Mildred Waldren, North Central Region
National 4-H Council joins Kansas 4-H in recognizing Mildred Waldren of Tribune, Kansas, as the 2013 National Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer for her exceptional commitment and contributions to 4-H and the community. Mildred was also named the 2013 North Central Region Salute to Excellence Outstanding Lifetime 4-H Volunteer.Read more
The experience of growing up in a rural area of eastern Colorado without an active 4-H club may have made an impression upon Mildred. Todd Schmidt, Greeley County Extension Agent, proudly states that Mildred, “…honestly believes in the power of the 4-H organization to develop the life skills our youth need to become successful in the future.” Perhaps this is why Mildred has volunteered with 4-H for over 60 years. The Go-Getters 4-H Club has experienced Mildred’s guidance as the Community Club Leader and, at times, Co-leader, since 1950. Her influence has touched more than 400 club members in many ways; she has trained and mentored officers, guided committees, taught parliamentary procedures, leadership and communication skills, and worked with club members to develop positive youth and adult partnerships. Many new 4-H club volunteers have been recruited by Mildred to teach projects and support the club in other ways. Youth Michaela Tubbs-Blakley, Go-Getters 4-H Club President, notes how “She always makes it a point to show people how interesting and how much they can learn from taking your projects at enrollment carnival.” She adds, “When we experience increasing amounts of new 4-H’ers, we know Mildred has something to do with it.”
Greeley County 4-H has continuously benefitted from Mildred’s unwavering dedication. As Project Leader for 62 consecutive years, more than 620 youth have learned to present in clothing construction, visual arts, crocheting, embroidery, cake decorating, foods, photography and woodworking under Mildred’s tutelage.
Mildred’s passion for all things 4-H does not stop there. She has been the Greeley County 4-H Treasurer from 1977 to the present. And the Greeley County Fair has depended on Mildred’s donated time and service since 1980. There, as 4-H Food Concession Manager, she orders the foods, cooks portions and organizes members, parents and leaders to serve the food during the four-day fair; as well as pays all bills when the event is over. The 4-H Food Concession serves as the main fundraiser for the Greeley County 4-H Council, grossing from $4,000 to $5,000 profit each year. During her tenure, the venture has made more than $50,000 in profit to support scholarships and other events. Not one to miss an opportunity to help youth build skills, Mildred has taught more than 1,000 youth the intricacies of working concession stands, including responsibility, leadership, communication, decision-making, healthy food handling practices, customer service, and money management.
In addition, Mildred has devoted volunteer time to the Greeley County Extension Council Executive Board and Program Development Committee since 1968. She is also the current President of the Greeley County Historical Society and has been a member of the IOOF Rebekah Lodge since 1948. She is a member of the American Legion Auxiliary and supports the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary. Her work on the United Methodist Church Advisory board includes heading the communications committee and she has contributed to many roles with the South Colony Extension Homemaker Unit (now FCE) and Whitelaw FCE since 1957. Todd jokes that, “…according to the citizens of Greeley County, the definition of volunteer should include the name and picture of Mildred Waldren.”
Mildred only recently retired from full-time work at the age of 85. She worked in the Greeley County Register of Deeds Office for 30 years, and before that she supported the Waldren farming and cow-calf operation with her husband while raising two sons.
Connie Louder, North East Region
Delaware 4-H is proud to recognize Connie Louder of Felton, DE, for her commitment to 4-H and the community. Connie is named the 2013 North East Region Salute to Excellence 4-H Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer.Read more
As an ongoing volunteer for 33 years, Connie has contributed to the nuts and bolts of the Kent County 4-H Order of Links Member program. She has assisted with numerous annual fundraising projects and provided leadership for many projects and activities. As Treasurer, Connie maintains all financial records for the organization for over the past 12 years. She also serves as the liaison to the Link for the Kent County Basket Auction Committee.
Connie supported activities in several previous roles in the Harrington Sunshine 4-H Club. She was the leader for the food projects for 12 years; a Cloverbud leader for 3 years; and the financial management project leader for 3 years.
