4-H Endowment – the gift that keeps giving
Eleanor Miller creates endowment for Leelanau County 4-H
Leelanau County 4-H volunteer Eleanor Miller, of Cedar, believes so strongly in 4-H that she created an endowment to provide support for future generations of 4-H’ers in her county.
“I’ve been involved with 4-H for a long time,” Miller said. “4-H has always been a passion of mine.”
The Leelanau County 4-H Endowment Fund is a perpetual endowed fund and will provide an annual source of unrestricted revenue for everything from special 4-H projects to scholarships for 4-H Exploration Days and other 4-H trips and events.
“Leelanau County has had a strong 4-H presence for many years, and this endowment will ensure that there is continued support for our local youth to take part in local clubs and programming, as well as events across the state and the country,” said Rosali Collier, Leelanau County MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator. “We have many families who need financial assistance in order to send their children to these opportunities.
“This endowment will ensure that youth and their families receive local scholarships and have the chance to benefit from all that we offer through 4-H. Our youth numbers are small, and in order to promote our 4-H programming and grow our numbers of involved youth, we will need to be able to offer financial assistance to our local families, clubs and programs.”
This is why Miller established the endowment – to provide annual funding for the Leelanau County 4-H learning opportunities.
“Some kids are not able to afford to attend clinics and other 4-H educational opportunities,” Miller said. “I wanted to provide a fund to allow kids to be involved . Hopefully others will also contribute.”
Miller moved to Michigan from Wisconsin where she was a social worker. She wanted to work with horses in Michigan and found a natural fit with therapeutic horseback riding programs. She became a 4-H certified therapeutic riding instructor and worked at the Cheff Therapeutic Riding Center in Augusta. Over time, she was able to open her own arena and 4-H therapeutic riding program in Cedar, which serves the five-county area.
Through the 4-H Proud Equestrians Program, Michigan’s 4-H therapeutic riding program, riders can improve balance, coordination, posture and muscle tone with the help of trained and caring volunteers. Horseback riding has also been shown to increase self-esteem, self-confidence, discipline and social growth.
“Horses mean a lot to me – they’re animals that have so much to offer. They are so responsive and such a great vehicle for youth to express themselves.”
Miller has served as a 4-H volunteer leader for over 40 years. She currently leads the Hidden Beach Equestrians, a 4-H club of 16 youth members ranging in ages from 9 to 19. Additionally, she has coached 4-H Horse Bowl Teams – a game similar to quiz bowl, but with only horse science and industry-related questions – and had several teams compete at the national level.
“I really like the programs. I had a lot of members that went on to veterinary school and medical professions because of the science learned in 4-H.”
With Miller’s guidance, the Hidden Beach Equestrians also learn the value of community service. The club has fundraised and volunteered for horse rescue organizations and collected riding helmets to donate to youth in Mongolia.
“What I really like about 4-H, from a leader’s point of view, is that I can do what I feel works for the kids and what the kids want to learn about. We can feel free to expand and explore.”
In addition to her 4-H volunteer service, Miller also serves on the MSU Extension District 3 Advisory Council and several local boards.
“Eleanor is an exemplary 4-H volunteer: she is patient, calm, and kind, and her greatest focus is to help the youth in her club succeed,” Collier said.
“If youth in her club can’t afford to have their own horses, Eleanor encourages them to use the horses on her property; if a youth shows leadership potential, Eleanor puts that young person in charge in some way. Eleanor puts kids first and is very modest about her own role in the success of her club members. She truly is a wonderful 4-H leader for Leelanau County!”