Sukups Celebrate 50 Years of Family Traditions
“I grew up learning how to weld, cut metal and do lathe work,” recalls Charles. “I worked in the electrical department, poured cement, assembled parts and did drafting work. The drafting I learned through Industrial Arts in high school was really helpful.”
4-H also played a key role in helping Charles pursue interests that helped lead to career success. He said, “The 4-H program definitely helped develop my leadership skills. Serving as an officer taught me how to plan meetings and then conduct them according to Roberts Rules of Orders. Through 4-H, I also learned how to work with people of all personalities and ages.”
Charles said 4-H projects gave him the opportunity to try new things. “You always say you should do this or you want to try that, but there’s nothing like a 4-H County Fair deadline to make you get it done! It may be the night before, but it gets done!” says Charles with a smile.
Projects areas in which Charles enrolled included Hogs, Sheep, Photography, Citizenship, Forestry and Welding. Woodworking was one of his favorite 4-H project areas. Charles fondly remembers spending time in his grandpa’s shop where he made a number of wooden candlestick holders. Some of those candlesticks were 3 or 4 feet tall made from walnut logs and formed with a lathe.
“4-H really reinforced those values we grew up with,” said Charles. “I always enjoyed going to the club picnic potluck and touring farms to see everyone’s livestock projects.”
The Sukup family raised hogs and sheep when Charles and his brother, Steve, were 4-H members. Their father, Eugene, had a goal of improving his breeding stock to produce a larger pork loin. At that time, the average pork loin was 2 inches. Seven inches is the average-sized loin now, but today’s hogs are also a third bigger. Farmers in those days were penalized for hogs weighing over 220 pounds; today’s market hogs average just under 300 pounds.
While many things like production practices have changed over the years, one constant has been the 4-H awards program. Charles was honored to be selected to attend National 4-H Congress for Citizenship. He had been a page for the Iowa Legislature and participated in the 4-H Citizenship Washington, D.C. Focus (CWF) conference. Years later he was honored to be asked to chaperone the CWF trip when his youngest son, Jonathan, attended.
Like their father, two of Charles’ children were members of the West Fork Winners 4-H Club. Their grandfather, Eugene, was also a member of the West Fork Winners which, during both Eugene and Charles’ years, was only a boys’ club. The club disbanded for a few years but was reinstated as a co-ed club in time for the third generation to become members.
“Our kids are so different, but 4-H allowed them to pursue their interests,” says Charles. “It also provided us with quality family time as Mary and I both helped them in different ways.”
Charles’ wife, Mary, belonged to 4-H when she was growing up in Cerro Gordo County. Before they were married, she taught Home Economics and Art. Her interest in these areas sparked her children to take related 4-H projects. One of their shared interests was participating in the “Promote Your Commodities” competition, which is now called “Dish This!” to promote Iowa-grown products.
In celebration of the commodities they’ve grown – and in appreciation for the farmers whom they still serve – today the Sukup family is sharing one of their favorite recipes with us. Calico Beans are a “fix it and forget it” dish, perfect for holiday potlucks and family gatherings.
- ½ lb. hamburger
- ½ lb. bacon, diced
- ½ c. onions, chopped
- ½ c. brown sugar
- ½ c. white sugar
- ½ c. catsup
- 2 tsp. vinegar
- 1 T. prepared mustard
- 1 tsp. salt and pepper
- 1 can butter beans
- 1 can kidney beans
- 1 can Pork & Beans (Bush’s with brown sugar)
- Brown beef and bacon; drain off fat.
- Add onion and cook until tender.
- Drain beans, except Pork & Beans.
- Add remaining ingredients; mix well.
- Bake in Dutch oven at 350 degrees or in a crockpot for a few hours on low.