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Foundation Announces 2024 Kent Lage Leadership Award winners

The Massachusetts 4-H Foundation has named its Kent Lage Leadership Award winners for 2024.

Margaret Turpel

Margaret Turpel of Topsfield is the first-place winner of the 2024 Kent Lage Leadership Award, winning a scholarship of $1,500.

Margaret will attend Southern Methodist University and major in Political Science, with the goal of becoming a lobbyist.  Margaret has already impressively authored legislation as she researched, outlined, and testified in support of H.447, An Act Relative to Supporting Student Participation in 4-H Programs.

Margaret has participated in National 4-H Conference, National 4-H Congress, and the Ignite Summit, after which she helped plan a “Day of Ag-Cess” in 2023 to combat food insecurity. Margaret has  demonstrated her leadership skills with the 4-H Ambassadors and as president of the Rabbit & Cavy Crusaders Club. She has also won many blue ribbons in Visual Presentations.

Outside of 4-H, Margaret was nominated by her school to participate in Girls State. After scoring higher than nearly 200 other girls in a bar exam, she served  as a public defender and won an election for state auditor. Margaret has also been actively involved in her church as a student leader.

Madelyn Germain

Madelyn Germain of Uxbridge is the second-place winner of the 2024 Kent Lage Leadership Award, earning a scholarship of $750. Madelyn, who is ranked first in her class at Norfolk County Agricultural High School (NCAHS), will matriculate at Western Colorado University, majoring in Environment & Sustainability.

Madelyn has served as the President of the Discovery 4-H Club. She won the top state award for her Visual Presentation for three years and served as a 4-H Ambassador. Madelyn also researched a community service project through Got Sneakers in which she organized a fundraiser for people to recycle their sneakers, then donated the proceeds to two different charities.

A talented runner, Madelyn has competed on both her school’s cross country and track teams. For cross country, she achieved first place in the Division 3A Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) championships and second place in the State’s MIAA division three championships. Madelyn has also been a part of NCAHS’s Peer Leadership Team and 2024 Class Council.

4-Hers Make a Difference for Food Insecurity

Hope and Faith Motta celebrate the Day of Ag-Cess in Berkshire County with a food drive.

How often does attending a national conference lead to true change? With 4-H, it does! In 2023, the Massachusetts 4-Hers who attended the 4-H Ignite Conference initiated a “Lead to Change” project to make a positive impact on their communities. The 4-H attendees recruited other members and organized a “Day of Ag-cess” on October 14, 2023 to combat food insecurity throughout the state.

The “Lead to Change” project enabled the youth conference delegates to incorporate what they learned at the conference into their projects. The Massachusetts 4-H delegates, including Faith Motta, 19, of Adams, Miru Kunst, 17, of West Boylston, and Harrison Sachs, 17, of Bedford, learned that food insecurity impacts 7% of the population. “One of the goals of our project was to educate adults and children about food insecurity,” explained Faith.

This concept expanded beyond the delegates to other 4-Hers . The group decided that each county would lead a project related to food insecurity with leaders or “captains.” In Berkshire County, Faith and her sister Hope led the youth in a food drive.

Harrison led Middlesex County along with co-captain Sam Jackson, 17, of Chelmsford. He contacted Boston Area Gleaners, a nonprofit that works with farms to donate their excess food to those in need. Middlesex County 4-Hers picked 2,200 apples – more than two tons- at Baker’s Farmstand in North Attleboro and donated what they collected to a food insecure population.

Picking apples at an orchard for the Day of Ag-Cess are (L to R): 4-H Educator Va Shon Wallace-Hiltpold, Delaney Smith, Sam Jackson, and Harrison Sachs.

Miru headed up the Norfolk County group for the Day of Ag-Cess and managed the event’s social media. “We ran a two-week food drive at the school (Norfolk County Agricultural High School),” Miru said. “I led our school in different shifts working in the (school’s) garden to harvest food. We really wanted to focus on fresh food, since that’s not something people can always get,” she explained. The youth also packed nonperishable goods, giving their donations to food pantries in Dedham, Norwood, and Walpole.

