4-H emblem in a heart

2022 Heart of 4-H Award Winners

Thank you for helping make a difference!

Phil Wharton
January: Phil Wharton

A volunteer for six years, Phil has helped in a variety of roles:

  • Lancaster County 4-H Council member and chair of the chicken dinner fundraiser at the Lancaster County Super Fair. He has also helped at 4-H food stand at fair and 4-H Information Night.
  • Horse Volunteers in Program Service (VIPS) committee member.
  • Clover College helper by bringing his family’s miniature horse for “Horse Course” workshops.
  • Volunteer at Teen Council’s Overnight Lock-Ins for 4th & 5th graders.

“As a kid, I was not in 4-H, so I also get to learn more every year along with the kids,” he says. “I want to continue to help 4-H kids grow in different aspects such as confidence and community involvement. I truly enjoy being involved at the county fair. You get to watch the older 4-H kids helping the younger ones with their exhibits and getting ready for their livestock shows.”

Jenny DeBuhr
February: Jenny DeBuhr

Jenny is in her third year as co-leader of the Lancaster Leaders 4-H club, which was named a Nebraska Club of Excellence last year. She has helped her club with several community service projects. Jenny has been an instructor at 4-H Clover College and assisted with 4-H workshops. Growing up, Jenny was part of a big 4-H family and in three Gage County 4-H clubs. She has volunteered with 4-H at Lancaster, Gage and Johnson county fairs, as well as the Nebraska State Fair.

“4-H gives kids the opportunity to learn so many different hands-on things, and I love seeing them gain the confidence to be tremendous leaders. They work hard to complete a project and often times realize they like doing things they would not have tried to do before. I love watching their faces light up when they learn something new, complete something they didn’t think they could do, get that ribbon or trophy at the fair, or are able to help out in the community to do something good. 4-H develops the potential in youth and gives them an avenue to learn, grow and be a part of something positive.”

Sherry Kubicek
March: Sherry Kubicek

Sherry has volunteered with Lancaster County 4-H for 34 years! Sherry has been superintendent of the 4-H Dairy/Pygmy Goat Show at the Lancaster County Super Fair for 8 years. Previously, Sherry was leader of the Freedom Riders and Wee Amigos horse clubs and a member of the Horse Volunteers in Program Service (VIPS) committee. She also served as a superintendent of several 4-H horse shows at the Lancaster County Super Fair, including Western, English, Dressage and Jumping shows.

“I love working with kids and animals,” Sherry says. “My favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer is meeting 4-H’ers and asking them about their animals, and seeing the pride and joy in their faces when they talk with me about their animals.”

Angie Root
April: Angie Root

A 4-H volunteer for seven years, Angie began by helping the Sheridan Shamrocks dog club and helping provide a booth at the Kiwanis Karnival. Currently, Angie is co-leader of the Tails N’ Trails horse club. She helped the club receive a Governor’s Agricultural Excellence Award in 2019, which provided funds to paint the fence around the Salt Creek Wranglers arena.

At the Lancaster County Super Fair, she has helped check-in riders at the gate during 4-H horse shows and helped staff shifts at 4-H Council’s food stand.

“Helping the 4-H members work, practice, enjoy and show their animals is very rewarding,” Angie says. “The members put their heart and soul into caring and learning all they can about their animal, and they are happy to help others who have the same passion of caring and showing animals. My favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer is seeing it all come together: the individual growth, the caring and prep work, lessons and summer shows that ready them to show their best at the Lancaster County Super Fair!”

Rick Waldren
May: Rick Waldren

For about 15 years, Rick Waldren has volunteered to drive 430 miles round-trip to a hatchery in Iowa to get the fertilized eggs used in the Lancaster County 4-H Embryology School Enrichment Program. Embryology allows third graders to witness baby chicks hatching in their classrooms. Rick makes three trips annually to coincide with the three spring Embryology sessions in schools and on EGG Cam. He is a member of Lincoln Northeast Kiwanis club, which helped establish the program in 1975 and continues to support the program. Last year, 3,784 students in 216 classrooms at 62 schools participated!

“I like volunteering because the 3rd graders involved in the Embryology Program have active learning activities about embryo development, genetic traits and poultry reproduction,” Rick says. “For many students, this is the first time they experience seeing a developing embryo. Also, for many, this is the first time they experience life and death. Although it’s the 3rd grade classes that monitor the incubation process; when the chicks begin hatching, the entire school gets excited and many other students come to see the baby chicks.”

Rick has previously judged 4-H crop projects at several county fairs in the area and at the Nebraska State Fair.

Jamie Greenlee
June: Jamie Greenlee

Jamie Greenlee goes above and beyond her duties as Assistant to Science and Math at Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) to help with 4-H school enrichment programs.

