GRAND RAPIDS, Feb 16 — Four outstanding 4-H leaders were honored with the 2018 4-H Excellence in Agriculture award Saturday at Michigan Farm Bureau’s (MFB) Growing Together conference in Grand Rapids.
Mary Hutka of Oakland County, Diane Keinath of Saginaw County and Mary Grau and Kathy Hammer of Washtenaw County were recipients of $1,000 grants to designate to a 4-H agricultural program of their choice, for volunteer training, supplies or curricula to enhance 4-H programming locally and statewide.
Mary Hutka is the long-time leader and innovator of the Tollgate Farm 4-H Club in Oakland County. The club is a community 4-H club using the Tollgate Farm located in the heart of Novi as a business model.
The club’s goal is to produce products to sell vegetables and other value-added products or animal products such as eggs or soap to support ongoing club activities. Recently the club has sold poultry as well. Produce grown may be sold at farm stands, donated to a local food pantry or sampled by members.
The Tollgate Farm 4-H Club explores the use of resources in an environmentally friendly manner while still sustaining profitable business practices. Youth members are also encouraged to enter personal projects in the Oakland County Fair and the Michigan State Fair held over the Labor Day weekend.
The animal leasing program at Tollgate provides urban & suburban youths who would not be able to participate in livestock projects, the opportunity to care for animals and go to fair.
Diane Keinath volunteers for the Frankenmuth Area Patriots in Saginaw County. Since 1999, she has lead the group and believes in learning by doing with regular club meetings that feature hands on education and industry professionals.
Diane works with her club members to create a team atmosphere, to promote all projects, from all members, to prospective buyers. This atmosphere encourages peer to peer relationships and instills the awareness that no one stands alone. Club marketing goals are determined annually, but always include life skills, including etiquette, a firm handshake, proper introductions skills and appropriate manner when meeting prospective buyers and public speaking skills when addressing a group.
She encourages and attends, with her club members, local, county and statewide events, including 4-H Dairy Days and the Michigan Livestock Exposition. Local events include county Cloverbud day camp and the Saginaw County Fair.The Patriots have participated in community service projects including the Migrant Reading Program and beautification of the local fair grounds.
Kathy Grau and Mary Hammer
Kathy Grau and Mary Hammer are adult leaders for the Washtenaw county 4-H Junior Livestock Committee. The purpose of the junior livestock committee is to empower youth to provide their input, make decisions and conduct 4-H programs while having fun with the other members who have similar interests.
The junior livestock committee offers support teaching member how to raise and market animals, while also introducing members to opportunities in animal science and agri-business management through workshops and tours.
Many of the activities of the junior livestock committee are centered around leadership and community activity, including volunteering at Project Rural Education Day, assisting with the advocacy education program, presenting at Farm Safety Day and mentoring kids in the Cloverbud program.
Supported annually through the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture and funded by the Michigan Farm Bureau’s 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Endowment Fund, the 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Awards recognize outstanding achievements of Michigan 4-H volunteers or groups that have exhibited excellence in 4-H youth education and leadership development in the areas of 4-H beef cattle; dairy cattle; goats; horses; horticulture, crops and soils; poultry; rabbits; sheep; swine; and veterinary science.