Two outstanding 4-H volunteers receive 2020-21 Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Awards and $1,000 program grants.
Stacy Hough, of Mecosta County and Christie Warren, of Washtenaw County, will receive $1,000 grants, funded by the Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Endowment, to help support a 4-H agricultural program of their choosing, for volunteer training, supplies or curricula to enhance 4-H programming locally and statewide.
Honorees have been leaders in youth development and education achievements of Michigan 4-H through agricultural project areas including beef cattle; dairy cattle; goats; horses; horticulture, crops and soils; poultry; rabbits; sheep; swine; and veterinary science programs. Honorees will be recognized by both Michigan 4-H and by Michigan Farm Bureau.
Stacy Hough, Mecosta County, has been a 4-H volunteer since 2010 from the project areas of horse, beef and dairy science to small animals, goats and gardening. She has a passion to teach youth agriculture and as such teaches dissection and other science learning activities with her club. She also organizes 4-H dairy booth at the county fair. Additionally, she encourages youth to take on leadership roles at the county, state and national levels and lends a helping hand as needed.
“The greatest reward in being a 4-H volunteer is seeing young kids set goals and help them accomplish those goals,” Hough said. “Also very rewarding is seeing young people become very passionate about the agriculture industry.”
Christie Warren, Washtenaw County, has been a 4-H volunteer since 2017 and serves as the 4-H poultry superintendent. She serves on the state 4-H poultry committee and has been a trailblazer teaching youth embryology sessions for 4-H, schools and local libraries. She helps plan her county’s recognition banquet and encourages youth to apply for both county and state awards for their 4-H accomplishments. Warren also believes strongly in youth voice.
“My greatest reward is watching our youth members serve our community and take leadership within their clubs and communities,” Warren said.
The MFB 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Award is supported by an endowment with the Michigan 4-H Foundation, established by Michigan Farm Bureau in 2006. County Farm Bureaus and individuals were asked to build the endowment and Michigan Farm Bureau matched gifts received from county Farm Bureaus up to $50,000, resulting in a $100,000 endowment. These awards have been given since 2008. To learn more about the award and the award winners, visit https://mi4hfdtn.org/4-h-emerald-awards/michigan-farm-bureau-4-h-excellence-in-agriculture-award/.
As individuals and organizations across the country celebrate National Volunteer Week this April 18-24, Michigan State University Extension is celebrating 53 volunteers who have given 50 or more years of service to Michigan 4-H.
As individuals and organizations across the country celebrate National Volunteer Week this April 18-24, Michigan State University Extension is celebrating 53 volunteers who have given 50 or more years of service to Michigan 4-H.
“Volunteers are the backbone of so many MSU Extension programs,” said Patrick Cudney, acting director for MSU Extension. “And these 53 volunteers have truly gone above and beyond, giving their time and talent to our 4-H communities for half a century.”
Michigan 4-H is the flagship youth development program of MSU Extension. Annually, Michigan 4-H provides approximately 200,000 young people ages five to 19 with experiential learning opportunities that help develop critical life skills. These experiences are offered through numerous delivery models and countless program areas, thanks in large part to the generous support of more than 13,000 volunteers.
4-H volunteers help lead young people and grow their skills in many venues, including after-school programs, summer camps, short-term special interest groups, year-long clubs, special events, fairs, mentoring programs and more. As they provide hands-on guidance and real-world experience, these volunteers also offer young people another crucially important element: a healthy adult role model who helps to grow their confidence and ignite their dreams for the future.
“4-H truly would not be possible without the support of caring volunteers. In their 50 or more years of service, these 53 people have made an immeasurable impact,” said Jake DeDecker, state leader for Michigan 4-H Youth Development. “For the programs they have led and supported, the initiatives they have championed, and the countless lives they have changed, we thank them for their ongoing commitment and dedication to Michigan 4-H and youth in our state.”
