Heart of 4-H 2020

2020 Heart of 4-H Award Winners

Thank you for helping make a difference!

Heart of 4-H Winner - Jodi Freeman
January: Jodi Freeman

A 4-H volunteer for three years, Jodi has served as 4-H Council president and ex officio member of the Lancaster County Extension Board, Leader of Bourne Equestrian 4-H club, and a superintendent of 4-H horse shows at the Lancaster County Super Fair. She has also volunteered at Achievement Celebration, Information Night, 4-H food stand at Super Fair and with other 4-H Council fundraising activities.

“As long as I can remember, I have had a passion for youth and horses,” Jodi says. “By pairing the two in 4-H, I have been able to fulfill that passion in a way that reaches youth who might not otherwise have opportunities or interest in ‘traditional’ sports or organizations. My favorite experience, so far, has been watching youth grow in their friendships. Between club and council participation, I have watched my own daughter and several other kids develop strong bonds through mutual interests. They all work together to build up each other and their community. The older youth encourage and support the younger ones. Regardless of the outcome of events, they all praise and celebrate each other. This is what true friendship means.”

Karen Hanson
February: Karen Hanson

Karen has volunteered with the 4-H rabbit program for three years, serving on the Rabbit Volunteers in Program Service (VIPS) committee and helping with events throughout the year, including the three-day 4-H rabbit show at the Lancaster County Super Fair. She often judges rabbit showmanship at the fair and spring rabbit show.

“4-H was really special to me as a youth,” Karen says. “4-H helped me to come out of my shell, learn life skills and develop interests and passions that I still have today. I love helping other youth to have those same kinds of positive experiences. I’d love to see more youth get involved in the rabbit project. It’s a great opportunity for kids who maybe don’t live on a farm or acreage to get involved in an animal project, and rabbits are relatively inexpensive and easy to manage. The group of people who work with the 4-H rabbit project are wonderful and love to help 4-H’ers learn about these animals.”

Clayton Haman
March: Clayton Haman

For about 15 years, Clayton has helped provide fertile chicken eggs for the Lancaster County Embryology 4-H school enrichment program. Third grade students hatch chicks in classrooms as they learn about the development of embryos. 4-H EGG Cam allows viewers around the world to witness the amazing process of chicks hatching. After the chicks hatch and spend about 5 days in classrooms or on EGG Cam, Clayton then provides a home for some of them. He once provided turkey eggs to hatch on 4-H EGG Cam!

“I like helping young people enjoy experiences they would otherwise never have had the opportunity to have. This is my way of paying back to the 4-H program that helped me grow as a person. My favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer was having eggs on the EGG cam and my son’s ag class in Mullen watched the chickens hatch.” Lancaster County 4-H thanks Clayton for donating his time and talents. People like him are indeed the heart of 4-H!

Mike Conroy
April: Mike Conroy

For over 20 years, Mike has helped set up the 4-H Clothing area at the Lancaster County Super Fair. He also pitches in helping set up other static exhibit areas. Mike is able to move the heavier tables and displays many other volunteers cannot lift. After the 4-H Fashion Show, Mike helps take down the stage decorations and re-display garments in the Clothing static exhibit area.

“I want to support productive activities for our county’s youth,” Mike says. “4-H offers a wide variety of ways for young people to show off their talent. I enjoy watching the growth and creativity of 4-H participants from year to year. My wife, my children and my grandchildren have all participated in 4-H.” Lancaster County 4-H thanks Mike for donating his time and talents. People like him are indeed the heart of 4-H!

Mary Burroughs
May: Mary Burroughs

A 4-H volunteer for two years, Mary is already making a big impact:

  • Leader of the Super Shamrocks club.
  • Assistant at STEM Tech club meetings.
  • A superintendent of the 4-H Clothing area at the Lancaster County Super Fair.
  • Instructor and volunteer at Clover College.
  • Coordinator of the Lancaster County Quilt of Valor projects in 2019 and 2020.
  • Assistant at pillow sewing and basic crocheting workshops.
  • Contributor to the 4-H/Extension “Sewing For Hospitals” community service project.

“I love helping and sharing my talents with others,” she says. “The 4-H program shaped a lot of who I am today and I love giving back to the program. Every experience is great, but my favorite would have to be making a Quilt of Valor during the Clover College in 2019. The quilt ended up being awarded to a Lancaster County Extension intern who served in the Navy. It was an amazing experience to attend the award ceremony and hear her story. Pictured behind Mary is her senior year 4-H project, a quilt made of all her 4-H ribbons.

Grace Kim
June: Grace Kim

A 4-H volunteer for over six years, Grace has helped in a variety of roles:

  • Co-leader of the Boots N’ Hooves 4-H horse club.
  • A superintendent at the Lancaster County Super Fair 4-H Horse Shows.
  • Member of the Horse Volunteers in Program Service (VIPS) committee and helping at the Pre-District Horse Show.
  • Assisted youth and families in her club and Prairie Star 4-H club in preparing for the Lancaster County Super Fair, State 4-H Horse Exposition and open horse shows.
  • Organized Horsemanship Levels Testing Prep Clinics.
  • Coached a Lancaster County Junior quiz bowl team which earned grand champion at the 4-H Horse Stampede.

“I like being a 4-H volunteer because I can share my passion of showing horses with the younger generation,” she says. “Seeing youth grow into young adults that are successful in their careers after 4-H is what makes it worth it. My favorite experience is ‘sending off’ my senior girls on senior night at the county fair. A very emotional night as everyone expresses their love and support for the aging-out youth and seeing the accomplished 4-H careers the youth have had.” Lancaster County 4-H thanks Grace for donating her time and talents. People like her are indeed the heart of 4-H!

