Barton named Michigan 4-H Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer

Shiawassee County 4-H volunteer Cheryl Barton has been honored with a prestigious Michigan 4-H Salute to Excellence Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer Award.

Cheryl Barton headshot.

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

The annual 4-H Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer Award is given to a 4-H volunteer with more than 10 years of service. 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.

Barton, of Owosso, has been involved with the Shiawassee County 4-H program for more than 40 years and has had a tremendous impact on the county’s 4-H dog program and young people. She has also shared her knowledge and skills by teaching 4-H Exploration Days sessions, Kettunen Center volunteer training workshops and companion animal camp classes, extending her influence to thousands of young people across the state. Barton has also served as chair of the State 4-H Companion Animal Programming Committee and has served as volunteer and judge coordinator at the State 4-H Dog Show for many years. She is well known for her positivity and encouragement and for being a true role model to young people in her community.

“One of my greatest rewards has been to be a part of watching the youth grow throughout the program in confidence, experience and leadership,” said Barton. “I have been fortunate enough to have young 4-H’ers be a part of the program, then to age out and move on in their own lives and then come back and want their own child to experience some of those same experiences in 4-H that are priceless to me.”

Beyond her own community, Barton helped Saginaw County launch a new 4-H dog program and visited the first dog workout with members of her club. She believes in the 4-H principle of learning by doing

and encourages this in her club activities. Her group, the 4-H Doggie Diggers Club, regularly provides service to the community, helping at the local Humane Society, visiting nursing homes with their dogs and volunteering at the food stand. Barton is always positive and strives to truly make the best better. Those who know her say she treats young people as if they are her own, cheering them on and always encouraging them to do their best.

“Cheryl inspires kids to be the best that they can be, pushes them to work as a group and helps them make the best better,” said Nikki Hersch, Shiawassee County MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator and the person who nominated Barton for the award. “She wants young people to succeed and will do anything to help them get there. She truly reflects the 4-H motto.”

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.

Other Michigan 4-H Salute to Excellence award winners were Brenda Alverson of Genesee County and Gordon Ridenour of Cass County, who received4-H Volunteer of the Year awards, which are given to outstanding 4-H volunteers with 10 years of service or less.

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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