4-H director retires again

Alberta Johnston

Six months of volunteering turns into two decades


Capital Press

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- After 20 years as the Oregon 4-H Foundation's volunteer executive director, Alberta Johnston has retired for the second time.

Johnston, 90, retired the first time from her career with the Oregon State University Extension Service and shortly after that she was asked to help facilitate a regional meeting and raise money for the Oregon 4-H Foundation.

She was only going to hold the position about six months, but the years went by and she continued to serve the foundation without compensation.

"I never went in and said, 'Am I through now?' It was something I wanted to do," Johnston said.

"I have a real strong allegiance to the 4-H program as a youth development program," Johnston explained. "I'm really amazed at what these kids can do and I'm proud that I can help with 4-H."

She raised money to create endowments to make sure 4-H does not rely on state money and can keep going in tough economic times. An example of this is the Oregon 4-H Center located outside Salem. Cottages, a banquet facility, an educational center and an activities center were all built at the 4-H center using private donations, Johnston said.

The endowments also help provide scholarships for 4-H members for college, camps, the 4-H congress and meetings in the state and across the nation. Johnston said raising the money helped create opportunities for kids.

"I also worked with really great volunteers in reaching the goals for the foundation," Johnston said. "It is amazing what a group of volunteers can do if they have some direction and support."

Scott Elmshaeuser is the new executive director for the Oregon 4-H Foundation and immediately realized that he has "some big shoes to fill."

"Alberta had a long legacy here with 4-H and extension in Oregon," Elmshaeuser said.

Johnston helped develop a working relationship with the OSU Foundation, which has transformed the executive director position into a joint effort between the 4-H and OSU foundations. Elmshaeuser is the director of development for 4-H at the OSU Foundation and the executive director with the Oregon 4-H Foundation. The job is two positions put together into one, Elmshaeuser explained.

The new executive director will be working three-quarters of the time with the OSU Foundation fundraising for 4-H statewide and the other quarter of the time Elmshaeuser will be handling the day-to-day operations of the Oregon 4-H Foundation, which is what Johnston says the foundation needs.

"I can say I'm enjoying retirement," Johnston said. "I worked for 60 years and I didn't know if I would like (retirement), but it has been an easy transition."

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