Heart of 4-H Award Winners 2003

Pat Heather

January. Pat Heather. Pat has been a 4-H project leader (mostly in photography) for 17 years and has been a County Fair 4-H Photography co-superintendent for many years (this year she was superintendent). Pat regularly opens her darkroom to kids from Lancaster and surrounding counties for instruction in developing and printing photos and in making photograms.

Pat says she likes being a 4-H volunteer because, "I love to teach about photography and gets kids interested -- maybe even to the point of photography being a career choice some day -- but mostly to share some of the satisfaction that photography gives as a creative outlet -- how you can capture or create a feeling or emotion with a camera." She enjoys seeing the look on a kid's face as an image begins to appear in the developer in the darkroom.

Her favorite part of the County Fair is, "seeing the finished products and wonderful creativity of so many kids." She also enjoyed designing and setting up the photography exhibit in the new Lancaster Event Center last year with co-superintendent Galen Madsen and his wife, Jan.

Paula Peterson, leader of the Rock Creek Ranchers and member of 4-H Council, nominated Pat for the award. Paula wrote, "Pat has given her time every year to help with photography in her home and on field trips. She not only helps with the club which Kelly and Cory were part of, but any clubs interested."

Pat and her husband Wayne have two children, Cory and Kelly, who are former 4-H members and currently attending UNL. Pat works at Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway as a Claim Manager. She is also active on the Waverly United Methodist Church building committee and District 145 Foundation for Education.

She says her favorite vacation spots are golf courses, preferably those in mountains. Many people don't know she was a member of the Varsity (Men's) rifle team in college -- there was no "women's team" at that time -- and it was a sanctioned sport (part of the Big Eight Conference).

Terri Whisler

February. Terri Whisler. After being a helping parent for two years, Terri became co-leader of the Western Pride 4-H horse club last year.

Her daughter, Jamie, nominated Terri for the award, saying, "She is always working for the benefit of the club. She has organized our group and made it more enjoyable. She has also been putting out monthly newsletters and much more." Jamie, age 15, is a member of Western Pride and her brother Derek, age 18, is a former member.

The 2002 County Fair was Terri's first year as a volunteer. "I realized how much work there was to be done and how much fun it was to work as a team," Terri said. She enjoyed "watching the entire group, including parents, work together for one goal." Terri likes being a 4-H volunteer because she feels she can help make a difference in the lives of youth. Her favorite part of last year's fair was watching the children cheer each other on.

Terri and her husband, Greg, own and operate Whisler Aviation in Seward. Terri also finds time to volunteer at their church, but unfortunately they haven't had a vacation in eight years! They do find occasional time to relax, and Terri enjoys any movie with Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock or Mel Gibson.

Ken Majors

March. Ken Majors. Ken has been involved with the Rabbits "R" Us and Star City Rabbit Raisers clubs for approximately five years, and he is an active member of the Rabbit VIPS Committee. He helps at various rabbit and poultry clinics and workshops. In addition, he judges rabbits and poultry at 4-H shows in approximately 10 counties each year. Ken will help at the Spring Rabbit Clinic and judge during the Spring Rabbit Show.

Terri Bramhall, a member of the Rabbit VIPS committee, nominated Ken, saying, "Even though Ken has no kids in 4-H, he is always there for the rabbit 4-H'ers. He always comes to VIP meetings and is willing to do anything."

Ken got his start in 4-H in the 1950s, when he belonged to a Nemaha County 4-H club for nine years and exhibited beef, dairy and swine.

A member of the Nebraska Tower of the Plains Rabbit Club, American Polish Rabbit Club, American Rabbit Breeders Association and the Nebraska Poultry Association, Ken says he likes being a 4-H volunteer because, "I feel whatever I can do to help youth develop a responsibility and love for animals 'no matter what animal' is very gratifying and rewarding." He says he also enjoys, "Seeing youth grow and develop into fine characters and become responsible adults." Ken is a math resource person and computer lab supervisor for the District OR-1 Bennet/Palmyra Schools. He and his wife, Ruth, live near Hickman and have a daughter, Beth Misegadis and husband Clif who live in Lincoln, and a son, Wade, who lives in Grand Lake, Colorado. Ken and Ruth enjoy spending time with their four granddaughters and traveling to Grand Lake often.

