Schirmer goes out with a bang for scholarships
HARRINGTON, Del. — Tammy Schirmer has done it again. For the third year, she raised more money than anyone else for 4-H scholarships in order to win the honor of kissing a pig at the Delaware State Fair.
This year Schirmer raised a record-breaking $11,455, more than all the other participants combined and more than had been raised in total in any one year previously.
Altogether, the 16 participants raised more than $20,000, funding college scholarships for junior fair exhibitors in 4-H, FFA Livestock and Open Class departments.
Schirmer’s feat is all the more remarkable in that it was accomplished without her normal contact with the public on the job as 4-H Administrative Assistant at the University of Delaware Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown, since the center was closed due to COVID-19-19. She herself suffered a bout of illness from the virus in the spring.
Schirmer retired from her position on July 1 after 40 years, 8 months and 15 days on the job.
She said it wasn’t her plan to join the competition for a third time, and she wasn’t comfortable asking for donations during the pandemic, but she agreed to do it one last time.
“I promised Doug (Crouse, Delaware 4-H program leader) I’d go out with a bang. I kept asking and the money kept coming,” she said. “I do it for 4-H, for the love of kids.”
Schirmer said she did not know about 4-H when she was young, although she was in FFA.
She has a grandson who was new to 4-H before COVID-19 changed everything. She hopes he will be back in the program soon.
Crouse has been involved with the contest from the beginning and when the Delaware 4-H Foundation took over coordination of the contest five years ago, Crouse became chairperson. He solicits business sponsorships to cover any expenses from the event so that 100% of the money raised is given out in scholarships.
The first year, 27 years ago, the contest brought in $500. As of 2019, more than $136,500 had been given out.
In addition to her responsibilities in the 4-H program, before retirement Schirmer worked closely with the horticulture and Master Gardener programs at the Cooperative Extension office.
In her “Agent’s Letter” in June, Jill Jackson, Extension 4-H educator, thanked Schirmer “for her expertise, kindness and positive attitude as she assisted us in the Home Horticulture program for so many years. She will be greatly missed! She has surely made an impact on our program with her organization, helpfulness and, of course, sense of humor.”
Extension Ag Agent Tracy Wooten said of Schirmer’s huge contribution: “From a former 4-H youth who benefited from being in 4-H, Wow!”
When not fundraising for youth scholarships and on stage kissing pigs, Schirmer said she has been easing into retirement, doing a lot of camping and spending time with grandchildren.