4-H Endowment – the gift that keeps giving

Eleanor Miller, Leelanau County 4-H volunteer, teaches youth about horseback riding.
Eleanor Miller, Leelanau County 4-H volunteer, teaches youth about horseback riding.

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. Miller leads the Hidden Beach 4-H Club, pictured above.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.

Eleanor Miller, Leelanau County 4-H volunteer, teaches youth about horseback riding.“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!”

Janet Blanchard

Janet and former Gov. James Blanchard have established a new endowment to support post-secondary scholarships for 4-H’ers attending Michigan State University (MSU). The scholarship application will be open from March 1-31, 2021.

Janet Blanchard photo
Janet Blanchard

Janet and former Gov. James Blanchard have established a new endowment to support post-secondary scholarships for 4-H’ers attending Michigan State University (MSU).

“4-H is such a great program,” Janet said. “It’s a great program for kids to learn how to work together, run a meeting, learn Robert’s Rules of Order. It teaches you skills you can use.”

The Janet A. Blanchard 4-H Leadership Scholarship Endowment will provide scholarships for Michigan 4-H’ers enrolled as full-time MSU students pursuing an undergraduate degree in any major. Recipients must have been enrolled club members of Michigan 4-H Youth Development, demonstrated leadership and been involved in extracurricular activities prior to attending MSU.

The application for the Janet A. Blanchard 4-H Leadership Scholarship will be open for the 2021-22 academic year from March 1-31, 2021. Students should apply online at scholarships.msu.edu. Recipients will be selected during the spring semester, with awards to be effective the following fall semester. The number of awards made each year, and the amount of the awards will be based upon available expendable amounts in that year.

“We are so pleased to be able to offer more scholarships for 4-H’ers attending Michigan State University,” said Jake DeDecker, state leader for Michigan 4-H Youth Development. “We are honored to have such generous alumni of our 4-H program, like Janet, who give back to help today’s youth succeed.”

Janet attended MSU in the mid-1970s and later took evening classes, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1988 from Western Michigan University’s satellite program in Lansing, Mich. Gov. Jim Blanchard earned both a bachelor’s degree in social science in 1964 and an MBA in 1965 from MSU, as well as a juris doctorate from the University of Minnesota in 1968. They have been supporters of MSU athletics and established the Governor Jim Blanchard Public Service Forum.

“Jim and I have done a lot at MSU. I’ve said all along I’d like to do something – an endowment for 4-H,” Janet said. “An endowment goes on forever. It will go on after we’re gone. We’ll likely enhance it by giving more.

“It’s an investment in the future and an investment in students coming to MSU that may need some financial help. Anytime you can help a student, help prepare them for the future, that’s a good thing. This fund will enable future students — future leaders — with a scholarship. Every little bit helps. We have the means to contribute back and that’s what we like to do — help others.

“It’s important because I can give back. 4-H means a lot to me,” Janet said. “It was the best experience growing up.”

“It’s important because I can give back. 4-H means a lot to me. It was the best experience I had growing up.–JANET BLANCHARD, INGHAM COUNTY 4-H ALUMNA

An Ingham County 4-H alumna, Janet grew up on a farm in Williamston, Mich. She and her brother were both members of the Wheatfield 4-H Club where she recalls attending monthly 4-H meetings, learning life skills, and working throughout the year on 4-H projects. She also has fond memories attending the Ingham County Fair.

“We were both in 4-H with cattle – steers and my grand champion Angus heifer. I also did a year of sewing, flowers and so on,” Janet recalled.

Janet Blanchard as a youth with her cattle project
Janet Blanchard as a youth with her 4-H cattle project.

“The whole 4-H fair week experience was so exciting,” she continued. “It taught me responsibility, how to prepare for it, how to be organized, how to work with other people, it just goes on and on. These are skills you use for a lifetime. I can’t stress that enough. They are lifetime skills that are taught by 4-H.”

Janet still recalls the 4-H pledge which is traditionally recited before 4-H meetings:
I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
My heart to greater loyalty,
My hands to larger service, and
My health to better living,
For my club, my community, my country and my world.

She says although the 4-H program is over a century old, the 4-H pledge is even more relevant today. “If everyone read this pledge and lived by it, we would have a better world,” she said.