The Michigan 4-H 50-year volunteers being recognized in 2021 are:
- Donald Anger, Midland County
- Pam Babbitt, Muskegon County
- Nora Davis, Branch County
- Betty Dennis, Tuscola County
- Robert Dennis, Tuscola County
- Joan Dostaler, Houghton-Keweenaw Counties
- Carol Fanson, Ingham County
- Harvey Fanson, Ingham County
- Betty Flath, Jackson County
- Michael Fleming, Macomb County
- Willard (Bill) Fowler, Hillsdale County
- Joyce George, Clinton County
- Sandra Gill, Menominee County
- Gary Gracy, St. Joseph County
- Terry Gracy, St. Joseph County
- Frank Graham, Isabella County
- Carol Graham, Isabella County
- Suzette Hendershott, Berrien County
- Judy Kaboos, Ottawa County
- Alice Kempf, Muskegon County
- Karen (Kay) Kietzer, Berrien County
- Lucy Ann Knizacky, Mason County
- Dennis Koenigsknecht, Clinton County
- Jean Kuhlman, Ionia County
- Joan Kuhne, Saginaw County
- Patricia LaBair, Tuscola County
- Diana Langshaw, Kalamazoo County
- Martha Lawrence, Oakland County
- Marilyn Letts, Calhoun County
- Joam Lindsley, St. Joseph County
- Roberta Luttke, Berrien County
- Leonard Mitchell, Shiawassee County
- Shirley Myers, Calhoun County
- Norma Osborn, Chippewa County
- Patricia Paasman, Ottawa County
- Mildred Pirlot, Wayne County
- Sandi Pyle, Antrim County
- Barbara Siebarth, Monroe County
- Charlie Silm, Clinton County
- Betty Simpson, St. Clair County
- Sue Smith, Huron County
- Joan Spindler, Shiawassee County
- Gladys Strong, Isabella County
- William Thompson, St. Joseph County
- Harry Vander Kolk, Allegan County
- Doreen Wakefield, Shiawassee County
- Janet Wendland, Saginaw County
- Vera Wiltse, Isabella County
- Bev Winter, Monroe County
- Dennis Winter, Monroe County
- Donna Wojtysiak, St. Clair County
- Donna Woods, Calhoun County
- Carolyn Worth, Barry County
In recognition of their service, 50-year volunteers received a gift of appreciation from MSU Extension leadership, as well as a personal note of thanks.
Tribute gifts in honor of any or all of these 4-H volunteers may be made to support 4-H at: https://mi4hfdtn.org/memorial-tribute-gifts/. To learn more about volunteering with Michigan 4-H, visit 4h.msue.msu.edu.
Three outstanding 4-H volunteers will receive 2019-20 Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Awards.
Beth Clark, of Shiawassee County; Vera Kempf, of Newaygo County and Andrew Walker, of Ogemaw County will receive $1,000 grants, funded by the Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Endowment, to help support a 4-H agricultural program of their choosing, for volunteer training, supplies or curricula to enhance 4-H programming locally and statewide.
Honorees have been leaders in youth development and education achievements of Michigan 4-H through agricultural project areas including beef cattle; dairy cattle; goats; horses; horticulture, crops and soils; poultry; rabbits; sheep; swine; and veterinary science programs. Honorees will be recognized by both Michigan 4-H and by Michigan Farm Bureau. Honorees will also receive a personalized recognition memento.
The MFB 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Award is supported by an endowment with the Michigan 4-H Foundation, established by Michigan Farm Bureau in 2006. County Farm Bureaus and individuals were asked to build the endowment and Michigan Farm Bureau matched gifts received from county Farm Bureaus up to $50,000, resulting in a $100,000 endowment. The awards have been given since 2008. To learn more about the award, past award winners or to nominate an individual for the 2020-21 award, visit https://mi4hfdtn.org/4-h-emerald-awards/michigan-farm-bureau-4-h-excellence-in-agriculture-award.
