Heart of 4-H Award Winners 2010

Marcia Claesson

January. Marcia Claesson A volunteer for more than eight years, Marcia has helped with the Star City Kids and Bright Stars 4-H clubs, presented geocaching workshops at Clover College, taught tree identification classes and volunteered with the Bicycle Safety Contest.

"I like watching kids learn about the world around them and gain skills and confidence that will go with them through their entire lives," Marcia says. "My favorite experience was teaching the geocaching class. Geocaching is a great family activity and it's fun to see the kids get excited about it."

Jen Smith

February. Jen Smith. Jen has volunteered with 4-H for nearly five years. She is organizational leader of the Fantastic 4 4-H club which recently held a blanket drive (see back page). Last year, she presented two Clover College workshops and volunteered at 4-H Council's food booth at the Lancaster County Fair. Jen has also helped at Style Revue judging, Kiwanis Karnival and the 4-H Kick Off.

"I truly love helping youth discover ways to give back to their communities -- guiding them through and around barriers to empower them to follow their hearts and make their dreams a reality," says Jen. "My favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer was driving down our neighborhood street and seeing collection bags on so many doorsteps. I was moved to tears to see how many people donated to this community service in these difficult times."

Kathy Wiegand

March. Kathy Wiegand. Kathy has volunteered with 4-H for eight years. She has been co-leader of EquiRiders Horse Club and is currently co-leader of the Silver Spurs Horse Club, which was awarded Outstanding 4-H Club (with 8-12 members) for 2009. She is also a member of the Lancaster County Horse VIPS Committee.

Laura Hardesty nominated Kathy for the award, saying, "She is a wonderful 4-H leader. She helps the 4-H'ers succeed with her ever-ready smile and willingness to help. Kathy has been an organizational leader for many years and is an outstanding role model."

Kathy says, "I enjoy working with the youth and watching them develop their riding skills as well as learning about horses. I have made many friends through 4-H and appreciate the commitment and support of club members. My favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer is hosting the annual "Hairy Horse Show." Proceeds from this show are donated to a local horse rescue. It is a great feeling to give back to the community."

Deb DeWald

April. Deb DeWald. Deb has volunteered with 4-H for about seven years. She is currently superintendent for the 4-H & FFA Sheep show at the Lancaster County Super Fair. She has a son who is an independent 4-H member and Deb likes to get others who do not have the time commitment for traditional 4-H clubs to still become involved.

Deb says, "I like being a 4-H volunteer because it is a great way to meet people and an opportunity to help the kids get involved with livestock and the community. I work for University of Nebraska–Lincoln and like to get youth interested in the opportunities the University gives them to continue their talents and interest in animals as an adult. My favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer is the great support and interactions the parents, kids, and staff have in the sheep division! We have a great bunch to work with and the extension staff make it a pleasure to volunteer."

Kath Conroy

May. Kath Conroy. A 4-H volunteer for more than 15 years, Kath has been a club leader, a superintendent of 4-H Clothing at the Lancaster County Fair, presented workshops on clothing and helped with Pillow Party and Jammie Jamboree sewing workshops. She has continued to volunteer with 4-H long after her own children went through the program. Last year, she donated a sewing machine to a 4-H youth.

"I like being a 4-H volunteer because I like working with youth. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing those big smiles saying I did it myself!" says Kath. "My favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer was taking my club to the extension office for a practice session on modeling and we were a bit late. I rushed my girls into the room and five minutes later we realized it wasn't modeling but the Life Skills competition! I talked the girls into doing it as long as we were there, and several did the competition in later years."

Rodney Lilestrand

June. Rodney Lilestrand A 4-H volunteer for nearly a decade, Rodney has been involved with the Rabbits 'R' Us Club for six years (four years as co-leader), a member of the Rabbit VIPS Committee for 10 years (seven years as president), and helped organize spring/fall rabbit clinics and shows. He is superintendent of the 4-H Rabbit Specialty show at the Lancaster County Fair and he helps other 4-H rabbit superintendents.

Rodney says "I like being a 4-H volunteer because I like seeing the light come on when a child understands what they have learned and use it -- whether it be for their project, contest, or in their everyday living. For me it is all about the kids. I believe any good volunteer will say the same. I didn't volunteer to get anything out of it, but the kids have made it a very rewarding experience.

My favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer came after a brother and sister came up to have their names taken off the showmanship list at county fair. After some persuasion and coaching by another 4-H'er, they went on to get a purple and blue in the contest. The next year, the girl won senior showmanship. That is what it is all about for me: encouragement, coaching, and seeing the results."

Steve Muhlbach

July. Steve Muhlbach. Steve has volunteered with 4-H for nearly 17 years, beginning when he was a member. He is currently an Assistant Superintendent of the 4-H/FFA Swine Show at the county fair. Steve helps members of the Rock Creek Ranchers 4-H club and Pick-a-Pig project learn about caring for and showing pigs. Now in its second year, the Lancaster County Pick-a-Pig project provides urban youth the opportunity to participate in a 4-H livestock project. Steve also volunteers with FFA and helps at local petting zoos.

"I like helping kids learn and discover new things that will help them in their future," he says. "My favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer is seeing kids enjoying the projects I help them with."

Laura Hardesty

August. Laura Hardesty. A 4-H volunteer for eight years, Laura is the organizational leader of the Silver Spurs club, a member of the Horse VIPS Committee, and Superintendent of the Western Horse Show - 3 (Working Pleasure, Western Riding, and Reining) at the Lancaster County Super Fair. She helps with horsemanship level testing, show coordination, and ring practice. She has also been involved with the EquiRiders club.

"I love kids and I love horses," Laura says. "My favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer is watching 4-H kids improve skills and gain knowledge each year."

Elva Janak

September. Elva Janak. Elva has volunteered for 4-H for about 36 years. Her son and daughter were members of the Happy Go Lucky 4-H club and Elva helped with various projects. Now she has two grandsons in the club.

For several years, Elva has been a co-superintendent for the 4-H Home Environment, Heritage and Child Development areas at the Lancaster County Fair.

"4-H projects are very educational for our young people and I want to do whatever I can to help young people stay involved in the good things in life," Elva says. "My favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer is seeing the joy a job well done brings to the 4-H'ers."

Kelly Brown

October. Kelly Brown. Kelly has volunteered with 4-H for nearly five years and is the organizational leader for the Amazing Treasures 4-H Club. The club does many community service projects such as collecting animal supplies to give to the Humane Society and picking up trash in their community park.

"I get to work with a great group of kids that take pride in their projects," Kelly says. "It's maybe not so fun when crunch time comes, but in the end the kids are very proud of the things they have accomplished. It is amazing all the things that are learned. We each learn different things even when working on the same project. I am learning with them! My favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer was working on our group project this year. The kids came up with creating a memory board as our group project. They turned out super neat! Every one of the kids completed this project and everyone age 8 and up had their boards selected for State Fair. We had fun working together!"

Gordon Maahs

November. Gordon Maahs. Gordon has been a 4-H volunteer for nearly 17 years and has been Superintendant of the 4-H Rabbit Show at the Lancaster County Fair for 14 years. He is a member of the Rabbits VIPS Committee and is assistant leader for the Rabbits 'R' Us 4-H club.

"I enjoyed 4-H when my kids were younger and after they grew up I continued to help because it's a lot of fun," Gordon says, "Helping kids learn about caring for and showing their rabbits is very rewarding. My favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer was watching all of the kids I have helped grow each year. Many of the kids I started with are grown and married with kids of their own. I now get to help my grandsons with their rabbit projects!"

Scott Heinrich

December. Scott Heinrich. Scott has volunteered with 4-H for 21 years and has been involved with clubs in Webster and Lancaster Counties. He is currently organizational leader of the Happy Go Lucky 4-H club, which has a highway clean-up community service project. A member of the 4-H Livestock Production Booster Club, Scott was chair of the sub-committee which established the 4-H and FFA livestock premium auction at this year's Lancaster County Super Fair.

"4-H is the backbone organization of America," says Scott. "Coaching kids to be better people gives me great satisfaction. Helping develop skill sets at an early age is key to future achievements. I like to see kids succeed! My favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer is -- no doubt -- the premium auction at the 2010 fair. To see the look on the members face was priceless. I believe there is a sense of excitement around this auction, and I am proud to be a part of a great organization and event."

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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