“I’ve been involved with organizations bringing students in from all over the world for leadership training. I’ve continued to be involved in programs and young people,” she said. “4-H gave me a good base for doing all of this.”

Janet served as a Michigan 4-H Foundation trustee from 1989 to 1998. She co-chaired the foundation’s Campaign for 4-H from 2000 to 2007, raising $10.3 million for Michigan 4-H. During the campaign, she hosted a 4-H fundraising event at her home in Beverly Hills, Mich. She was honored as an outstanding Michigan 4-H alumna as a member of the inaugural 4-H Emerald Clover Society in 2002, and in 2008 she served as Mistress of Ceremonies for the society. In 2009, Janet was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame for her service to 4-H and community.

“The lifelong skills that I learned in 4-H were a solid base for me in my professional life when I worked in a number of positions in state government, the governor’s office, on local, state and national campaigns, in President Clinton’s White House, as Director of Protocol for the World War II Memorial Dedication and as a board member of several national organizations.”

Prior to becoming Michigan’s First Lady, Janet Blanchard spent decades in public service in Michigan, Washington, D.C., and Canada. In Michigan, she worked in various management and administrative positions for the Departments of Education, Commerce, Civil Service, Labor, Management and Budget, and the Executive Office of the Governor.

Her career highlights include serving as Michigan’s Deputy Director of the Cabinet Council on Human Investments and co-chair of the Governor’s Telecommunications Task Force. In 1993, she served as associate director of Presidential Personnel in the White House under President Clinton. She oversaw appointments to boards and commissions, making recommendations for appointments to the President.

In 2004, while her husband served as ambassador to Canada, she served on the board of the Centre for Studies of Children at Risk at McMaster University in Ontario and was active in community affairs in Ottawa. She was also directly involved in the planning and implementation of the President and Vice President’s official visits to Ottawa.

Janet served as protocol director for the dedication of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. She currently serves on the Meridian International Center Board of Trustees, and the International Student House Board of Directors, both in Washington, D.C.

Julie and Larry Chapin have created a new 4-H endowment in honor of their retirements.

Participation in the Ottawa County 4-H Program as a youth started Julie on a lifelong journey of engagement with MSU Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development. Julie and Larry both were engaged as 4-H volunteers in Ottawa and Ingham counties. Julie’s career with MSU Extension included work with 4-H at the county, departmental and state levels. Each of these experiences contributed to a commitment to support these three aspects of

4-H work. It is their hope that this endowment will be used to help provide support to youth, volunteers and the staff members who recruit, train and support them.

“We believe giving back is as important as receiving the many gifts and benefits our engagement with MSU, Extension and 4-H have provided,” Julie said. “This endowment gift completes the cycle of the true purpose of 4-H and MSU Extension – ‘Making the Best Better’ – and improving lives through education.”

The Julie A. and Larry T. Chapin 4-H Endowment will provide unrestricted support for Michigan 4-H youth programs with priority to assisting with costs associated with 4-H program participation fees for youth participating in 4-H programs, volunteer training, or staff professional development.

Julie Chapin, an Ottawa County 4-H alumna and 4-H Emerald Clover Society member, has dedicated her 36-year career toward the positive development of young people through multiple MSU Extension and 4-H roles. Since 2010, she has served as director of the MSU Extension Children and Youth Institute and in that role also served as Michigan’s state 4-H leader and secretary of the Michigan 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees. In 1981, she began her career as an MSU Extension 4-H youth agent, then became a youth animal science specialist before serving as state 4-H program leader for volunteer development. Chapin is recognized nationally for her leadership in convening and directing the National Center for Action in Science and Technology and the National Network for Science and Technology, both dedicated to expanding youth opportunities to explore science and technology through formal and nonformal learning opportunities. She also helped launch the 4-H Club Read youth literacy initiative in response to Michigan’s commitment to have every child reading by grade three. She has been honored for her Extension service with the Michigan and National Distinguished Service Awards. Chapin is as active in supporting positive youth development in her private life as she is in her professional life. She has announced her retirement at the end of January 2018.

Larry Chapin retired earlier this year from the MSU Department of Animal Science where he conducted research. He also served as a 4-H volunteer and until recently, the Chapins worked with youth as Tae Kwon Do instructors and volunteered in their local community for the American Cancer Society, Habitat for Humanity and the local band boosters.