Connie’s valuable insight and presence has been greatly appreciated by the members of the Kent County Extension Advisory Council. According to Ernesto Lopez, State 4-H Volunteer Coordinator with the University of Delaware, Connie began service as a committee member and then stepped up to the position of Secretary. Later, according to council bylaws, Connie was obligated to step down after a period of time. However, that in no way diminished her desire to serve. She later returned to the position of Secretary where she has been serving for over 5 years.
Knowledge and skills in accounting is demonstrated by Connie through her outstanding contributions to the fiscal well-being of a number of organizations. She has served as an auditor to several 4-H Clubs as well as the Kent County Livestock Advisory Committee for several years. According to Susan Eliason, Delaware 4-H Volunteer, Connie can always be found promoting the 4-H program to others and has been an excellent role model for 4-H youth. In her work as a Kent County Judge for over 7 years, Connie has judged areas such as county projects books; public speaking contests; and favorite foods contests.
A special goal was achieved through Connie’s efforts in working with three other individuals in 4-H to develop the Michael Everline Memorial Leadership Award, according to Ernesto. This award was developed to recognize and remember a very active member of the Kent County 4-H. The award is presented on an annual basis to identify a 4-H member in the county for leadership, accomplishments and contributions to 4-H. In turn, many supporters have been pleased to nominate Connie Louder for her own recognition. Sara Busker, former 4-H member and current Delaware 4-H Volunteer, shares that “Delaware 4-H has been very fortunate to have a volunteer such as Connie Louder.”
Barbara Zimmerman Hoedel, Western Region
Kodiak 4-H is proud to recognize Barbara Zimmerman Hoedel of Kodiak, AK, for her commitment to 4-H and the community. Barbara is the 2013 Western Region Salute to Excellence Outstanding Lifetime 4-H Volunteer.Read more
Barbara has volunteered with 4-H for 36 years. In all but two of those years she has led two to three projects at a time for youth, covering areas such as horses, horse-lovers, sign language, teen club, gardening, exploring 4-H, small animal care and Cloverbuds. Locally, she has been a member of the Kodiak Leaders Council for 30 years, serving 12 years as president. Barbara has led the way in new leader recruitment and training, and was instrumental in securing an extension agent position for Kodiak.
Growing 4-H is an ongoing priority for Barbara. She has committed her focus to developing youth and encouraging adults to volunteer and share their skills. She has also created strategies that have enhanced not only 4-H but the larger community as well. For example, recognizing safety as a concern for youth leaders, she worked with a committee to write guidelines for Alaska state horse shows, as well as help establish a law to limit liability for horse-related activities. She was active with the Alaska State Extension Advisory Board for two years, and for 12 years she was a part of Alaska State Leaders Council in various capacities. As a certified Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) instructor she established a riding program for children with disabilities using 4-H volunteer support. For several years, she taught horse riding to adjudicated teenage boys through 4-H programming, and helped to coach the Special Olympic Equestrian Team for four years.
Kodiak volunteer, Marie Rice, admires the way that Barbara can demand the attention of the youth and adults in a positive and friendly way. Thirty years of serving together has allowed Marie to conclude that Barbara models character and professional behavior when interacting with participants, families and community partners at all times. Colleen Helligson, Kodiak District Volunteer, reflects that, “So many of our youth leave Kodiak Island with the knowledge that they are better citizens of the world because of Barbara Hoedel, and what she and 4-H have done to change their lives…”. According to Deb Jones, State 4-H Program Leader, Barbara often has played the role of mediator, ensuring an equitable outcome for all. Deb states that Barbara easily impresses with her strong leadership skills; however, it is her high degree of professional integrity and exuberance for her work with young people that makes her a dependable team player, encouraging both youth and adults to Make the Best Better for 4-H in the community, state and region.
Donna Curry, Southern Region
Oklahoma 4-H is proud to recognize Donna Curry of McAlester, OK, for her commitment to 4-H and the community. Donna is named the 2013 Southern Region Salute to Excellence 4-H Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer. Read more
Donna has served as 4-H Club Leader for the Frink-Chambers 4-H Club for over ten years. According to Greg Owen, Extension Educator, 4-H Youth and Development, during this time Donna has been a driving force of the 4-H spirit. He observes that enrollment in the club has increased from about 20 to 79 youth members. In his opinion, these new members don’t just show up at meetings, but rather they are a most active group of youth. Greg shares that under Donna’s leadership the club participates in everything that the county has to offer. This includes areas such as the livestock programs, impressive dress and public speaking, crafts and photography, shooting sports, contests and much more. In fact, he adds, for each contest the county office holds, Donna will offer a similar event at her club to teach the youth what to expect at a county-level event. In turn her older members are trained to work with the younger members to create a mentor-learner environment while also building leadership skills.
