June 4, 2010
Choosing the Kansas 4-H Family of the year isnever easy -- nominations from around the state honor dozens ofdeserving families, each with their own story.
"The selection of the 2010 honorees -- the Richard and Nancy Spiegel
Family, from Jewell County.-- was announced as the family was
honored at the 4-H Emerald Circle Banquet held June 3 in Manhattan," said Gary Gerhard, coordinator of the state 4-H awards
The Spiegels are modest about their selection, yet in learning more
about their story and commitment to family and community, it is a
pleasure to highlight their accomplishments and say 'thank you,'"
said Gerhard, who is a Kansas State University professor of 4-H youth
Richard and Nancy Spiegel met as students at Kansas State University.
At the time, Richard was a senior studying agronomy, and Nancy was a
freshman in dietetics. Richard also was in the U.S. Army Reserve
Officers' Training Corps (ROTC), so when he graduated and was
commissioned into the service, the couple married and moved to
Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska.
Following Richard's service, the couple returned to his family farm
in Jewell County, where they began raising their family, which grew
to include daughters Vicki and Judy and son Steven.
As their young family grew, the couple learned more about research-
based educational opportunities in 4-H and other couples in the
community encouraged them to involve their children in the youth
Richard had no previous experience with 4-H; Nancy was in the Flying
Fingers 4-H Club in Wheaton, Ill., as a girl, but her time was cut
short when her father was transferred to Kansas City.
When daughters Vicki and Judy joined the Formoso (Kan.) Willing
Workers 4-H Club in 1968, Nancy said that she and Richard had no idea
how 4-H would so positively impact their family. Later, son Steven
also would join 4-H.
"Of course," said Nancy, "4-H is a family organization, and we all
In addition to the learning in various projects, Nancy cited the
opportunities for youth to learn about leadership and practice it as
one of the biggest benefits of participating in 4-H programs.
"Learning to be more responsible for yourself and others, and setting
goals and working to achieve them also are valuable life lessons that
are very much a part of 4-H programs," said Nancy, who shared that
daughter Vicki remembers complaining about keeping her 4-H record
book up to date, but has since said that "record keeping was one of
the best skills I learned in 4-H."
During her 4-H years, Vicki couldn't have known that her career would
lead to a leadership team position in the medical records department
at St. Joseph Medical Center (a large trauma center) in Kansas City,
Mo., Nancy said.
Mentoring also is one of the strengths of 4-H programs, said Nancy,
who noted that, while younger children typically listen to -- and
learn from -- older youth enrolled in the same project, the older
youth also can learn from teaching the younger members.
Richard, who was known as a progressive farmer, shared his skills in
agronomy and land management with youth and others within the
community. Nancy served as community leader and county project leader
who shared her interest in horticulture as a mentor and coach to 4-H
youth in the county. She logged hundreds of hours prepping 4-H
horticulture judging teams.
The couple continued their support of 4-H programs long after their
children had completed their 4-H careers. Although Richard died in
2007, Nancy has continued as a 4-H volunteer.
Daughter Vicki Spiegel O'Connor, who lives in the Kansas City area,
is busy as a parent to daughters Jennifer and Katie, and remains an
advocate for youth development.
Daughter Judy and her husband, Stephen Francis, who live in
Wilmington, Ill., are parents of two now grown children. Their
daughter Carrie and son Chris have each been members of the Wesley 4-
H Hustlers 4-H Club, which is the same 4-H club their father had
The two have earned numerous leadership and citizenship awards in 4-
H, and recently honored their mother, Judy, by establishing the Judy
Spiegel Francis Leadership Award to be given annually to honor
leadership and citizenship demonstrated by a Jewell County (Kan.) 4-H
member. The family also co-wrote grant applications to Kraft Foods
and the National 4-H Council to reinforce and expand a community food
pantry, and was honored in 2006 with the Illinois State 4-H Family
Spirit Award. They were the third family to receive the award.
Carrie and Chris have completed their 4-H careers, but parents Judy
and Stephen have continued to provide leadership to benefit youth and
families, including continuing as the leaders of the Wesley 4-H Club.
Stephen serves on the county extension council; and has been on the
state advisory committee, and Will County 4-H Foundation, and also
has served as president of the Illinois 4-H Foundation. Judy leads an
annual food drive that typically nets a ton or more, of food.
Steven Spiegel, the youngest of the Spiegel's three children, and his
wife Janelle (Railsback) Spiegel and their three sons: Zachary, Ryan
and Jacob make their home in Formoso, Kan. and are currently in the
Jewell County 4-H programs. Though busy parents, as former 4-H
members, Steven and Janelle practice leadership and citizenship
learned in 4-H in giving back to their community: Steve is assistant
fire chief for the Formoso Fire Department, member of the Rock Hills
School Board having completed two years as president. He´s also been
a member of his church´s board. Janelle is a Sunday school and
vacation bible school teacher and secretary for the Formoso Public
"Research-based 4-H programs teach life skills," and, in honoring the
Nancy and Richard Spiegel family as the 2010 Kansas 4-H Family of the
Year," Gerhard described the family "as an inspiration to others who
have grown through 4-H programs, and as a family that has helped
other families to grow and thrive as well."
Nancy Spiegel has previously earned numerous awards, including a
Kansas 4-H Alumni Award, which was presented in 1992. In addition to
her work with 4-H youth development, she has been active in community
organizations, including Women Involved in Farm Economics (WIFE), in
which she served as national treasurer. She assisted in establishing
the Jewell County Resource Council and in drafting its application
for 501C3 nonprofit status. She has also been active in the Formoso
PRIDE Program, city-wide tree-planting efforts, Extension council,
Meals on Wheels, Courtland Methodist Church, and more.