The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Walters named citizen of the year

 

Diana Zimmerman

Kay Walters has been honored by the Cathlamet Womans Club as 2017 Citizen of the Year.

Skamokawa resident Kay Walters was named Citizen of the Year by the Cathlamet Womans Club for her involvement in 4-H and the Wahkiakum County Fair.

Walters has shared her love for animals with more than one generation of local kids through the 4-H program.

She was born in Detroit, Mich., to a nurse and machinist, and raised amongst a large German clan in an agricultural community in Indiana.

"My mom was one of the first to leave for education," Walters said. "The Germans there were kind of like the Finns and Norwegians here. They had their clans and people didn't marry outside of them. They believed in education, but you did everything for yourself."

At six years old, she found an interest that would continue throughout her life. When a doctor prescribed shots, her father came up with an alternative. They would get goats and she would be raised on goat milk. The goats changed her health and her life.

Why goats?

"Don't get me started on this," Walters laughed. "Goat milk is naturally homogenized. It's much easier to digest. Anyone that has ulcers or is allergic to lactose can drink it, because it has a different kind of lactose in it."

"Everybody says goat milk tastes goat-y, but cow milk tastes cow-y," she added.

After receiving a degree from Purdue University in agriculture, she returned to the farm and went to work for Central Soya, a big feed company in the midwest.

Raised in 4-H, she led a goat club. It wasn't unusual to have 50 kids in attendance. She would also appear periodically on a TV show with her goats. The show was live and she never knew what was going to happen with the animals. She misses that bit of fun.

"The county fair was as big as Clark County's," Walters said. "It was a lot more agricultural than out here. Everybody in the county had cattle or pigs. It was very rural."

When she was working for the City of Huntington, Indiana, she answered a personal ad in an agricultural magazine.

"Back at that time, it wasn't scary like it is right now," Walters said. "He said come on out here. I've got a farm. We'll farm it together."

She and a friend loaded her trailer with 20 goats, three horses, four dogs and a cat and drove to Washington. They had a little excitement when an axle broke in Rawlins, Wyoming. Her friend went with the truck to get repairs, and Walters waited at the local fairgrounds with the animals.

"The guy at the fairgrounds was fine until he saw my four bucks," Walters laughed. "They smelled bad, but I told him it was winter and mating season. Of course they smelled bad."

That was 33 years ago. She stayed and got two daughters out of it, one she sort of adopted and the other she gave birth to. She couldn't be prouder of them. And now there are grandchildren.

The only thing she misses are the smell of corn and soybeans in the summer. And the fireflies.

But if you knew fireflies, you'd miss them too.

She's been involved in 4-H all her life. At Purdue, she was in collegiate 4-H. She had a club in Indiana, and it would follow suit that she would do so here.

"At one point I had 20 kids," Walters said. "I've always enjoyed the kids. A lot of times parents want you to babysit, but I've weaned that out with my old age. I tried to start out with goats but there was more interest in horses."

The kids learn about horses and other things. Some kids like to have more than one animal. One girl is working with a horse, a pig, and a sheep. According to Walters, this young lady also wants to have a goat, a calf, and has recently become enamored with rabbits.

The club meets once a week. Off and on, she also leads a 4-H dog group.

"A lot of times, the kids would rather ride horses," Walters said. "I provide the horses for several kids. At least they have that opportunity. Some kids have ended up in jail, but none of them have ever stolen from me. They remember the times that they had, and that's what is important. Then there are the success stories."

"My heart is in the animals, but we also have a robotics club, computers, bicycling, cooking and sewing," Walters said of 4-H.

Along with the title of 4-H club leader, Walters has been the 4-H Leaders Council President, President of the Horse Committee, on the Wahkiakum County Fair Board, the President of the Wahkiakum County Fair Board, and a member of the Fair Foundation.

For fun, she likes to go to auctions to meet friends.

"We wheel and deal, and I bring home rabbits or other things once in a while," Walters said.

Almost everything she does is for 4-H.

"I was a 4-H'er," Walters said. "I grew up to be a leader. It's just still about the kids in 4-H."

 

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