Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) has continued its longtime sponsorship of the 4-H Award of the Clover program. These resources help local 4-H programs honor 4-H volunteers who reach 20 or more years of service to 4-H. MFB has supported this recognition for nearly five decades.
“We understand the value 4-H provides to Michigan youth,” said Carl Bednarski, Michigan Farm Bureau president. “The program not only gives youth life-long skills and experiences, but allows youth to develop into responsible Michigan citizens. We are excited to continue our support of Michigan’s 4-H program.”
Volunteer recognition is an integral component of the 4-H program. Adult volunteers help youth develop new skills and explore their interests through safe, fun, engaging learning experiences. It is critical to honor the caring adults who give their time to help young people learn and achieve through 4-H.
MFB has shown its commitment to volunteer recognition with the creation of the MFB 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Award – the product of a campaign led by MFB to establish an endowment to honor and recognize outstanding achievements of 4-H volunteers exhibiting excellence in 4-H youth education and leadership development in 4-H agriculture areas. Honorees each designate a $1,000 grant toward a 4-H agricultural program of their choice for volunteer training, supplies or curricula to enhance 4-H locally or statewide.
Eighteen honorees have received the award since its inception in 2007. The 2016 MFB 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Award recipients were Penny Sween, of Leslie, and Hollis and Jill Rockwell, Shelby.
Hollis and Jill Rockwell, Oceana County
Hollis and Jill Rockwell have been involved with 4-H since their youth. Today they are deeply involved with the 4-star Beef 4-H Club, and both hold positions on the Oceana County Farm Bureau, Hollis on the Board of Directors and Jill on the Promotion and Education Committee. Hollis advocates for Michigan’s agricultural needs at the Ag Legislative Breakfast hosted by MSU Extension bi-monthly. Additionally, he currently holds the position of vice president for the Oceana County 4-H Market Livestock Committee. Hollis is the current beef barn superintendent at the Oceana County Fair, and Jill is involved in various projects with Oceana 4-H. She helps organize and run the Oceana County Folk Festival, the Oceana County Farm Bureau Spring Break Day Camp, and the 4-H Community-wide Yard Sale and Bake Sale. Jill is involved in educating 4-H youth in meat quality and selection and also on Michigan’s potato industry. Jill has held the position of treasurer for the 4-H Small Market Animal Association Committee and is currently a member of the Oceana County 4-H Youth Council, helping make decisions for the overall educational goals and growth of Oceana County 4-H.
Penny Sween, Ingham County
Penny Sween has contributed her efforts to 4-H since she was an Ingham County youth 4-H’er. She helped create the Town N County 4-H Club. In addition to being the club administrative leader, she was the Ingham County rabbit superintendent, 4-H council president and member of the Ingham County 4-H Livestock Committee. Sween is an active member of the Michigan State Rabbit Breeders Association and the American Rabbit Breeders Association, and serves on several other state and national breed associations and local rabbit organizations. She is a nationally known and respected rabbit judge and, along with her daughter, raises and shows several types of rabbits. Sween encourages youth to explore their passions and interests and to get involved and engages club members in community service.
To learn more about the MFB 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Award or to nominate a 4-H volunteer, visit https://mi4hfdtn.org/4-h-emerald-awards/michigan-farm-bureau-4-h-excellence-in-agriculture-award. Nominations are due June 1, 2017.
In addition, MFB has continued as a partner of 4-H Capitol Experience for the past three years. 4-H Capitol Experience is a four-day teen conference with a focus on state government and policy.
Michigan Farm Bureau honors outstanding 4-H volunteers
Three outstanding 4-H volunteer leaders received Michigan Farm Bureau 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Awards Dec. 1, 2015 at Michigan Farm Bureau’s (MFB) 96th Annual Meeting in Grand Rapids.