“We encourage others to commit to helping make this world a better place for our next generations and give freely of their time and treasure throughout their lives,” Julie said.

Additional gifts are welcome to help grow the Julie A. and Larry T. Chapin 4-H Endowment. To contribute, mail a check, written to Michigan State University including the fund name above, to 535 Chestnut Road, Room 300, East Lansing, MI 48824. Donations  may also be made online at givingto.msu.edu.

three 4-H youth

The Michigan 4-H Foundation has a goal to raise $5,000 to grow 4-H county endowments on #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving.

Giving Tuesday image with three 4-H youth

From 2013-2018, 31 Michigan county 4-H programs participated in the Michigan 4-H Foundation’s county 4-H endowment match campaign to raise perpetual support for local 4-H programs by establishing and growing county 4-H endowments.

During the campaign period, the Michigan 4-H community including clubs, parents, volunteers, alumni and donors collectively came together to show their strong support of 4-H today and to sustain funding for the program well into the future through endowments.

To help continue to grow these funds for the future, the Michigan 4-H Foundation has set a #GivingTuesday goal to raise $5,000 to grow county 4-H endowments in a 24-hour period on Dec. 1, 2020. Learn more.

Counties with Michigan 4-H Foundation endowments include Allegan, Arenac, Barry, Branch, Calhoun, Chippewa, Clare, Clinton, Eaton, Grand Traverse, Gratiot, Hillsdale, Houghton-Keweenaw, Ingham, Ionia, Iosco, Isabella, Kalkaska, Kent, Lapeer, Lenawee, Macomb, Mason, Midland, Montcalm, Muskegon, Oakland, Ogemaw, Osceola, Ottawa, Sanilac, Shiawassee, St. Clair, St. Joseph, Washtenaw and Wayne counties.

Each of these county’s annual endowment investment earnings can provide general support for current 4-H program delivery, purchase or development of new program and learning materials, support for 4-H youth leadership experiences, participation fees or any future areas of great need to advance the county 4-H program.

For example, in St. Joseph County the endowment earnings supported a charter bus rental for 54 participants to attend 4-H Exploration Days in 2018. It also funded two fair events: a 4-H Year End Dance with 154 participants and a 4-H Fair Frenzy with 98 participants. The fair frenzy allowed staff to provide a fun event during fair week to get the youth to work as a team and to interact with one another on a social level. The dance is another opportunity to get youth to engage without social media and the competitive aspect of the fair.

“We were able to provide programs and services with the endowment earnings that we have struggled to provide without the additional funds,” said Eva Beeker, 4-H program coordinator in St. Joseph County. “Several of our 4-H youth would not have had transportation to Exploration Days and would not have attended without the bus funded through these funds.”

Additional examples of how 4-H endowment earnings are supporting general program needs in counties include:

