Volunteer Recognition

Nebraska 4-H is pleased to offer new volunteer recognition opportunities in 2021! The Nebraska 4-H volunteer recognition program is designed to complement the tradition of recognizing outstanding volunteers and provide a standard and consistent approach to volunteer recognition across Nebraska. The purpose is to provide a base for Extension staff to sustain volunteers, build leadership potential, and offer recognition and praise for the great work of volunteers.


  • Nomination Form Opens - March 1, 2021
  • Nomination Form Closes - April 1, 2021
  • Award Winners Announcement - Week of the Volunteer, April 19-23, 2021
  • Awards Presentation - Nebraska State Fair (date TBD) 

Nominations can be submitted by any 4-H member, family, supporter, or Extension staff member. Nominees must fit the award categories below and can be a volunteer for any Nebraska 4-H experience. Some examples may include 4-H club leader, project leader, junior leader, county or State Fair volunteer, special interest volunteer, such as robotics or shooting sports, afterschool club volunteer, 4-H camp volunteer. etc.

Nebraska 4-H

Outstanding Adult Volunteer Award

This award category is open to any adult volunteer (age 19+) who has made an impact on 4-H programs (clubs, school enrichment, afterschool, camp, special interest) in their local county program and beyond. One award winner per engagement zone will be chosen. See the map at epd.unl.edu to determine which zone your nominee would represent. Counties are shaded in the map to correspond with Engagement Zones.

Nominations must include:

  • Nominee name, address, email, and phone
  • Nominee photo
  • County
  • Engagement zone
  • Role
  • Years of service
  • Describe their contributions and impact they have made on the local and/or state 4-H program (300-word count limit)
  • Describe how the nominee has enabled youth to find their spark through 4-H (300-word county limit)

Nomination Form

Nebraska 4-H

Outstanding Youth Volunteer Award

This award category is open to any youth volunteer (4-H age 14-18) who has made an impact on 4-H programs (club, school enrichment, afterschool, camp, special interest) in their local county program and beyond. One award winner will be chosen statewide.

Nominations must include:

  • Nominee name, address, email, and phone
  • Nominee photo
  • County where youth is enrolled as 4-H member, if applicable
  • Role
  • Number of years of service
  • Describe their contributions and impact they have made on the local and/or state 4-H program (300-word count limit)
  • How has the nominee encouraged other youth to thrive through the 4-H program? (300-word county limit)

Nomination Form

Nebraska 4-H

Multi-Generation Family Volunteer Award

This award category is open to any multi-generation family who has made an impact on 4-H programs (clubs, school enrichment, afterschool, camp, special interest) in their local county program and beyond. One award winner will be chosen statewide. 

Nominations must include:

  • Nominee Family Members (list all family members involved by generation and number of generations) i.e. First-generation would be grandparents, the second generation would be parents, and the third generation would be children. 
  • List the county or counties in which the nominee family served as volunteers.
  • Describe their contributions and the impact they have made on the local and/or state 4-H program (500-word count limit).
  • Describe how the nominee has enabled youth to find their spark in 4-H (500-word count limit). 

Nomination Form

National 4-H

Salute to Excellence Award

The National 4-H Salute to Excellence Volunteer Recognition Award recognizes 4-H volunteers who demonstrate exemplary service to 4-H while promoting service through volunteerism as both an opportunity and a privilege.

Each year, each state 4-H program can nominate two outstanding individual volunteers for the 4-H Salute to Excellence Awards. The Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer Award is given to an individual who has spent 10 or more years as a 4-H volunteer while the Volunteer of the Year Award is given to an individual who has volunteered for 4-H less than 10 years.

Download 2021 Information Packet

2021 Nebraska 4-H Volunteer Award Winners

Outstanding Youth Volunteer Award

Brandon Mellick, Dixon County

Brandon Mellick has taken several leadership roles in Dixon County over the past years. He was actively involved in the Ag Innovator program, teaching youth audiences about agriculture topics to more than 250 youth. He served as a 4-H Ambassador in Dixon County for two years. He was a member of the Dixon County 4-H First LEGO League team and assisted with promotional events to educate and recruit new members with robotics. In addition, he was also a member of the Dixon County 4-H Teen Leaders program. He is an example of an active 4-H member in the Nebraska 4-H program.

Multi-Generational Family Volunteer Award

Ron and Barb Suing family, Lancaster County

Ron and Barb Suing have been involved in nearly every aspect of 4-H in Lancaster County since Ron was in 4-H himself in the 1950s. Over the years, various family members have worked as superintendents, judges, behind-the-scenes volunteers and mentors to hundreds of youth. First generation: Ron and Barb Suing; second generation: Marlo Yakel and Nikki Casburn; third generation: Marlo’s children, Kylee Schirmer, Taylor Yakel and Ryan Yakel; and Nikki’s children: Andrew Casburn, Daniel Casburn and Thomas Casburn.

