Latest Updates from Statewide 4-H

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Updated: 6 min 59 sec ago

UNL Visitors Center showcases 4-H’ers’ creativity through the lens

Thu, 09/14/2023 - 14:39

The Nebraska East Campus Visitors Center is featuring a new collection of photography captured by 4-H members from across the state.

  • • Hunter Maly, 11, Neligh, Antelope County 4-H
  • Miranda Bracht, 18, West Point, Burt County 4-H
  • Isabelle Reichman, 15, Chappell, Deuel County 4-H
  • Ashley Easterday, 16, Eustis, Frontier County 4-H
  • Ludick Botha, 12, Oxford, Furnas County 4-H
  • Caleb Oltman, 16, Beatrice, Gage County 4-H
  • Kash Hanneman, 12, Aurora, Hamilton County 4-H
  • Brody Medina, 15, Cheyenne, Kimball-Banner County 4-H
  • Khloe Stutzman, 13, North Platte, Lincoln County 4-H
  • Tessa Hansen, 16, Stapleton, Logan County 4-H
  • Matthew Alderson, 16, Osmond, Pierce County 4-H
  • Harper Scott, 9, Gordon, Sheridan County 4-H
  • Tinsley Neidhardt, 12, Albion, Boone County 4-H
  • Ayvrie Waldron, 15, Alliance, Box Butte County 4-H
  • Kristin Holcomb, 15, Arapahoe, Furnas County 4-H
  • Rylan Dietz, 13, Hampton, Hamilton County 4-H
  • Logan Deike, 13, Omaha, Jefferson County 4-H
  • Sydney Kruse, 12, Lincoln, Lancaster County 4-H
  • Elizabeth Hilkemann, 10, Firth, Lancaster County 4-H
  • Morgan Gabel, 14, Lincoln, Lancaster County 4-H
  • Jayden Adams, 15, Brock, Nemaha County 4-H
  • Karis Kersting, 10, Creston, Platte County 4-H
  • Elizabeth Soden, 11, Ceresco, Saunders County 4-H
  • Sophie Hansen, 9, Arlington, Washington County 4-H

“This exhibition showcases the talent and creativity of Nebraska youth,” said Liz Hamm, 4-H photography superintendent at the Nebraska State Fair. The photographs in the exhibition were selected from hundreds of entries at the 2023 Nebraska State Fair. The chosen photos demonstrate various aspects of creativity and mastery of the medium, including solid technical execution, bold composition, and vivid color.

The purpose of the 4-H photography project is to help young people establish basic to advanced knowledge of and abilities in using photographic equipment, lighting, and composition to capture images, express feelings, and communicate ideas. Participants work through three project levels, progressing from basic to advanced photography skills and techniques.

The exhibition is on display through August 2024. The East Campus Visitors Center, located at Holdrege Street and Dairy Store Drive, is open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Nebraska 4-H Fed Steer Challenge: enhancing the educational value of beef projects

Wed, 09/13/2023 - 16:19

Nebraska 4-H, in collaboration with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Department of Animal Science, offered the sixth year of the Nebraska 4-H Fed Steer Challenge in 2023.

The Fed Steer Challenge cultivates the next generation of leaders in the Nebraska cattle industry by providing youth opportunities. This challenge enhances the educational value of traditional 4-H beef projects and provides affordable options to reward production merit and market animal carcass value; accurate and complete record-keeping practices; industry and research knowledge; and producer engagement with the 4-H member.

The youth selected, purchased, exhibited, harvested, and analyzed carcass data on a steer while networking with industry professionals. Additionally, working as a learning cohort, they participated in monthly educational opportunities led by industry professionals and Animal Science faculty. Alongside these youth, large crowds at the Nebraska State Fair receive instruction from a commercial cattle buyer about sorting and evaluating steers.

The 2023 Nebraska participants included:

  • Lilee Chevalier, 17, Bennet, Lancaster County 4-H
  • Leah Christen, 17, Steinauer, Pawnee County 4-H
  • Rachel Hale, 16, Fullerton, Nance County 4-H
  • Joseph Fickenscher 18, Axtell, Kearney County 4-H
  • Eldon Haack, 15, Upland, Franklin County 4-H
  • Demi Lapaseotes, 16, Bridgeport, Morrill County 4-H
  • Nickolas Rohr, 17, Eustis, Frontier County 4-H
  • Logan Schmidt, 14, Deshler, Nuckolls/Thayer 4-H
  • Karina Smydra, 14, Saint Paul, Howard County 4-H
  • Karli Wagner, 17, Arthur, Arthur County 4-H

Top placings in the live animal portion:

  1. Logan Schmidt

Top placings in the growth performance portion:

  1. Karli Wagner
  2. Logan Schmidt
  3. Eldon Haack

Top placings in the carcass merit portion:

  1. Joseph Fickenscher
  2. Logan Schmidt
  3. Karli Wagner

Top placings in the record book portion:

  1. Nickolas Rohr
  2. Karina Smydra
  3. Leah Christen

Top placings in the industry interview portion:

  1. Leah Christen
  2. Karli Wagner
  3. Nickolas Rohr

Overall award winners:

  1. Karli Wagner
  2. Leah Christen
  3. Nickolas Rohr
  4. Logan Schmidt
  5. Karina Smydra

The winners of each award category receive cash prizes and the overall winners each will win a cash award sponsored by CoBank through the Nebraska 4-H Foundation, as well as a $500 scholarship to Nebraska’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. To learn more about the fed steer challenge, visit

Youth earn Member of Excellence distinctions at Nebraska State Fair

Wed, 09/06/2023 - 12:34

Nebraska 4-H awarded sixty-one youth with the Members of Excellence distinction at the 2023 Nebraska State Fair. 4-H members earned the award for engaging in livestock-related learning experiences throughout the year in addition to caring for and exhibiting their 4-H livestock projects. Nebraska 4-H recognized Members of Excellence across all 4-H livestock project areas.