Beth Clark, Shiawassee County (photo not available)
Only a leader for a short time, Beth Clark has already made an impact. Driving 4-H’ers to opportunities when their parents are unable and creating educational worksheets to teach members about swine, sheep and beef cattle are just two examples of her willingness to go above and beyond. She has created a program in which she encourages youth to engage with individuals and businesses to explain the importance of their swine projects to Shiawassee County and to gain necessary communication skills. She has assisted many of her club members in winning various awards such as Youth Sportsperson of the Year, the Mark of Excellence Competition and the Sweepstakes Competition.
Vera Kempf, Newaygo County
Kempf was a 4-H volunteer from 1950 until her death in 2018. For nearly seven decades, she worked with the youth in her area, providing them with many new opportunities. She created new experiences for youth to learn about animals by inviting veterinarians to teach them about a variety of species such as cattle, llamas, draft horses, saddle horses, sheep, goats, reindeer, ducks and pet fish. She started a program to raise and enter beef calves at the fair that awards a heifer to the winner to foster a youth’s love for the program. She encouraged involvement in many other programs such as Key Club Awards, trips to Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, and 4-H international exchange programs. She also taught youth to compete at national level competitions for various species.
Andrew Walker, Ogemaw County
A former youth participant, Andrew Walker has been a 4-H volunteer since 2009. He has been active in the swine project area, working to increase the knowledge of 60 to 75 4-H’ers every year, the largest 4-H club in Ogemaw County. He also serves on both the large and small animal livestock advisory committees and during fair week, he is the sheep and goat barn superintendent. In 2016, he had been instrumental in the funding of the MSU Extension Ogemaw County programs, when many budget cuts occurred on the state level. He helped organize various campaigns to provide more opportunities for Ogemaw County youth such as organizing holiday parades, scripting and recruiting for radio advertisements, and designing promotional materials. He encourages youth to go outside their comfort zone by applying for state awards and attending 4-H Exploration Days.
The Michigan 4-H Foundation has announced grant and award opportunities of up to $1,000 to support local 4-H clubs and county programs for the 2021-2022 program year.
The Michigan 4-H Foundation has announced grant and award opportunities of up to $1,000 to support local 4-H clubs and county programs for the 2021-2022 program year. 4-H volunteer leaders, members and staff members are encouraged to apply for these funds starting April 1. All grant and award applications are due June 1, 2021.
The following funding opportunities are now open for the 2021-2022 program year:
- Michigan 4-H Legacy Grants – Two $1,000 grants available
Supports development of a new program or initiative, or effort to strengthen, enhance or expand a current program that’s making a difference. Funded by the Michigan 4-H Legacy Fund Endowment.
- 4-H On-Target Grants – Two $500 grants available
Supports 4-H shooting sports programs to enhance existing programs, develop a new program or offer a special experience related to 4-H shooting sports. Funded with support from the Thomas H. Cobb 4-H Shooting Sports Endowment Fund.
- The Collins 4-H Youth Horticulture Grant – One $500 grant available
This grant opportunity is for 4-H youth clubs only to advance club work in plant science and horticulture activities locally. This grant is made possible by the William J. and Ruth D. Collins Endowment Fund to advance 4-H youth horticulture and gardening programs.
- 4-H Educational Garden Grants – Two $1,000 grants available
Supports the creation of local 4-H educational gardens in Michigan. Funded by the Albert A. Albright Endowment for support of 4-H plant science and gardening education.
- Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Award – Three $1,000 grants available
This award recognizes the outstanding agricultural 4-H volunteers 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. Honorees designate a $1,000 grant to a 4-H agricultural program of their choice and are recognized by both Michigan 4-H and by Michigan Farm Bureau. Funded by the Michigan Farm Bureau 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Endowment Fund.
Additional details and the application for these opportunities are online at https://mi4hfdtn.org/grants or contact the Michigan 4-H Foundation for more information at 517-353-6692.
The Michigan 4-H Foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that supports the mission and vision of Michigan State University (MSU) Extension 4-H Youth Development statewide.
