4-H State Award winners standing in front of the Wharton holding their certificates.


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4-H State Award winners standing in front of the Wharton holding their certificates.
2023 Michigan 4-H State Award Winners.

The Michigan 4-H State Awards Program recognized outstanding 4-H members following the opening session of 4-H Exploration Days on June 21. Hosted by Michigan State University Extension, the celebration took place at the Wharton Center on the campus of MSU.

A Michigan 4-H State Award is the highest honor bestowed on Michigan 4-H members and recognizes excellence in learning, leadership and service. In total, 22 4-H members from 15 counties submitted applications for this year’s program.

“All of our 4-H’ers across the state are amazing but the youth honored with 4-H State Awards are some of our most accomplished,” said Julie Chapin, state 4-H leader for Michigan and director of MSU Extension’s children and youth programs. “They have demonstrated their dedication to improving themselves and their communities through 4-H, service and more.”

Michigan 4-H State Awards were presented in 13 of the 20 available award categories that showcase the diverse array of 4-H knowledge, skills and experience. Recipients of the 2023 awards are:

  • Beef Science: Caleb Souva of Branch County (junior division) and Bridget Paidl of Menominee County (senior division)
  • Birds and Poultry Science: Makayla King of Van Buren County (senior division)
  • Career Development: Avery Stallman of Macomb County (junior division)
  • Companion Animal Science: Stellamia Aerts of Monroe County (senior division)
  • Environmental Science: Amanda Towne of Van Buren County (senior division)
  • Gardening and Horticulture: Katie Miller of Eaton County (junior division)
  • Goat Science: Dori Stuever of Huron County (senior division)
  • Leadership: Makayla Chew of Midland County (junior division) and Alexis Fisher of Monroe County (senior division)
  • Rabbit and Cavy Science: Brandon Fisher of Monroe County (junior division) and Morgan Bliesener of Ingham County (senior division)
  • Shooting Sports: Justin Yarger of Monroe County (senior division)
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM): Peter Rambadt of St. Joseph County (senior division)
  • Swine Science: Joseph Endres of Isabella County (junior division)
  • Visual, Performing and Expressive Arts: Alana Aulph of Monroe County (senior division)

The Michigan 4-H State Awards Program is open to 4-H members who are 13 to 19 years old with three or more years of 4-H experience. To qualify for the award, 4-H’ers must submit a written application that showcases the learning experiences, knowledge and skills they’ve acquired through their participation in 4-H, as well as their contributions to their local 4-H programs, clubs and communities. Submissions are reviewed by the Michigan 4-H State Awards selection committee. This group of volunteers, staff members and industry experts determine which members are selected as award finalists. All applicants receive written feedback from selection committees.

Senior delegates (ages 16 to 19) and groups then complete an interview using video conference technology. Completing a video interview provides an opportunity for 4-H members to practice real-world workforce skills.

“The 4-H program as a whole is focused on helping youth develop skills for the future,” Chapin said. “Our 4-H State Awards process itself seeks to prepare youth for college and the workforce by having them practice the application and interview process. It requires a significant amount of work and we are so pleased to acknowledge their efforts and achievements with the State 4-H Award honor.”

In addition to a plaque, each 4-H State Award winner in the senior division received a $200 cash award. Junior winners received plaques and $50 cash awards. These awards are made possible by generous donations to the Michigan 4-H Foundation.