  • Eaton County – funds have provided supplies and materials for the Eaton County 4-H Cloverbud Camp, lowering the cost of the camp to only $10 per youth. This reduced rate allowed the camp to be held at an affordable rate for families, especially those with financial hardships. The Eaton County 4-H Cloverbud Camp is a day camp that involves 20-30 youth ages 5-7 from 4-H and non-4-H members across the county and 15-20 teen leaders as camp counselors. Additionally, the planning committee is comprised of teens and adult volunteers. “The camp is a great opportunity to support our youngest 4-H members in their growth and keep them active in our program,” said Kristy Oosterhouse, 4-H program coordinator in Eaton County. “The support of the endowment funds is a great benefit to this event.”
  • Gratiot County – a portion has provided scholarships to educational events and supported new programming opportunities for virtual activities. In previous years, the endowment interest has provided funding to increase STEAM programming opportunities to underserved audiences through the 4-H STEAM AmeriCorps Program. Forty-nine new 4-H members were recruited to join at least one 4-H STEAM SPIN Club and 10 new 4-H SPIN Clubs were started. Five family engagement events were also held to further connect the families with the 4-H program and to recruit new members. Thirteen new volunteers were successfully recruited and vetted through the 4-H Volunteer Process. The endowment has also funded 4-H promotional activities like the 2019 Kid’s Day Exploration Tent at the Gratiot County Fair for Youth.
  • Ingham County – this support has helped fund and purchase supplies for an AmeriCorps volunteer and for the Ingham County 4-H Still Life Workshop, which welcomed more than 100 participants to explore a variety of 4-H project areas, with more than 40 different sessions being offered throughout the day. “Possible uses for the 2020-21 allocation include covering fair expenses and helping to facilitate remote programming opportunities for our 4-H youth and volunteers, among other uses that will allow us to further support 4-H programs in Ingham County,” said Eric Dobbrastine, 4-H program coordinator in Ingham County.
  • Ionia County – endowment interest provided scholarships for Ionia 4-H volunteers to attend 4-H skill-building workshops. Volunteers attending these workshops were able to gain knowledge and experience that they were able to bring back to their 4-H clubs and youth. Thanks to the Ionia County 4-H Endowment Fund, in 2018-19, our volunteer attendance to the Winterfest workshop was very high compared to other counties,” said John Duvall, 4-H program coordinator in Ionia County. “This allowed Ionia volunteers to be involved in a wide variety of sessions, allowing volunteers to bring back a wider variety of knowledge to 4-H youth!”
  • Muskegon County – the fund has provided scholarships to middle school youth to attend 4-H Exploration Days. “This increased youth leadership skills and had youth start thinking about college,” said Tonya Pell, 4-H program coordinator in Muskegon County. “Many of the youth who received scholarships to 4-H Exploration Days were first time attendees.”
  • Shiawassee County – funds provided educational materials for the 2018 4-H Camp Neyati, scholarships that allowed 10 youth to attend camp at no cost, materials for camp counselor trainings and transportation cost for youth to get to camp. “These funds provided the necessary materials needed to promote extended education for youth development,” said Nikki Hersch, 4-H program coordinator in Shiawassee County.
  • Washtenaw County – endowment interest provided funding for 4-H newsletter communications and general support for local 4-H program work.

Note that each county has its own process on how these funds are spent. Individual endowment donors are encouraged to reach out to county 4-H program coordinators for additional details on how these funds are helping to provide opportunities to 4-H youth in their area.

Learn more about how you can help grow county 4-H endowments on #GivingTuesday: https://mi4hfdtn.org/giving-tuesday/.

Photo of the five Pollard brothers standing infront of the Pollard Dairy barn.

Richard J. Pollard established the Dickinson County 4-H Endowment

Richard Pollard holding a Dahlia flower.

Richard J. Pollard

At 97 years old, Richard J. Pollard has created the Richard J. Pollard Dickinson County 4-H Endowment to support his local county program, Dickinson County, Mich., as he is grateful to 4-H for encouraging him to reach his potential.

Pollard was raised on a depression-era farm in Dickinson County where he was an active 4-H member. To this day, he recalls how much his 4-H leader impacted his life, teaching both he – and his fellow club members – about banking. He didn’t have money to open a bank account, so she gave him one dollar. He later paid her back. His 4-H leader also encouraged him to pursue a career.

Photo of the five Pollard brothers standing infront of the Pollard Dairy barn.

Pictured above is Richard Pollard (far right) and his younger brothers. This photo was taken in 1938 by his 4-H leader, Miss Lillian Solomonson, when she came to inspect his 4-H garden. It was taken at Pollard Dairy in Norway, Mich.

Pollard studied at Albion College, joined the navy in WWII, and later became a doctor. He was grateful to the navy and rejoined during the Korean War. After the war, he practiced medicine in Detroit, all while remaining active in the naval reserves until his early 60s.

The Dickinson County 4-H Endowment will provide an annual source of unrestricted revenue for Dickinson County 4-H. Funds may support everything from special 4-H projects, to sponsorships for 4-H learning experiences, trips and events.

“The Dickinson County 4-H Program is so thankful for Mr. Pollard’s generous commitment to building a stronger future for 4-H youth,” said Jessica Coron, MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator in Dickinson County. “His contribution will be a vital source of continued support for our local 4-H program. This gift will provide further educational opportunities and scholarships for 4-H youth in our community.  Additionally, it has the potential to enhance our current 4-H program. His support is greatly appreciated.”