4-H members recognized as Members of Excellence in the beef project area included:

  • Bo Prospichal, Holt County
  • Trapper Wilcox, Antelope Couny
  • Ella Miller, Cass County
  • Grant Miller, Cass County
  • Calley Stewart, Cedar County
  • Brayden Griess, Clay County
  • Katelyn Griess, Clay County
  • Dayton Pohlmann, Gage County
  • Jolie Kreifels, Saline County
  • Titus Hemje, Saline County
  • Tatus Wright, Sarpy County
  • Violet Nuss, Sarpy County
  • Trevor Lindquist Sarpy County
  • Mattielyn Brown, Scotts Bluff County
  • Emma Hackbart, Seward County
  • Mckinley Stoller, Hayes County
  • Troy Lindquist, Sarpy County
  • Olivia Beel, Brown County
  • Ava Stewart, Cedar County
  • Nathan Griess, Clay County
  • Kyle Rote, Garden County
  • AJ Prospichal, Holt County
  • Lilee Chevalier, Lancaster County
  • Justus Kreifels, Otoe County
  • Tristan Wright, Sarpy County
  • Addison Rist, Sarpy County

4-H members recognized as Members of Excellence in the dairy goat project area included:

  • Grace Chevalier, Lancaster County
  • Hannah Chevalier, Lancaster County
  • Lilee Chevalier, Lancaster County
  • Madalyn Chevalier, Lancaster County

4-H members recognized as Members of Excellence in the meat goat project area included:

  • Grant Meister, Sarpy County
  • Jackson Luethje, Douglas County
  • Kate Wagner, Sarpy County
  • Drew Luethje, Douglas County
  • Arabella Rolfsmeyer, Buffalo County
  • Graham Mueller, Dodge County

4-H members recognized as Members of Excellence in the poultry project area included:

  • Elsa Castillo, Douglas County
  • Marcus Schultz, Madison County
  • Franklin Polacek, Madison County
  • Hadley Bakan, Otoe County
  • Mallory Beethe, Sarpy County
  • Janae Oberg, Frontier County
  • Anne Nygren, Saunders County

4-H members recognized as Members of Excellence in the rabbit project area included:

  • Jocelyn Schmoll, Lancaster County
  • Tenley Bauman, Lancaster County
  • Marcus, Madison County
  • Violet Nuss, Sarpy County
  • Andrew Frain, Lancaster County

4-H members recognized as Members of Excellence in the sheep project area included:

  • Arabella Rolfsmeyer, Buffalo County
  • Ella Crumbliss, Clay County
  • Wyatt Cook, Kimball County
  • Lena Gropp, Saline County
  • Cora Maggie Roth, Boyd County
  • Marshall Humphrey, Clay County
  • Kaelyn Littrell, Clay County
  • Eboney Tripe, Clay County

4-H members recognized as Members of Excellence in the swine project area included:

  • Trey Cook, Kimball County
  • Allie Cook, Kimball County
  • Kirsten Knake, Otoe County
  • Lilee Chevalier, Lancaster County
  • Kaden Knake, Otoe County

Youth received the Member of Excellence distinction through the Livestock Achievement Program, which launched in 2021. Youth applied to participate in the program at the beginning of the year. Accepted participants set goals for their 4-H project experience and reported on their accomplishments. Participants were also required to complete quality assurance requirements and project record books. To learn more about the Livestock Achievement Program, visit

Youth experience swine production

Wed, 09/06/2023 - 08:32

The Nebraska 4-H Farrowed and Owned Swine Cohort is designed to enhance the traditional 4-H swine project and cultivate the next generation of leaders in the swine industry by providing opportunities focusing on swine production as a goal of the 4-H member's project, along with accurate and complete record-keeping, industry knowledge, and engagement by the 4-H member. In order to participate, youth must be 4-H age 9-18, complete YQCA, and farrowed their project animals.

Youth involved in the cohort, participated in learning opportunities hosted by Extension Swine Specialist Benny Mote about nutrition, feeding, genetics, and more. They also maintained records related to swine management and basic care, which resulted in turning in a record book this weekend. Finally, they exhibited their Farrowed and Owned project animals at the 2023 Nebraska State Fair with the opportunity for special recognition for participating in the cohort.

The 2023 Nebraska 4-H Farrowed and Owned division at the Nebraska State Fair was sponsored by Parks of Nebraska LLC.

The following youth met the requirements of participating in 75% of the educational meetings from February - June and participating in the interview portion of the cohort at the 2023 Nebraska State Fair.

  • Olivia Beel, Brown County
  • Kade Goedeken, Platte County
  • Kambryn Vaughn, Phelps County
  • Keely Vaughn, Phelps County
  • Kyper Vaughn, Phelps County
  • Cullan Schmidt, Fillmore County
  • Alli Ritter, Cuming County
  • Eli Ritter, Cuming County
  • Trevin Steuk, Saline County

Results from the live show:

  • Grand Champion Farrowed and Owned Breeding Gilt: Cullan Schmidt, Fillmore County
  • Reserve Champion Farrowed and Owned Breeding Gilt: Trevin Steuk, Saline County
  • Grand Champion Farrowed and Owned Market Hog: Kade Goedeken, Platte County
  • Reserve Champion Farrowed and Owned Market Hog: Eli Ritter, Cuming County

Cohort members learned the importance of accurate record keeping through a detailed record book they compiled with information about their farrowed and owned projects. The record books are used during an interview each cohort member participates in at the state fair. The interview is an important part of the cohort experience, as members gain valuable life skills from this experience.

Results from the interview portion of the cohort:

  • 1st Place: Olivia Beel, Brown County
  • 2nd Place: Keely Vaughn, Phelps County
  • 3rd Place: Kade Goedeken, Platte County

Congratulations to all 2023 Nebraska 4-H Farrowed and Owned Cohort members!

For more information about the Nebraska 4-H Farrowed and Owned Cohort learning opportunity, please visit

Nebraska teens emerge as change agents following Citizenship Washington Focus

Tue, 07/25/2023 - 08:56

One hundred teens across Nebraska recently embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime civic engagement experience through the Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF) program. Youth spent five days in Washington, D.C., learning our nation’s history and developing the civic engagement skills they need to be leaders in their communities.

CWF is the premier leadership and civic engagement event for Nebraska 4-H members and teen leaders. During their time in Washington, D.C., the high school students toured the White House and Arlington National Cemetery. They explored national monuments and memorials, including Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jr., World War I, and US Marine Corps Memorials. During a day on Capitol Hill, the Nebraska delegation attended the Nebraska Breakfast and connected with state senators and representatives. Youth engaged in workshops on media literacy, local government, advocacy, active listening, and civil discourse.

Using the nation’s capital as their classroom, the young leaders gained the skills and experiences to become effective change agents. Teens used what they learned to refine action plans to improve their local communities back home.

