Cabery Specials 4-H Club Marks 75th Year – Run By Volunteers

For three-quarters of a century, volunteers have guided young people involved with raising livestock as part of the Cabery Specials 4-H Club, starting with Eldon Sargeant of rural Cabery, the first leader of the fledgling group.
As one can imagine, the group’s members span several generations of both members and leaders. The Cabery Specials met for the first time Dec. 18, 1940, marking their 75th year with a party held at the Kempton Hall, Dec. 10, 2016. Back in 1940, the original first members of the club included LeRoy Clapp, Eileen Gish, Keith Lamb, Thomas McGinnis, and Wanda Nelson. Nelson was listed as an Emington resident. The others were listed as Cabery, although LeRoy was closer to the Kempton area.
LeRoy’s son, Randy, told The Paper last week that when Randy and his brother Larry were growing up on their farm in Kempton, LeRoy gave the boys no hint he had been active in 4-H as a youngster. “We wanted to go to the fair and he knew it,” Randy explained. He said his father made sure all their farm chores were completed before they could attend the fair.
Later, Randy and Larry were co-leaders of the Cabery Specials, an experience he described as “great.” Randy explained that the group met in their Kempton home for many years. The Clapp family is one of several three-generation families involved with the Cabery Specials, including the Richies, and the Smolkovich/Hamilton clans.
Eldon’s son Dave has much of the group’s memorabilia, including the charter signed by Henry Wallace, secretary of Agriculture under Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who went on to be FDR’s vice president in 1941. “My dad was in a 4-H group in Herscher,” Dave explained. “When he reached 18, he started the Cabery Specials.” In addition to volunteering as a leader for the Cabery Specials, Eldon Sargeant was also livestock superintendent at the Kankakee County Fair. In addition, Dale Sargeant, Eldon’s brother, was active as a Cabery Specials 4-H leader. “My dad was involved with the Cabery Specials for 50 years,” Dave explained. “He was just an all around good guy.”
The current 4-H leader, Tammy Richie, said her family’s “DNA” is part of the club too. “I am an 11 year 4-H leader of the Cabery Specials, our children are 4th generation 4-H’ers, and I am a 3rd generation 4-H leader,” she explained. In her husband Jay’s family, he, his siblings, his father Jack, along with several other family members, were Cabery Specials. Jay’s mother was a member of the Cabery Gay Girls. “Besides being the leader of the Cabery Specials 4-H club, I’m a member of the Kankakee County 4-H Youth Foundation that raises money for scholarships for graduating 4-H seniors and college students,” she said. Tammy is the main leader with Chris Basham as the co-leader. “Chris and I make a great team,” she said, “Chris being a school teacher she is very good with the paper work, I am super organized and the planner.”
The Club motto is “where friends and memories are made.” “My goal is to make sure the members enjoy being part of the club and enjoy coming to the meetings,” she said. “With our club being livestock-based, the members are learning the skills that it takes to care for their livestock project. We also introduce the members to different community organizations, so they also understand the importance of giving back to the community.”