Donna has done exemplary work with community partners in building support for club events. For example a local club activity quickly blossomed into an annual school and community fundraiser event. Over the years, Donna has hosted, organized and planned the Walk-A-Thon for diabetes and raises an average of $8,000 in annual donations.
Donna has also organized workshops; supported the “Health Rocks” ® program; run after school club meetings; raised money for the Therapeutic Equestrian Association of McAlester; organized annual Christmas programs for nursing homes; and facilitated contests, including posters, crafts, photography and baking contests. In the county she has organized teams for county events such as livestock judging, land judging, poultry judging and shooting sports competitions. Donna has supported state and district 4-H events through her work with state fair exhibits; State Round-Up conventions; the District Omni-Plex lock-in in OKC; and summer camps.
In addition to her full-time position as Frink-Chambers School Counselor, Donna also works as a part-time Behavioral Health Therapist. All of which leaves her just enough time to do other volunteering, including serving on the National Hereford Women’s board; acting as state advisor for the Jr. Hereford Association of Oklahoma; working with the 1st Baptist Youth Groups; and supporting the Wise Road Sports Camp.
Taylor Williams, age 12, is the Pittsburg County Youth Ambassador. And it is her approval that may best capture Donna’s impact on youth development. According to Taylor, it doesn’t hurt to know that “…there are kids from other clubs who say they wish their 4-H leaders was as fun as ours is...because she is FUN”! Taylor states that Mrs. Curry always goes the extra mile for her students, encouraging them to get involved and to attend as many 4-H events as possible.
Lisa Pfannenstiel-Garrison, North Central Region
National 4-H Council joins Kansas 4-H in recognizing Lisa Pfannenstiel-Garrison, of Shawnee County, Kansas, as the 2013 National Volunteer of the Year for her exceptional commitment and contributions to 4-H and the community. Lisa was also named the 2013 North Central Region Salute to Excellence 4-H Volunteer of the Year. Read more
Lisa has served as the Auburn 4-H Club Leader since 2007, taking on roles such as photography and horticulture Project Leaders. During this time Lisa has co-led Club Skit, performed as Gavel Games Coach, and served as a mentor for club officers and record books. She has also either participated or served as leader for a variety of committees focused on areas such as budget, fundraising, service, social, banners, booths and haybale.
Lisa’s county service is demonstrated by her many roles, starting in 2009, as Secretary, Vice President and President, respectively, for the Shawnee County Extension Board. Throughout the past years she has acted as the county King-Queen Committee Co-Chair and co-led the Officer Leader Training for Countywide Officers. She also conducted the training for the Officer Leaders. At the county fair Lisa could not only be found judging the photography and horticulture contests, she also served as the horticulture countywide Judging Team Coach. Other activities included serving as Financial Auditor for club and county levels; being a Friend of 4-H Foundation Donor for the past 10 years; attending the Mentor for Youth, NE Leadership Forum, State Space Tech Action Team, and Ambassador Training for the past 2 years as well as conducting record book judging at the state level.
The Williams Magnet Grade School, located in an under-resourced area of the city, has enjoyed the guidance of Lisa as a leader for the local Adopt-a-School Program. At Williams, she helped to upgrade the class rain forest, create landscaped school grounds, read to students, coordinated the Colgate free dental check-up program and supported the NASA Space Mission from 2009 through 2012. She has also been a leader of the Christmas Adopt-a-Family Program, supporting up to 12 families a year for the past 5 years; and has volunteered at the Auburn Elementary School for the past 4 years. Her passion for service, in addition to being a Human Resources Manager at a global pet nutrition company, positions Lisa well to support the Women’s Empowerment Network Council through planning events that support professional women’s development and work/life balance.
