Merced County Fair Board directors, led by President Vicky Banaga, presented Carole Dietz with their Service Award during a ceremony at the Jr. Livestock Auction last Saturday. Dietz was honored for her 40-plus years of volunteering with the fair’s agriculture activities, as well as local 4-H efforts.
Dietz was born to Roy and Betty Richards on Nov. 14, 1945. As the oldest of three children, brother Roy and sister Bonnie, Carole grew up on the family’s cattle ranch, anchored here in Merced, and spent her weekends on horseback working cattle. While not on the family ranch, she attended Weaver Elementary and Middle schools, and was a member of the first class of El Capitan High School, later graduating from Merced High School. She joined 4-H at the age of 10 and was very active. She gave numerous presentations, was a repeat camp counselor, participated in livestock judging events and showed cattle and sheep at the County Fair.
After graduation, Carole attended Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She later graduated from from Stanislaus State after the untimely passing of her father required her to return to help at the family ranch. In the fall of 1969, Carole began her career as an educator with the Merced City School District. she would work as a classroom teacher and Library media Teacher for more than 35 years, retiring in 2004. Carole’s passion for teaching students how to read can still be seen today. It’s not often you see her without a book in her hands.
In 1971, Carole met and married Ted Dietz, also a teacher in the same district. They had two children, Deborah and Teddy, and moved to their current ranchette in 1979. The family tradition of joining 411 continued with Deb and Teddy both showing horses, cattle, and registered Hampshire sheep. It’s during her children’s involvement with 4-H that Carole’s journey as a 4-H leader began. Her son Teddy still manages the ewe flock today with his family, Stephanie, Tyler and Madysen. Tyler and Madysen continued in their grandmother’s footsteps as 4-H and FFA members — and as El Capitan High School students, and Tyler now a teacher.
The Merced Fair has always been a special place for Carole. After high school, Carole worked for the Merced Fair as the Livestock office manager and helped to run the fair and other open shows on the grounds. As a 4-H leader, Carole served on several fair committees, including the Junior Livestock Committee for more than 40 years. Her service and commitment to ensuring fair exhibitors have a positive experience is unparalleled.
As one of the longest Merced County 4-H members, Carole has been ore than just a shepherd to her flock and family, but a shepherd to thousands of students and exhibitors throughout her lifetime. She takes great pride in investing her time in the success of both the Merced County 4-H and Merced County Fair. Carole’s recent decision to step down form 4-H was not done so lightly. She encourages all of you to invest more into these great organizations than you take from them — and to honor and respect those who give of themselves for others, as she has.