Alverson named Michigan 4-H Volunteer of the Year

Genesee County 4-H volunteer Brenda Alverson has been honored with a prestigious Michigan 4-H Salute to Excellence Volunteer of the Year award.

Brenda Alverson headshot.

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Genesee County 4-H volunteer Brenda Alverson has been honored with a prestigious Michigan 4-H Salute to Excellence Volunteer of the Year award. The award was presented on Oct. 5 during the Michigan 4-H Foundation’s 4-H Emerald Award Ceremony in East Lansing.

The 4-H Volunteer of the Year Award is presented to outstanding 4-H volunteers who have 10 years of service or less. Winners are selected through a statewide nomination and review process.

The award highlights the important work of 4-H volunteers across the state who share their time, energy and commitment to 4-H every day to improve the lives of Michigan young people. Through the 4-H Salute to Excellence Awards program, Michigan State University Extension’s 4-H Youth Development program honors outstanding volunteers for their unwavering dedication to 4-H and Michigan young people.

This year, Brenda Alverson of Grand Blanc was one of two individuals to receive the Michigan 4-H Salute to Excellence 4-H Volunteer of the Year award. Alverson is the volunteer leader of the 4-H Furry Friends Club. She has also served as president of the county’s 4-H Dog Committee for the past few years and is an active member of the 4-H Rabbit and Cavy Committee. In each role, Alverson encourages and empowers 4-H’ers to pursue projects they feel passionate about and enjoy. She is committed to helping young people explore all that 4-H has to offer.

“My greatest reward has been bringing 4-H to the city,” said Alverson. “My 4-H Furry Friends Club is a pet club. Our members raise and show rabbits, cavies and dogs. I also enjoy taking rabbits and dogs to the Flint City Schools! Very few [students there] know what a pedigree is and they love to see Andre the Giant – my Flemish giant rabbit. I use pedigree dogs to explain the rabbits, and everyone has fun. Most of my visits to the schools include reading about the animals I bring in. I really enjoy sharing my pets with these children and encouraging them and their parents to check out all the possibilities that 4-H can offer their children. We’re not all farmers, but we all love our animals and the learning experience 4-H offers.”

Alverson wholeheartedly believes that animal stewardship and the other life skills young people can learn in 4-H can have a positive impact on them. She helped to revive the county’s dog training program and regularly opens her home for 4-H meetings. As she helps young people learn life skills through

various club activities and outreach events, she acknowledges 4-H’s historically rural deep agricultural roots, while extending those roots out to reach suburban and urban audiences. She refers to dogs, rabbits and cavies as gateway animals that can help pique young people’s interest in other 4-H programming areas, such as financial literacy, entrepreneurship, veterinary science, agriculture, and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math). Alverson is dedicated to promoting 4-H as a long-term activity, going beyond the short-term exposure at events and afterschool activities. She is a familiar face in countless schools and various annual events, and serves as a 4-H ambassador and advocate in Genesee County and across the state.

“Brenda’s dedication and teaching exemplifies all that 4-H has been and can be,” said Jen Skornicka, Genesee County MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator and the person who nominated Alverson for the award.

The 4-H Emerald Awards Ceremony was hosted and emceed by State. Sen. Judy Emmons, a Montcalm County 4-H alumna and 2014 4-H Emerald Clover Society inductee.

Salute to Excellence honorees received a replica of the brick engraved with their name that will be placed in the 4-H Salute to Excellence trillium walkway at the Kettunen Center in Tustin. Awardees also choose a county- or state-level Michigan 4-H program to receive a $400 recognition grant in their honor. These grants are made possible by the Michigan 4-H Volunteer Recognition Fund of the Michigan 4-H Foundation.

Gordon Ridenour of Cass County also received a 4-H Volunteer of the Year award at the 4-H Emerald Awards, and Cheryl Barton of Shiawassee County was honored with the Salute to Excellence 4-H Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer award.

For more information about the Michigan 4-H Salute to Excellence Awards and awardees, visit

The Michigan 4-H Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization that supports Michigan 4-H Youth Development. For more information about the Michigan 4-H Foundation, visit Michigan 4-H Youth Development is the youth-serving program of Michigan State University Extension. More than 209,000 youth are involved in 4-H with the support of 16,000 adult volunteers. For more information about Michigan 4-H, visit

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