Emma Acton’s journey with 4-H started 90 years ago. Emma was born just outside of Blanchard, Iowa, just a short 20-mile drive (15 miles cross country by horse) from Clarinda, Iowa (the hometown of the 4-H and Glenn Miller). In her late teens, she joined a local club for only a year before relocating with her brother to Yakima, WA, where she finished her projects remotely. In her mid-twenties, she moved again and made Richland her new permanent home for raising her seven children. In 1971, her daughter joined Amigos A Caballero, a local equestrian club run by Betty Jackson, with Emma helping as she could where needed. Seeing a need for other than an Equestrian group, she started the Richland Wagoneers in 1974, expanding the interests to cooking, sewing, food preservation as well as crafts. In 1976 the 1st Cavalry Horse Platoon visited the area fairs, and the Wagoneers promptly adopted them to a man, traveling across three states bringing them food and homemade goodies. Her daughter Michelle painted a large painting of the group in a full charge, which sits on display in the 1st Cavalry museum in Fort Hood, TX. With much encouragement, her youngest son became the first boy to compete in the fashion dress review in 1978.
Over 48 years, many of her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, as well as extended family, and friends graced the membership rolls. As interests changed, so did the focus of the club. For the last 18 years, the club has manned the table for creative writing and poetry and added small animals “Cats” to the list of subjects they have entered. Over the years, Emma has amassed multiple boxes filled with ribbons and awards, and now, at age 90, the time has come to step back and enjoy the fair as an exhibitor and an attendee.