An endowment is a fund that is permanently restricted – the corpus of the fund is invested and held intact, and the earnings from the fund are used for program support. Endowments provide a dependable and perpetual source of funding that, combined with other annual support, can help ensure that 4-H opportunities are available for all youth, especially those with financial barriers. To learn more about 4-H endowments, visit mi4hfdtn.org/endowments.

Arlon and Shirley Elser

Arlon and Shirley Elser

Arlon and Shirley Elser

Hillsdale County 4-H alumnus Arlon Elser and his wife, Shirley, a Branch County 4-H alumna, provided a capital campaign gift to help establish 4-H endowments in Branch and Hillsdale counties and to grow the Make the Match Campaign match fund.

Arlon serves as vice chair of Whitestone Keep, LLC, and is the former program director of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Because he is a W.K. Kellogg Foundation retiree, the Elsers’ initial gift qualified for an employer match of 1:2, thus tripling the impact of their charitable gift.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer Will Keith Kellogg, works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

With the WKKF match, the Elsers’ gift helped to jump start county endowment campaigns in both Branch and Hillsdale counties.

General 4-H county endowment funds help provide annual support for 4-H program delivery, including scholarships for 4-H youth out-of-county experiences and participation fees, purchase of or development of new program and learning materials, or any future areas of great need to advance the county 4-H programs.

Because their gift funded general 4-H county endowment funds, their contribution will be matched again 1:1 by the Make the Match County 4-H Endowment match fund, thus doubling its impact for Branch and Hillsdale counties.

Two new endowments established by Ingrid Thacker and Deanna House will not only provide a lasting legacy for their husbands but also support the maintenance and long-term care of Kettunen Center facilities and grounds, and help sustain 4-H educational programs at Kettunen Center. Pictured above are the participants at the 4-H Mentoring Weekend at Kettunen Center July 22-24, 2016.

Kettunen Center, Michigan 4-H’s volunteer and youth development training facility, was fortunate enough to have two new endowment funds created this past year to support the maintenance and long term care of Kettunen Center facilities and its adjacent grounds. Support from these funds can also be used to sustain 4-H educational programs there.

An endowment is a fund that is permanently restricted – the corpus of the fund is invested and held intact, and the earnings from the fund are used for program support. Endowments provide a dependable and perpetual source of funding that, combined with other annual support, assures that 4-H opportunities are always available for youth.

These newly established endowment funds will not only support Kettunen Center in perpetuity, but will also serve as permanent memorials.

The Francis H. and Ingrid E. Thacker Endowment for Kettunen Center was created in memory of Francis Thacker by his wife, Ingrid Thacker, in appreciation for the positive influence of 4-H in Francis’ life.
“4-H was really the beginning of his life,” Ingrid Thacker said. “He was able to spend time with his brother. Those years really played a big role in their lives. It is really a good thing for kids to go through 4-H.”

Francis was a 4-H member and took great pride in his 4-H achievements. He went on to manage the family farm and was very involved with community affairs. He served as the LeRoy Township supervisor and for 25 years was an Osceola County commissioner. Additionally, he served 26 years on the Lake Osceola Soil Conservation District and over 20 years as a member of the LeRoy Historical Society. He was a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church in LeRoy until his passing in July 2014.

The George E. and Deanna J. House Endowment Fund for Kettunen Center was created in memory of George House by his wife, Deanna House, and their children, Sara and Paul, to recognize their family’s long-term involvement with 4-H as members, volunteers and donors.

“This fund honors George’s belief in 4-H and his long-term service on the board,” Deanna House said. “It was a good way to remember him long-term – it is also a good cause. “

4-H camps and centers like Kettunen Center are fading. They need to have support to keep them up-to-date,” she said.“This way, the funds from the endowment can be used as those in charge feel it’s needed well into the future.”

George and Deanna House both grew up as 4-H members in Illinois and Wisconsin. They went to college in Wisconsin, George at the University of Wisconsin and Deanna at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. After they married and moved to Michigan, they became highly valued Michigan 4-H volunteers, first in Kalamazoo County and then statewide.

George joined the Michigan 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees in 1979 and served on the board until 2009. In his 30 years as a trustee, he served as president, vice president and treasurer of the board. He believed in the power of dedicated facilities to foster positive youth development. He helped lead the $4.3 million campaign to renovate Kettunen Center, and also helped generate support for the facilities campaign for 4-H Camp Kidwell in Allegan County.