Ken says something most people don't know about him is that he's overcome being a very shy and quiet person.

Ruth Lantis

April. Ruth Lantis. Ruth has been the organizational leader of the Star City Kids since it formed six years ago. Star City Kids is one of Lancaster County's largest 4-H clubs with 62 members. All of the members are homeschoolers. The mothers of the members are all very involved as project leaders and try to attend all the meetings. Ruth coordinates the meetings and project leaders.

Cathy Hurdle, a Star City Kids parent and project leader, nominated Ruth, saying, "Ruth is the 'heart' of our 4-H group. Even though the group has grown to 22 families, she has managed to maintain order and a freshness to the group."

"I love watching the kids learn and grow," Ruth says of being a 4-H volunteer. "I also enjoy working with all the moms in our club."

Her favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer was watching club members develop, practice and perform skits for last year's Music Contest which they took to the State Fair.

She attends the State 4-H Volunteer Leader Forum whenever possible. She says, "It is a wonderful experience and opens my eyes to all the opportunities within 4-H."

Ruth and her husband Tom homeschool their children: Julie (age 16), Katherine (age 15), Jordan (age 14), Tommy (age 13) and Josh (age 11).

Ruth also helps out at the annual 4-H Clover College (last year, Katherine, Jordan and Tommy also assisted).

She works at Martin Luther Homes and is active in her church. Ruth and her children deliver Meals on Wheels.

Sara Morton

May. Sara Morton. Sara has been the organizational leader of the Rabbits "R" Us 4-H club for four years - leading monthly meetings, volunteering at the County Fair and helping organize the yearly Rabbit Clinics and Spring Show. Prior to being the leader, she was involved in the club for four years. Sara is also involved with the Wee Amigos 4-H club. Her children, Zach, age 16, and Emily, age 13, are members of Rabbits "R" Us. Emily is also a member Wee Amigos.

Bob Dresser, parent of a 4-H'er in Rabbits "R" Us, nominated Sara saying, "Sara is very positive about 4-H and each individual's participation. She includes each person in the activities and encourages each person to express his/her views and suggestions. She has organized each meeting so persons learn about conducting and participating in a meeting."

Sara says she likes being a 4-H volunteer because, "It is fun to teach kids to have fun and learn responsibility at the same time. 4-H is such a good organization that I feel it is important to give back what I had learned from it as a kid myself." Sara was a 4-H member for nine years.

She enjoys helping the younger kids in the club. "They are so eager to learn and participate, and when the fair is here they want to take and do everything. I also try to encourage the older members to gain some leadership skills by helping and encouraging them as well."

The Rabbits "R" Us club ran the dunking booth at last year's county fair. Sara says, "Everyone had fun even though there was work involved. The fair always is a lot of work, but the fun is what you remember."

Married to Todd Morton for 20 years, Sara works at BryanLGH Medical Center. She is involved in their children's school activities and is a board member of the Capital City Horse & Pony Club. Sara's favorite way to relax is watching baseball or going camping in the Sandhills. Something most people don't know about her is she loves big band music. Congratulations to Sara Morton. Volunteers like her are indeed, the heart of 4-H!

Gary and Rhonda Chubbuck

June. Gary and Rhonda Chubbuck. Gary and Rhonda are 4-H parents of daughters Shelby, Kaitlyn, and Hannah who are members of the Western Pride 4-H horse club. Gary and Rhonda have been active in Western Pride for 1-1/2 years and they volunteer for meetings, play days, ring practice and more.

They were nominated by Terri and Jamie Whisler (Terri is co-leader of Western Pride and Jamie is her daughter). Terri says, "Gary and Rhonda are truly unselfish, giving people and it's parents like them that are leaders to our children. Last year, none of their daughters were entered in the County Fair, but they were there every minute of every day making sure that everything ran smoothly for the other children." Jamie added, "Gary is good with kids and has a great sense of humor. Rhonda is a wonderful person and is always willing to help."

Gary says, "I love working with kids. Helping them learn and watching them grow and work together as a team is a real joy to see." Rhonda also enjoys seeing the kids learn. She says her favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer was helping with the County Fair last year. "It was our first experience and we really learned a lot." She helped in the food booth when they were short-handed. Gary brought his grill and cooked for club members. Gary adds, "Those kids really worked hard. It was a good experience."