Three outstanding 4-H leaders were honored with 2017 Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Awards Jan. 19 at MFB’s Voice of Agriculture conference in Grand Rapids.
Melanie Barnes, of Iosco County; Tiffany Spedowski, of Mecosta County; and Michelle Barnes, of Calhoun County; were recipients of $1,000 grants, funded by the MFB 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Endowment, to designate to a 4-H agricultural program of their choice, for volunteer training, supplies or curricula to enhance 4-H programming locally and statewide.
Since the beginning of her involvement with the 4-H program in Iosco County in 2006, Melanie Barnes has worked diligently to help local 4-H members gain skills in their project areas and for themselves. She worked with the 4-H Horse Program to establish a local 4-H educational camp to allow members to expand their horsemanship and showmanship skills, as well as leadership and teamwork skills. In addition to her guidance with the horse project area, she is also a 4-H Livestock Club volunteer.
She has been instrumental in establishing youth leadership positions for members, such as a 4-H market steer club that allows members to thrive in both their project areas and personal development. She connects 4-H with her community as well, arranging for youth to speak on the radio, and organizing community service events at the local fairgrounds as well as a youth-led community breakfast to share about the 4-H program.
“Melanie has done an outstanding job encouraging youth to participate in the 4-H Awards program both in Iosco County and at the state level,” wrote Kelli Rau in her nomination for Melanie. “In addition to supporting youth in various award programs, Melanie also encourages youth to step outside their comfort zone and participate in regional and state leadership experiences. She has a way with making youth feel empowered, and she encourages them to seek new opportunities and live the 4-H motto of making the best better.”
Tiffany Spedowski, Mecosta County
Tiffany Spedowski has been a 4-H volunteer for 20 years, leading the largest 4-H community club in Mecosta County with over 70 youth members, known as the Stanwood Pioneers 4-H Club.
Aside from being a club leader, she is involved in the Junior Livestock Association, Horse Leaders Association and Mecosta County 4-H Council. Through those groups, she holds officer roles and is actively involved in the county program, which influences and benefits the lives of all Mecosta County 4-H members.
Community service is a big focus of the Stanwood Pioneers 4-H Club. The club participates in many service projects that contribute to the quality of life in the community. Through these projects, the club stays active and involved during all seasons and helps youth to learn the importance of giving back and advancing their citizenship.
“Tiffany is showing her youth how to recognize, understand and appreciate multiculturalism,” stated Jenn Marifo in her nomination for Tiffany. “She also does this by showing through example helping out those individuals that wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to participate in 4-H. The members of her club are always growing and contributing through their service and leadership and help in any area they are needed.”
Michelle Barnes, Calhoun County
Michelle Barnes got her start with 4-H in 1998, and today she volunteers with five clubs: 4-H Dairy Starter Calf Club, 4-H Shooting Sports, Calhoun County 4-H Council, Lucky Starts 4-H Club and the Mini-winnies 4-H Club.
Along with living the life of a small farmer, she works in the veterinary field. She is a shining example of someone who works hard and shows passion for the world of agriculture. She uses the resources available to her through the veterinary clinic and her own knowledge to help teach many concepts in animal husbandry, nutrition and much more.
She leads many community service projects for 4-H Council. She represents 4-H at many local events, teaching youth to be involved leaders in their community by example. This past year Calhoun County 4-H offered a tractor and machine operator course for youth. She was instrumental in helping surface instructors and assembling other resources to make the program a success.
“Michelle is always encouraging youth to pursue their dreams,” said Andrea Boughton in her nomination. “She even pushes them to look outside their comfort zone and create goals that might require some hard work to achieve. Once youth have set these goals, she is there to support them every step of the way. Whether it is learning how to vaccinate, tag or build a new enclosure, Michelle will support them and usually find others to help as well.”
Supported annually through the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture and funded by the MFB 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Endowment Fund, the 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Awards recognize 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.
Amid a global pandemic, Dr. Teena Chopra, a Wayne County Michigan 4-H volunteer, and her daughter Simran, a 4-H member, dive headfirst into 4-H.
