GREENVILLE — The Darke County 4-H program held their annual Recognition and Kick-off event at Lighthouse Christian Center Sunday afternoon.
A number of awards were presented at the event. Darke County Commissioner and 4-H Committee member Matt Aultman presented State Senator Bill Beagle with the Friends of 4-H Award.
“Bill is stepping down from state senate this year, so we wanted to honor him for all his past support,” Aultman said.
Darke County OSU Extension educator and director of 4-H Youth Development Rhonda Williams led the audience in a moment of silence for 4-H program volunteers who have passed away in the last year, as well as those who might be struggling. Williams said that volunteers provide the organization with the equivalent of nearly $600,000 a year in manpower, and asked for 5, 10, 20, and 30-year volunteers present to stand and receive applause.
“Today’s event is a celebration of last year’s 4-H program, and now we’re ready to start a new year,” Williams said after the ceremony. “We just want to thank all our 4-H families for doing what they do, and for helping make our program great,”
Williams also presented Arcanum FFA member Alex Weiss and Versailles member Faith Wilker with the I Dare You Award, an achievement recognizing “excellence in character, personal development, initiative, and integrity in leadership.”
“I feel shocked and surprised, and honored, of course,” Wilker said after being presented with the award. “I definitely didn’t expect it.”
WIlker is a 10-year member of 4-H and junior fair board member who was recently instrumental in convincing the Darke County Fair Board to commission a smartphone app to help fairgoers purchase tickets, keep track of events, and navigate the fairgrounds. Though she’s starting college later this year, Wilker said she hopes this won’t be her last year with 4-H.
“I’ll be going to Bowling Green in the fall, but I’m hoping to come back and be involved next year,” Wilker said.
Faith’s mother, Catherine Wilker, had good things to say about the changes in the local 4-H program since her daughter signed up ten years ago.
“When she joined, she was the youngest member of a dying club,” Catherine Wilker said. “Now we have almost 60 members.”
Other awards presented include Outstanding Officer Books of the year. 4-H Honor Clubs, 2018 State Trip Delegates, winners of the 4-H healthy living challenge, premier 4-H members, and a number of leadership and achievement-related awards.
Several members of the Fair Board were also present for Saturday’s event, including Fair Manager Brian Rismiller, Jerry Marker, Thomas Shaw, Jim Zumbrink, and Cindy Riffle.
“As supporters of 4-H, the Darke County Agricultural Society appreciates everything the program does for the community,” Rismiller said. He also pointed out that last year’s junior fair king and queen both came out of 4-H.
“They play a huge part in the county fair,” Jerry Marker agreed.
“This event is a great way of recognizing the youth, as well as the community and everything they do for this 4-H group,” Riffle said.
“This event is a kickoff that leads us right into the fair,” Zumbrink said. “We have to promote our fair all the time, and these young people are excellent at doing that.”
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