EAST LANSING, Mich. — Kathy Grau and Mary Hammer of the Washtenaw County 4-H Junior Livestock Committee were among four Michigan Farm Bureau 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Award recipients honored on Oct. 5 at the 4-H Emerald Awards Ceremony in East Lansing.
The 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.
As volunteer leaders of the Washtenaw County 4-H Junior Livestock Committee, Grau and 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’ their 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.
“My greatest reward as a volunteer is to watch these kids mature into young responsible adults,” said Grau. “4-H offers such an opportunity to learn life skills that you use the rest of your life. With my guidance and mentoring, I feel that we have had an impact in building our future leaders in agriculture as well as other future leaders. I enjoy working with youth, which makes me feel rewarded from the work we have done.”
Hammer shares many of Grau’s sentiments.
“My greatest reward as a 4-H volunteer leader has been the long-lasting friendships I have made with so many 4-H youth during the years,” said Hammer. “To see so many of them share their love for agriculture with other youth and encourage them to do their best. I enjoy seeing the smiles on their faces when they have done their best and are rewarded with smiles and hugs from me. Being a 4-H leader is one of my greatest joys.”
Grau and Hammer were honored at the Michigan 4-H Foundation’s 4-H Emerald Awards Ceremony. 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 other 2018 recipients of the 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Award are Mary Hutka of Oakland County and Diane Keinath of Saginaw County.
The award is supported by an endowment with the Michigan 4-H Foundation that was established by Michigan Farm Bureau. To learn more about the 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Award and awardees 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.