Heart of Volunteers

Heart of 4-H Award Winners 2011

Brandy Gunnerson

January. Brandy Gunnerson Brandy has volunteered for 4-H the past nine years. She has helped with the Creative Clovers and Rabbits 'R' Us clubs. At the Lancaster County Fair, she has been superintendent for 4-H rabbit static exhibits, volunteered at the 4-H Food Booth, and helped with other set up and clean up activities. She also helps with the statewide Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program.

"I like being a 4-H volunteer because I was in 4-H from the time I was 8 until I was 18," Brandy says. "Being able to look back at my experiences makes me realize the importance of what 4-H can teach our children. The kids learn so much from everything they try whether it be one thing or many, learning something new or adding to knowledge they already have. Being a part of all that for my own children and others in itself is rewarding. My favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer is watching the kids every year participate at the fair and seeing all their hard work pay off. Watching the kids grow in so many ways from year to year makes every minute worth it."

Trina Brown

February. Trina Brown. Trina started volunteering with 4-H as a parent volunteer when her daughter began 4-H six years ago. Trina started the Super Shamrocks club three years ago and is organizational leader. Every year, she and her club members volunteer at the Lancaster County Fair setting up displays and taking a shift at the 4-H food booth. This will be the second year Super Shamrocks is recognized a Nebraska Club of Excellence.

"I enjoy working with the kids," says Trina Brown. "As they learn new skills and interact in volunteer community projects, they really open up and come alive with all the possibilities in front of them. My favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer was when we made pillows as a group project. After finishing, I asked the 4-H'ers what they had learned. One girl raised her hand and said she learned it is much easier and faster just to buy a pillow. I had to smile at that! Valuable lesson learned."

Peg and Sherm

March. Peg Fairfield-Bixby and Sherm Bixby. Peg and Sherm were nominated for the award by Stephanie Wachter, saying, "They open their home to our horseless club once a week. Peg and Sherm have huge hearts: if the girls or their families need anything, Peg and Sherm try their hardest to help."

Peg has been involved with 4-H for many years. About five years ago, she started the Harmony Hill 4-H club for youth without horses. Harmony Hill Stables provides the horses. Peg says, "I have a soft spot for these youngsters – as I was a horse crazy girl that didn't have a horse and would have loved to have had an opportunity to 'horse around.' I enjoy supporting the character growth of children. It is an opportunity to teach equine materials, of course, but there is so much more. Building their self esteem and self confidence, watching them learn responsibility, perseverance, courage, and to handle the ups and downs of life. Horses are an excellent instrument for teaching values of compassion, empathy, and nurturing. My husband, Sherm, gives ultimate support for the children at Harmony Hill! Sherm helps in every way with the care of the horses, hauls horses to events, and lends a hand whenever he is needed. "

Cheri Truax

April. Cheri Truax. Cheri has been Assistant Superintendent of the 4-H Bucket Calf Show at the Lancaster County Fair for more than 10 years. Bucket calves are orphaned baby calves bottle-fed by the 4-H'ers.

She says, "I love kids and cows! Taking on the responsibility of a calf is huge, and seeing the kids do that and succeed is amazing. I sometimes wish every kid could have that opportunity because it teaches them so much. 4-H is such a positive influence in the lives of children. My favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer occurred a couple of years ago. There was this little gal who was having such a time getting her calf to go. Watching her determination in walking with that calf is something I'll carry for a long time. She left the ring with such a big smile on her face."

In addition to volunteering with 4-H, Cheri also helps with FFA and other activities at Waverly High School.

Jill Greff

May. Jill Greff. A volunteer for about six years, Jill is project leader of the Happy Hearts 4-H Club, assistant leader of the Sunbeam 4-H Club, and Superintendent of the Lancaster County Super Fair 4-H Bicycle Safety Contest. She has also taught several workshops at the annual 4-H Clover College.

"I like being a 4-H volunteer because I have the opportunity to learn new things alongside the members," Jill says. "Last year during our club project on gardening we tried drying herbs in the microwave and it worked! I probably wouldn't have tried it, but because I'm a 4-H leader I thought we should experiment a little. My favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer was helping to lead our club project Youth in Motion three years ago. The members were so enthusiastic about trying their hand at new sports, it was inspiring and just plain fun!

Stephanie Wachter

June. Stephanie Wachter. A volunteer for about five years, Stephanie helps with a wide range of activities: started, and is leader of, the Future Veterinarians of Nebraska 4-H club | helps with Harmony Hill 4-H horseless club | member of Horse VIPS (Volunteers in Program Service) Committee and helps with fundraising and the Pre-Districts Clinic/Show/Fundraiser | member of 4-H Council and helped staff tables during Tractor Supply Company's recent Paper Clover promotion | writes grants for the Vet club, Harmony Hills club, and Horse VIPS Committee.