For five years, Jamie has scheduled the embryology unit for all LPS schools and works closely with Lancaster County 4-H staff. As a core part of the LPS science curriculum, third graders hatch chicks in their classrooms while learning about embryonic development. Jamie works with teachers to make sure incubators are working properly. In addition, she schedules all LPS fifth-grade classrooms for the annual Earth Wellness Festival, which is an environmental education program presented by several partner organizations, including Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County.

“I know that having this opportunity with embryology lessons in the classroom is one of the best experiences for those kids,” she says. “My favorite experience as a 4-H volunteer is when the chicks hatch and watching how much enjoyment the kids get out of the baby chicks in the classrooms. It is an all-around fun experience.”

Extension Assistant Calvin DeVries says, “Jamie’s work organizing Lincoln Public Schools’ 193 third grade classrooms at 40 elementary schools into three spring sessions is vital in coordinating such a large-scale Embryology program! This spring, 2,973 third graders participated in Embryology through the partnership between LPS and Lancaster County 4-H.”

UNL Bee Lab staff and students
July: University of Nebraska–Lincoln Bee Lab

UNL Bee Lab Director Dr. Judy Wu-Smart, Outreach Coordinator Courtney Brummel, and graduate and undergraduate students have presented a “Busy Bees” workshop at 4-H Clover College since 2018. They have gone above and beyond in their program delivery. Prior to each workshop, they buy wood and reeds, and cut the pieces to size, for workshop attendees to make wild bee hotels (two examples are in the photo above). Several members of the Bee Lab act as hands-on instructors at the workshops. They also bring live honey bee and bumble bee colonies, as well as hands-on educational materials. To date, they have taught over 100 youth at Clover College.

“It is extremely fullfilling work teaching youth,” says Courtney Brummel. “Their curiosity, energy and passion is inspiring and keeps us coming back each year. The excitement of the youth is contagious as they view the live observation hive with awe. The best experience is watching the students work with tools to build their own wooden bee hotels. Even those who have never woodworked grow in confidence. It is also wonderful to see how the youth paint the finished bee hotels based on their unique styles. We consider it a privilege to share the importance of pollinator and landscape health with 4-H youth.”

Sonja Moore
August: Sonja Moore

For six years, Sonja has volunteered for 4-H in a variety of ways, including:

  • During 4-H static exhibit judging day at the Lancaster County Super Fair.
  • Helping staff shifts at the 4-H Food Stand during Super Fair.
  • Assisting 4-H Teen Council during their 4th & 5th grade Overnight Lock-In, as well as community service projects such as picking up trash.

As an employee of Allstate, Sonja’s 4-H volunteer work helped 4-H Teen Council and the N-Bots 4-H robotics club receive Allstate Foundation Helping Hands Grants. The Allstate Foundation supports the causes that Allstate agency owners, financial specialists and employees care about most by providing Allstate Foundation Helping Hands Grants to nonprofits where they volunteer their time.

“I am an alumni of 4-H, and I believe it is a wonderful program,” she says. “The program allows children to learn skills that would be used in everyday life, and it is great to see these kids grow! Volunteering also allows me to use my HEART for greater loyalty and my HANDS for larger service (part of the 4-H pledge). This also shows my son the importance of being an active volunteer in the community and that it is important to give back to others. My favorite part of being a 4-H volunteer is assisting with the Teen Council’s Lock-In and seeing the excitement in the 4th and 5th grade students. Also, seeing the skills that the middle school and high school kids have learned over the years with 4-H.”

Lancaster County Engineers
September: Lancaster County Engineering Department

The Lancaster County Engineering Department (LCED) began presenting workshops for 4-H Clover College in 2016, teaching three workshops each year (except 2020): Real World GPS & GIS, Big Power Machines and Bridges & Roads. Engineering staff also provides the traffic control for the area during the four days of Clover College. At this year’s Clover College, County Engineer Facility Manager Ed Lahmann, saved the rocket launches by jerry-rigging a rocket launch controller when existing equipment developed problems.

Special Projects Engineer Karen Wilson says, “We enjoy teaching children about STEM careers that directly impact their local communities, and it is rewarding to inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists. It is exciting to educate and encourage the young kids enrolled at Clover College to experiment and learn new things, all while having fun. As an example, it is really fun to see the kids use their imagination and skills to build a bridge out of straws and tape. This gives us a chance to give back.”

Other Engineering staff said their favorite experiences include:

  • “Watching the kids put their heads together to make something new.”
  • “Helping a group construct a model out of household supplies to show how a hydraulic machine works.”
  • “Having the youth ask questions.”
  • “Seeing the students engage with the presenters and show an interest in engineering.”
  • “Making asphalt cookies and being able to eat them.”

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