Shirley Dempel’s life has been defined by 4-H. She was a 4-H Club member, a 4-H parent, 4-H leader and for the last 40 years an advocate and mentor for the 4-H program and 4-H club members. Shirley is one of the co-founders of the 4-H Foundation of Sonoma County and remains one of the 4-H program’s most ardent supporters. Following a large bequest to Sonoma County 4-H in 1981, Shirley determined the need to establish a non-profit foundation as the financial vehicle for supporting, promoting and enhancing the Sonoma County 4-H program. The 4-H Foundation was established in 1982 thanks to Shirley’s vision and hard work. Shirley was seated on the foundation’s board of directors and continues to serve as a director of the 4-H Foundation today. She is the Foundation’s longest serving director and, of course, the foundation’s institutional memory. Shirley knows all and is regularly called upon for historic facts related to the 4-H foundation and 4-H Club work.
Shirley also played a key role in bringing forces together for the construction of the Sonoma County 4-H Center, which was completed in 1994. Shirley worked tirelessly with the late Hugh Codding, the legendary developer who donated the land for the 4-H Center and then agreed to have his crew build it at cost plus 5 percent. Shirley has donated thousands and thousands of hours to the betterment of 4-H in Sonoma County and we are all grateful for the contributions that have benefitted generations of 4-H’ers and their families.