Feature Articles

Region 2 - New York - Donna James

Great things are happening in Region 2, where there has always been a small, but impressive group of young AIS members. RVP Donna James leads by example as she writes Cosgrove nominations, seeks youth publicity and recruits members from the 4-H ranks. Regional Youth Chairman (RYC) Joanne Maier is doing an excellent job and is responsive to everyone's needs. Last year, Joanne set up a Classroom Iris Project of fifteen students at Farnsworth Middle School. This group's teacher is Stacy Spawn, and the Capital Hudson Iris Society is the sponsor. The students are busy learning basic iris information from AIS Bulletins and their Youth Member Handbooks while they wait for spring bloom in their garden.

Last summer, Donna James gave a talk about historic irises to the Oswego County 4-H members and their parents. Afterward, she called the youths up individually so they could receive six iris rhizomes they had previously chosen from a list of 50 iris names. The varieties were donated from the gardens of Janette Smith, Anna Mae Cummings, and Clayton and Diane Crandall. The 4-H members have the opportunity to participate in a Plant Science Program which consists of planning a garden, preparing the site, planting the plants of choice, and, finally, following a maintenance schedule so the garden can later pass a 4-H inspection. The 4-Her's were also invited to participate in the 2004 iris show.

Besides being RVP, Donna also serves as President of the Historic Iris Preservation Society (HIPS), so talking about historic irises was a natural for her. The Central New York Iris Society showed its support of Donna's efforts with the 4-H groups and offered an essay contest to those who received historic rhizomes, promising to pay the AIS youth dues for those who entered the contest. Eight enthusiastic writers participated and now belong to the 4-H CIP led by Jan Smith.

Following is an example of the writing of one member, Rachel Thomann.

"Pretty Flowers"

My name is Rachel. I am seven years old. I did a 4-H public presention on green thumbs --how to plant a flower. I like to plant flowers and vegetables. In 4-H I planted herbs for my garden project. For doing a great job as an exta special surprise we got to pick out some irises. Some of them had funny names. I picked out mine from the pretty colors and pretty names. Two of the pretty names were Sunshine and Blue Shimmer. We learned how to take care of the irises at a special presentation from Donna James. I planted mine next to a pond with a fountain. I can't wait till next year. They will make me smile when they bloom!

Congratulations to all Region 2 youth members and also to their leaders and advisors. Here's wishing you good bloom, numerous show awards and FUN iris activities in 2004.

This page was looking a bit drab -- no pictures and only text -- so I thought I would liven it up a bit with pictures of youth from the past.

Christopher Rust I do not see any English Boxes at shows in Region 13; but, in Region 18 years ago, the English Box was used frequently at shows.

It is good way to show iris when the bloom season has been very early and much of the bloom is on the lower branches.

This youth is now over 19 years old. He is Christopher Rust and the picture was taken May 18, 1999.

Christopher won a blue ribbon for his efforts.

While putting this web site together I ran across pictures from the past -- pictures of youth who have grown to adulthood already. Youth I knew many years ago. Thought I would share them with you here.

Caleb Fillmore 01 Caleb 02
Above, left, is Keith Fillmore with a grandson Caleb Fillmore. On the right is Caleb in the iris garden. One of the first things children want to do is to touch the iris flower and pull it off of the plant. Keith Fillmore was one of the Presidents of the Garden City Area Iris Club in Garden City, Kansas, Region 18. I once lived in a home that Keith lived in. I never knew Keith, but heard of all the work he did for the iris club. This photo was taken May, 1986. The grandson is an adult now. By the way, I am Nancy Price -- Past President of GCAIC in Region 18 and a member of Greater Portland Iris Society (GPIS) and Oregon Trails Iris Society (OTIS) in Region 13.

Kids at Patton Home Shilo Gillam
Children at the Patton Home during a Region 18 Convention. Photo take in 2001. Shilo Gillam, above, was an active Youth Member of GCAIC, Region 18. She was a Cosgrove Award Winner and is an adult now. Photo taken in 2000 in her garden.