EATON — West Alexandria mayor Carol Lunsford celebrated 46 years as a 4-H advisor during this week’s Preble County Fair, tirelessly guiding students through multiple activities throughout the week, some days from dawn to dusk.
“I love the children,” she said during a recess from Tuesday’s 4-H cook-off/mystery mixer, in which students assembled a required list of ingredients and, upon arrival, received a surprise recipe and made competing versions of the same dish.
Lunsford’s legacy with area 4-H spans wide and deep on all sides. Her grandfather was a 4-H advisor, as were her parents; in the time since, two of her children have been advisors, and two of her grandchildren currently serve. Lunsford began her advisorship with a cooking club in 1960. That club has since expanded to include animal projects and life skills, and Lunsford now advises the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of students she helped in her first years.
She said, “It’s fun because you can see the tendencies of the families, the parts of them that get passed down. And the strong families produce strong children who grow up to be leaders. It makes me feel good, that [former students] want to come back and bring their kids. We have 82 this year, and we’re doing something that kids are gravitating back to. That tells me we’re doing something right.”
“I’ve known Carol the last 24 years,” said Lakengren resident Sharon Lipps, an advisor for the Busy Bees 4-H club. “We’ve worked together on the cook-off and mystery mixer for five or six years, too. Carol is the kindest, most patient person I’ve known. She encourages you and she genuinely loves the kids. She has a lot of knowledge, and I really look up to her. I’m proud to call her a really close friend. She’s a special lady, and she does a great job for these kids.”
“I’ve known Carol all my life,” said Preble County Commissioner Chris Day, “and she’s put in a lot of time and effort over the years. The amount of young adults whose lives she’s touched is just incredible. She has a real passion for working with young people and mentoring them.”
“The fair, I think, is nearest and dearest to her heart,” said Day, “and she works hard for this week every year to create a good experience for the children. Someone like her stepping up to the plate and exposing these kids to knowledge they may not have had access to otherwise, that makes a big difference in the community. My congratulations to her on so many years of service, and I just want to say thank you.”
“I was in 4-H for 10 years when I was young,” Lunsford said. “It was such an important part of my life, and it taught me responsibility and gave me the opportunity to meet so many people in the county, and I wanted to give back. “I wanted to be a teacher when I was a young person, and this is a way to use that skill.”
“I’ve given back more than 10 years,” she said with a laugh, “but it’s been worth it!”