EATON —The Preble County Fair is a special event every year for kids who are involved in 4-H clubs around the county, but 2015 marks an anniversary that makes this fair even more special for one club.
This year, Happy Hoofers 4-H club will be celebrating Shirley Izor of West Alexandria, who has been an advisor for the club for the past 50 years.
For Izor, her interest in horses and ponies started the same as countless other little girls who always wanted a pony growing up but never got one. “My daddy wouldn’t buy me a pony so when he didn’t buy me a pony that is all I yelled about, ‘I want a pony, I want a pony,’” Izor said. “So as soon as I was 18, I bought a horse and that was the start of it.”
Izor found a club focused on horses and said she joined the club the last year she was eligible to be in 4-H, giving her only one year to be involved with something she always wanted to do.
After a year of being in 4-H her club’s advisor left and she was handed the role of being in charge despite knowing “nothing” as she described it.
Many would think the first years, having such little experience, Izor would be overwhelmed but she said she had so many people helping her and she continued learning on the job until she began being comfortable in the role.
Izor said her club began accepting handicapped kids many others were not accepting. According to Izor 4-H clubs are supposed to accept any and all of kids and said she believes not being able to join 4-H as a young person allowed her to be even more sympathetic to other kids who were being rejected by other clubs.
Izor and her husband Larry, who passed away in 2014, began to purchase more and more horses for their own home and eventually dedicated a large portion of thier life to 4-H and the animals. It was not until years later Shirley would discover her husband had a fear of horses, something he eventually overcame by spending time around the animals before he developed his own love for the animals.
Izor said at one point she and her husband had up to 25 horses, which she says was way too many so they typically owned around 16. The pair owned primarily Arabian Horses including a horse that lived for 43 years. Izor said the average horse’s lives to be about 30.
Izor and her husband were unable to have children of their own after an accident left her unable, but Izor said she has 50 years’ worth of children from her time in 4-H.
Shirley now has a picture of almost every year she has been a 4-H advisor and says the kids in those pictures never age, they always remain the children she grew to love and care for.
She has been the advisor for multiple generations of families through her time in 4-H and said one of the best things about doing something for so long is seeing how the children grew into the people they have become today while they raise their own children.
For Izor however, the past 50 years have always been about one thing — the children. She said 4-H and her time in 4-H have been about providing a loving and friendly atmosphere to children who come through her doors so her club could help teach them how to be better citizens.
Izor said 4-H helps teaches children about all aspects of life, having a work ethic, being caring and compassionate and prepares them to succeed for the future after life in 4-H
Her number one goal was always “Teaching kids about horses and life.”
Izor is not as active as she once was, but that will not keep her from being at the Preble County Fair in 2015. Its safe to assume you might be able to find her by the horse barns.