North Dakota 4-H Foundation honors Century Families, Hall of Fame inductee

Dean Aakre was inducted into the North Dakota 4-H Hall of Fame.

Odenbach Century Family.jpg
The Jason and Carrie Odenbach family was recognized as a North Dakota 4-H Century Family. Pictured, from left, are Carrie and Jason Odenbach and Deb Clarys, North Dakota 4-H Foundation chair.
Contributed / NDSU Extension Service

The North Dakota 4-H Foundation recognized its 4-H Hall of Fame inductee and North Dakota 4-H Century Families from Stutsman County during its Awards and Donor Recognition Luncheon on March 28 in Bismarck.

“We’re glad to recognize these 2022 honorees after a December blizzard postponed this recognition,” said Deb Clarys, North Dakota 4-H Foundation chair from Center, North Dakota. “These honorees represent the best of long-term service to North Dakota 4-H.”

Dean Aakre, recently retired North Dakota 4-H activities coordinator, was inducted into the North Dakota 4-H Hall of Fame. The 4-H Century Families from Stutsman County who were honored were:

  • Dwight and Christina Dockter family, Stutsman County, 115 years of 4-H participation
  • Jason and Carrie Odenbach family, Stutsman County, 136 years of 4-H participation

Any family whose years as 4-H members, leaders and/or volunteers add up to 100 or more is eligible to be named a North Dakota 4-H Century Family.
The North Dakota 4-H Foundation’s 4-H Hall of Fame award recognizes an individual for his or her outstanding leadership and commitment to 4-H on a local, county, regional and state level.

Aakre retired as the 4-H youth development specialist last year. He joined NDSU Extension in Stutsman County as an assistant agent in 1983 and joined the state staff in 1987. Prior to that, he was a vocational agriculture teacher at Lisbon High School and Jamestown High school.


Dean Aakre.jpg
Dean Aakre
Contributed / NDSU Extension Service

Nominator Karla Meikle succeeded Aakre as state 4-H activities coordinator and was once a 4-H’er working with him in Stutsman County. She said Aakre is especially known and appreciated for his work at fairs.

“Even then (in Stutsman County), it was difficult to pin him down and ask a question, as he was everywhere on the fairgrounds, meeting new families, working with youth and ensuring a smooth-running 4-H Achievement Days,” Meikle said. “I know this, as I was one of those 4-H members he assisted.

“Dean has taught many youth about agriculture and worked with many crops, range and livestock contests,” she added. “The North Dakota State Fair 4-H program would not have happened for the last 30-plus years without Dean’s hand in ensuring all youth were taken care of and able to highlight their 4-H exhibits. He had a great rapport with everyone he came in contact with at the fair.”

Meikle said Aakre also shared his knowledge of parliamentary procedure and other topics and he was always organized, patient and even-tempered.

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