The Nebraska delegation left home on June 5, participated in the CWF program in Washington, D.C., from June 11-16, and returned to Nebraska on June 18. A group of 14 teens and four chaperones from Cherry County joined 14 youth and two chaperones from Johnson, Nemaha, Otoe, and Richardson Counties. A group from West Nebraska consisted of 72 youth and eight chaperones from the following counties:

  • Arthur
  • Buffalo
  • Custer
  • Dundy
  • Franklin
  • Gosper
  • Hayes
  • Hitchcock
  • Kearney
  • Keith
  • Lincoln
  • Phelps
  • Red Willow

"Being a part of this conference helped me realize that being a good citizen isn't necessarily just sitting around, waiting for change,” said one participant. “You have to go out and let it be known that change is necessary; otherwise, it won't happen."

“Youth spent time during the conference working on their own local action plans that they will hopefully implement in their communities,” said Molly Brandt, Nebraska Extension Educator who accompanied this year's group. “Youth started brainstorming on these ideas before the conference and were able to get more ideas and suggestions from others during the conference.”

Brandt believes one of the most valuable benefits of CWF is the opportunity for youth to interact with peers from their community and other young adults from across the country. “Youth learn the importance of being a good citizen and having respectful conversations with those who might think differently than they do,” said Brandt.

"It engaged me firsthand with people different from me or who had different views,” said one participant. “Learning how to effectively communicate with everyone is an invaluable skill needed in various parts of my life.”

“The conference gave the youth a newfound sense of energy, confidence, and purpose to be able to make local change,” said Brandt.

Coordinated by National 4-H Council, CWF is a national program designed as the premier leadership and civic engagement event for 4-H members and teen leaders ages 14-19. Weeklong sessions are offered through June and July each summer. Trips are coordinated regionally by local Extension Offices. For more information about CWF, please visit

4-H members speak up at new Premier Communication Event

Tue, 06/27/2023 - 12:28

4-H members from across Nebraska converged in Lincoln for the inaugural Premier Communication Event. The youth had the opportunity to participate in state-level contests, including Illustrated Presentations, Prepared Speeches, Impromptu Speeches, Radio Public Service Announcements, and Video Communications. 

44 presenters participated in the Illustrated Presentations Contest, and the top seniors were:

  1. Ava Stewart, Cedar County
  2. Aubree Siffring, Butler County
  3. Emily Brehl, Clay County
  4. Libby Macklin, Webster County
  5. Tucker Robinson, Fillmore County

Intermediate division winners were:

  1. Mallory Beethe, Sarpy County
  2. Andrea Bettenhausen, Lancaster County
  3. Maggie White, Gage County
  4. Ella Jessen, Knox County
  5. Devon Rasmussen, Gage County

92 young people participated in the Prepared Speech Contest. The top five presenters in the senior division included:

  1. Hope Roscoe, Burt County
  2. Lilee Chevalier, Lancaster County
  3. Sophia Burns, Dawson County
  4. Ella Brennemann, Frontier County
  5. Grace Brennemann, Frontier County

Top presenters in the intermediate division included:

  1. Lena Gropp, Saline County
  2. Brooklyn Reiman, Dawson County
  3. Lorelai Rickertsen, Dawson County
  4. Luke Olsen, Kimball County
  5. Griffin Owens, Dawson County

35 members participated in the Impromptu Speech Contest. The top five in the senior division were: 

  1. Kara Brockman, Gosper County
  2. Grace Brenneman, Frontier County
  3. Lilee Chevalier, Lancaster County
  4. Adrian Svitak, Hall County
  5. Kathryn Vance, Scotts Bluff County

The top five intermediate division winners included:

  1. Nathan Brhel, Clay County
  2. Grace Finnegan, Boyd County
  3. Mallory Beethe, Sarpy County
  4. Amarita Payne, Lancaster County
  5. Ayla Foster, Box Butte County

76 Radio Public Service Announcements were submitted to the state contest. Those in the senior division recognized with top awards included:

  1. Campbell Snodgrass, Cuming County
  2. Alex Berghorst, Custer County
  3. Alexa Brodd, Dodge County
  4. Marshall Bratetic, Knox County
  5. Jonah Splichal, Scotts Bluff County

Award winners in the intermediate division were:

  1. Owens Griffin, Dawson County
  2. McKenna Stewart, Polk County
  3. Harley Hedrick, York County
  4. Cassidy Reiman, Dawson County
  5. Alexa Stewart, Polk County

Nine entries were submitted for the Video Communications Contest. Senior division winners included: 

  1. Josiah Pitterson, Dodge County
  2. Emily Brhel, Clay County
  3. Ariana Pitterson, Dodge County
  4. Ashley Bauer, Buffalo County
  5. Jordan Wagner, Scotts Bluff County

Intermediate division winners included:

  1. Nathan Brhel, Clay County
  2. Kirstyn Beberniss, Garden County
  3. Mallory Beethe, Sarpy County

While new in 2023, the Premier Communication Event is intended to be an annual event held each June at the Univerisity of Nebraska–Lincoln. Participants showcase their communication skills and knowledge developed through other 4-H projects, explore issues related to the communication industry, discover college and career opportunities, and meet other 4-H youth from across the state. To learn more, visit

Nebraska 4-H members earn entry into national animal science contests

Tue, 06/27/2023 - 11:26

4-H members from across Nebraska convened in Lincoln on June 21 and 22 to take part in the annual Premier Animal Science Event. Youth competed as individuals and teams in state-level 4-H contests, including Poultry Judging, Meats Judging, Livestock Skillathon, Livestock Quiz Bowl, and Livestock Judging contests. 

64 youths participated in the Poultry Judging Contest. Gold medals were awarded to:

  • Team: Saunders County - Anne Nygren, Hannah Strizek, Joseph Ondracek, and Tony Ondracek
  • Intermediate Individual: Rachel Spawn, Platte County
  • Senior Individual: Noah Jelinek, Lancaster County

68 young people participated in the Meats Judging Contest. Top awards winners included:

  • Team: Dawson County - Parker Walahoski, Barton Beattie, and Preston Beattie
  • Intermediate Individual: Paige Walahoski, Dawson County
  • Senior Individual: Parker Walahoski, Dawson County

27 teams competed in the Livestock Skillathon Contest. Gold medals were awarded to:

  • Senior Team: Dawson County - Bart Beattie, Jacie Wolfinger, Jaelin Wolfinger, Parker Walahoski, and Spencer Walahoski
  • Intermediate Team: Buffalo County - Graden Forbes, Arabella Rolfsmeye, Kaitlyn Meints, and Laurynn Andrews