Deanna is well known as a nutrition and healthy foods columnist, author, consultant, speaker and 4-H volunteer. She helped young people see the value in healthy eating and cooking, and helped them develop the skills to do so successfully. When microwave cooking was introduced as a fast way to prepare meals, Deanna helped young people navigate this new technology by co-authoring the 4-H curriculum Microwave Connections.

“4-H shaped my life,” Deanna House said. “We both felt that we should be paying back, and youth are one of the things we believe in. This was a great fit.”

The Houses have been generous annual donors to 4-H for over three decades. In 2006, they also established the Founder’s Fund, an operational endowment for the Michigan 4-H Foundation, which promises to pay dividends of support for 4-H for many years to come.

4-H flags

Two new endowments will leave a legacy and provide perpetual support for 4-H

Two new endowments were recently established with the Michigan 4-H Foundation.

An endowment is a fund that is permanently restricted – the corpus of the fund is invested and held intact, and the earnings from the fund are used for program support. Endowments provide a dependable and perpetual source for funding, that combined with other annual support, assures that 4-H opportunities are always available.

Nicholie Ashcraft, of Harrison, created the 4-H Staff Development Endowment Fund. This fund will support 4-H staff volunteer management training to prepare 4-H staff members in how to best recruit, train, nurture and recognize volunteers.

Ashcraft believes that since the training of volunteers is provided by staff, staff need to be better equipped to provide streamlined training across the state. This endowment will help fund the most recent, cutting-edge staff training.

Ashcraft, a Clare County 4-H alumna, served as a 4-H agent in Gratiot County and later as a statewide 4-H program leader. The latter part of her career focused on 4-H program evaluation in six states.

This past summer, Basil and Coralene Bloss, of Howell, established The Echo Endowment Fund, named for Coralene’s first calf, Echo. Through Livingston County 4-H, Coralene and Echo had great adventures participating in 4-H and at the Fowlerville Fair. Coralene also participated in 4-H Dairy Judging and won both the Michigan 4-H State Home Improvement Demonstration Contest and the Michigan 4-H Public Speaking Contest, winning trips to Washington, D.C., and to National 4-H Club Congress in Chicago.

With this endowment, the Blosses look forward to future generations having similar opportunities to grow and expand their skills and life opportunities. The fund supports 4-H livestock or dairy judging or other programs that encourage and provide opportunity for 4-H members to develop their knowledge of livestock and refine their public speaking skills.

These newly established endowment funds will not only support 4-H but also provide permanent tribute to the donors. Building local, state and facility endowment funds is a priority for The Campaign for 4-H’s Future.

One of the country’s largest multi-day 4-H events, 4-H Exploration Days returned for its 51st year in June 2022. A new endowment created by Donald and Linda Eppelheimer will provide 4-H Exploration Days with perpetual funding for years to come.

Group of 4-H'ers at the 2022 4-H Exploration Days event in a residence hall at Michigan State University.

Each summer, many Michigan 4-H’ers look forward to 4-H Exploration Days, a three-day precollege program held on the campus of Michigan State University (MSU). One of the country’s largest multi-day 4-H youth events, 4-H Exploration Days returned for its 51st year from June 22-24, 2022, after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

“We were so excited to be able to offer 4-H Exploration Days back on campus once again this year,” said Julie Chapin, Ph.D., state 4-H leader and director of MSU Extension’s Children and Youth Institute. “As one of our signature statewide 4-H programs, youth are able to explore their future, try new things and experience college life while gaining confidence and independence through hands-on learning and making friends for a lifetime.”

David Eppelheimer

To ensure there is perpetual support for future generations of Michigan 4-H youth to experience this signature 4-H event, Donald and Linda Eppelheimer, of Crossville, Tennessee, established the David Eppelheimer 4-H Exploration Days Fund. The endowment is in memory of Donald’s brother, David Eppelheimer, who served as a volunteer in the 4-H Exploration Days headquarters for more than 15 years. David also attended 4-H Exploration Days nearly every year — either as a participant, chaperone, conference assistant or headquarters staff member — until his death in 2017.