In Worcester County, Brooke Macjewski of Grafton captained an event at Waters Farm in Sutton. The youth ran a table to spread awareness of food insecurity and programs that help such as SNAP benefits. Participants were also able to plant seeds and learn the history of the farm.

Meg Riley, an Ag Extension Educator for Plymouth County, worked with youth on the Day of Ag-Cess.  They opened the farm at the Plymouth County Center for Agriculture so seniors could pick up food. 4-Hers performed similar outreach during a summer agricultural session, when they brought food to the senior center. “The seniors were super excited to hang out with the kids again. It was an opportunity to extend the relationship we already made,” said Meg. “The seniors were excited to see the farm that their vegetables were grown on.”

Nonperishables are organized by a junior American Literature class at the Norfolk Aggie. Pictured L to R are Norfolk County 4-Her Alison Palmer, Kiera Holmes, Aleena Zaferacopoulos, and Colleen Moritz.

The 4-H youth gained different takeaways from their Day of Ag-Cess experiences. Miru learned about the value of managing a large project. “I learned about management and food insecurity. There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution to this problem,” she said. “The best thing I learned is how much a community could get done in one day.” Harrison, meanwhile, saw the value of Boston Area Gleaners’ mission. “It was important to see how these organizations can work with farms to donate the surplus crops that otherwise would not have been harvested,” he said. “It helps people who are impacted by food insecurity.”

The Day of Ag-Cess’s influence extended far beyond October 14th. The youth also contributed information on food insecurity to the 4-H Educators’ curriculum. Back in Plymouth, Meg Riley and the 4-Hers plan to spend more time with seniors and grow vegetables for them again next summer.

Massachusetts 4-H Triumphs at the National Avian Bowl

The team of Zack, Margaret, and Claire perform at the Avian Bowl.

Raising chickens isn’t just for farmers anymore. Many people have taken the plunge and enjoy their own fresh eggs. But do these newbies understand all the finer points of raising chickens?

If not, they could consult with a 4-Her — ideally Zack Zawalski, 19, Claire Turpel, 17, or Margaret Turpel, 17, who traveled to Louisville, Kentucky in November 2023 to participate in the Avian Bowl at the National 4-H Poultry and Egg Conference.

According to team coach Debbie Seale, this was only the second time Massachusetts 4-H had competed in the Avian Bowl. After competing in 2019, 4-H’s poultry participation was thwarted both by COVID-19 and the 2021-22 Avian Flu.

To prepare for the Bowl, Zack, Claire, Margaret, and Debbie met via Zoom once or twice per week for five months. The three contestants divided up 75 pages of a manual to study. The content included information about eggs (“the egg-cyclopedia”), turkeys, cooking, and chicken breeds such as Jersey Giants and New Hampshire Reds.

The team practiced with quiz buzzers ahead of time, said Debbie. They increased their preparation time after the completion of the 2023 4-H fair Though learning the material itself was difficult, the most challenging part is that participants must phrase their answers exactly according to the manual’s wording, explained Debbie.

The trip to Louisville included sightseeing (the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory and Churchill Downs) as well as Bowl time. “It was fantastic,” said Zack. “It was the first time I went to the  grounds…it was huge.”

On Wednesday, all teams took a written test for seeding purposes in the competition. Zack, Claire, and Margaret were seeded eighth out of 15 teams.

In the first round the following day, Massachusetts 4-H defeated the #1 seeded Minnesota team.  “A team can be defeated twice before they are eliminated from the competition,” explained Debbie. “We made it quite a ways before we were eliminated. The kids returned very happy. They felt really good about it.”

The team achieved fifth place in the Bowl and were recognized at an evening banquet honoring the top six teams. The team received a bronze pin and a cash bonus.

The 2023 Massachusetts 4-H Avian Bowl team is flanked by former 4-H Animal Program Manager Carrie Sears and Team Coach Debbie Seale.

While the team gained poultry knowledge by participating in the Avian Bowl, they learned many other things. Zack said he learned how to work as a team member over Zoom. Claire cited the importance of preparation. “I learned a lot about different ways to study and what worked best for me,” she explained.

Margaret, meanwhile, came to understand the real-world applications behind poultry facts. “I learned about how important poultry is to our society as a whole, and how many people are employed by the poultry industry,” she explained. “That was a big lesson.”