Outstanding Adult Volunteer Awards

Zone 1: Carrie Child, Sheridan County

Carrie Child has served in almost every volunteer role possible. Over the years she has served as a board member, workshop volunteer, after-school teacher, club leader, fair event superintendent, and robotics coach. Through her continued support, the Sheridan County program has become stronger and more diverse, and she has had a positive impact on almost every aspect of Sheridan County 4-H.

Zone 2: Kathaleen Mead, Garfield County

Throughout her long career as a 4-H volunteer, Kathaleen has held many roles, beginning as an organizational leader when her own children, Paige and Kay, joined Garfield County 4-H. Eventually, she would also serve as project leader, state fair judge and financial supporter. She has been especially involved in the Garfield-Loup-Wheeler 4-H quilting program, which offers programming every week from the end of school until the start of county fair and has impacted generations of 4-H youth.

Zone 3: Sharla Willard, Lincoln County

Sharla Willard has been instrumental in many aspects of Lincoln County 4-H, including leading project areas, serving on the 4-H council and serving as a fair superintendent. When COVID-19 changed fair protocols in 2020, she helped with the check-in and placement of static exhibit items and worked to ensure that proper protocol was followed for the 4-H dog show. This past spring, she was an integral part of making the Lincoln County 4-H Council Garage Sale Fundraiser a success.

Zone 4: Kevin Oberg, Hitchcock County

Kevin Oberg has been instrumental in keeping a successful 4-H shooting sports program in Hitchcock and Hayes County for the last 17 years. He began as a 4-H shooting sports leader in the archery and today helps with all shooting sport disciplines. For the past several years, Kevin has led the Hitchcock and Hayes team of shooting sports leaders in preparing for practices and contests, caring for shooting sports equipment, gathering donations for the program, and making sure the youth have a safe and fun experience.

Zone 5: Kim Spence, Stanton County

Kim Spence is a positive force in Stanton County 4-H. She has served as 4-H council member and president; county extension board member; program leader and much more. She serves as a bridge between the Stanton County 4-H program and the fair board. She has the ability to motivate both youth and adults, and she prioritizes making time for 4-H, even as a mother of five who works full time.

Zone 6: Beth Sonderup, Nance County

Beth Sonderup is the club leader of the Trailblazers 4-H Club in Nance County, a club she started four years ago to encourage youth of all ages, especially the Clover Kids age group. The club has participated in several community service projects in its four years, including creating Valentine’s Day placemats for the food trays at Children’s Hospital; making goodie bags for patients at the Boone County Hospital; and playing bingo with residents of the Valley View Assisted Living Facility in Fullerton. She has also led many 4-H workshops focused on sewing, which is one of her passions.

Zone 7: Barb Mentink, Polk County

Barb Mentink has volunteered with the Polk County 4-H horse program for more than 30 years. During this time has served as superintendent, 4-H Council member, club leader and horse advancement level examiner. She pushes her many members to get the most out of their 4-H experience, not just through her club, but also by getting involved in district and state events. Barb is knowledgeable, provides great programing and most importantly, the kids have fun and enjoy being around her.

Zone 8: Linda Bisanz, Burt County

Linda Bisanz has been involved with the Flying Needles 4-H Club for over 26 years, in a wide variety of roles. She was the 4-H kitchen manager for many years, then became the homemade pie making coordinator. Each year for more than 20 years, her group of 4-H volunteers has made approximately 200 fruit pies to be sold in the 4-H kitchen during the fair. She is a big advocate of the 4-H speech and presentation contest and is always among the first to volunteer for clothing judging day and during the fair. She even puts on heavy coveralls to help at a winter 4-H fund-raiser concession stand. For many years she has been a source of endless help who has made a difference.

Zone 9: Rebecca Dunn, Douglas County

Rebecca Dunn has created a new 4-H club, engaged new 4-H families and worked with local 4-H staff to provide enriching, educational opportunities to club members. She has worked with the Ralston Public Schools district to have her education students lead as peer mentors in the Health Rocks 4-H Mentoring program. She also led the way forming a partnership with a Ralston elementary school where the 12 high school mentors would meet with their 30 mentees in grades 3-6. Rebecca is a stellar 4-H volunteer and has made a big impact on the families and future teachers.

Zone 10: Heather Mohling, Adams County

Heather Mohling has been a 4-H leader of the Blue Valley Blazers 4-H Club for over 20 years, and a leader in the Adams County 4-H Horse program providing instruction in horse knowledge and hands-on care of horses, along with horse showmanship and riding. She has helped prepare youth throughout the county for State Horse Quiz Bowl as well as county, district and state horse shows. Heather has been instrumental in implementing the therapeutic riding program within the Blue Valley Blazers 4-H Club including organizing and providing horses, volunteers, equipment, training, and an unlimited amount of patience teaching and working with youth that may not otherwise have the opportunity to ride and bond with horses.

Zone 11: Renee Thakur, Cass County

Renee Thakur has been a dedicated volunteer in Cass County and the surrounding area for many years. She has helped school enrichment and 4-H workshops in Cass County and has assisted with sewing workshops in Johnson and in Pawnee counties. In recent years she has helped with First Lego League competitions in Otoe County. She is enthusiastic, consistent and willing to help wherever needed.