Lisa challenges the youth to make their best better by expecting great things from them and letting them know that she has confidence that they can do it. For example, Angie McConnell, 4-H parent, leader and volunteer, observed a dwindling record book completion rate within Shawnee County. It was Lisa, noted Angie, who saw the need to change from using the generic project record format that some youth found too confusing to a newer, simplified project record for non-competitive record books. Using input from youth and parents, Lisa created a new project record and, with board permission, gave the new format a trial run. Angie is proud to share that the club’s record book completion rate has drastically increased within the past year and a half, and that “the younger youth are completing them with only a little guidance!” Lisa offers guidance and feedback in a loving, nurturing way that helps these little seeds sprout into beautiful flowers, stated Angie.
Michele Henry, a former co-club leader with the Auburn 4-H club, believes that Lisa has been invaluable to the Shawnee County 4-H program. Michele shares that Lisa helps children to ask themselves the question “Are my actions 4-H appropriate?” and that she understands that youth today need guidance, love and understanding.
Tamara McConnell, 4-H youth member, age 12, has aspirations inspired by Lisa. Tamara states “I would not be the same person I am now because she has changed my life so much. She monitored me since I joined 4-H. Our school had a hero day this last year and I knew exactly who I would dress up as – Lisa Pfannenstiel-Garrison. I wore professional clothes and I put on a name tag with a 4-H Clover. She has been there to help me with whatever I need help with. She is my hero because of everything that she has done for me and 4-H.”
Laurie Chandler, County Extension Director, readily vouches for Lisa’s impact on 4-H, “Lisa has come to be a vital part of our 4-H community and we have benefitted from her passion for 4-H.”
Heather Smith, North East Region
Delaware 4-H is proud to recognize Heather Smith of Sussex, DE, for her commitment to 4-H and the community. Heather is named the 2013 North East Regional Salute to Excellence 4-H Volunteer of the Year.Read more
Heather has served as 4-H Club Leader for the Banneker Bulldogs Cloverbuds for 4 years and as a Banneker Bulldogs Club Co-organizational Leader for 3 years. As a Sussex County 4-H Leader, when funding for the Benjamin Banneker Elementary School afterschool club ran out, Heather understood, from her 10 years of 4-H participation as a member, how important the program was. She and other volunteers worked out a way to continue the club, actually doubling enrollment, while increasing both community service and visibility.
Yvette Morris, a teacher at Long Neck Elementary School in Millsboro, Delaware, has observed the dedication that Heather brings to 4-H through her hard work in planning the learning activities, crafts and hands-on games. Yvette shares that Heather helps to organize county events through her role as the 4-H Leaders Association Treasurer for the past 6 years. Heather has worn many hats in support of state fairs, including judging record books; working the NASCAR fundraiser booth and the Farm Bureau food booth; and offering positive encouragement for youth in their participation.
Heather has served in leadership roles and on several committees in areas such as calendar planning, horse showing, Achievement Event presenter, officer training Instructor, Project Book judge, and favorite foods judge. She has been a coach for the Horse Bowl Team for 3 years and as well as a member of the Sussex Order of Links for the past 18 years. Heather has attended the Delaware state leader forums for the past 7 years and has helped facilitate the Younger Member Weekend and county day camp.
The most revealing impact of Heather’s 4-H volunteer efforts is seen through the perspective of a current 4-H club member. Jimmy Kucharzyk of the Milford 4-H shares that he has been under the guidance of Mrs. Smith for “...a whole seven years”; and that “…she not only helps teach kids how to be helpful to others, she is also a really good helper herself”. The one huge thing that Jimmy admires about Mrs. Smith is her willingness to open up her home for the club meetings. He believes that without her efforts the club would have nowhere to hold the meetings. In his experience, Mrs. Smith gets the club involved in community service projects which results in getting the club “… recognized for helping and better shows the real meaning of 4-H to help out others”.
April Bowen, Southern Region
Georgia 4-H is proud to recognize April Bowen of Americus, GA for her commitment to 4-H and the community. April is named as the 2013 Southern Region Salute to Excellence Volunteer of the Year. Read more
April has enjoyed a variety of roles within 4-H. Starting in 2008, she has served as the Homeschool 4-H Club Advisor; as a Poultry Judging Team Assistant; Operation Desert Support Mentor; Cotton Ball & Consumer Judging Assistant; Cloverleaf Project Achievement Chaperon, and Project Achievement Portfolio Workshop Mentor among other roles.