Before competing in the Avian Bowl, Zack had participated in 4-H for 10 years. He initially joined a poultry club in Belchertown, then moved to the Seek ‘n Discover 4-H Club. Zack has participated in poultry shows. Since earning his high school diploma, Zack is working part time and taking classes at Greenfield Community College. In the future, he would like to own and operate a farm.

Claire has shown chickens and rabbits at the Topsfield Fair as a member of the Rabbit & Cavy 4-H Club, in which she has also served as an officer. A 4-H Ambassador, Claire has represented Massachusetts at National Conference and National Congress. Claire is a senior at Masconomet Regional High School and hopes to eventually work with athletes as a dietitian.

Margaret, also a senior at Masconomet, participates in the Rabbit & Cavy 4-H Club. With a focus on public speaking, Margaret has participated in Visual Presentations, National Conference, National Congress, and the Ignite Summit. Like Claire, she has served as a 4-H Ambassador. In 2023, Margaret approached her state representatives and advocated for Bill H.447, An Act Relative to Supporting Student Participation in 4-H Programs, which is currently locked in committee.  Margaret hopes to pursue a degree in political science next year.

As 4-Hers may only participate in the Avian Bowl once, this adds to the conference’s unique experience. “It made me appreciate 4-H,” said Margaret. “It has opened up new avenues and interests away from school. It was really fun.”

 

AgDiscovery Opens the Door to New Careers for 4-Hers

Havana is pictured first on the left with her AgDiscovery group.

Imagine having the opportunity to both travel and experiment with a potential career. This is what Havana, 14, of Lowell, and Harrison, 17, of Bedford, had the opportunity to do with AgDiscovery, a free program offered by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for teens to learn about agricultural careers at one of 21 colleges and universities throughout the country during the summer.

The application process for AgDiscovery is extensive, requiring an essay and three recommendations. While there are several AgDiscovery sites throughout the country, each applicant can only apply to one.

Havana spent two weeks in Tallahassee, FL in June 2023 learning about the veterinary profession. One of only 20 teens from across the country, Havana shadowed a veterinarian, participated in field trips to zoos and the University of Florida, and learned from USDA and APHIS (Animal Plant Health Inspection Service) speakers. “It was an amazing experience,” she said. “I recommend it to anyone.”

Havana believes that her AgDiscovery experience helped solidify her interest in veterinary medicine, and she would like to pursue a career as a mixed animal veterinarian (one who cares for both large and small animals).  “I knew I wanted to do something in agriculture but wasn’t sure which field I wanted to go into. Participating in AgDiscovery definitely helped me decide,” she explained.

Havana has shown beef cattle with the Black Walnut 4-H Club of Billerica, most recently at The Big E last fall. She  has also participated in veterinary science programs through 4-H. “4-H has been amazing,” said Havana. “I love animals so much, and I have been able to work with them in 4-H.”

Harrison is pictured second from the left.

Harrison has long known that he wanted to pursue a career in the field of agriculture. He was able to go after that dream while studying agriculture at the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Croix in July 2023 through the AgDiscovery program.

Harrison learned about agricultural practices along with a group from the Virgin Islands and the United States. The young people learned about tropical agriculture in different ways. They listened to speakers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and toured various farms, learning about St. Croix Hair Sheep and Senepol cattle, both native to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Harrison also learned about food systems in the Virgin Islands, where plants are grown in environments other than soil. The farms that the group toured operated aquaponic systems, in which plants grow from fish fecal matter, and hydroponic systems, which use a water-based nutrient system to grow plants.

Upon completing the AgDiscovery program, Harrison believed he had learned a lot. “I saw the differences between the Virgin Islands and here, and also the similarities with sustainable agriculture and how that will be important for the future,” he said.

Currently a senior in high school, Harrison has participated in 4-H since the 5th grade. He has been a member of three clubs: 4-H Famers Club of Bedford (of which he is currently President), Good Shepherd 4-H Club, and Black Walnut 4-H Club. Harrison has represented Massachusetts 4-H at

 

 

4-H STEAM Provides Teens with Professional Experience

Imanni Hayes’ involvement in the 4-H STEAM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Arts/Math) program set the stage for her future career aspirations, and this process started early for her.

