Nicollet County 4-H gathered on the Nicollet County Fairgrounds on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, to celebrate the 4-H year and award the Nicollet County 4-H Annual Awards for Outstanding 4-H Youth Leader, Outstanding 4-H Adult Leader, 4-H Alumni and Friends of 4-H.

Nicollet County 4-H is proud to honor the following individuals and organizations for their outstanding contributions to Nicollet County 4-H during the 2019-2020 4-H year.

Outstanding Youth Leader Award

The Outstanding Youth Leader Award is given to a 4-H member who is a role model and leader to others. We have so many outstanding youth leaders, but this individual has shown exceptional leadership in 4-H in the 2019-2020 4-H year.

Brooke Aschenbrenner received the Outstanding 4-H Youth Leader Award. Brooke preserved through COVID-19 cancellation and modification to stay involved and carry out her commitments. She completed camp counselor training, even when it went from in-person to virtual and even when camp itself was cancelled. She fulfilled her role as an Nicollet County 4-H Ambassador and Federation leader, and attended County Extension Committee meetings (mostly by zoom) to report on 4-H. She led the horse project and was motivated to make critical decisions and new plans to make sure youth in the horse project had 4-H opportunities this year. This meant heading up weekly practices and planning the annual fun show, despite the additional work of ensuring safety protocols.

Outstanding 4-H Adult Leader Award

The Outstanding 4-H Adult Leader Award shines a light on one volunteer who has been an exceptional leader this past year. Leadership is hard work, especially in hard times. This year, we broke from tradition to recognize several adults who led us through this exceptional year of the COVID pandemic.

Amy Pehrson, Rob Moline, and Jeremy Soost were recognized as Outstanding 4-H Adult Leaders for their role as the lead team for the 4-H livestock showcases. They oversaw the planning, operation, and fundraising of seven livestock shows over the course of three days in cooperation with the lead team from Blue Earth County 4-H. Leadership is an action, not a position, and this team showed us what that meant.

Angie James was recognized as an Outstanding 4-H Adult Leader for her role as club leader of the North Kato Explorers 4-H Club. Because of her consistent education and leadership in this difficult year, the North Kato Explorers youth stuck with their passion projects and submitted the majority of general project exhibits in the 4-H virtual showcase. She also trains 4-H parents how to be club leaders and has been key in establishing a rotating adult leadership model in the club.

The 4-H Alumni Award

The 4-H Alumni Award is given to an individual who has experienced the value of the 4-H program in any county and dedicated their time and talents to give back to the program in a meaningful way this year.

Pat Pehrson was honored for his deep commitment and lifetime dedication to the 4-H program. Pat was a member of the Lake Prairie 4-H Club in Nicollet County, is the proud parent of three Norseland 4-H Club graduates, has been a volunteer and project leader for 4-H, has chaperoned 4-H youth at the State Fair many times, and is a liaison on the Nicollet County Fair Board to the 4-H program. This year he was not only willing but excited to find a way for 4-H members to exhibit their livestock. Without his leadership, the 2020 4-H livestock shows would not have been possible.

The Friend of 4-H Awards

The Friend of 4-H Award is given to an individual, family, group or business who has fostered a deep friendship with Nicollet County 4-H. We have many friends, and this year we really needed them. This year, Nicollet County 4-H honored three organizations for their support in helping Nicollet County 4-H host their own livestock showcases after the Nicollet County Fair was cancelled.

The Farm City Hub Club made an early financial money and filled many of the volunteers roles required to safely host in-person livestock shows during the pandemic and without a fair.

When the Tri-County Fair Board made the difficult decision to cancel their Tri-County Fair, they turned all of their attention to help create the 4-H showcase. They called on their sponsors to support Nicollet and Blue Earth 4-H and raised nearly $9,000 to keep the 4-H programs strong all year long.

Nicollet County Fairboard was recognized for its longstanding support of Nicollet County 4-H. This year 4-H’ers learned that showcasing exhibits, whether they are animals or projects, is a lot more fun when there is a fair. 4-H recognized all the ways the fairboard supports 4-H in a usual year and their continued support this year--even when the fair was cancelled--to help 4-H host their own livestock shows at the fairgrounds.

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