Johnson County Commissioner Jerry Stringer, after presenting the I Dare You Awards at Monday’s Johnson County 4-H Achievement Banquet, made his way back to his table then paused, one more thought in his head.
“I forgot to say that 4-H develops the best kids on earth,” Stringer said.
From the proud parents to the local officials, 4-H staff and even the kids themselves present he certainly got no argument.
Monday’s banquet, the theme of which was The Great Adventure, saw numerous 4-H members from Johnson County’s eight clubs recognized.
“Tonight we are celebrating our organization and our members through the last year in Johnson County 4-H,” banquet emcee Maddie Luker said. “It’s been said, ‘It doesn’t matter where you’re going; it’s who you have beside you.’
“On this great adventure we call 4-H, new friends are made, new places are seen and we are pushed beyond the ordinary to become tomorrow’s leaders.”
Commissioner Larry Woolley, who presented the Outstanding Junior Member awards, said that through 4-H participation, members gain the skills needed to help them become those leaders of tomorrow. Woolley noted that the three things employers look for in young job candidates today include: effective communication skills; interpersonal skills to be able to work in small groups; and the ability to show up to work on time.
“You kids have more of that in your small finger than the non-4-H kids do,” Woolley said.
Luker, who also serves as chairman of the 4-H council, expounded on the current year’s theme.
“It represents the exciting adventures 4-H has to offer and the impact 4-H can have on the lives of youth when they join the organization,” Luker said.
Success requires many hands, and with 366 active 4-H members, volunteers are key, Luker said. Fortunately, support is strong in Johnson County.
“This year, we had 91 adult leaders that served as club managers, project leaders, chaperones, coaches and in many other roles,” Luker said. “Our Johnson County 4-H Booster Club has also been very active in raising funds that help support 4-Hers in all project areas and clubs.”
Booster Club President Cara Ellison reported that the club raised $10,409 from concession stand sales during the county show, which consisted of food and souvenir cup sales. The money raised helped send kids to camps and other 4-H events, Ellison said.
A short time later, 4-H Council Second Vice Chairman Saylor Kvalheim and Reporter Brandon White called Ellison back to the stage, this time as the recipient of the Volunteer of the Year Award.
Ellison, whose involvement in 4-H dates to her childhood, went on to serve the organization as a volunteer and leader, Kvalheim said.
“In 2015, she and her daughter, Reagan, chartered the Community 4-H Club in Burleson that focuses on community service and leadership,” Kvalheim said. “In four years the club has grown to nearly triple its original size and has made a huge impact in Burleson through community service projects and active engagement of youth throughout the community.”
Ellison, among other accomplishments, has coached youth in public speaking, food and nutrition projects and animal projects.
“She is an innovative thinker, initiator and encourager, all of which goes to serve the 4-H program greatly,” White said. “Under her leadership, youth have gained confidence and are willing to push beyond what they think they are capable of doing.”
Next up, the Friend of 4-H Award, which went to Mike Ray, a 20-year member of the Johnson County Livestock and Agriculture Association.
“Mike has been instrumental in making changes to better the show, add sale sots and promote the project throughout the years.” White said. “Mike has also been available to give guidance to youth about their rabbit projects, whether it be about how to feed, how to show, how to treat a sick rabbit or weighing and selecting rabbits for the show.”
The 4-H Workhorse Award goes to a member who displays hard work and dedication to the Johnson County 4-H Program as a whole.
This year’s award went to Trey Hardin of Grandview, a 10-year member of 4-H.
Hardin served the past year on the District 8 4-H Council and as a member of the District 8 4-H Media Crew. Hardin is also a member of the Texas 4-H Technology Team and actively promotes STEM projects throughout the state. Having participated in numerous programs and received numerous accolades through the years, Hardin recently won the $20,000 Texas 4-H Scholarship, which will go toward his tuition at Tarleton State University this fall.
The Tanner Tilton Spirit of 4-H Award went to Burleson resident Rachel White.
A Texas 4-H Livestock ambassador, White is enjoying a week long ambassador tour through California.
Over the past year, White won state in the Promote 4-H Education Presentation, State Qualifier in Leadership Recordbook, 2nd Place State team and National Contests Qualifier in dairy judging; and Champion Individual in public speaking at the Houston Livestock Show. White also won Lightweight Division Market Got at the San Angelo Stock Show.
Grandview resident Grant Davenport and Burleson resident Brayden Luker won the Outstanding Junior Member awards.
Davenport participates in public speaking, photography, poultry, swine and shooting sports. He won Best in Show in photography at this year’s county contest in the junior division and serves his community through visiting nursing homes, assisting with highway cleanup projects and collecting toys at Christmas.
Luker serves as his club’s parliamentarian. He participates in Food Challenge, Food Show and baking for the County Youth Fair where he won 1st at this year’s District Food Show.
The Outstanding Intermediate Member Awards went to Burleson resident Saylor Kvalheim and Grandview resident Jett Garren.
Kvalheim participates in rabbit projects as well as public speaking and photography. Her speech on ARBA judging placed first at the District Contest.
Garren is a member of the Consumer Decision Maker and Leaders for Life team in addition to other projects. His main project is performing arts through competing in fiddle contests throughout the state.
4-H Council Treasurer Callie Welty and club officer Caleb Snoddy both received the I Dare You Award.
Welty previously served as a member of the District 8 Council . She participates in public speaking, food and nutrition, photography and showing cattle, swine and sheep. Earlier this year, she won a $10,000 scholarship of Champion Senior in the San Antonio Stock Show’s public speaking contest.
Snoddy participates in poultry, swine, beef, leadership, photography and public speaking events. Also active in the Texas Brigades Program, Snoddy speaks throughout the community on wildlife conservation.
Recognized also were 39 members completion of record books and 24 4-H Silver and Super Silver Clover Award recipients.
The night concluded with the presentation of the Gold Star Awards. Those awards went to Payton Kvalheim and Emily Skelton.
Kvalheim raised National Grand Champion rabbits and, as part of the 4-H entrepreneurship project, began his own lawn mowing business.
Skelton served as a county council delegate for her club, Friendship 4-H, last year and as a teen leader fro County Camp.
As a member of the Food Challenge Team, she qualified for Texas 4-H Roundup this year. Skelton also participates in rabbit and swine events and is a member of the 2020 4-H Washington D.C. Club.
Luker wrapped the night by encouraging 4-Hers to embrace the spirit of adventure.
“I’ll leave you tonight with a quote from Mark Twain,” Luker said. “‘Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.
“So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.’”