13 teams competed in Livestock Quiz Bowl, with top awards going to:

  • Senior Team: Buffalo County - Gracie Wagoner, Justine Pope, Mason Janda, and Skyler Summers
  • Intermediate Team: Boone/Nance County - Kahnen Pelster, Katernia Maricle, Dorothy Smith, and Emilyn Kurz

190 4-H members participated in the Livestock Judging Contest. Gold medal award winners included:

  • Senior Team: Buffalo County - Justine Pope, Jaylea Pope, and Mason Janda
  • Senior Individual: Justine Pope, Buffalo County
  • Intermediate Team: Lincoln County - Allyson Kemp, Cauy Robinson, and Arian Gilmore
  • Intermediate Individual: Allyson Kemp, Lincoln County

The highest-ranking eligible poultry judging, meats judging, quiz bowl, and skillathon teams now have the opportunity to participate in the National 4-H Contests. The top three senior livestock judging teams can participate in one of three national competitions, including the National 4-H Livestock Judging Contest, the American Royal 4-H Livestock Judging Contest, or the National Western Roundup. 

The Premier Animal Science Event, also known as PASE, is a two-day event held each June at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Participants explore issues related to the animal industry, discover college and career opportunities, and test their livestock skills and knowledge. To learn more, visit

Nebraska 4-H welcomes hundreds to the 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships

Wed, 06/14/2023 - 11:45

Approximately 729 youth from 42 states will convene in Grand Island from June 25-30 for the 2023 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships. The event will feature competitions across nine shooting sports disciplines, including compound archery, recurve archery, air rifle, air pistol, .22 rifle, .22 pistol, shotgun, muzzleloading, and hunting skills. 

Fourteen Nebraska 4-H members are set to compete at this year's event. The shotgun team is coached by Larry Kotrous and includes:

  • Hunter Isabell, Lancaster County
  • Blake Byerly, Knox County
  • Caden Ost, York County
  • Jacob Smith, Knox County

The .22 rifle team, coached by Jennifer Thomsen, includes:

  • Aubrie Birkel, Custer County
  • Sara Thomsen, Pierce County
  • Matthew Koehlmoos, Holt County
  • Riata Remund, Custer County

The compound archery team is coached by Matt Carmin and includes:

  • Ashton Koch, Pierce County
  • Dylan Naslund, Cherry County
  • Riley Peterson, Lancaster County

The hunting skills team, coached by Ross Rote, includes:

  • Korryn Beberniss, Garden County
  • Kyle Rote, Garden County
  • Parker Walahoski, Dawson County

The 4-H shooting sports program focuses on the total development of its members. The activities are utilized as a vehicle for human growth and development. With support from caring adult leaders, youth develop life skills, self-worth, and conservation ethics in addition to shooting sports skills and knowledge, such as marksmanship, the safe and responsible use of firearms, and the principles of hunting and archery.

The 2023 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships is coordinated and hosted by Nebraska 4-H and the National 4-H Shooting Sports Committee. For more information, visit

Nebraska 4-H Foundation announces 2023 scholarship winners

Mon, 06/12/2023 - 10:59

The Nebraska 4-H Foundation is excited to announce the recipients of its annual scholarships. Nineteen recent high school graduates were selected to receive higher education scholarships based on their outstanding accomplishments in 4-H, dedication to community service, and high scholastic achievement.

Scholarship winners include:

  • Ashley Abrahams, Dodge County
  • Paige Bunn, Dodge County
  • Sierra Cain, Lincoln County
  • Alexa Carter, Butler County
  • Addison Cotton, York County
  • Aleyna Cuttlers, Lancaster County
  • Evan Hartman, Dodge County
  • Jaci Larsen, Garfield County
  • Creyton Line, Buffalo County
  • Caleb Most, Keith County
  • Abigail Owens, Dawson County
  • Thomas Perrin, Keith County
  • Kaylee Powell, Hall County
  • Kyle Rote, Garden County
  • Carson Sullivan, Hall County
  • Gregory Treffer, Dawson County
  • Olivia Vanderford, Lancaster County
  • Spencer Walahoski, Dawson County
  • Paige Wood, Nance County

The Nebraska 4-H Foundation provides up to $22,000 worth of scholarships each year to graduating seniors who have been actively involved in 4-H. To learn more about Nebraska 4-H Foundation Scholarships, please visit

Nebraska 4-H Foundation announces 2023 Governor's Agricultural Excellence Award Winners

Mon, 06/12/2023 - 10:58

The Nebraska 4-H Foundation is excited to announce the 2023 Governor's Agricultural Excellence Awards winners. Seventeen 4-H Clubs were selected to receive $500 grants to complete projects that will have lasting and meaningful impacts on their communities.

The following clubs have been awarded the 2023 Governor’s Agricultural Excellence Award:

  • Country Kids 4-H Club, Boone County
  • Minute Milker 4-H Club, Clay County
  • Dog Gone Fun 4-H Club, Custer County
  • Pathfinders 4-H Club, Gage County
  • Grant County 4-H Council, Grant County
  • Cloverdale 4-H Club, Holt County
  • Shining Stars 4-H Club, Holt County
  • 5-Star 4-H Club, Lancaster County
  • Fusion 4-Hers, Lancaster County
  • Hunter’s Pride, Lancaster County
  • Lancaster County Teen Council, Lancaster County
  • Blossomfield 4-H Club, Polk County
  • Clover Rovers 4-H Club, Polk County
  • Sheridan County Jr. Leaders, Sheridan County
  • Badger Buddies 4-H Club, Washington County
  • Tomorrow’s Leaders 4-H Club, Washington County
  • Webster County Wranglers, Webster County.

The Nebraska 4-H Foundation’s Governor’s Agricultural Excellence Awards, sponsored by the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority, NIFA, is a prestigious award designed to recognize 4-H clubs for their efforts to serve their communities. For more information about the Governor's Agricultural Excellence Awards, visit

Nebraska 4-H delegates share their voice with federal officials

Thu, 05/04/2023 - 16:24

Three Nebraska 4-H members shared their voices with federal officials at the 96th annual National 4-H Conference, held April 14-19 in Arlington, Virginia. Nebraska's delegation included Lexi Johnson from Dawson County, Autumn Lindsley from Butler County, and Sarah Treffer from Dawson County.