July: Greater Lincoln Obedience Club

Even though the Greater Lincoln Obedience Club is not a 4-H club, they do so much to help 4-H’ers and their families. 4-H volunteers for over 15 years, GLOC is already making a big impact:

  • They have helped mentor 4-H’ers and their parents in dog sports.
  • They are available to answer questions the 4-H’ers may have regarding their dogs and obedience.
  • They supply various equipment for the 4-H’ers to use to train their dogs for the fair. Including providing the agility equipment used at the Lancaster County Super Fair 4-H Dog Agility Show.

Teresa Barney, leader of GLOC, says, “We enjoy watching the kids compete in dog sports with their pet; it strengthens the bond between dog and handler. Being able to watch these kids year after year grow and become more confident in their ability to work and train dogs is rewarding.” Lancaster County 4-H thanks the members of GLOC for donating their time and talents. People like them are indeed the heart of 4-H!

August: Jim & Juanita Stell

4-H volunteers for over five years, the couple has helped in a variety of roles:

  • Assisted with the Clover Kids 4-H club for two years.
  • Assisted with the Clever Clovers 4-H club for three years, which has been recognized as a Nebraska 4-H Club of Excellence each of these years. Jim and Nita have helped club members with community service projects such as landscaping at Tabitha and making Christmas presents for Tabitha residents. Nita has taught crafts and helped 4-H’ers make dresses for Haitian orphans.
  • Helped staff shifts at 4-H Council’s food booth during the Lancaster County Super Fair for four years.

“We love helping 4-H’ers discover skills and create projects,” Jim and Nita say. “Our favorite experience as volunteers is going to the county fair and seeing the talent and creativeness of 4-H’ers.” Lancaster County 4-H thanks Jim and Nita for donating their time and talents. People like them are indeed the heart of 4-H!

Tracy Pracheil
September: Tracy Pracheil

Tracy has volunteered with Lancaster County 4-H for 8 years. She started as a parent volunteer with the Clover Kids 4-H club and now she is leader of the Little Green Giants club. She has also helped staff shifts at the 4-H food stand at the Lancaster County Super Fair. Previously, Tracy volunteered with 4-H in Seward County and as a member of the Collegiate 4-H club at University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

“I enjoy helping young people prepare for their future,” Tracy says. “4-H provides opportunities for youth to gain new skills and meet new people. The members in the Little Green Giants all attend different schools across Lincoln — so the club’s projects and activities provide them a way to learn new things with new friends. I love seeing club members give informal presentations about something they really enjoy during club meetings. It’s a great way to learn more about them and to see who else in the club shares their interests.”

Note: Tracy also helps support Lancaster County 4-H through her job at the State 4-H Office as an Extension Educator focusing on multimedia learning.

Amy Vander Woude
October: Amy Vander Woude

Amy has been involved with the Explorers 4-H club since it began 11 years ago, first as a parent volunteer, then assistant leader and now as leader. The last couple of years, she has helped her club with community service projects such as creating cards for the VA Clinic or donating books to a local home for children.

“I enjoy seeing and facilitating the growth and development in our youth, not only in my own club, but in those that I interact with each year during the fair as well as in the community,” Amy says. “I am proud of the values that 4-H kids exhibit all through the year. To me, that is more important than any ribbon they receive. I also love that I am continually learning through projects that interest our club members. I enjoy watching a 4-H member try something new and really find success or learn from their experience. I’ve also found that the adult relationships provided through volunteering have been both fun and meaningful.”

Heart of 4-H - Jodi Gabel
November: Jodi Gabel

A volunteer with 4-H for 6 years, Jodi currently is co-leader of the Little Green Giants 4-H club. Jodi has previously helped as a project leader and parent with the Clover Kids 4-H club and the Denton Clovers 4-H club. She has helped teach cooking, sewing and rocketry projects. She has also helped with community service projects such as sewing masks for Bryan Health’s medical staff.

“I like being a 4-H volunteer because I can be involved in the education of my children and other youth,” Jodi says. “My favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer is seeing youth have the opportunity to try new things.”

Tracy Pracheil, co-leader of the Little Green Giants, says, “Jodi’s passion for youth and learning experiences is evident in her support of the Little Green Giants 4-H club. As a 4-H alumni from Madison County, Jodi brings valued perspectives that help shape 4-H experiences for her own children and other club members. Whether it is helping with the community service event at the Kiwanis Karnival, providing feedback on a speech, or recruiting a guest speaker for a club project, Jodi is always willing to help!

Heart of 4-H - Sarah and Mike Frain
December: Sarah Lanik-Frain and Mike Frain

Sarah and Mike have volunteered with 4-H for 12 years as parent volunteers, first with the Fantastic 4 4-H club. Currently, Sarah is leader of the Rabbits R Us club, which has been recognized as a Nebraska 4-H Club of Excellence for many years. The couple has helped with many 4-H community service projects such as providing hands-on activities at Kiwanis Karnival, taking rabbits to assisted-living facilities, making dog beds for the Humane Society, gardening at Homestead Rehabilitation Center and taking sheep to live nativity scenes. Sarah and Mike help at 4-H rabbit shows and clinics, and volunteer at 4-H Clover College. Sarah recently joined the 4-H Rabbit Volunteers in Program Service (VIPS) committee. Both help at the Lancaster County Super Fair setting up for 4-H rabbit and sheep shows, as well as static exhibit displays. The couple also helps staff shifts at 4-H Council’s food stand at Super Fair.

“We like being 4-H volunteers because it gives us hope for future generations,” says Sarah. “Our favorite experiences as 4-H volunteers are working with the kids and watching them grow, learn and succeed with their projects. Seeing the smiles on faces at fair is the best!”

See more Heart of 4-H Award Winners