They also volunteer at their daughters' school, Lakeview Elementary. Gary works at Nebraska Machinery and Rhonda works in the surgery department at BryanLGH-West.

Sheri Ramirez

July. Sheri Ramirez. A 4-H volunteer for 10 years, Sheri is co-leader of the Flamingos and Pet Pals 4-H clubs. She is co-superintendent of the 4-H Household Pets Show at the County Fair. She has also helped out with Character Counts and Clover College. Her daughter, Amber, was a 4-H'er for 12 years and graduated from High School last year.

Sheri was nominated by Shirley Condon who said, "Sheri has a genuine compassion for kids and animals. A single mom with two jobs, she still makes time to volunteer. Her enthusiasm is inspiring."

"I like being a 4-H volunteer because 4-H is so inclusive of all kids regardless of talent or abilities," Sheri said. "It can meet the needs of most any child to belong to a club, hold an office or win a fair ribbon." She is involved with the Household Pets Show & Quiz Bowl so that city kids who can't show livestock can still show a "critter" at the fair.

Sheri also volunteers at Madonna's Angel Dogs therapy program and Lincoln Pet Partners (another pet therapy program) . She works at University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the Burr-Fedde-Love Residence Halls.

Something most people don't know about Sheri is she loves to make up silly songs to sing to her three dogs!

Merlin Dana

August. Merlin Dana. A 4-H volunteer for more than 20 years, Merlin has judged several rabbit shows and conducts rabbit clinics for 4-H clubs in Lancaster and Gage Counties. He also sells rabbits from his rabbitry to many 4-H'ers.

Ken Majors nominated Merlin and said, "Merlin is great with the 4-H'ers. He not only provides bunnies, but provides

4-H'ers with a lot of information on how to take care of them, grooming, breeding and actually any question they may have for him. He shows up at most of the rabbit shows to cheer on those that have bought rabbits from him and to provide information to any others that may have questions. He is a remarkable person, at 85 years of age, and still going strong."

Merlin said he likes being a 4-H volunteer because, "The future progress and success of 4-H depends on the dedicated work of 4-H youngsters of today's world."

His favorite experience volunteering at the County Fair was a number of years ago. "I was called upon to judge the Pet Rabbit Class," he said. "One of the youngsters showing her pet rabbit was a little handicapped girl. As she struggled to walk up to the judging table, everyone could see the great love that existed between the rabbit and the little girl. The rabbit lay content in her arms as she carefully placed it on the table. When I later announced she was the winner, the wide grin on her face was a sight to see!"

Merlin and his wife of 51 years, Jean, have three children: Jeanette, Greg and Rick. He is a retired minister of the Havelock Christian Church and also volunteers for nursery schools, public schools and retirement centers. His favorite way to relax is to cradle one of his Holland Lops and feed it raisins or dandelion greens.

Paula Peterson

September. Paula Peterson. Paula began volunteering seven years ago when her oldest daughter, Amanda, joined 4-H. She is now club leader of Rock Creek Ranchers, a member of 4-H Council and the 4-H Bucket Calf superintendent at County Fair.

Paula's husband, Tom, is a farmer and their younger daughter, Erica, is also a 4-H'er. The Petersons live in Waverly.

Shayna Truax, a member of Rock Creek Ranchers, and her mother Cheri nominated Paula and said, "Paula is one of the most caring and helpful people we know. She is a tremendous person with tremendous heart and is always there to volunteer for anything with a smile."

Paula said she likes being a 4-H volunteer because it allows her to be a positive part of her childrens' lives, as well as the lives of the other youth she interacts with through her club and the Bucket Calf program. "My favorite experiences volunteering at the County Fair come from watching my '4-H kids' do well in their shows, whether it is swine, cattle, rabbits or dairy," she said.

She also enjoys her club's photo day in which, with the help of 4-H volunteer Pat Heather, club members go wild with their cameras and imaginations.

An employee at Crete Carrier Corporation, Paula has spent her last seven vacations at the Lancaster County Fair.