Imanni joined the hands-on 4-H STEAM program in 7th grade. She began working as a youth leader in the program by 9th grade, helping to facilitate programs at local community centers, which she did throughout high school. She also helped to lead the STEM Ambassadors program during the summer. This program provides hands-on STEAM activities to underserved youth.

Imanni received practical benefits from the 4-H STEAM program and gained skills that she can use throughout her life. “When things don’t go according to plan, I learned how to go back and forth with people in a group, to learn how to fix problems,” said Imanni.

Imanni enjoyed the sense of community she gained from 4-H STEAM. “Having contact with Lauren and Liz (the 4-H Educator and Program Assistant, respectively) were vital at that point in time,” explained Imanni. “Coming from Springfield, I don’t get the experience to see Eastern Massachusetts that often…with 4-H STEAM, I had that chance.”

A Springfield native, Imanni is now a sophomore chemical engineering major at UMass-Amherst. She hopes to pursue a career as a formalist for a cosmetics or skincare company.

Like Imanni, Caleb Cannon, 18, also began in the 4-H STEAM program as a 7th grader. Caleb advanced quickly in the program. He started as a youth leader during his sophomore year in high school, instructing youth aged 5-13. He taught computer science to youth by using manipulatives like paper airplanes and also instructed the youth in Ozobots (coding robots).

  • In Caleb’s second year as a youth leader, he attended an international 4-H conference held in Utah, where he learned about 4-H’s partnership with Google. Caleb is thankful for the programs he was able to participate in due to 4-H STEAM, including the pre-college Explore UMass conference and The Big E. “I liked the opportunities that went with it (4-H STEAM),” said Caleb.

What Caleb enjoyed most was meeting new people and influencing others’ attitudes toward computer science. “You see people’s mindsets change about computer science. It’s a cool epiphany that they get,” he said.

Caleb, who attended Putnam Vocational Technical Academy in Springfield, would like to attend trade school in the future to become an electrician. He currently works as a Cable Technician for Pixel Health.

 

 

 

 

Massachusetts 4-H Foundation Achieves Platinum Transparency on Candid for 2024

For the second year in a row the Massachusetts 4-H Foundation received a Platinum Transparency rating from Candid. To achieve this rating, the highest given by Candid, the Foundation submitted information on its programs, grant making capabilities, financials, board demographics, strategy, and metrics.

The rating is a strong affirmation of the Foundation’s mission and a valuable indicator to its existing and potential donors and funders that the Foundation is operated with the highest level of transparency and integrity.

Candid was formed in 2019 by the merger of GuideStar and the Foundation Center. GuideStar was the leading database used by foundations and individual donors for information on and transparency ratings of over 2.7 million 501(c)(3) organizations, and the Foundation Center was the “go to” source for charitable organizations seeking information on over 155,000 grant makers.

Visit the Foundation’s Candid profile here.

Foundation Introduces New Grant Program

The Massachusetts 4-H Foundation is accepting proposals from clubs, advisories, and fairs for grants ranging from $1,000 to $3,000. The Foundation welcomes grant proposals in the areas of capacity building, general operating expenses, or equity and inclusion.

Proposals are due April 1, 2024.

For more information, Download the Request for Proposal

Mass 4-H Foundation Spring 2024 Grant Application FINAL 3-24

 

Three New Board Members Elected at Foundation’s Annual Meeting

The 68th Annual Meeting of the Corporators was held at the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife in Westboro on May 9. 2023 featured a slate of speakers from the Foundation and 4-H. This meeting represented the Foundation’s first in-person Annual Meeting in four years. There, the trustees, corporators, and invited guests:

  • Nominated new Trustees and Corporators for the 2023-24 year
  • Heard from Ashley Randle, MDAR Commissioner, Foundation Trustee, and 4-H alumna
  • Saw Steven Borgeson, the President of the Board of Trustees, present the annual Kent Lage Leadership Awards to two deserving graduating seniors, Hannah Swanson and Ella Griswold(link)
  • Enjoyed an inspiring visual presentation from 4-Her Susan Barrows
  • Learned about Massachusetts 4-H’s five-year plan from 4-H Interim Director Meg McDermott
  • The Foundation welcomed new trustees Billy McBride, Associate Director of Athletics – Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Amherst College and Jim Hicks, Chief of Police for the Town of Natick, as well as new corporator Kristiana Floss.

