Sheldon saying goodbye as 4-H leader

As heavily involved in 4-H as Doni Sheldon has been through the years, it will be hard to keep her from trying to take charge of youth activities at the Central Iowa Fair this summer.

“I think they are going to have to muzzle me,” Sheldon said. “I’m not one to sit back.”

Sitting back and enjoying it will have to happen for Sheldon who is retiring after 14 years as youth coordinator with the Marshall County Extension Office.

The Marshalltown resident is a former school employee and ran a daycare out of her home for 13 years. When her daughter got involved in 4-H, Sheldon was hooked, and it eventually led her to a new career.

“I’ve always enjoyed working with kids,” Sheldon said. “It’s fun to see them learn new things and enjoy things and laugh.”

Sheldon will be able to spend more time with her family, which includes her husband, Craig, adult children, Mark and Lori, and grandchildren, Alyssa and Taven.

She also has plans to be a big community volunteer with her free time.

“I’m going to stay busy,” she said.

Sheldon said she is proud of maintaining steady enrollment in 4-H through the years as focus has shifted from strictly farm children to all types of children. She cherishes the bonds she has built with 4-H families and volunteers.

“The relationships have meant a lot to me over the years,” Sheldon said.

Mary Blom, of Marshalltown, has had her three sons heavily involved in 4-H and said Sheldon will be missed.

“We definitely have appreciated Doni,” Blom said. “She has gone above and beyond and always been very helpful to our family. She’s been a real encouragement.”

Sheldon said she believes in the mission of 4-H, which helps children learn a wide range of skills.

“They learn that confidence in themselves, and that is important,” Sheldon said.

The extension office will host a public retirement party for Sheldon from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at 2608 S. Second St. in Marshalltown.

“I’m going to miss everybody that I’ve worked with,” Sheldon said. “It will be nice to see them, thank them and say goodbye.”

One of those co-workers is Amy Pieper, the county administrator of the extension office.

“With Doni leaving, we are losing a wealth of knowledge for our 4-H program,” Pieper said. “We are going to miss her.”

Sheldon is being replaced by Caleb Carver, who will also be at the reception for the public to meet.