During the Conference, federal partners presented Challenge Questions to delegates which were designed to provoke critical thinking about current issues. In roundtable groups, youth investigated and discussed the agency's current efforts and generated new ideas to bring about positive change. After working together for two days, the teams presented their recommendations to federal partners during 45-minute Youth Perspective Briefings. 

"My favorite part of the Conference was the roundtable discussions where my group worked with the Smithsonian Institution," shared Autumn Lindsley. Lindsley and her team develop ideas for teaching more accurate and inclusive history education in classrooms and community settings. "I hope the suggestions my group made are able to help many people in the future," said Lindsley.

Lexi Johnson's group developed and presented recommendations for the 4-H program to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee of Agriculture, and Sarah Treffer's team presented a campaign against food waste to the Environmental Protection Agency. "[T]hey were very intrigued by the ideas that we presented to them and even talked about implementing some of our ideas as soon as they could," shared Treffer. 

The experience empowers delegates to apply their learning and create positive change in their local communities. Treffer has already begun by informing her peers about food waste issues and challenging them to reduce waste. "Even though informing people about the issue will make a difference, I want to create a composting system at my school and do what I can to help prevent food waste," said Treffer.

"They have a unique opportunity to truly see how their voice matters, and even as young people, they can make a difference from their local club and community to our country and our world," said Dawn Lindsley, Nebraska Extension Educator who accompanied this year's delegation.

While at the National 4-H Conference, youth also made an impact through community service projects. Nebraska Delegates worked with the U.S Forest Service to plant over 400 native trees at the Woodend Sanctuary. 

Nebraska Delegates had the opportunity to meet, listen, and speak with the Nebraska Congressional delegation during the Nebraska Breakfast and at the National 4-H Council Congressional Breakfast hosted on Capitol Hill. They also explored volunteer, internship, fellowship, and career opportunities across the federal government at the first-ever 4-H Youth Career Fair held in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution.

National 4-H Conference is the USDA's flagship youth development opportunity to develop the next generation of leaders. Each year, the event brings together over 300 young people, volunteer leaders, country and state Extension staff, Land-grant University faculty and administrators, and state and federal government officials from across the United States and its Territories. 

The Conference serves as the premier civic engagement event for Nebraska 4-H members between the ages of 15 and 19. Nebraska delegates are selected through state-level Senior Achievement Applications and a thorough interview process. Delegates also receive funding for trip expenses through the Nebraska 4-H Foundation. For more information about National 4-H Conference, please visit

Joelle Wacker's helps youth honor veterans through Quilts of Valor program

Fri, 04/14/2023 - 13:43

In observance of the Week of the Volunteer, Nebraska 4-H is proud to celebrate some of the 2023 Nebraska 4-H Volunteer Award Winners.

Joelle Wacker is receiving the Emerging Adult Volunteer Award for Zone 7. Judy volunteers with the Polk County 4-H program and was nominated by Colleen Pallas, Nebraska Extension Assistant in Polk County.

Joelle has a passion for the Quilts of Valor program. In 2020, she volunteered to coordinate the Polk County 4-H Quilts of Valor program. She has spent the last three years leading workshops and helping youth create quilts that they then donate to local veterans. During her time as program coordinator, Polk County 4-H members have completed and donated thirty Quilts of Valor. She is currently helping another ten members create quilts that will be finished this spring.

"Most of the 4-Her’s attending the workshops agree that presenting their Quilt is the best part of the project," said Pallas.

While quilting can be costly, Joelle works to ensure this is not a barrier for youth. She collects donations to reduce or even eliminate costs for members and recruits volunteers to help prepare materials. 

"These youth learn new sewing skills as most have never quilted before," said Pallas. "They also learn compassion and the importance of community service through the time and effort it takes just to make one quilt, which can equal ten plus hours, only to turn around and give their Quilt of Valor away to a veteran."

Tell us about yourself.

I grew up participating in Box Butte County 4-H from age 8 to 18. After my husband finished his service with the U.S. Navy, we knew we wanted to raise our kids in Nebraska and I wanted them to be part of a 4-H program. We settled in Shelby and are involved in Polk County 4-H.

I organize a Quilts of Valor workshop for Polk County 4-Hers each spring, I help with Blossomfield 4-H Club, and I am the current president of Polk County's Extension Board. Outside of 4-H, I volunteer within Shelby's American Legion Auxiliary Post 296, Sacred Heart Church in Shelby, Aquinas Catholic Schools in David City, and I lead the Stars, Stripes, and Stitches Quilts of Valor group.

What do you look forward to when you step into your volunteer role?

I enjoy helping 4-Hers grow and learn, especially through sewing as it stretches your mind.

What is your favorite memory as a 4-H volunteer?

Seeing the accomplishment on a 4-Her's face when they complete a whole quilt top at our Quilts of Valor workshop.

How have you helped youth find their spark through 4-H?

I'm hoping that in providing 4-Hers with a chance to learn more about sewing and quilting by creating a Quilt of Valor to award to a military veteran, I will help spark both their creativity and their patriotism.

4-H Volunteers receive state-level recognition for their local contributions

Fri, 04/14/2023 - 08:53

Twenty-two adult volunteers from across the state, as well as one youth member and one family, are being recognized with Nebraska 4-H Volunteers Awards. 

The Nebraska 4-H Volunteer Awards recognize individuals who are making significant and lasting impacts in their local 4-H community. Recipients serve in a variety of roles, such as club and project leaders, fair superintendents, workshop instructors, and council members. Award recipients were selected based on the information provided by nominators. 

Recipients are recognized as part of Nebraska 4-H's Week of the Volunteer celebration, and awards will be presented during the 2023 Nebraska State Fair. 

The Vrbka, Ott, and King families from Polk County are receiving the Multi-Generation Family of Volunteers Award. Family members include:

  • Ray & Betty Vrbka
  • Susan Ott
  • Angie King
  • Stacy Stewart
  • Chase King
  • Ashley Robbins
  • Helen Bender
  • Haley Teten
  • Cecelia King
  • McKenna & Alexa Stewart

This award recognizes a family with at least three generations of active 4-H volunteers.

Lindsay Mendenhall from Chase County is receiving the Outstanding Youth Volunteer Award. This award recognizes 4-H member, ages 14-18, who has made a meaningful impact on their local community.