April’s “servant’s heart” as described by Bill Starr, Sumter County Extension Coordinator, belies her “can-do” attitude. Bill notes that when an archery club was needed in the county April stepped up to not only coach the youth but to also work to develop funds and locate the equipment necessary to sustain the team in the future. Other county endeavors include serving as Wildlife Judging Coach; as the liaison between 4-H teen leaders and the Boys & Girls Club; serving as the Adult Representative at the Georgia Youth Summit; and acting as the SW District State Congress Workshop Advisor.
The excellent reputation of the programs in Sumter County led Jenny Jordan, Extension 4-H Specialist, to learn of April’s efforts. Jenny observed that what began as a small project by a teen was cultivated by April into a statewide endeavor to support military families. Jenny admires April as a creative thinker with the heart for children, while also having a unique ability to “step back and let the teens complete the task despite the snags they are running into”.
This drive to recognize program needs with vigor and professionalism has led April to contribute efforts to serve as the Military Family Day Service Project Instructor; to chaperone for several events; including, Multi-County and State Council, Junior/Senior Southwest District Project Achievement Conference, and Fall Forum Conference. She served as the Georgia Delegation Volunteer Leader for National Congress and Citizenship Washington Focus.
April currently works as the Military Kids Program Assistant with the University of Georgia, Sumter County Extension, and has volunteered with community organizations such as the Angel Tree Prison Ministries, Operation Christmas Child, Girl Scouts, and the Americus Region Christian Home Educators.
Keri Hobbs, an Extension Agent who has since relocated to Jackson County, describes April’s growth as a leader. Keri reminisces about April’s first presence as a parent observing club meetings, then as a mom that helped her coordinate with other families in the community, and later as an outstanding volunteer who demonstrated exemplary service, while recruiting other volunteers and developing resources. Keri views April as a tremendous asset to the Sumter County 4-H Program who, with her creativity and initiative, “far surpasses expectations!”
Mary Lash, Western Region
California 4-H is proud to recognize Mary Lash of Downey, CA for her commitment to 4-H and the community. Mary is named the 2013 Western Region Salute to Excellence 4-H Volunteer of the Year.Read more
Mary has been active in the 4-H program every year for the past 74 years. And for 67 years, she has led her local Green Leaf 4-H Club. Mary has opened her home to become a place where club meetings are held, where youth learn life-long lessons, and are encouraged to be the best they can be. She has taught and inspired 4-H’ers through a variety of activities, including subject areas such as home economics, fashion revues, planning, organization events, fundraisers, fairs, camps, judging days, record books and more.
Dawn Fuller, Los Angeles County 4-H Program Coordinator, recognizes that while Mary no longer cooks for the summer camp; she definitely goes above and beyond to plan and design the 4-H Summer Camp menu every year. Mary serves as advisor for all youth on the Emerald Star Projects, and also serves as the unofficial LA County 4-H historian. Michael Spaziano shares that Mary has taught high school home economics daily, in the local school system since 1950, and is officially the longest tenured teacher on record for the state of California. Additionally, she has served as the Los Angeles County Treasurer for the past 17 years.
Former California State 4-H Ambassador, Dennis DeYoung, appreciates Mary’s tremendous smile along with the hope and achievement she exudes in her guidance. He states that it was Mary who taught the real meaning of Learn by Doing, sharing this value with his wife and daughter, also former California State 4-H Ambassadors.
With so many obligations it might be expected that Mary is due a well-deserved break; however, as Michael puts it, she has no plans on slowing down because she claims that it is the work that keeps her going! Michael acknowledges that Mary has been an incredible representation of the best that 4-H has to offer as evidenced by the thousands of current and former 4-H’ers who have benefitted from her instruction and guidance.
Nominations for the 2013 Salute to Excellence program were received from 36 states and US territories. Nominations for the 2014 Salute to Excellence program will open in October and close November 8, 2013. View 2014 nomination criteria.
The 4-H Salute to Excellence Awards were created by Gene and Sharon Swackhamer to highlight the important work of 4-H volunteers across the nation. When Gene looked back on a gratifying career uniquely shaped by 4-H, he wanted to ensure the positive impact of 4-H volunteers on future generations. From this commitment, 4-H Salute to Excellence was born. Monsanto is the presenting corporate sponsor.
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