“It is important that we continue to support programs that test the mettle of tomorrow’s leaders. 4-H Exploration Days might be the first step in that direction and is worthy of our support,” said Don Eppelheimer. “We all strive and hope that Exploration Days has distilled and combined the best of this array of earlier programs.”

“It is important that we continue to support programs that test the mettle of tomorrow’s leaders. 4-H Exploration Days might be the first step in that direction and is worthy of our support.”DONALD EPPELHEIMER

The Eppelheimers were active 4-H’ers in their youth, first as members of the Branch County Blue Ribbon 4-H Club led by Dale and Elizabeth AcMoody. They then relocated to Newaygo County where they were involved with the Lucky 4-H Club led by Mrs. Don Brink and their mother, Phyllis Eppelheimer, and the Hexapoda 4-H Club, also led by their mother. Their father, Marvin Eppelheimer, was a 4-H youth agent in Eaton, Branch and Newaygo counties until his retirement in 1976.

“When your father is a 4-H youth agent and your mother is a 4-H club leader and the nature program director at 4-H camp, you’re sort of in it,” Don said.

He recalls growing up in a 4-H family of three boys (Donald, David and Chad), “One bedroom had an observation hive with live honeybees, one bedroom had a terrarium with Brazilian cockroaches and the last bedroom was a rodent zoo.”

“As a family, we enjoyed nature and 4-H was an avenue to share that experience with others. I recall midnight stakeouts at Newaygo County’s only willow prairie hunting for Luna moths, farm visits to weigh-in cattle for a weight gain project and much more,” he said.

The Eppelheimers often attended 4-H camp, the State 4-H Show and Youth Week.

“A common thread through all three is team building,” Don said. “Hearing someone else’s views on life events is intriguing. Learning to compose and express how you perceive past or future events is a preliminary step to leadership, or at a minimum, compassion for others.”

“4-H activities help build self-awareness and confidence.”

“4-H activities help build self-awareness and confidence.”DONALD EPPELHEIMER

As a teen, David founded an entomology club for the youth too young to join 4-H (now called Cloverbuds). He also participated in a statewide insect collection and pest identification project with Michigan State University. By using a circular black light and a fan trap, flying nighttime insects were captured and sent weekly to MSU entomologists. A weekly newsletter would alert fruit growers and crop farmers of an outbreak of insect pests.

Following his years as a 4-H youth member, David continued his 4-H involvement as an active 4-H volunteer for more than 25 years, contributing to county, state and national 4-H programs. He served as a 4-H volunteer leader in Ottawa County, an adviser to the Kent County 4-H Teen Club for seven years and served as the Kent County 4-H Council president. He also co-chaired the planning committee for the 1986 4-H North Central Regional Leaders’ Forum in Michigan and served on the statewide 4-H entomology developmental committee.

In 2004, David was honored for his 4-H service as a member of the 4-H Emerald Clover Society, the Michigan 4-H alumni hall of fame.

For this honor, David shared how his 4-H involvement contributed to his professional and personal success:

“Whether it is my career or my avocations, I have always responded to an urge to contribute my time, talents and resources. I know this is the fruit of the volunteer ethic I learned through 4-H…I firmly believe I learned how to be an effective classroom leader through 4-H teen leadership, camp counseling and state-level 4-H events. 4-H was the laboratory where I perfected my interpersonal skills and time management skills. It is also where I learned to be a compassionate citizen and to value diversity. 4-H was my classroom for learning to set and achieve goals. My achievements in 4-H established a solid sense of self-worth and potential that has never left me,” David Eppelheimer wrote.

David enjoyed teaching and working with youth so much that he became a kindergarten teacher for Coopersville Area Public Schools. He graduated from MSU with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1976 and a master’s degree in 1984. He also taught in Guatemala, Belize and the Dominican Republic for two years before teaching at Coopersville. In addition to his distinguished teaching career, he was internationally known for his expertise in Christmas antiques. As a partner in the Elves Antiques business in Grand Rapids, he has been featured in Better Homes and Gardens, Country Living, Victoria magazine and the Grand Rapids Press. He was also a guest on “Martha Stewart Living” and spoke on his success as an entrepreneur at the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership conference in 1998. Additionally, he served 10 years on the board of directors and as editor of “Golden Glow of Christmas Past,” the international association of antique Christmas ornaments and decorations. He was also a strong community servant. His historic home was featured for the Heritage Hill Homes Tour in Grand Rapids, and he was a Children in Worship Leader for the Westminster Presbyterian Church.

