Michigan 4-H State Award winners announced through virtual recognition program

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4-H members honored for their outstanding accomplishments in leadership, service and life skill development.

The Michigan 4-H State Awards Recognition Celebration took place on June 24, 2020, to celebrate the accomplishments of Michigan 4-H members. A Michigan 4-H State Award is the highest honor bestowed on Michigan 4-H members. While 4-H members were unable to gather at Michigan State University (MSU) this year, the Recognition Celebration was able to be held via Zoom webinar allowing 4-H members along with their family and friends to attend the program.

Sixty-four 4-H members from 25 counties submitted applications to take part is this year’s program.

“With almost 200,000 4-H’ers across the state, the youth honored with State Awards are some of our most accomplished 4-H’ers,” said Jake DeDecker, 4-H State Leader of MSU Extension, Michigan 4-H programs. “Their commitment to bettering themselves and their communities through service and extensive 4-H work really make them true leaders in their clubs, counties and state.”

Michigan 4-H State Awards were presented in 19 award categories that showcase the diverse array of 4-H knowledge, skills, and experience. Recipients of the 2020 awards are:

  • Beef Science: William Rogers of Washtenaw County (junior division) and Kaddi Kewirtz of Shiawassee County (senior division).
  • Bird and Poultry Science: Max Lautenschlager of Livingston County (senior division).
  • Civic Engagement and Service: Amari Potts of Oakland County (junior division).
  • Companion Animal Science: Nicole Trierweiler of Ionia County (junior division) and Caitlynn Hughes of St. Joseph County (senior division).
  • Consumer and Family Science: Rebecca Havelka of Menominee County (senior division).
  • Dairy Science: Jada Johnson of Menominee County (junior division).
  • Environmental Science: Ashley Baize of Livingston County (junior division) and Andrew Bushard of Shiawassee County (senior division).
  • Equine Science: Cassidy Cashen of Ionia County (junior division) and Kaylee Benton of Ingham County (senior division).
  • Food, Nutrition, Health Fitness: Aubrey Richards of Macomb County (junior division) and Laci Paidl of Menominee County (senior division).
  • Gardening and Horticulture: Logan Sandell of Houghton County (senior division).
  • Goat Science: Justin Yarger of Monroe County (junior division) and Emily Luthringer of Cass County (senior division).
  • Leadership: IsaBelle Stull of St. Clair County (junior division) and Jael Tombaugh of Eaton County (senior division).
  • Rabbit and Cavy Science: Malorie Baumler of Menominee County (junior division) and Hannah Gaither of Grand Traverse County (senior division).
  • Sheep Science: Sydney Ebsch of Menominee County (junior division) and Katrina Tucker of Allegan County (senior division).
  • Shooting Sports: Amanda Towne of Van Buren County (junior division).
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM): Blake Towne of Van Buren County (junior division) and Brenna Marshall of Ingham County (senior division).
  • Swine Science: Hana Harshbarger of Livingston County (junior division) and Marc Hendzel of Shiawassee County (senior division).
  • Visual, Performing and Expressive Arts: Morgan Jowett of Macomb County (junior division) and Morgan Gruss of Berrien County (senior division).
  • Group Award: Monroe 4-H Teen Ambassadors; Alivia Funchion, Gabby Flowers, and Alana Aulph of Monroe County.

View the recording of the Recognition Celebration for anyone who was wishes to view the program but was unable to join live. 

Michigan 4-H State Awards Program is open to 4-H members who are 13-19 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 delegates. All applicants receive written feedback from selection committees.

A planned change to the 2020 program included senior delegates (ages 16-19) and groups completing an interview using video conference technology. This change proved valuable as circumstances this spring prohibited face-to-face meetings. Completing a video interview also provided an opportunity for 4-H members to practice real-world skills that are trending in the workforce.

“4-H is focused on building skills and providing learning opportunities,” DeDecker said. “Even the application process and interviews for State 4-H Awards was developed to prepare youth for college and the workforce. It is a significant and rewarding process for youth and we are grateful to acknowledge their achievements with the State 4-H Award honor.” 

In addition to a plaque, each 4-H State Award winner in the senior division and the winning Group Award also receive a $200 cash award; junior winners receive $50 cash awards. These awards are made possible by generous donations to the Michigan 4-H Foundation.

To learn more about Michigan 4-H Youth Development, contact your local MSU Extension office or visit the Michigan 4-H website.