MFB 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Award recipients announced

Image of youth hands in shape of a heart around the 4-H emblem.
Image of youth hands in shape of a heart around the 4-H emblem.

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.

NOMINATE A VOLUNTEER

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

Vera Kempf

Vera Kempf

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

Andrew Walker

Andrew Walker

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.

 

NOMINATE A VOLUNTEER

MFB recognizes the 2017 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Award recipients at MFB Voice of Agriculture Conference. Left to right: Cathy McCune, Chair of MFB State Promotion & Education Committee, award recipients: Michelle Barnes, Melanie Barnes, Tiffany Spedowski and MFB President Carl Bednarski.
MFB recognizes the 2017 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Award recipients at MFB Voice of Agriculture Conference. Left to right: Cathy McCune, Chair of MFB State Promotion & Education Committee, award recipients: Michelle Barnes, Melanie Barnes, Tiffany Spedowski and MFB President Carl Bednarski.

Photo by Farm News Media

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.

 

 

Melanie Barnes
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.