In 1961, when Hazel Goodwin volunteered to lead the Four Leaf Clover 4-H Club, the departing mentor had one stipulation for Goodwin, who was an assistant at the time: Don’t drop it after a couple of years. Stick with it.
She’s done that. And then some.
Goodwin, now 97, has been running or helping with the 101-year-old Shapleigh club since 1954.
She has been recognized for encouraging children to “learn by doing,” which is the 4-H way. In 2018, she was presented with a National 4-H Council’s Salute to Excellence Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer Award.
Goodwin was Maine’s nominee for the national honor after earning the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s 2017 4-H Salute to Excellence Outstanding Volunteer Achievement Award.
It’s the highest 4-H volunteer distinction bestowed by UMaine Extension 4-H, which uses university resources to broaden horizons of about 30,000 Maine children a year and develop life skills in subjects ranging from growing vegetables to LEGO robotics.
In 2018, News Center Maine also recognized Goodwin with a “6 Who Care” Award for making her community a better place.
Since she joined the Four Leaf Clover Club in 1931 at age 9, Goodwin — then Hazel Sanborn — has personified the 4-H Pledge:
I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
My heart to greater loyalty,
My hands to larger service,
and my health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country, and my world.
During the Great Depression, she helped her father saw wood and run the rake machine during haying season.
“Kids all helped their parents,” Goodwin says.
As a member of the state’s oldest continuous 4-H group, Goodwin enjoyed learning to cook and sew. She also played games, sang songs and made friends.
One of those friends, Roland Goodwin, became her husband in 1945.
Goodwin recalled that during a trip in high school to the New York World’s Fair — billed as the showcase of the future — she saw exhibits about televisions and overhead bridges.
Favorite childhood hobbies included ice skating and roller skating. And on the trek to school in the winter, she took a sled for the downhill portions.
Goodwin was a forward on the girls’ basketball team at Lindsey High School — which had a woodstove, double seats and separate staircases for boy and girls. She and three classmates graduated in 1942 after studying algebra, English, Latin and French.
Later, the mom of three — who all belonged to 4-H — also worked at Allen’s Motel in Sanford, packed apples for two orchards, coached girls’ basketball, was a member of the PTA and, for a half-century, was a ballot clerk in Shapleigh. Until about three years ago when she broke her leg, Goodwin mowed her vast, rolling lawn.
Goodwin has six grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. All of her grandchildren and two great-grandchildren also took part in 4-H.
This year, the 20 youth involved with the club will take trips, work at the Acton Fair and give back to the community.
The joyous Goodwin says the decades of 4-H friendships and experiences have been fun and fulfilling.
“I admire her,” says Else Cook, leader of Four Leaf Clover 4-H Club. “She was my mentor.”
Goodwin’s impact on youth is incalculable, says Sally Farrell, 4-H youth development professional in York County. “She makes sure everyone is loved and everyone is included.”