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Ohio 4-H Youth Development

Ohio State University Extension


Ohio 4-H Conference Volunteer Award Winners – Part 2

Russ Mayer, Alumni Award Recipient

Each year dedicated volunteers and alumni are recognized for their service to Ohio 4-H. Although formal recognition has been postponed, we continue to feature all the winners in the Ohio 4-H Highlights this month.

In this issue, we recognize recipients of the Alumni, Ohio Friend of 4-H, and Community Service awards.

The 4-H Alumni Award is presented to those 4-H alumni who have demonstrated distinctive achievement in their career or service and can attribute part of their success to participating in 4-H. It is sponsored by Ron and Carolyn Cull.

Russ Mayer

Russ is a very active and involved 4-H volunteer in Morrow County! For 14 years he has been involved with two 4-H clubs as an advisor, junior fair board advisor, and member of the county 4-H advisory committee. Russ is a kind, caring, positive adult mentor to all youth and strives to make everyone feel welcome. He goes out of his way to help new and current members succeed by offering his assistance. As a 4-H advisor to the junior fair board he attends monthly meetings and is the adult chair for two departments. He spends countless hours working with teens to get departments ready for fair. Russ loves 4-H camp and helps interview potential new camp counselors, attends training meetings, and helps prepare for 4-H camp. During camp he is the head male staff in charge of the boy’s cabins and counselors.

Lu Phillips Lu Phillips (right) pictured with the Avian Quiz Bowl Team.

Lu is compassionate, hard-working, respectful, loyal, and a true leader. She has served in 4-H for many years. Lu volunteered to take on the position of coach for the Lorain County Avian Bowl Team. She lives and breathes 4-H, serving as a volunteer for one of the largest clubs in the county and multiple other positions. She serves as the adult consultant for the cat/cavy department on the junior fair board. Lu coaches the Lorain County Rabbit Quiz Bowl, Avian Quiz Bowl and poultry judging teams. The teams have competed at nationals and placed high in rankings each year at state. She is the person who somehow manages to make sure a hundred people are ready to show, and even cooks breakfast for anyone walking by.


The Ohio Friend of 4-H Award recognizes an individual, family, business, or corporation that has greatly supported or is currently supporting the 4-H program, either financially or philanthropically at the local, county, state or national level. It is sponsored by Frederick and Kathryn Pepple.

LaDonna Henson LaDonna Henson

LaDonna has been a wealth of knowledge for rabbit-related events and publications. She contributed pictures and information to rabbit handling and processing presentations used throughout the state, to educate 4-H members about the importance of Quality Assurance and delivering a quality product to processors. She provided pelts, meat cuts, and quality photos over the last 10 years for the Ohio State Fair Rabbit Skillathon. LaDonna has been influential in providing education for 4-H clubs and multi-county clinics on providing a healthy, quality rabbit carcass at the end of a market rabbit project. She provided an outlet for Ohio 4-H market rabbit projects from their fair exhibitions into the marketing channel for over 50 years and is still providing that service to county fair boards.

Janet Kemp Janet Kemp

Janet has been highly involved as a club leader and treasurer of the Tuscarawas County   4-H Committee, as well as a volunteer county representative on the 4-H Camp Piedmont Board. Over the years, Janet has been a driving force on the camp board. She is one of the first to take the lead in offering to write grants or offer funds for items needed by the facility, such as a new computer for the camp office and a time clock, both of which she paid for out of her own personal funds. Every spring she helps to lead the Tuscarawas County 4-H Camp Workday and does her part by power-washing the craft hall and cleaning the camp canteen. Janet is also the leader for the Clover Café at the county fair, which serves as the main fundraiser for the county 4-H program. It takes many hours to staff this cafeteria and Janet is always available during the many hours of set-up, fair week and after.

Quest Federal Credit Union Hardin County Extension staff with Quest Federal Credit Union staff.

Quest Federal Credit Union is a dynamic financial institution that has served Hardin County since 1969. Quest has been a supporter of 4-H and OSU Extension in Hardin County financially and as a program partner. Quest not only offers its financial support to county organizations and non-profits, their employees offer their time and talents in offering leadership training and strategic planning. Quest has financially supported Hardin County 4-H through donations, sponsoring all 4-H ribbons, sponsoring state and national youth trips and supporting the junior fair livestock auction. Quest also paid to upgrade the internet services on the Hardin County Fairgrounds. In addition, Quest also supports the 4-H program in Wyandot and Logan counties. Quest has been an advocate for 4-H and OSU Extension during the elections to help secure enough votes for the passage of the Extension levy.

Rural King Rural King, America's Farm and Home Store with windmill

Rural King in Waverly has been more than supportive of the 4-H program over the years. Giving back to youth in the community who support their business is the best way to lead by example. Rural King has given gift cards to all fair participants as well as a large contribution to the new facilities built on the Pike County Fairgrounds. Rural King allows 4-H clubs to host funding events at their store at no cost and helps promote the event, often donating materials or food to the cause. Their donations have also allowed volunteers and educators the ability to improve their outreach and help youth who are developing life skills.

The Community Service Award recognizes adults and/or youth volunteers who have collaborated or cooperated with other community or 4-H groups, or undertaken community service projects or activities with their 4-H club. It is sponsored by Steve and Cindy Rasmussen.

Eric Clary Eric Clary leading a natural resources activity with a 4-H group.

Eric has worked with OSU Extension and the county SWCD to create the Gallia County Nature Education area near the county fairgrounds. The site selected was not in use due to flooding issues. The new nature area is ten acres, with a stocked pond, wooded area, small creek, and an open field. He successfully wrote two ODNR grants requesting funds to build a picnic shelter and a handicap assessable fishing dock, which he designed and built. He developed plans to implement education stations in the area. Eric was able to obtain additional funds to build picnic tables and a welcome sign. During the past two years he has spent at least four hours a month weeding, mowing and maintaining the area. Since site construction started in 2018, Eric has helped organize day camps, fishing clinics, fair education programs and Cloverbud programs. Over 1000 children have benefitted from the nature area programs.

Country Kids & Kritters 4-H Club Members of the Country Kids & Kritters Club with rabbits at a nursing home.

The Country Kids & Kritters 4-H Club from Mahoning County builds their club on giving back to the community. Each year they engage in a multitude of community service projects from filling Easter baskets for Children Services to taking their animals into nursing homes. Each community service project the club completed has a lasting impact on the people and community they serve. In 2019, the club members gave 504 hours of community service, which involved all 45 members and eight volunteers. Club members have been given the opportunity to address a problem they see within their community and then brainstorm together to solve the problem. They are learning the importance of giving back to their community a skill that will serve them throughout their lives.

Greener Fields 4-H Club Members of the Greener Fields 4-H Club collecting canned goods and money to benefit the Geauga County Hunger Task Force.

In 2015, club members started an initiative with the Geauga County Hunger Task Force to help collect supplies for local food banks. The club collected canned goods and other supplies. They received a $2,000 donation from an area doctor. He challenged the club to collect food items and matched what they collected with a monetary donation and dollar for dollar on cash donations. This project was open to all clubs in the county. Since 2015, this initiative has donated over $130,000 to the Geauga County Hunger Task Force.