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story.lead_photo.caption <p>Submitted</p><p>State 4-H Council member Sage Eichenburch, left, is pictured with Cole County 4-H volunteers Robert and Dorothy Werdehausen and Missouri 4-H Foundation Trustee Joan Hickman, right.</p>

A Cole County couple was recently honored with an induction into the Missouri 4-H Hall of Fame.

Dorothy and Robert Werdehausen, of Wardsville, were among 43 inductees from 35 counties who were inducted Aug. 17 at State Fair Community College in Sedalia. The inductees represent a total of 1,021 years of service.

Long-time 4-H volunteers, the Werdehausens have more than 30 years of involvement between them and three generations of members in their family — their four children and some grandchildren have also been involved.

"It's funny now that I think about it. Our kids went to 4-H meetings before they were even eligible for 4-H, and our youngest son went to 4-H meetings almost from the time he was born until he got out of the program," Dorothy said.

For the Werdehausens, it was important for their children to become involved and reap the same benefits they did from the program.

"We know how much both our kids and grandkids have gained from it," Dorothy said. "It's one of those programs that gives you a lot of the fundamentals of life — you learn how to cook, you learn how to sew, you learn public speaking, you learn responsibility."

The program meant enough to the Werdehausens that they didn't stop getting involved once their children aged out at 18.

"It meant a lot to me over the years, and even after our kids were no longer involved, I still stuck with it because I could feel some of the kids out in our area could really use an extra push," Dorothy said.

Over the years, Dorothy and Robert have been club leaders in Cole County and played influential roles in beef projects. In recent years, Robert has even been helping to haul animals for livestock auctions, and they've served as judges at Achievement Day and volunteered on the fair board.

On Aug. 17, the Werdehausens, along with several members of their family, joined the rest of the inductees at the ceremony. Dorothy said receiving the honor was the highlight of her year.

Rachel Augustine, director of the Missouri 4-H Foundation, said in a news release the foundation recognizes individuals who have created a legacy of service by including them in the Hall of Fame.

"These volunteers have played a vital role in helping our youth develop essential life skills that will empower them to become strong leaders in the 21st-century workforce and we are proud to honor their service," Augustine said.

Dorothy hopes 4-H continues to receive support and recognition because she considers it one of the most important programs youth can be involved in.

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