MFB Renews 4-H Volunteer Support; Honors 4-H Volunteers



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Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) has continued its longtime sponsorship of the 4-H Award of the Clover program. These resources help local 4-H programs honor 4-H volunteers who reach 20 or more years of service to 4-H. MFB has supported this recognition for nearly five decades.

“We understand the value 4-H provides to Michigan youth,” said Carl Bednarski, Michigan Farm Bureau president. “The program not only gives youth life-long skills and experiences, but allows youth to develop into responsible Michigan citizens. We are excited to continue our support of Michigan’s 4-H program.”

Volunteer recognition is an integral component of the 4-H program. Adult volunteers help youth develop new skills and explore their interests through safe, fun, engaging learning experiences. It is critical to honor the caring adults who give their time to help young people learn and achieve through 4-H.

MFB has shown its commitment to volunteer recognition with the creation of the MFB 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Award – the product of a campaign led by MFB to establish an endowment to honor and recognize outstanding achievements of 4-H volunteers exhibiting excellence in 4-H youth education and leadership development in 4-H agriculture areas. Honorees each designate a $1,000 grant toward a 4-H agricultural program of their choice for volunteer training, supplies or curricula to enhance 4-H locally or statewide.

Eighteen honorees have received the award since its inception in 2007. The 2016 MFB 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Award recipients were Penny Sween, of Leslie, and Hollis and Jill Rockwell, Shelby.

Hollis and Jill Rockwell, Oceana County
Hollis and Jill Rockwell have been involved with 4-H since their youth. Today they are deeply involved with the 4-star Beef 4-H Club, and both hold positions on the Oceana County Farm Bureau, Hollis on the Board of Directors and Jill on the Promotion and Education Committee. Hollis advocates for Michigan’s agricultural needs at the Ag Legislative Breakfast hosted by MSU Extension bi-monthly. Additionally, he currently holds the position of vice president for the Oceana County 4-H Market Livestock Committee. Hollis is the current beef barn superintendent at the Oceana County Fair, and Jill is involved in various projects with Oceana 4-H. She helps organize and run the Oceana County Folk Festival, the Oceana County Farm Bureau Spring Break Day Camp, and the 4-H Community-wide Yard Sale and Bake Sale. Jill is involved in educating 4-H youth in meat quality and selection and also on Michigan’s potato industry. Jill has held the position of treasurer for the 4-H Small Market Animal Association Committee and is currently a member of the Oceana County 4-H Youth Council, helping make decisions for the overall educational goals and growth of Oceana County 4-H.

Penny Sween, Ingham County
Penny Sween has contributed her efforts to 4-H since she was an Ingham County youth 4-H’er. She helped create the Town N County 4-H Club. In addition to being the club administrative leader, she was the Ingham County rabbit superintendent, 4-H council president and member of the Ingham County 4-H Livestock Committee. Sween is an active member of the Michigan State Rabbit Breeders Association and the American Rabbit Breeders Association, and serves on several other state and national breed associations and local rabbit organizations. She is a nationally known and respected rabbit judge and, along with her daughter, raises and shows several types of rabbits. Sween encourages youth to explore their passions and interests and to get involved and engages club members in community service.

To learn more about the MFB 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Award or to nominate a 4-H volunteer, visit http://mi4hfdtn.org/4-h-emerald-awards/michigan-farm-bureau-4-h-excellence-in-agriculture-award. Nominations are due June 1, 2017.

In addition, MFB has continued as a partner of 4-H Capitol Experience for the past three years. 4-H Capitol Experience is a four-day teen conference with a focus on state government and policy.