Eleven adults are receiving Emerging Adult Volunteer Awards. These awards recognize current volunteers who have served less than three years in their local 4-H community. One individual is recognized for each Nebraska Extension Engagement Zone. Recipients include:

  • Jackie Simonson, Sheridan County
  • Chelsea Sallach, Wheeler County
  • Chase Prentice, Lincoln County
  • Steve Dirgo, Gosper County
  • John Broderson, Cedar County
  • Keith Umstead, Nance County
  • Joelle Wacker, Polk County
  • Michael Bracht, Burt County
  • Allison Walbrecht, Lancaster County
  • Kristina Woods, Fillmore County
  • Micah Scholl, Pawnee County

Eleven Individuals are receiving Outstanding Adult Volunteer Awards. These awards recognize current volunteers who have served more than four years in their local 4-H community. One individual is recognized for each Nebraska Extension Engagement Zone. Recipients include:

  • Sally B. Bryner, Box Butte County
  • Judy Rath, Thomas County
  • Nancy Lashley, Logan County
  • Arlys Cupp, Chase County
  • Chris Redding, Antelope County
  • Sue Hornickel, Valley County
  • Janet Stutzman, Seward County
  • Robert Stoddard, Washington County
  • Harry Mulhbach, Lancaster County
  • Alan & Kaye Mussman, Thayer County
  • Sherlyn Damme, Otoe County

For more information about the Nebraska 4-H Volunteer Awards, please visit 

Micah Scholl helps youth take pride in their swine projects

Mon, 04/10/2023 - 09:42

In observance of the Week of the Volunteer, Nebraska 4-H is proud to celebrate some of the 2023 Nebraska 4-H Volunteer Award Winners.

Micah Scholl is receiving the Emerging Adult Volunteer Award for Zone 11. Micah volunteers with the Pawnee County 4-H program and was nominated by Mary Moser, Nebraska Extension Educator in Pawnee County.

"Micah is very passionate and is very willing to share his experiences with the youth in our county, so his enthusiasm is contagious," said Moser.

Micah is passionate about showing swine and wants to help every Pawnee County 4-H member learn to show swine with competency and confidence. He started by hosting a clinic to teach youth how to select, train, feed, and show their project animals. He then volunteered at the county swine show. Micah is stepping up to serve as the county fair swine superintendent this year. He plans to offer more clinics to help exhibitors in this new role. 

"The youth that he has helped definitely feel pride when they can exhibit their animal at a higher level and not only does the judge comment but members of the community notice the time and effort put into the project," said Moser. "Changes would not have been made without Micah’s help."

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Micah Scholl. I am 26 years old. I Grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska but currently reside in Pawnee City, Nebraska, where I am currently working on becoming a licensed electrician through an apprenticeship program and own and Operate Ignite Genetics. In my "free time," I enjoy going to every stock show I can and meeting new people.

What do you look forward to when you step into your volunteer role?

Helping others achieve stuff that they never have before or never imagined

What is your favorite memory as a 4-H volunteer?

Well, first, I hope the memories are not over, but right now, the one that's at the top is successfully getting somebody on the dirt at the NSF and for them to have their name recognized for their hard work in front of people.

How have you helped youth find their spark through 4-H?

By hopefully whoever I deal with, giving them confidence in whatever they do.

Sally B Bryner helps youth grow through horse program

Mon, 04/10/2023 - 09:39

In observance of the Week of the Volunteer, Nebraska 4-H is proud to celebrate some of the 2023 Nebraska 4-H Volunteer Award Winners.

Sally B Bryner is receiving the Outstanding Adult Volunteer Award for Zone 1. Sally volunteers with the Box Butte County 4-H program and was nominated by Melissa Mracek, Nebraska Extension Educator in Box Butte County.

Even though she has a busy work schedule, Sally supports the Box Butte 4-H program whenever possible. She often lends a hand at the Fort Robinson Horse Camp. Sally has taught at the local babysitting workshops, and she always makes sure to provide items for the local fundraiser. 

Sally is most well-known, however, for leading the county horse program. She serves as the county fair horse superintendent. In this role, Sally is responsible for purchasing show awards, managing the program, preparing the exhibitor packets, and overseeing the condition of the arena. As the 4-H Horse Club leader, she holds weekly practices throughout the summer to help members learn riding basics and gain horsemanship knowledge. Sally is a certified examiner for the Nebraska 4-H Horsemanship Advancement Level program and leads county-wide horsemanship and riding workshop. 

"Sally is an awesome horse instructor," said Melissa. "She understands the youth and works with them to help them achieve their goals and not only become excellent riders but also knowledgeable horse owners."

Sally encourages local members to grow their project experiences. She is a cheerleader for the Futurity program, through which youth spend four years training a young horse. She ensures these youth are celebrated at the county fair every year. Thanks to her support and guidance, several of Sally’s club members have gone on to compete in statewide rodeo competitions and horse shows.

"My husband attended her practices as a youth. When he went to college, he had the confidence and abilities to participate in the equine riding classes at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, as well as was recruited to be a member of the Equestrian team," shared Mracek. "Currently, we own horses, and I do believe that had it not been for Sally’s classes, it would have taken a lot of encouragement and training for that to happen otherwise."

Tell us about yourself.

I am a 20+ year 4-H volunteer, as I started volunteering the following year after I was no longer of 4-H age. I especially enjoy volunteering for the horse project, as that has been my passion since I was a young girl. I participated in the 4-H horse project for my full ten years in 4-H.

I also enjoy showing horses myself when I am able to find the time to do so. I have always enjoyed my time as a volunteer in Box Butte County, where I have resided most of my life, growing up in Alliance and returning after obtaining my education. I currently reside outside of Hemingford on a small "hobby" farm. I also work full-time as Nurse Practitioner at a local Rural Health Clinic in Alliance.

What do you look forward to when you step into your volunteer role?

Helping youth learn about their project and seeing that growth as the summer months progress.

What is your favorite memory as a 4-H volunteer?

One of my favorite memories as a 4-H volunteer would be watching youth not only grow in their projects but into young adults and enjoying it so much they also return as 4-H volunteers!

How have you helped youth find their spark through 4-H?

I have tried to keep youth engaged in their projects. I also try to help them learn new things about their project. I love teaching and pushing youth to set goals and try my best to help them achieve those goals.

Nancy Lashley is a pillar in the Logan County 4-H Program

Mon, 04/10/2023 - 09:37

In observance of the Week of the Volunteer, Nebraska 4-H is proud to celebrate some of the 2023 Nebraska 4-H Volunteer Award Winners.

Nancy Lashley is receiving the Outstanding Adult Volunteer Award for Zone 3. Nancy volunteers with the Logan County 4-H program and was nominated by Caitlyn Jacobson, Nebraska Extension Educator in Lincoln, Logan, and McPherson Counties.

