leaf collecting for her brother’s and sister’s trees projects, followed by time around the kitchen table identifying the leaves.
“4-H stories are legend in my family – redoing bad seams on a sewing project in time to meet exhibit deadlines, baking bread and good pie crusts, and lots and lots of laughter while practicing and actually doing 4-H demonstrations,” she said.
Charlotte reached many milestones during her time in the program, from serving as Seneca chief to winning state and county awards in the 4-H Style Review on at least three occasions.
Charlotte attended 4-H Club Congress in Chicago for one of her Complete Costume projects, became an All Star, and served as a county camp instructor for two summers.
“Jackson’s Mill was huge in my life,” she said. “Older Youth was my favorite state camp. Mention an event at Jackson’s Mill and my friends and I were there.”
One of her most memorable moments during 4-H is when she received her charting pin.
“It was very satisfying when I was awarded my charting pin, as that was indicative of personal growth and self evaluation of my own character and setting a path for the future,” she said.
While Bill didn’t experience 4-H as a youth, when he met Charlotte, she brought him into the 4-H fold.
“I have always been impressed with the young people who have been involved in 4-H — the development of personalities, establishing character and self-esteem,” he said. “That seems to indicate that their 4-H background helps mold a caring and giving individual.”
Both Charlotte and Bill recognize that 4-H is a significant part in a youth’s life.
“4-H helps young people develop into well-rounded individuals. They learn to work together, do their best in all situations, develop responsibility, and value healthy competition,” she said. “The experiences in 4-H develop high moral character and life skills.”
The Hughes gift will be made through the WVU Foundation, a private nonprofit corporation that generates and provides support for West Virginia University.
Contact: Julie R. Cryser
(304) 293-5691, Julie.Cryser@mail.wvu.edu