In 2019, Teena Chopra, M.D., M.P.H., enrolled her daughter Simran as a Cloverbud member of Michigan 4-H in Wayne County. An initiative of Michigan State University Extension, Michigan 4-H is the state’s largest youth development program and Cloverbuds are it’s youngest members: youth ages 5-7. Cloverbuds engage in many of the same programs as older 4-H’ers but focus on participation and learning outside of a competitive environment. After a year of being involved, Teena and Simran were having so much fun that Teena decided to become a 4-H volunteer.
“I have mentored many high school students from Detroit,” said Teena. “Working with them gave me an insight into the gaps and needs of this community. That’s when I decided to volunteer my time.”
Teena, who is an infectious disease specialist, officially became a Michigan 4-H volunteer in February 2020, on the cusp of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the pandemic ravaged the state and world, Teen was on the frontlines and was recently recognized by Crain’s Detroit Business as one of their Health Care Hero’s for 2021. Coined the “COVID-19 Explainer-in-Chief” for her role as the director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology at the Detroit Medical Center, the recognition applauds much of Teena’s hard work throughout the pandemic.
Despite her busy schedule and demanding role during a year of great uncertainty, neither Teena nor Simran were discouraged from being engaged in 4-H. Instead, they recognized that the tough times created a need for programming that would keep youth stimulated and engaged and they went above and beyond to fill it. Having passed down her own passion for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and community service to her daughter, Teena credits much of her motivation and involvement in 4-H to supporting Simran’s work and interests.
“Simran loved to share her joy of reading with others and that’s how she started getting involved in community service,” said Teena. “She started doing book drives and named her campaign Building Bridges through Books which evolved into [the creation of] Building Bridges through STEM.”
Building Bridges through STEM is the new virtual club launched by Simran and Teena. At the beginning of the pandemic, Simran missed seeing and interacting with her friends and peers. With Teena’s help as a volunteer, Simran launched the club, which meets every weekend and features different speakers from various STEM fields who share their knowledge about the field and how they got to where they are in their career. This popular club now has 30 members, some of which reside outside of Michigan. It has also created unique opportunities for Simran, including being invited to discuss the club on several episodes of the Toronto Student Media Network podcast.
“I feel I have inspired my club members to love STEM through the weekly sessions,” said Simran. “We look forward to a new journey into the world of STEM every week. When I surveyed my club members to get their feedback, 90 percent said the club had sparked their interest in STEM fields and more and more want to pursue STEM fields in the future. I envision my club to keep growing and building bridges amongst the youth of today.”
In addition to creating a new club, Teena and Simran also circulated educational videos on proper hand washing and mask wearing techniques during the pandemic. Originally created for Simran’s school, the pair shared them with the 4-H community to provide simple, yet critical, COVID-19 tips in an easy format to consume. Teena and Simran’s community service efforts also include raising money and materials for various 4-H and school drives, donating touch-screen tablets to the Wayne County 4-H program, and providing healthy living educational materials, which is one of Simran’s 4-H project areas.
“It has been very rewarding seeing how our work has impacted others in the community,” said Teena. “We have gained a second family from 4-H, have experienced such kindness and been welcomed by other members, volunteers and staff.”
In Wayne County, the 4-H community is grateful for all the two have accomplished in such a short time and for their many contributions to the local program.
“I truly enjoy having Teena and Simran as part of our Wayne County 4-H community,” said Milaina McCann, Wayne County MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator. “You can truly see how much Teena loves youth voice and youth recognition. As a 4-H parent and 4-H volunteer, she empowers Simran and other 4-H youth to explore their interests, develop their ideas, and showcase their skills. Each project from STEM to community service has been youth selected and led. Teena and Simran are a great reflection of 4-H youth adult partnerships.”
To learn more about Michigan 4-H and how you can get involved as a 4-H youth or volunteer, visit 4h.msue.msu.edu.