Nancy, as well as her husband Bart, has been a pillar in the Logan County 4-H community for over 30 years. Their involvement began when their children were members, and now, they maintain their involvement through various volunteer roles. Nancy has been integral in establishing and maintaining the county shooting sports program. Currently, she is serving as the 4-H Council president. She has even assisted in recruiting volunteers to support the program. As a mentor for new 4-H families, Nancy takes time to build relationships, establish open lines of communication, and ensure everyone is informed about 4-H events.

"Her creativity allows her to support families in finding more economic ways of doing a project," wrote Caitlyn. "This has allowed more families to get involved and complete projects they otherwise would not have."

Nancy goes above and beyond to support youth. As a retired teacher, she understands how to engage youth and create excitement. She uses this in her volunteer role to help connect youth with projects and activities that fit their interests and organize workshops and showmanship clinics. Nancy takes extra steps to ensure environments are inclusive and appropriate for youth with unique needs. 

"I have witnessed her coach youth through their frustrations and offer alternative solutions," wrote Caitlyn. "She also celebrates the small and big victories with them."

Tell us about yourself.

I have been involved with 4-H for almost 60 years. First as a member, then as a leader. My main focus as a member was in home environment. When my kids were in 4-H, we branched out into the livestock- horse, sheep, dog, cat, and companion animals. Currently, I help with Shooting Sports and serve on the Logan County 4-H Council.

What do you look forward to when you step into your volunteer role?

Helping kids.

What is your favorite memory as a 4-H volunteer?

The year my daughter won the overall small animal (dog, cat, chickens, rabbits & companion animals) trophy for her salamander.

How have you helped youth find their spark through 4-H?

I’ve led many sewing workshops and hope that my love of sewing has rubbed off on some of them.

Judy Rath builds community in rural cattle country

Mon, 04/10/2023 - 09:35

In observance of the Week of the Volunteer, Nebraska 4-H is proud to celebrate some of the 2023 Nebraska 4-H Volunteer Award Winners.

Judy Rath is receiving the Outstanding Adult Volunteer Award for Zone 2. Judy volunteers with the Thomas County 4-H program and was nominated by Tayler Rath.

Judy has served as the Thomas County 4-H Achievers Club leader for over ten years. In a rural community, Judy grew a small gathering into a successful club by organizing weekly meetings focused on various projects, such as STEM, animal science, woodworking, and welding. Judy also established a local FIRST LEGO League robotics team, the Central Sandhills MechTechs, that has won two regional tournaments and advanced to the state championships several times.

"What began as a small gathering in rural cattle country flourished into a successful program enabling youth to grow their knowledge, learn new skills they might have otherwise never known (as the nearest equivalent opportunity would have been hours away), and inspire them to reach for the stars," wrote Tayler. "Because of the dedication of Judith and her empowering belief in the youth of the community, dozens of kids aspiring to become our future ranchers, farmers, scientists, engineers, or anything they set their minds to, were able to pursue their dreams."

Tell us about yourself.

I grew up in Omaha, NE, and moved to Thedford, NE, when my sons were ages 2 and 3. I was a Stay at Home Mom/Rancher's Wife. I homeschooled my two sons throughout their school careers. My oldest needed challenging subjects in the school atmosphere, and my youngest had several medical needs. Homeschooling was a blessing to our family. As my sons came of age, they joined the local 4-H club, where they were able to find new friends and socialize with youth their age. After the first few years, we found ourselves without a 4-H Club Leader, so I volunteered.

What do you look forward to when you step into your volunteer role?

When I volunteer, I rely on my knowledge and experiences and how I can share those with others. With 4-H, volunteering gave me the chance to share all that I know and provide the youth in our small community with opportunities outside of the basics of public school. In teaching and sharing various subjects such as robotics, STEM, art, and animal husbandry, just to name a few, I gave our 4-Hers the chance to find their own path. In learning various different subjects and getting a hands-on experience, we provide 4-Hers with the chance to see what they like to do, to see what things touch their heart and soul, what they can do to have that positive effect on others, not only their peers but others that they may come in contact with.

What is your favorite memory as a 4-H volunteer?

My favorite memory as a 4-H volunteer was seeing all of the kids come together as a group, encouraging one another, whether it be at static exhibits for fair, robotics competition, or livestock showmanship, having a positive impact on one another that they will remember for the rest of their lives.

How have you helped youth find their spark through 4-H?

To find your spark, youth must have opportunities in various subjects so that they can find their true path, their purpose, that place where their heart goes to and a smile lights up their face. We have the ability to provide those opportunities with our experience and knowledge.

Vrbka family builds a legacy through volunteering

Mon, 04/10/2023 - 09:33

In observance of the Week of the Volunteer, Nebraska 4-H is proud to celebrate some of the 2023 Nebraska 4-H Volunteer Award Winners.

The Ray and Betty Vrbka family is receiving the Multi-Generation Family of Volunteers Award. The family, including four generations who volunteer with the Polk County 4-H program, was nominated by Colleen Pallas, Nebraska Extension Assistant in Polk County.

"The Late Ray and Betty Vrbka family has been an integral part of the Polk County 4-H program since I started 30 years ago," wrote Pallas. "But their service to Polk County started way before then!"

Ray was a Polk County 4-H member growing up showing dairy cattle in the 1930s. Betty started leading the Rainbow 4-H Club in 1961 and continued serving as the club leader for over ten years. Into the late 2000s, she also led workshops teaching local youth how to make her famous cinnamon twists, Kolaches and Kuchens.

The Late Susan Ott, their daughter, served as the Young Shelby Pioneers 4-H Club leader for many years, a 4-H Council member for nine years, and the Ag Engineering fair superintendent for over 25 years.

Angie King, another daughter, served on the 4-H Council for ten years and is the current 4-H Snack Shack manager. Angie also volunteers as a 4-H superintendent for Ag Engineering and Horticulture, serving over 25 years.

Ray and Betty’s grandchildren continue to be active and volunteer for the Polk County 4-H program serving as fair superintendents and workshop leaders. Stacy Ott Stewart is now a club leader, fair superintendent, and 4-H Council member. Chase King, Ashley King Robbins, Helen King Bender, Haley King Teten, and Cecelia King have helped lead workshops, sharing their skills and talents learned through their 4-H projects. The King kids continue to serve as fair superintendents and volunteer whenever asked.

