When asked about his 30 years of experience as a Clark County Fair volunteer, Bob Peck balks. “I think you’ve got your numbers wrong,” he says, politely. When reminded that it would mean his volunteering began when the year was 1976, Jimmy Carter was elected president and the nation celebrated its bicentennial, Bob pauses a moment to contem- plate. “It must be close to right,” he concedes. “It just seems shorter. Every day just goes by too fast.”
Bob and his wife Nancy Peck are two of the everyday heroes that make the Clark County Fair a fun-for-all event. Their hard work and dedication has earned them the Volunteers of the Year title for 2006.
The Pecks’ involvement with the Clark County Fair started off simply enough. “My wife got involved in 4-H with a group, and then the group leader gave her the leadership,”
Bob recounts. Part of Nancy’s role involved helping group members with their entries in the Clark County Fair.
From there, “It kind of snowballs,” says Nancy, a long-time superin- tendent of 4-H sewing and kitchen activities at the fair.
Bob, a former photography teacher at Battle Ground High School, has been the fair’s superintendent of 4-H photography for years. “Years ago, you could only be a superintendent out at the 4-H fair for five years. Some man had his five years and
I took over,” says Bob, wondering aloud if term limits still exist. If so, “It isn’t every 5 years, I know that,” he says with a chuckle.
True volunteers, the Pecks’ list of projects they’ve pitched in on is long and diverse. They’ve repeat- edly helped paint and repair the 4-H building, conducted trainings, pro- cessed entries, recruited qualified judges, attended countless meetings, worked security, made signs and decorations and even pitched in on the night cleaning crew of the Dairy Wives’ booth for many years.
“Volunteer work is volunteer work,” Nancy says of their willingness to take on whatever needs getting done. “We just felt like we should give back to great organizations like 4-H and the Clark County Fair.”
Though the times have changed, Bob believes 4-H remains an extremely worthwhile program. “I suppose the two most valuable parts of 4-H then and now were the facts that (the participants) needed to keep records and that they also need to get up in front of people and give presentations,” skills that will serve them well their entire lives, he notes. “It does so much for much for them, even if they don’t know it at the time.”
The Pecks have seen many changes during their 30 years of fair involvement. “That big new building that’s air conditioned is the biggest change,” Bob says of the Clark County Exhibition Hall. “It makes it more comfortable for people, and it’s a concrete floor. People in wheel- chairs can mobile around and see quite a bit of the fair.”
Neither Bob nor Nancy has plans to retire from their volunteer duties. “Our kids keep saying ‘You’ve given long enough. You can give it up any time.’ But we keep going. I really enjoy it,” says Nancy. “People’s lives have changed, and a lot of people don’t have the time or don’t make the time (to volunteer),” she observes. “(4-H) is a good program and it needs people to be involved.”
The Pecks are happy to help out. “I just enjoy going out and doing it,” Nancy says of the 10-day tour of duty every August.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Bob says, warmly. “I still like hanging up the pictures and seeing if I can take chaos and put it into some logical order. ... It’s just fun to see what the kids can do.”