By KORINNE CANIGLIA
Hundreds of volunteers and sponsors deliver 4-H values to young people in Medina County.
Ohio State University Extension, which coordinates the countyâ€™s 4-H program for more than 1,200 youths, recently honored the leaders at a banquet at the Medina Community Center.
Last year, more than 600 volunteers and sponsors donated $40,000 and 100,000 hours, valued at $1.7 million, to help youths reach their fullest potential in 60 clubs. More than 3,700 students also participated in science enrichment 4-H programs at elementary schools and joined short-term and afterschool programs.
â€œVolunteers are the lifeblood of the 4-H program,â€ said Lisa Wittenauer, the county Extension educator of 4-H youth development. â€œWithout volunteers, we could not deliver the depth and variety of 4-H programs we do. They add much-needed skills and time.â€
Most volunteers average 10 years of service, with a dozen volunteers serving 31 or more years. They strive to develop each young personâ€™s abilities, career interests and life skills. In turn, the 4-H members, ages 5 to 18, participate in monthly club meetings, social outings, project work and community service activities.
The youths can experience 4-H by becoming a club officer, attending camp or leading games. 4-Hâ€™ers also participate in fun, hands-on projects and activities, supported by university research on healthy living, citizenship, and science, engineering and technology. They might even compete with their projects at local, state and national events.
Extension staff also honored some 4-H leaders for their exceptional work and dedication. County and state officials recognized the volunteers and sponsors, as well.
The Medina County Agricultural Society sponsored the banquet. Other contributors included the countyâ€™s 4-H Endowment Fund and Junior Leaders Club, as well as Outstanding Occasions of Medina and Pepsi-Cola Co. of Wadsworth.
Extension staff presented these awards:
Meritorious Service to 4-H Award
Don and Cynthia Berry have 50 years of combined service to the 4-H program as club volunteers and members of the 4-H Dairy Beef and Livestock Sale committees. Don Berry also joined the Dairy Beef Club for 16 years, and Cynthia Berry helped guide the Homer Headliners for eight years.
Linda Keiper has helped shape 4-H members into leaders as a volunteer for 24 years. She advised the Silver Dollars, Guilford Kool Kats and Guilford Country Kids 4-H clubs. She also belonged to the 4-H Extension, Livestock Sale and 4-H Family and Consumer Sciences Extension committees.
Les Valach is a 23-year volunteer with the Blazing Saddles and Phoenix 4-H clubs. He also has shared his expertise with youths as a shooting sports instructor and adviser with the Medina County Sharp Shooters 4-H Club.
Friend of 4-H Award
The Medina County Agricultural Society has supported the 4-H program through sponsorship of junior fair activities and the annual 4-H Volunteers and Sponsors Banquet. It also has provided meeting spaces for clubs and events.
Simmons Brothers Construction backs 4-H members in multiple ways by sponsoring plaques, banners and trophies, as well as the junior fair livestock sale, scholarships and state 4-H Youth Expo event. The company won the state â€œFriend of 4-Hâ€ award last year.
Stephen F. Joseph Memorial Scholarship
In honor of the late Steve Joseph, the countyâ€™s Extension educator of 4-H youth development for 18 years, a scholarship is given to youths, based on their 4-H involvement. Academic achievements, leadership roles and financial need also are considered. Each recipient was awarded $750.
A nine-year member of the Sharon Flying Horse & Pony 4-H Club, Mallory Vereb belonged to the countyâ€™s Fashion and Nutrition Board, Junior Fair Board and Junior Leaders Club. She also coordinated 4-H camps as a day camp and Kelleys Island Camp counselor and led sessions at the countyâ€™s Sister-to-Sister Girlsâ€™ Summit. Vereb is a freshman at MedCentral College of Nursing in Mansfield.
Rachel Sniff was a member of the Fashion and Nutrition Board, Junior Leaders Club, Junior Fair Board and 4-H Extension Committee. A 13-year member of the Granger Busy Bees 4-H Club, she also planned activities as a counselor for Cloverbud Day Camp. Sniff is a freshman majoring in education or international relations at High Point University in North Carolina.
Jacob Sniff belonged to the Junior Leaders Club, Junior Fair Board and 4-H Extension Committee. He was a 13-year member of the Granger Busy Bees 4-H Club. Sniff is a freshman at Princeton University in New Jersey.
Volunteers celebrating five-year milestones in 4-H received a certificate and award for their contributions. They are:
Paul Kovalik and John Wanko, 40 years each;
Kathleen Garrison, 35 years;
Diane Lanz, Charles Siman and Gary Vaughn, 30 years each;
Loretta Engelhaupt, Dorothy Keck, Sandra Turner, Janice Valach and Robert Zakrajsek, 25 years each;
Beth Baker, Christine Barnes, Sarah Bistline, Laura Dash, Linda Easton, Denise Gerspacher, Gary Hamlett, Butch Keiper, Dan Marrone and June Prebis, 20 years each;
Robert Berry, Margaret Demczyk, Debbie Indoe, Robert Klish, Rae Ellen Siegmyer, Eugene Sulzener, Cheryl Tannehill and Jim Ungar, 15 years each;
Terri Bickelhaupt, Debra Bures, Christie Cash, Carol Florian, Nathan Garrison, Andrea Hagenbaugh, John Lanzer, Tiffany Papp, Margaret Santelmann, Judith Steidl and Michael Williamson, 10 years each;
Nicole Cook, Nancy Dieter, Carol Durgan, Donna Gaeckle, Bonnie Gordon, Angela Graff, Susan Huff, Mary Jo Johnson, Robert Kall, Stephanie Krueger, Leslie Leohr, Barbara Markeson, Michael Schmidt, Paul Sizemore, Mary Taylor, John Tekus and Theresa Trase, five years.
These volunteers received recognition for their first year of service: Paula Armstrong, Roberta Bavaro, Joanne Brietkrenz, Matthew Coffman, Joseph Dempsey, Mary Drury, Michelle Eggert, David Flack, Tina Flack, Kevin Hinckle, Jennifer Kanvinde, Stephen Kormos, Carmen Krymowski, David Krymowski, Jeff Mikalacki, D. A. Miller, Kurt Reis, David Rogers, Donna Rouster, Rita Showman, Dawn Stachler, Lisa Thompson, Crystal Venner and Erica Vierheller.
The Sharon Flying Horse & Pony 4-H Club won the Outstanding Community Service Project award for planting a vegetable garden at the Medina Creative Housing Learning Center. The 4-H members taught disabled, young adults how to plant and care for the garden. Club members also continued with follow-up visits to provide more tips as produce grew.
Several groups also earned certificates for meeting the countyâ€™s 12 standards of excellence for 4-H clubs.
Some qualifications included submitting a club constitution and treasury report, electing officers, sponsoring a community service activity and educational program, coordinating a recognition event, participating in county events, camps or workshops and completing 75 percent of individual 4-H project goals.
4-H Clubs of Distinction
Blazing Saddles/Rough Riders, Buckeye Buckaroos, Chatham Farmers, Goat Gang, Guilford Country Kids, Guilford Go-fers, Harrisville Topnotchers, Homer Highlighters, Just Horsinâ€™ Around, the Medynamites, Model Railroad 4-H Club, Super Outstanding Sevillians, Spunky Spurs, Sharon Flying Horse & Pony, Sharon Livewires, Wadsworth Jolly Workers and the Westfield Trailblazers.
Caniglia is the program assistant in communications of Ohio State University Extension, Medina County.