Volunteer Recognition

Nebraska 4-H is excited to be able to recognize our volunteers through both county and state awards. The 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. The program allows counties to select the components that fit their needs.

County Level

County award winners are selected by a local committee from the pool of nomination forms received. Adult and youth volunteers may be nominated and may nominate themselves. The number of awards given in each category will be determined by the county. Completed nomination forms should be returned to your local Extension office.

Meritorious Service Award

This award will be given to a 4-H volunteer, staff member, business, or group who has made a special contribution to or impact on the 4-H program for 10 or more years. This award is given in recognition of a wide range of services and contributions to the 4-H program at the club, county, district, state or national level. The nominees for this award will have influenced the lives of 4-H members in Nebraska in a positive way and/or influenced the overall 4-H program. Recipients may be nominated more than once but may receive this award only once.

Tribute to Leader Excellence Award

This award is for current club leaders (co-leaders, assistant leaders, project leaders) who have served the 4-H program a minimum of 5 years and who have made a special contribution to or impact on youth, the 4-H program, their club and community. The leader must have positively affected the lives of youth and created a standard of excellence that helps motivate and encourage others. Recipients may receive this award once every five years.

Heart of 4-H Award

This award will recognize volunteers, 4-H supporters and/or companies or organizations who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and/or volunteer service to 4-H, have made a special contribution to the 4-H program, or provided a significant number of service hours to 4-H. Volunteers may receive this award once every 5 years. The Nebraska 4-H Foundation will provide one plaque to each county each year.

Outstanding 4-H Alumni Award

This award will recognize 4-H alumni who have given service or support to the 4-H program and/or have promoted 4-H positively in the community. Alumni from any county or state are eligible to receive this award. Recipients may receive this award once every 5 years. The Nebraska 4-H Foundation will provide one plaque to each county each year.

Volunteer Service Award

This award will recognize volunteers for their dedication to the 4-H program for years of service. Volunteers will be recognized for 1, 3, and 5 years of 4-H service and every five years beyond. To receive service awards, volunteers must enroll in the county annually, complete volunteer screening and updates as required, and follow the 4-H Volunteer Code of Conduct. Extension staff will utilize the 4-H Plus system to track eligible volunteers for Volunteer Service Awards.

State Level

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.

Nebraska 4-H will select one honoree from each of the two categories. The two Nebraska 4-H state honorees will then be submitted for Regional award consideration. One volunteer will be selected from each Cooperative Extension Region (Northeast, South, North Central, West) in each category. Each region will have its own Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer and Volunteer of the Year. The eight regional honorees become nominees for the national award, and one candidate in each category will be named the national Honoree.

Award Criteria:

  • The Volunteer of the Year Award (VOY) is for currently serving 4-H volunteers who have served as 4-H volunteers less than 10 years at the local, county, district, or state level.
  • The Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer Award (OLV) is for current or former 4-H volunteers who have served 10 or more years at the local, county, district, or state level. 

Nomination Procedures

  1. Nomination packets must be submitted by a nominator to Cathy Johnston at 114 Ag Hall, Lincoln, NE 68583-0700 or emailed to cjohnston1@unl.edu by December 18, 2019.
    • A completed nomination will consist of a nomination resume of the applicant's 4-H and relevant community volunteer experience, three (3) letters of recommendation, and a high-quality, 600 dpi headshot of the nominee. Please use the application template when developing the nomination packet. A packet missing any of the five components (resume, 3 letters of recommendation, and headshot) will be eliminated.
    • Letters of recommendation should be no longer than 2 pages in length, in 12-point font with 1-inch margins. Letters of recommendation should be written by individuals who can best describe the nominee's qualifications for the award such as a 4-H youth participant, another volunteer, etc.
  2. State winners will be announced by January 17, 2020.
  3. Regional winners will be announced by February 29, 2020.
  4. National winners will be announced in April.

Volunteer of Excellence

The Nebraska 4-H Volunteer of Excellence Program is designed to complement the tradition of recognizing outstanding volunteers, provide guidance for volunteers to expand their leadership ability, educational opportunities and accomplishments, and reward their dedication to the 4-H program. This program allows volunteers to personalize their experience and select various levels that fit their needs, abilities, passion, and time.

4-H Partner Award

Volunteers will be recognized for taking steps to build a solid foundation for their service to 4-H. Through educational training opportunities and resources, they will become a dedicated partner with Nebraska 4-H. Volunteers may receive this award once every three years. Complete the following in the current year to achieve the 4-H Partner Award:

4-H Cornerstone Award

Volunteers will be recognized for establishing themselves as a cornerstone of the 4-H program. They must continually work to improve their role within the club, county, community and/or state and will be recognized for their ability to strengthen and grow the 4-H program. Volunteers may receive this award once every 3 years. Complete the following in the current year to achieve the 4-H Cornerstone Award:

4-H Innovator Award

Volunteers will be recognized for their implementation of new, innovative 4-H programs and/or activities through their volunteer service. An innovative 4-H volunteer may have the design to experiment with new approaches or services, develop new partnerships with other organizations, or find a unique solution to a community need, all in an effort to make the best better. Volunteers may receive this award every three years. Complete the following in the current year to achieve the 4-H Innovator Award: