Maui-born woman named to Na­tional 4-H Hall of Fame

He­lene Zeug’s decades of ser­vice rec­og­nized

The Maui News - - Front Page - Staff Writer By DAKOTA GROSS­MAN

With more than four decades of ser­vice, Maui-born He­lene Ho­ri­moto Zeug will be in­ducted into the Na­tional 4-H Hall of Fame — only the sec­ond per­son ever from Hawaii.

The other Hawaii per­son in the 4H Hall of Fame is as­tro­naut El­li­son Onizuka, who was killed in the Space Shut­tle Chal­lenger ac­ci­dent in 1986.

Zeug, 79, spent 41 years work­ing for the Univer­sity of Hawaii Ex­ten­sion

Ser­vice as a 4-H agent in Honolulu and later as As­so­ciate State 4H Leader be­fore re­tir­ing in 2004.

The 4-H pro­gram, which is more than a cen­tury old, is a youth devel­op­ment or­ga­ni­za­tion that serves 6 mil­lion kids, teens and their fam­i­lies na­tion­wide. The re­search-based pro­grams fo­cus on lead­er­ship, cit­i­zen­ship, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and life skills, as well as hands-on learn­ing with science, en­gi­neer­ing and agri­cul­ture.

“I think one of the best ways to de­scribe her is she’s a very can-do kind of a per­son,” said hus­band Mark Zeug on Thurs­day after­noon. “Ob­sta­cles didn’t re­ally stop her.”

Be­ing named to the 4-H Hall of Fame is quite an honor. There are 4-H pro­grams in ev­ery state and each one is al­lowed one nom­i­na­tion per year. Only about 15 peo­ple are in­ducted an­nu­ally.

As­tro­naut Onizuka of Hawaii is­land, who was ac­tu­ally nom­i­nated by He­lene Zeug, was the pre­vi­ous Hawaii in­ductee in the 2002 Hall of Fame class.

He­lene Zeug was born and raised in Wai­hee and is a St. An­thony High School grad­u­ate. The mother of two has lived on Oahu through­out her pro­fes­sional ca­reer but still has a lot of fam­ily on Maui.

Over the past few years, He­lene Zeug has been bat­tling ad­vanced Parkin­son’s disease and Parkin­son’s re­lated de­men­tia. Still, the mem­ory of her 4-H ex­pe­ri­ence as a youth on Maui re­mains vivid most days, her hus­band said.

Dur­ing a phone in­ter­view Thurs­day, He­lene Zeug told The Maui News of a 4-H pro­gram T-shirt she cher­ishes and wears as of­ten as she can, and said she en­joyed her time as an agent and met many won­der­ful stu­dents along the way.

She also still re­mem­bers her child­hood 4-H leader, Gla­dys Lai, whom she ad­mired and lived close to in Wai­hee.

In of­fer­ing her nom­i­na­tion to the Na­tional 4-H Hall of Fame Com­mit­tee, Mark Zeug and Hawaii 4-H Pro­gram Leader Jeff Good­win wrote about how she has “left a last­ing legacy of 4-H ac­tivism and com­mu­nity out­reach in Hawaii.”

Good­win said she was the clear choice to rep­re­sent Hawaii.

“We had to make sure we put forth our best nom­i­na­tion,” Good­win said in a phone in­ter­view. “When I looked around, there was no­body else but He­lene to be that nom­i­na­tion . . . . There was no choice that needed to be made, it was a pretty easy pick for us.

“I’ve al­ways known she was an im­por­tant part of the 4-H pro­gram.”

He­lene Zeug is set to be in­ducted into the Hall of Fame on Oct. 2 in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., along with 16 other in­ductees if COVID-19 does not thwart those plans. Of­fi­cials have dis­cussed mov­ing the cer­e­mony to an on­line plat­form, as well as hon­or­ing the 2020 class next year along­side the 2021 in­ductees.

The Hall of Fame rec­og­nizes 4-H vol­un­teers, ex­ten­sion pro­fes­sion­als, staff mem­bers, donors and oth­ers who have made a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the 4-H pro­gram and mem­bers.

“These in­di­vid­u­als have touched the lives of many peo­ple, from 4-H staff and col­leagues to thou­sands of 4-H vol­un­teers and mem­bers through­out the na­tion,” Jean­nette Rea Key­wood, chair­woman of the Na­tional 4-H Hall of Fame, said in a news re­lease last month.

Dur­ing He­lene Zeug’s decades of ser­vice, she was se­lected a Na­tional 4-H Fel­low and earned awards from both the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ex­ten­sion Home Econ­o­mists and the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ex­ten­sion 4-H Agents.

Mark Zeug said his wife is no­table for “con­stantly re­cruit­ing lead­ers” into the 4-H pro­gram.

She joined the Wai­hee Girls 4-H club at age 9, be­came a ju­nior leader and club leader, and then was elected Cam­pus Col­le­giate 4-H club pres­i­dent while a stu­dent at UH-Manoa.

She was se­lected as a Hawaii del­e­gate to the Na­tional 4-H Club Congress in 1960 and was one of four from Hawaii se­lected to at­tend the Na­tional 4-H Con­fer­ence in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., that same year.

She earned a master’s in fam­ily life and hu­man devel­op­ment from the Univer­sity of Mary­land, and a doc­tor­ate in hu­man devel­op­ment from UH be­fore fin­ish­ing her credits at New­port Univer­sity in Cal­i­for­nia.

Mark Zeug, who is a for­mer pub­lic re­la­tions man­ager for Alexan­der & Bald­win and USA Track & Field Hawaii As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent, said he met He­lene while in Mary­land and “the rest is his­tory.”

They cel­e­brated their 50year an­niver­sary last month.

“She earned her Ph.D. while work­ing full time and rais­ing two kids and a hus­band,” he said with a laugh.

Af­ter re­turn­ing to Hawaii, He­lene Zeug be­gan her pro­fes­sional ca­reer in 1963 as a 4-H spe­cial­ist in Honolulu and brought ed­u­ca­tion to ru­ral and ur­ban com­mu­ni­ties. In 1985, she moved to the state of­fice to be­come As­so­ciate State 4-H Pro­gram leader act­ing as a state leader for sev­eral years be­fore re­tir­ing in 2004.

“If any­one de­served to be in the po­si­tion as a state leader, it was He­lene,” Mark Zeug said. “She cre­ated pro­gram ma­te­ri­als and pro­gram ideas that didn’t ex­ist be­fore.”

Dur­ing her time as a 4-H spe­cial­ist, her Honolulu district led the state in 4-H mem­bers, pro­gram in­volve­ment and lead­er­ship achieve­ment, he said.

She au­thored or co-au­thored many pro­gram ma­te­ri­als, served as co­or­di­na­tor of the Hawaii 4-H LABO (lan­guage) ex­change with Japan, started one of the first ur­ban 4-H pro­grams in the coun­try that fo­cused on in­ner city ar­eas of Honolulu, and es­tab­lished 4-H clubs for hand­i­capped youth at the Di­a­mond Head and Po­hukaina schools.

He­lene Zeug also was a prime mover in es­tab­lish­ing the Hawaii 4-H Alumni As­so­ci­a­tion in 1983, a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that an­nu­ally pro­vides mone­tary sup­port for Hawaii’s del­e­ga­tion to the Na­tional 4-H Congress, the Na­tional 4-H Con­fer­ence and the Hawaii State 4-H Con­fer­ence.

He­lene Zeug also led a fundrais­ing ef­fort that brought in more than $500,000 in en­dow­ments for both the Hawaii 4-H Foun­da­tion and the Hawaii 4-H Alumni As­so­ci­a­tion.

Her other ac­com­plish­ments in­clude launch­ing and edit­ing “For a Life­time,” an an­nual mag­a­zine about 4-H in Hawaii, and writ­ing a his­tory of the Hawaii 4-H Pro­gram, which started in 1918.

Un­til three or four years ago, He­lene Zeug vol­un­teered as a track and field of­fi­cial both lo­cally and na­tion­ally for 15 years. She also served on both the Hawaii Girl Scouts and Hawaii Farm Fair boards of direc­tors, as well as as­sisted with the Hawaii Se­nior Olympics and Aloha State Games.

She told The Maui News on Thurs­day that her fa­vorite part about of­fi­ci­at­ing run­ning events was watch­ing ath­letes sprint to the fin­ish line.

He­lene Zeug con­tin­ues to be an ac­tive mem­ber of the Hawaii 4-H Foun­da­tion and the Hawaii 4-H Alumni As­so­ci­a­tion.

Dakota Gross­man can be reached at dgross­man@mauinews.com.

Photo courtesy of the Na­tional 4-H Hall of Fame Com­mit­tee and Mark Zeug

He­lene Zeug will be in­ducted into the Na­tional 4-H Hall of Fame. The only other Hawaii res­i­dent in the Hall of Fame is as­tro­naut El­li­son Onizuka.

Pho­tos courtesy of the Na­tional 4-H Hall of Fame Com­mit­tee and Mark Zeug

Jon Ha­gen (left), Hawaii 4-H Foun­da­tion pres­i­dent, and He­lene Zeug ac­cept a do­na­tion to the Hawaii 4-H Foun­da­tion from Robert Pfeif­fer, chair­man and CEO of Alexan­der & Bald­win. Zeug was re­spon­si­ble for more than $500,000 in gifts to sup­port the Hawaii 4-H pro­gram.

He­lene Zeug (in white) is shown as a Hawaii 4-H del­e­gate to the Na­tional 4-H Con­fer­ence in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., in 1960.

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