Ray and Betty Vrbka now have great-grandchildren in the Polk County 4-H program. McKenna and Alexa Stewart volunteer to help with the 4-H Snack Shack and help with the Clover Kids program.

"Volunteering to serve in the Polk County 4-H program is a deep-rooted part of the Vrbka legacy," wrote Pallas. "The Polk County 4-H program is so thankful for all that this family has done throughout the years for our 4-H program."

Tell us about yourselves.

Angie King: I am a second-generation 4-H member. I have been volunteering as a superintendent for 25 years. My kids Chase, Ashley, Helen, Haley, and Cecelia all were members of 4-H in Polk County, where my parents and I were members. My kids have volunteered or currently volunteering at the fair. We are proud bakers, crafters, photographers, hog farmers, and sewers. I am looking forward to seeing my grandchildren be a part of 4-H in the near future.

Stacy Stewart: My brothers and I were raised as Polk County 4-H members in the Young Shelby Pioneers 4-H Club. Our mom Susan Ott was our leader. We showed sheep, pigs, and lots of other exhibits. I continue to live in Polk County and am currently on the Polk County 4-H Council and am the leader of the Blossomfield 4-H Club that my 3 girls are members of. My girls' favorite projects are Quilts of Valor.

What do you look forward to when you step into your volunteer role?

Angie King: I look forward to helping the kids. 4-H is based on giving others skills to become better people, and we are lucky to share our talents and knowledge to others. Not many people are able to share with others, but 4-H has given us the opportunity to help others while improving our community.

Stacy Stewart: I love seeing the excitement in the youth of our county.

What is your favorite memory as a 4-H volunteer?

Angie King: Many memories consist of working with my sister and kids on check-in day. As the superintendent of Ag Engineering, we are able to help kids check-in projects and then convince them to speak with the judge. Watching scared kids face their fears and talk about their projects is fun for us. Watching a kid be scared and turn into a kid that is proud of their project is always one of my favorites.

Stacy Stewart: My favorite memory is serving alongside my mom during the fair experience.

How have you helped youth find their spark through 4-H?

Angie King: Our family showed hogs at the fair also. We were able to help kids gain skills and techniques to improve their showmanship. We were able to watch the excitement of working together and the community being built while teaching each other to become better people.

Stacey Stewart: I have loved helping youth learn new concepts and making projects to take to the fair.

Chase Prentice exemplifies positive youth development

Mon, 04/10/2023 - 09:28

In observance of the Week of the Volunteer, Nebraska 4-H is proud to celebrate some of the 2023 Nebraska 4-H Volunteer Award Winners.

Chase Prentice is receiving the Emerging Adult Volunteer Award for Zone 3. Chase volunteers with the Lincoln County 4-H program and was nominated by Caitlyn Jacobson, Nebraska Extension Educator in Lincoln, Logan, and McPherson Counties.

As a club leader and certified shooting sports instructor, Chase prioritizes positive youth development. He encourages youth to try new projects and explore different subject areas. Chase creates an environment where youth can thrive. He ensures everyone has an opportunity to participate, actively engages youth in conversations, and coaches them throughout their learning experiences. As a result, he has built strong and meaningful relationships with his club members. 

"He has also built strong relationships with his club members in the short year he has been involved in Lincoln. Co. 4-H," wrote Jacobson. "His growth mindset mentality will continue to set him up to be a fantastic leader for many years."

Tell us about yourself.

I have been working as a volunteer in youth development for several years. When my wife and I volunteered to help with our local 4-H, we found out that they wanted to restart the Shooting Sports program. I volunteered to get trained as an Archey Instructor and became a part of the team that is helping to rebuild the Shooting Sports program for our area. I find it to be an exciting role because of my interests in youth development, archery, and community development. I am excited to see where the Shooting Sports program is headed for our county and for the chance to get to be a part of its development.

What do you look forward to when you step into your volunteer role?

I look forward to seeing club members become confident in new skills as well as the growth and development club members get in skills they already possess. I also enjoy using my training and knowledge to instruct club members to help them develop skills so that they can be confident in their own abilities.

What is your favorite memory as a 4-H volunteer?

The first time teaching as an Archery Instructor for 4-H. It was great to see my training pay off in instructing shooters not only the proper safety techniques and protocols but also letting them have a great time learning by doing using archery equipment in a safe and respectful manner. Seeing the joy on club members' faces as they were shooting their bows is something I strive for, not just teaching club members skills but also giving them an environment in which they could have fun learning in.

How have you helped youth find their spark through 4-H?

Being a Shooting Instructor for 4-H has given me the opportunity to instruct youth in proper shooting techniques, which has given several club members the confidence to try out a new shooting discipline that they would not have had the opportunity to before. A few of the club members who were a little hesitant to try different disciplines in our shooting sports program have quickly enjoyed developing those new skills once they tried it out.

Michael Bracht mentors youth through robotics program

Mon, 04/10/2023 - 09:25

In observance of the Week of the Volunteer, Nebraska 4-H is proud to celebrate some of the 2023 Nebraska 4-H Volunteer Award Winners.

Michael Bracht is receiving the Emerging Adult Volunteer Award for Zone 8. Michael volunteers with the Burt County 4-H program and was nominated by Stacey Keys, Nebraska Extension Assistant in Burt County.

As a member, Michael discovered his spark through the 4-H robotics program, which led him to pursue a mechanical engineering degree. Though he started college in 2019, he still makes time to come home and share his passion with Burt County 4-H members. Every year, Michael mentors the Mindstormers FIRST LEGO League team. He helps them with their challenge and supports them during competitions. Michael also helps with robotics and rocketry workshops throughout the summer. He is always finding creative ways to teach youth how to program and build robots.

Tell us about yourself.

I am a senior attending Iowa State University studying mechanical engineering. Since I was a freshman in high school, I have mentored a 4-H First Lego League robotics club. As a mentor, I teach several members how to build and program robots, as well as lead 4-H robotics and rocket camps. I volunteer as an assistant for the judge of the technology exhibits and do STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and math) demonstrations at the county fair.

What do you look forward to when you step into your volunteer role?

Watching the innovation of the 4-H and robot club members as they solve problems related to the robot or other technology projects

What is your favorite memory as a 4-H volunteer?

Attending State First Lego League competition with the club.

How have you helped youth find their spark through 4-H?

I have helped youth find their spark by introducing them to STEM fields, especially rockets and robots. This includes showing new members how to set up a rocket to launch safely, program robots to complete a task as well as create effective documentation for their project.