Jennifer Rawlinson nominated Stephanie for the award, saying, "She has been trying to cover every shift at Tractor Supply Company during the Paper Clover promotion and every time I talk to her she is telling me about the most amazing Vet Club projects!"

Stephanie says, "I like being a 4-H volunteer because I enjoy seeing the youths light up when something they are learning 'clicks;' seeing members get the recognition they deserve for accomplishing their goals; and the friendships I have developed with not only adults but the youth and parents. I have two favorite experiences as a 4-H volunteer: 1) watching the Harmony Hill Club members win special recognition for their 'Quilt Poster' for the horse poster challenge, all because they liked my idea; 2) making my daughter take the hippology test at last year's Horse Pre-Districts and her winning the champion trophy."

Roger Bell

July. Roger Bell. Roger has been coaching the Lancaster County livestock judging team for two years. In livestock judging, youth judge cattle, hogs, sheep, and goats based on structural conformation. Roger has volunteered with 4-H in Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri for 31 years.

"I like being a 4-H volunteer because I enjoy working with 4-H'ers and seeing them wanting to learn more about livestock judging and the livestock industry," says Roger. "It also gives them an opportunity to meet individuals in the industry (production and education). My favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer was seeing the teams develop in their ability to make decisions and be able to defend their decisions by giving oral reasons. Also to see the individuals become team members. They did well at 2010 state contest and contests they have participated in 2011."

Tammy Wollen

August. Tammy Wollen. Tammy has been a superintendent of the 4-H Home Environment areas at the Lancaster County Fair for 11 years. Prior to that, she was leader of a 4-H club in Cass County. Tammy was a 4-H'er herself for many years.

She says, "I like being a 4-H volunteer because I enjoy seeing the kids bring in their projects -- they are so proud. My favorite part of being a 4-H volunteer is the whole experience: from the kids to judging day and projects going to the state fair. I get to work with some great people at the fair and I look forward to this."

Carol Wolf

September. Carol Wolf. Carol has volunteered with 4-H for 11 years in many capacities: leader of the Pacesetters 4-H club (a Nebraska 4-H Club of Excellence) | superintendent of the 4-H Western Horse Show 1 at Lancaster County Super Fair | member of Horse VIPS (Volunteers in Program Service) Committee | helps run horse shows, including pre-districts, and has judged horse shows | helps bring horses to judging contests.

Lancaster County has an awesome program," she says. "The leadership and extension agents have improved the programs and expanded to so many disciplines. The parents, children, and families are fun – positive relationships that last a lifetime! My favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer was watching my children embrace the 4-H experience that I enjoyed in my youth, making 4-H a family tradition!"

Jodi Cooper

October. Jodi Cooper. Jodi has volunteered with Lancaster County 4-H for three years as leader of Jolly Ranchers, a livestock club. The club has helped with petting zoos, food drives, and had a float in local parades. Jodi has also helped with 4-H and open class livestock shows at the Lancaster County Super Fair. She previously volunteered with 4-H in Indiana for 10 years.

"I like being a 4-H volunteer because it allows me to be involved with something that our family and friends can do together," Jodi says. "No matter what we are involved with in 4-H, it is always fun in the end. My favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer is seeing the improvement and desire in the kids. As they grow older and take on more responsibility, they have a huge sense of accomplishment and pride knowing they worked hard."

Marian Hanigan

November. Marian Hanigan. Marian started volunteering with 4-H when she was a Lancaster County 4-H member and active in 4-H Council and 4-H Teen Council. She started the Heart to Heart 4-H club four years ago when she was a senior in high school. The Heart to Heart club was recognized as a Nebraska 4-H Club of Excellence in 2009 and 2010. She has also taught workshops at Clover College and volunteered at the Lancaster County Super Fair.

She says, "I like being a 4-H volunteer because through 4-H, I learned many of the important life skills I use everyday. I learned to cook, sew, give presentations, run meetings, organize events and projects, etc. I gained a curiosity to try new things and how to deal with failures and events not going the way I planned. I gained self confidence and a sense of accomplishment with many of the projects I completed. As I grew older, I wanted to share the lessons 4-H had taught me with others. I've been blessed to see the talented 4-H'ers in my group grow up and see the skills they've gained along the way. I am thankful for the amazing 4-H volunteers who helped and inspired me during my eight years as a 4-H member."

Katie Cruickshank

December. Katie Cruickshank. Katie has volunteered with 4-H for four years as leader of the Star Spangled Saddles 4-H Club and superintendent of the 4-H English Horse Show at the Lancaster County Fair.

She has also helped with horsemanship level testings and started the Lucky Lopers 4-H horse club this year.

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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