George and Deanna House

George and Deanna House

George and Deanna House

An estate gift from long-time 4-H supporters and alumni George and Deanna House will grow the Founders Fund.

Wisconsin 4-H alumni George and Deanna House were active Michigan 4-H volunteers at both the county and state level, including serving as judges at the State 4-H Poultry Show. Trustee emeritus George House served as a Michigan 4-H Foundation trustee for three decades and passed away in 2014. Deanna served on the Michigan 4-H Centennial Celebration Committee and co-authored the 4-H curriculum, The Microwave Connection. Deanna passed away Feb. 17, 2022.

“As dedicated donors to 4-H, George and Deanna had a strong passion and belief in 4-H. They had a clear understanding of the value of giving and were true philanthropists by documenting a planned gift designating a portion of their estate to the Michigan 4-H Foundation. Legacy gifts like this make a lasting difference for the future of 4-H,” said Julie Chapin, Michigan 4-H Foundation Resource Development Committee chair and MSU Extension institute director for Children and Youth.

Their charitable estate gift will grow the Founder’s Fund, the Michigan 4-H Foundation’s first unrestricted endowment. Established in 2006 by George and Deanna with both a major leadership gift and a planned gift, they encouraged and solicited additional gifts from current and former trustees to help grow this fund which ensures the foundation’s ability to be advocates and stewards for Michigan 4-H by supporting the annual operation and grant-making needs of the foundation.

When elected as trustee emeritus, former executive director Cheryl Howell said, “George’s wisdom and generous sharing of it has significantly benefitted the work of three decades of Michigan 4-H Foundation board and staff leadership. His contributions really defined the meaning of extraordinary. Aside from his years of service and expertise to the board, George’s major long-term impact for the Michigan 4-H Foundation was the advocacy for and creation of the Founder’s Fund. His vision was to create a perpetual source of income to eventually fund the entire operations of the Michigan 4-H Foundation.”

George served as Michigan 4-H Foundation trustee from 1979 to 2009 and was elected trustee emeritus in 2010. His service to the board included terms as president, vice president and treasurer, Personnel Committee chair and many years on the Finance Committee. He also provided trustee leadership to the Vison 2021 renovations at Kettunen Center. In his professional career, George held positions as president of Production Credit Association of Kalamazoo, vice president of Hamilton Farm Bureau Cooperative, president of AgriDirections, Inc. and later as executive director of Michigan Allied Poultry Industries. He was a 1963 graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Born and raised on her family farm near Footville, Wisconsin, Deanna was very involved in 4-H growing up. After graduating from Janesville High School in 1957, she went to the University of Wisconsin – Stout, which was then called Stout College. Deanna majored in home economics and was involved in the Alpha Phi Sorority. Early in her career Deanna taught high school home economics in Wisconsin. After moving to Michigan, Deanna taught community education classes on microwave cooking. The classes expanded and she started giving cooking demonstrations for churches and organizations. From 1981 to 1995, Deanna published four cookbooks: House Specialties, More House Specialties, Even More House Specialties, and House Specialties Encore. Deanna continued providing cooking demonstrations until 2012. To show how much she valued her education, Deanna served on the Stout Foundation Board for six years and annually sponsored a scholarship for students going into education.

The Houses were recognized by the Michigan 4-H Foundation as members of both the Cornerstone Society and the A.G. Kettunen Society, which provides lifetime recognition to donors who have made documented future gifts to 4-H. To learn more about leaving a legacy with a planned gift to support 4-H, contact Carrie Horstman, assistant director of development for 4-H at 517-353-7075 or greenca5@msu.edu or visit https://mi4hfdtn.org/gift-types.

Gifts in memory of George and/or Deanna may be made online at: https://mi4hfdtn.org/memorialtributedonation or by check to the Michigan 4-H Foundation, Justin S. Morrill Hall of Agriculture, 446 West Circle Drive Room 160, East Lansing, MI 48824.

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