Paula says it might surprise people to know as active as she is in 4-H, she was not in 4-H as a youth. She was, however, involved in UNL Collegiate 4-H during college.

In addition to her 4-H volunteer duties, Paula also volunteers as a Sunday school teacher at Bethlehem Covenant Church.

Marilyn Schepers

October. Marilyn Schepers. Marilyn has been a 4-H volunteer for 23 years (21 years in Lancaster County and 2 years in Burt County). She has been the Teen Council Advisor for 18 years. She was the superintendent of the 4-H Bicycle Safety Contest (formerly the Bicycle Rodeo) at the County Fair for 14 years. She organized the Lancaster County Shooting Sports club. She has served on a variety of former VIP committees including Speech Contest, Bicycle Rodeo, Shooting Sports and Small Animals. She is the former leader of the Busy Buddies 4-H club (all of its members have graduated from the program).

In 1988, she helped establish the Nebraska 4-H State Volunteer Leader Forum and served as its co-chair. The following year, she was Nebraska's representative in the Salute to Excellence Program and received a grant which she applied to the forum. She coordinated the forum for six years.

Emily Schroeder and Connie Lemke, members of 4-H Teen Council, nominated Marilyn saying, "She has continually given her time to the Lancaster County 4-H Teen Council even though her children have all graduated from school. She is a generous, hard worker who shares her kindness and warmth with everyone."

"I believe in the value of 4-H for our youth," Marilyn says. Her favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer has been working with Teen Council. "I enjoy observing the teens grow through the process of developing leadership skills. I need only to give a few guidelines and set a few boundaries so as not to stifle the creativity and enthusiasm of the individuals. I am very proud of the community service projects they perform."

Marilyn and her husband James Schepers live in Lincoln. Their four sons are all 10-year 4-H alumni.

Something most people might not know about Marilyn is she likes to scuba dive and has a collection of ocean, sea and river waters from places she has traveled.

Trudy Pedley

November. Trudy Pedley. Trudy has been a member of 4-H Council for eight years, photography project leader for the Western Pride 4-H club for three years, assistant leader of the former Kountry Kids 4-H club for three years and superintendent of the 4-H Demonstration Contest at the County Fair this past year. Her term on 4-H Council has just ended.

Trudy was a 4-H'er herself for more than 10 years in clubs led by her parents.

"I like being a 4-H volunteer because you work with some awesome people," Trudy said. "The extension staff and other Council members have been wonderful to work with."

"My favorite experience volunteering at the County Fair was working in the food booth. I enjoyed working with 4-H'ers, leaders and parents from all over the county. You get to see so many people because they all seem to stop by the food booth." She helped move the County Fair to the Lancaster Event Center. "There was a lot of excitement in planning and setting up displays that first year. Each year got better," she said. (Note: 2003 was the third year the County Fair was held at the Event Center.)

A Library Media Specialist at Raymond Central, Trudy lives in Lincoln with her husband, Barry. Their daughter, Laura, was a member of Western Pride, and they have a son, Andrew. Trudy also volunteers at her church, Capital City Christian Church. Something most people don't know about her is she is a "Trading Spaces" (or any home improvement show) addict!

Tonya Beach

December. Tonya Beach. Tonya has been the Clover Kids leader for The Malcolm Clovers 4-H club for one year. (Clover Kids are 4-H'ers age 5-8.)

Shelly Everett, leader of The Malcom Clovers, nominated Tonya, "Because of her love and kindness in leading our Clover Kids. She brings her past experience with 4-H along with her sweetness to teach our young generation so much."

"I like being a 4-H volunteer because it allows me to work with children, including my own daughter, McKenzie," said Tonya. "The children have a great time learning the valuable lessons in the Clover Kid program and I enjoy being a part of that."

She created a 4-H banner which the Malcolm Clovers used in Malcolm's 4th of July parade. "My favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer was watching our group march in the parade," Tonya said. "We gave the youth the opportunity to march the route by themselves to demonstrate the responsibility and respect they learned in 4-H. Needless to say, they did wonderful!"

See more Heart of 4-H Award Winners

Contact Information

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County
444 Cherrycreek Road, Ste A
Lincoln, NE 68528 | http://lancaster.unl.edu

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