Class Year: 2002
Title: Executive Director Emeritus, Michigan 4-H Foundation
My mother and father were immigrants to America. I was privileged to have been the first of my family to receive a college degree, and that was possible because in 4-H I’d learned skills and had many new experiences. A 4-H scholarship helped me enroll in college.
From 1957 to 1969 Benjamin Westrate served as the executive director of the Michigan 4-H Foundation. In this role, Westrate led the Foundation in the campaign to build Kettunen Center, the first 4-H volunteer training center in the United States. Today the facility hosts more than 12,000 people each year. In the 1980s, Westrate and his wife, Norma, created the Westrate Family Endowment Fund of the Michigan 4-H Foundation to recognize and honor 4-H volunteers. The fund also supports training programs to help 4-H volunteers be effective in their youth development work. Before becoming executive director of the Michigan 4-H Foundation, Westrate was the Bay and Delta County 4-H youth agent, as well as the Upper Peninsula assistant state 4-H leader. He also served in the U.S. Air Force from 1942 to 1944. Currently, Westrate lives in Florida, where he volunteers for Meals on Wheels and at a local hospital surgery waiting room. In memoriam Jan. 5, 2011.