Katelyn Horning of Washtenaw County, Tara Miller of Eaton County and the Kounty Klover Kids 4-H Club of Livingston County each received the award and a $1,000 grant in which they designate to a 4-H agricultural program of their choice for 4-H volunteer training, supplies or curricula to enhance 4-H programming locally and/or statewide.
The MFB 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Awards, funded by the MFB 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Endowment Fund, recognizes outstanding achievements of Michigan 4-H volunteers or groups that have exhibited excellence in 4-H youth education and leadership development in the areas of 4-H beef cattle; dairy cattle; goats; horses; horticulture, crops and soils; poultry; rabbits; sheep; swine; and veterinary science.
Katelyn Horning, Washtenaw County 4-H volunteer
Horning has been a 4-H leader in Washtenaw County for the past two years, but also has been instrumental in reorganizing the county 4-H dairy quiz bowl and judging program since being a teen leader. Her enthusiasm and recruitment of members—many with no dairy experience—has reinvigorated the quiz bowl program, which continues to grow. She assisted the state 4-H dairy judging program and accompanied the 2014 team to the national contest in Wisconsin, where it claimed first-place honors. “I have learned so much through the 4-H dairy program,” Horning said. “I have gained practical knowledge about the dairy industry, plus I learned how to manage my time, and it gave me the opportunity to make lifelong friendships. I learned the importance of teamwork and learned leadership skills when I was selected team captain. Most importantly, it has given me confidence to communicate effectively and do public speaking and interviews—skills I use every day in everything I do as I pursue a degree in agriculture.”
Tara Miller, Eaton County 4-H volunteer
Miller has been a dedicated servant to agriculture and the youth of Eaton County for 22 years. She is the beef and swine leader for the Forever in Reach club and remains active with the Eaton County 4-H Council. Tara and her husband, Matt, live on a farm near Charlotte. Together, they raise shorthorn beef cattle and meat goats. She works for the Michigan State University Department of Housing and Residential Services, while he is the manager of Farmers Livestock Marketing in Battle Creek. They have three children, including a daughter, Sydney, who’s an MSU student majoring in agriculture food and natural resources education. A year ago, when the Olivet FFA barn burned down, Tara and her husband offered the use of their barn while the chapter rebuilt. In September 2014, Tara and her husband supported the family of a 4-H club member killed in car accident by organizing club and volunteer support to aide with funeral planning. “The day after the accident, Tara showed up at the farm offering to help plan the funeral dinner,” Eaton County Farm Bureau member Jill Cords said. “She mobilized the club and any volunteer that offered to assist in bringing food. In addition to all of the work organizing the meal, Tara and Matt spoke at the funeral service.” Tara also organizes many 4-H club outings and helps members show and judge livestock.
Kounty Klover Kids 4-H Club, Livingston County
Livingston County Farm Bureau nominated Kounty Klover Kids 4-H Club, led by Teena Munsell, for its outstanding effort in spreading the message of agriculture while developing leadership and communications skills of young members. It has recognized the group several times as the top volunteers in the county at its annual meetings. Kounty Klover Kids won the state award for community service for its Triple F Farms Project (Family, Farming and Food) and finished runner-up in the state award for community service area for Project RAT (Replace the Ash Trees). Triple F Farms featured members dividing into committees based on their interests and developing displays of corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, hay, beef, swine, poultry, dairy and sheep. The displays included live crops and animals, related agricultural facts and a hands-on activity for kids. Project RAT offered trees to the community to replace ash trees destroyed by the Emerald Ash Borer. “We hope you will see how the Kounty Klover Kids are invaluable to our organization and to our community as a whole in advancing the positive message of agriculture and in building our future agricultural leaders,” said Debra Holmes of the Livingston County Farm Bureau. Teena Munsell accepted the award on the club’s behalf. Other adult leaders of the group include Gordon Munsell, Stephanie Fletcher and Martha Munsell.
View the award video shown at the December MFB awards ceremony
Learn more information on the MFB 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Awards and how to nominate a 4-H volunteer or call (517) 353-6692. Nominations are due June 1 each year.