Outstanding 4-H agriculture volunteers honored

Three Michigan Farm Bureau 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Awards were presented to four outstanding recipients.

2018 Michigan Farm Bureau 4-H Excellence in Agriculture award winners.

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Three Michigan Farm Bureau 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Awards were presented to four outstanding recipients on Oct. 5 at the 4-H Emerald Awards Ceremony in East Lansing. Honorees were Mary Hutka of Oakland County, Diane Keinath of Saginaw County, and Kathy Grau and Mary Hammer of Washtenaw County.

The 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes the outstanding youth education and leadership development achievements of Michigan 4-H volunteers in the beef cattle; dairy cattle; goats; horses; horticulture, crops and soils; poultry; rabbits; sheep; swine; and veterinary science project areas. Honorees receive $1,000 grants they can use for 4-H volunteer training, to buy supplies or curriculum, or to enhance local or statewide 4-H programming.

Mary Hutka is the longtime volunteer leader and innovator of the Tollgate 4-H Club in Oakland County. She has guided young people in taking on leadership roles while raising vegetables and livestock for market. Hutka is passionate about growing true leaders and empowers young people by allowing them to take ownership of club activities and educating them about agriculture. Many members in the Tollgate 4-H Club have gone on to receive 4-H state awards and county medals, and to pursue agriculture-related college degrees.

Diane Keinath is a major proponent of the Saginaw County 4-H livestock program. In her role as a club volunteer leader, she shares her experiences and teaches young people through hands-on workshops. Keinath works diligently to help 4-H members expand their knowledge of agriculture and produce the best possible project animals while also learning life and personal skills. With her guidance and encouragement, eight members of her 4-H club have gone on to pursue degrees in agriculture. Six are currently employed in the agriculture industry. Growing up, Keinath was an avid 4-H’er herself, showing livestock and building her leadership skills. Today, she and her husband own and operate a 400-acre farm where they produce corn, soybeans, wheat and beef, and run a cattle transportation company. The Keinaths employ many 4-H’ers in their businesses to help fuel the young people’s passion for agriculture.

As volunteer leaders of the Washtenaw County 4-H Junior Livestock Committee, Kathy Grau and Mary Hammer have provided many experiential learning opportunities for area young people. From providing suggestions and input for the 4-H youth livestock show to selecting judges and organizing a Cloverbud mentorship program for 5- to 8-year-old 4-H’ers, Grau and Hammer have used their leadership roles to fulfill the 4-H motto, “to make the best better.”

Along with being directly involved with the 4-H Junior Livestock Committee, the duo have nominated club members for county awards and recognition, and encouraged them to participate in the 4-H State Awards program. They take honoring and celebrating successes seriously and never pass up an opportunity to recognize their 4-H charges’ accomplishments. Whether the recognition comes in the form of a project medal or an outing to a corn maze or a sports event, the two leaders make sure to acknowledge each member’s participation and hard work.

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

The 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Award is supported by an endowment with the Michigan 4-H Foundation that was established by Michigan Farm Bureau. To learn more about the award and the award winners, visit https://mi4hfdtn.org/4-h-emerald-awards/michigan-farm-bureau-4-h-excellence-in-agriculture-award/.

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 www.mi4hfdtn.org. 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 www.4h.msue.msu.edu.

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