Taking Care of 4-H
Columbus resident sponsors scholarship, endowment
Story by Leah Barbour • Photos by Kevin Hudson and Michaela Parker
She grew up in the 4-H youth development program in Indiana, and her husband was in Ohio 4-H.
Fast-forward a few years, and Inez Saum became a volunteer leader for Mississippi 4-H after she had kids of her own and moved with her husband to Lowndes County. The Mississippi State University Extension Service delivers 4-H in every Mississippi county.
Even now that her children are grown and have children of their own, Saum continues contributing to 4-H, now as a philanthropist. Saum and her husband, David, began the Saum Family 4-H Endowed Scholarship for Mississippi 4-H’ers in 2021. After he passed away, she began the Saum Family 4-H Program Support Excellence Endowment in 2022.
Saum says she’s proud to give back to the youth development organization that gave her so much.
“Back when our children were in the 8- to 10-year-old range, my nephews were showing sheep. My brother was happy to share, and the kids also showed horses, pigs, and cows,” Saum remembers. “My son, Keith, got into showing Hereford beef cows, and he was in 4-H for 10 years.”
Likewise, Saum’s daughter, Heather (Saum) Ware excelled in 4-H. Though livestock showing was important for her, too, she especially enjoyed clothing programs and making her own clothes. In 1991, she was one of only 12 Presidential Silver Tray Award recipients in the country, earning the honors for clothing. She still sews.
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“Both kids were very active in 4-H, and their careers are because of 4-H—they’re really suited to them,” she explains. “Keith finished his degree in agricultural economics, and he can talk to anybody. Heather, who did sheep, cattle, clothing, and citizenship, grew up giving speeches, and now she’s an attorney.
“4-H gave so much to our children that we decided we wanted to endow a scholarship so that money would always be there.”
As to the 4-H program endowment, Saum says she wanted to ensure that Mississippi 4-H itself was being supported.
“That way, I can continue giving, and it’s endowed. I’ll probably add to that endowment as long as I can. It accumulates, the more you put away,” Saum reflects. “At Mississippi State University, you can go there for anything you want to learn. It’s a good land-grant college that’s so well-rounded.”
Even though Saum no longer serves as a 4-H volunteer leader, she still regularly volunteers with Extension, now as a Master Gardener. She enjoys growing beautiful flowers and vegetables and gives back to the community by helping oversee the greenhouse at the Extension office in Lowndes County.
“When you give, you get more out of it,” Saum emphasizes. “Extension will give you the opportunities to volunteer, and you can find ways to give back.”