Volunteers, youth honored at S.C. 4-H State Congress
The late Glen Krohn was fond of the mantra, “Volunteerism is the price you pay for the space you take,” and when it comes to the two winners of this year’s 4-H award named in his honor, that price has yielded a serious return on investment.
Lynn Howard of Florence County and Kesha Horton of Chester and Lancaster counties were honored last month during 4-H State Congress with the 2020 Glen Krohn Award for Volunteerism in 4-H, which recognizes outstanding volunteer leadership in 4-H and bears the name of the former assistant director who was well known as a strong believer in volunteers throughout his career.
“The 4-H mission is all about giving young people safe and inclusive learning environments through the involvement of caring adults — and the two winners of this year’s Glen Krohn Award could not be better examples of the impact that those caring adults can have,” said Ashley Burns, S.C. 4-H assistant director. “Lynn and Kesha epitomize the selfless work our 4-H volunteers do around the state to positively influence the lives of young people and help give them the confidence, skills and resources to thrive as they grow into the next generation of leaders.”
For those interested in likewise contributing as volunteers, registration is open for the 10th annual 4-H Volunteer Leaders Symposium, a free, virtual event hosted via Zoom on Saturday, Aug. 15. The event is an opportunity for 4-H agents and volunteers to go back to the basics and focus on 4-H fundamentals for use now and pushing forward.
And the two winners of this year’s Glen Krohn Award are shining examples of the impact that one could have as a volunteer.
The Florence County 4-H program was revived six years ago after years without an agent, and Howard, a seventh-grade science teacher at Sneed Middle School, joined the effort early — becoming just the club’s second volunteer. She has been a volunteer for five years and, in 2016, was named the Florence County 4-H Volunteer of the Year, not least for her role in running the twice-monthly Sneed Middle 4-H Club meetings.
“This isn’t just a 30- or 45-minute club, either,” said Florence County 4-H Agent Faith Truesdale. “On the days her 4-H Club meets, she keeps the students until after 5 p.m., so it will not be a burden on working parents to get off early to pick them up. In her 4-H club, you will find a diverse group of students and a place where all are welcome. She also takes the 4-H slogan to heart and ensures that her members ‘learn by doing.’”
Howard’s impacts during her five years as a 4-H leader are significant: her club has been awarded the Emerald Clover Club Award multiple times and she has written grants to establish a garden, apiary and wildlife plot at the school her 4-H club calls home.
Sneed Middle is located in the West Florence area, the largest residential area in the county, and Howard has allowed students who don’t have room for a garden to use the school garden beds to compete in the 4-H Small Garden Project. She also received permission for the 4-H Club to install a wildlife food plot, and the Sneed Squire Squad 4-H Club won first place in the group wildlife food plot project this year.
Not only does Howard give countless hours to 4-H and her school, she also volunteers each summer to chaperone and teach teens life skills through the Salkehatchie Summer Program, where she works side by side with the students restoring dilapidated homes for poverty-stricken South Carolinians.
In Chester and Lancaster counties, Horton has served as a club leader, advisory council member for two counties, State Fair 4-H booth volunteer, camp chaperone, event planner, social media manager, bus driver, cheerleader and more during her 12 years as a 4-H volunteer.
And for Horton, 4-H has been a family affair. When her twin daughters were young, she would bring them to 4-H programs at her local library. Eventually, they branched out to special events such as baking classes and day camps before Horton finally decided to start her own club: Great Falls 4-H Club, a general interest club for young people in Chester County.
“Opportunities for youth outside of sports and school programs are very few in this area,” wrote 4-H agents Abigail Phillips (Chester County) and Steve Hucks (Lancaster County?) in her nomination letter. “Because of her efforts, many youth have been impacted and have had the chance to attend 4-H camps, Junior and Senior Teen Weekends, 4-H Day at the Fair and many other events in addition to club activities. She has also inspired three of her members to run for State 4-H Teen Council.”
Horton began her 4-H journey in and around her community in Chester County, but after becoming the administrative assistant for the Lancaster County Extension Office, she also began sharing her talents with 4-H’ers in the neighboring county, where she led two summer sewing camps served as a volunteer leader for both a beginner sewing club and a STEAM sewing club.
Horton has also led an advanced 4-H Sewing Program as well as a Cake Decorating Camp and as the volunteer leader for two 4-H Clubs in Lancaster County: The STEAMing Stitches 4-H Sewing Club and The Lancaster 4-H Creative Club.
But perhaps Horton’s most innovative 4-H contribution has been the 4-H Youth Cultural Summit, which began five years ago as a series of day trips to learn about the state of South Carolina. She solicited funds from local businesses to fund the cost of the trips and a T-shirt, and the group set a goal to visit each county of the state, with one overnight trip included. In the summer of 2019, Horton and her club members visited the final two counties in the state.
Horton has also served as an overnight chaperone at Teen Weekends and on the Cultural Summit trips and supports sending youth to all state 4-H events, especially State 4-H Congress.
“Kesha does all of this while employed full-time at the Lancaster County Extension office,” her nomination read. “She juggles her schedule to make sure that she also supports her daughters in their high school extracurricular activities and sports programs, all while continuing to champion all things 4-H. She truly gives life to all four H’s — using her head for innovation, her heart for her community, her hands to bring programs to life and her health to support all of these.”
The 2020-2021 State Teen Council was also announced at 4-H State Congress: President Cassidy Hurst of Pickens County, Vice President Brianna Smalls of Dorchester County, Secretary Saanvi Merchant of Greenville County, Legislative Liaison Paul Davis of Richland County, Public Relations Coordinator Jeremiah Gonzalez of Chester County, Midlands Regional Representative Carson Marino of Chester County, Midlands Regional Representative Katie McCarter of York County, Pee Dee Regional Representative Bryton Tanner of Florence County, Savannah Valley Regional Representative Katherine Ryan of Hampton County, Savannah Valley Regional Representative Maggie Thomas of Dorchester County, Upstate Regional Representative Chloe Margeson of Greenville County and Upstate Regional Representative Marie Elizabeth Grant of Anderson County.
South Carolina 4-H State Winners recognized for outstanding achievements in 4-H projects and activities are Aliza Allison of Lexington, Allyson Wright of Hampton, Langley Vernon of Anderson, Marino, Smalls and Thomas.
McCarter, Thomas, Smalls and Vernon were also named National Conference Delegates.
Presidential Tray Winners are Jordan Snipes of Florence County, Hailey Williamson of Lexington County, Arizona Bowers of Anderson County and Grant, while the Spirit of 4-H Award went to Nicholas Matthews of Florence County.