Michigan 4-H State Award winners announced through virtual recognition program

4-H members honored for their outstanding accomplishments in leadership, service and life skill development.

The Michigan 4-H State Awards Recognition Celebration took place on June 24, 2020, to celebrate the accomplishments of Michigan 4-H members. A Michigan 4-H State Award is the highest honor bestowed on Michigan 4-H members. While 4-H members were unable to gather at Michigan State University (MSU) this year, the Recognition Celebration was able to be held via Zoom webinar allowing 4-H members along with their family and friends to attend the program.

Sixty-four 4-H members from 25 counties submitted applications to take part is this year’s program.

“With almost 200,000 4-H’ers across the state, the youth honored with State Awards are some of our most accomplished 4-H’ers,” said Jake DeDecker, 4-H State Leader of MSU Extension, Michigan 4-H programs. “Their commitment to bettering themselves and their communities through service and extensive 4-H work really make them true leaders in their clubs, counties and state.”

Michigan 4-H State Awards were presented in 19 award categories that showcase the diverse array of 4-H knowledge, skills, and experience. Recipients of the 2020 awards are:

  • Beef Science: William Rogers of Washtenaw County (junior division) and Kaddi Kewirtz of Shiawassee County (senior division).
  • Bird and Poultry Science: Max Lautenschlager of Livingston County (senior division).
  • Civic Engagement and Service: Amari Potts of Oakland County (junior division).
  • Companion Animal Science: Nicole Trierweiler of Ionia County (junior division) and Caitlynn Hughes of St. Joseph County (senior division).
  • Consumer and Family Science: Rebecca Havelka of Menominee County (senior division).
  • Dairy Science: Jada Johnson of Menominee County (junior division).
  • Environmental Science: Ashley Baize of Livingston County (junior division) and Andrew Bushard of Shiawassee County (senior division).
  • Equine Science: Cassidy Cashen of Ionia County (junior division) and Kaylee Benton of Ingham County (senior division).
  • Food, Nutrition, Health Fitness: Aubrey Richards of Macomb County (junior division) and Laci Paidl of Menominee County (senior division).
  • Gardening and Horticulture: Logan Sandell of Houghton County (senior division).
  • Goat Science: Justin Yarger of Monroe County (junior division) and Emily Luthringer of Cass County (senior division).
  • Leadership: IsaBelle Stull of St. Clair County (junior division) and Jael Tombaugh of Eaton County (senior division).
  • Rabbit and Cavy Science: Malorie Baumler of Menominee County (junior division) and Hannah Gaither of Grand Traverse County (senior division).
  • Sheep Science: Sydney Ebsch of Menominee County (junior division) and Katrina Tucker of Allegan County (senior division).
  • Shooting Sports: Amanda Towne of Van Buren County (junior division).
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM): Blake Towne of Van Buren County (junior division) and Brenna Marshall of Ingham County (senior division).
  • Swine Science: Hana Harshbarger of Livingston County (junior division) and Marc Hendzel of Shiawassee County (senior division).
  • Visual, Performing and Expressive Arts: Morgan Jowett of Macomb County (junior division) and Morgan Gruss of Berrien County (senior division).
  • Group Award: Monroe 4-H Teen Ambassadors; Alivia Funchion, Gabby Flowers, and Alana Aulph of Monroe County.

A link to view the recording of the Recognition Celebration will be posted to the Michigan 4-H State Awards website for anyone who was wishes to view the program but was unable to join live. 

Michigan 4-H State Awards Program is open to 4-H members who are 13-19 years old with three or more years of 4-H experience. To qualify for the award, 4-H’ers must submit a written application that showcases the learning experiences, knowledge and skills they’ve acquired through their participation in 4-H, as well as their contributions to their local 4-H programs, clubs and communities. Submissions are reviewed by the Michigan 4-H State Awards selection committee. This group of volunteers, staff members and industry experts determine which members are selected as award delegates. All applicants receive written feedback from selection committees.

A planned change to the 2020 program included senior delegates (ages 16-19) and groups completing an interview using video conference technology. This change proved valuable as circumstances this spring prohibited face-to-face meetings. Completing a video interview also provided an opportunity for 4-H members to practice real-world skills that are trending in the workforce.

“4-H is focused on building skills and providing learning opportunities,” DeDecker said. “Even the application process and interviews for State 4-H Awards was developed to prepare youth for college and the workforce. It is a significant and rewarding process for youth and we are grateful to acknowledge their achievements with the State 4-H Award honor.” 

In addition to a plaque, each 4-H State Award winner in the senior division and the winning Group Award also receive a $200 cash award; junior winners receive $50 cash awards. These awards are made possible by generous donations to the Michigan 4-H Foundation.

To learn more about Michigan 4-H Youth Development, contact your local MSU Extension office or visit the Michigan 4-H website.

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