Trustees had the opportunity to see animal science and STEM 4-H clubs in action, with several clubs attending and demonstrating their skills, including the Upton Hoofbeats 4-H Club, Sutton Preservationists 4-H Club, Cottontails 4-H Club, Great Scott’s Rabbit & Cavy 4-H Club, and STEM Ambassadors from Holyoke and Springfield.

See you next year!

Giana Biagioni: Leading the Next Generation in Agriculture

In November 2022, Giana Biagioni of Littleton won the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmer & Rancher Collegiate Discussion Meet, earning a $300 prize and qualifying her for the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Collegiate Discussion Meet in Jacksonville, FL in March 2023.

As a Farm and Resource Management Major at Central Wyoming College, Giana learned of the state discussion meet from a professor while in class. She volunteered to participate. “I wanted to learn about current issues in the farm industry,” she explained.

The topics for the meet focused on current farming and ranching issues such as climate change and drone technology. Students gave opening statements, analyzed questions, and proposed solutions involving the Farm Bureau.

“Because I’ve grown up doing Visual Presentations and public speaking in 4-H, I didn’t find the discussion meet difficult,” said Giana. “It was fun to interact with other students my age.” Giana has also shown horses at the 4-H and county levels and participated in community service projects as a member of both the Littleton Hack and Tack and the Pepperell Trailblazers clubs.

After college, Giana hopes to pursue cattle ranching and produce beef cows. Another goal is to own a stock contracting company that would raise bulls and horses for rodeos. For now, she looks forward to the Collegiate Discussion Meet. “I am honored to represent Wyoming at the national competition in March,” she said. “I am very excited to discuss the future of agriculture with other young minds.”

 

Take Action for 4-H Youth!

The Bill that could be Law 

Margaret Turpel

Margaret Turpel from Essex County is a 4-H youth member who has gathered research and reached out to her representatives to file a bill that will put 4-H on equal footing with school sports and clubs. If this bill were passed into law, 4-H students will have the same consideration that student-athletes and club members get when absent for school-authorized activities such as games and field trips. Watch this video of Margaret talking about the bill here.  We are asking you to contact your state representative to be aware of the bill and to sign on as a co-sponsor. Keep reading to learn how you can take action now!

Why is this important? 

Share your story! The 4-H program is a local program that provides national opportunities. It is a research-based experience that includes mentors, hands-on projects, and meaningful leadership opportunities. In 4‑H programs, youth complete hands-on projects in areas like health, science, agriculture and civic engagement in a positive environment where they receive guidance from adult mentors and are encouraged to take on leadership roles. Kids experience 4‑H in every county and community in Massachusetts through in-school and after-school programs, school and community clubs and 4‑H camps. 

Take Action 

The most important outreach for this legislation will come from 4-H youth to their State Representatives. Exercise your ability to advocate and understand the legislative process. The best approach is for youth to personalize the draft letter below and share their projects, career development skills and knowledge gained from the 4-H program.  

Connect! 

To connect with your State Senate and House Representatives click through the link below and type in your home address: https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator.   

Also connect with the State Senate and House Representatives that are on the Joint Committee on Education: https://malegislature.gov/Committees/Detail/J14/192 

Follow the progress on this bill here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/193/HD651

 

You can use this draft language for your email or letter and add your own 4-H experience to your Representative:  

Dear Representative ________, 

I am contacting you to request that you co-sponsor House Docket 651 filed on 1/16/23 by Josh Cutler- (Pembroke) Plymouth District 6 and Paul Schmid- (Westport) Bristol District 8. 

If passed, this bill would give students participating in 4-H the same consideration that student-athletes and school club members get when absent for school-authorized activities such as games and field trips. 

Share 1-2 sentences about how the 4-H program has made an impact on you. You can also use some of the information below and edit it to share about the 4-H program.

Your support is important to me and the success of the 4-H program! Youth who participate in 4-H are provided incredible opportunities to put their education in action by participating in local and national trips like National 4-H Conference held annually in Washington, D.C, National 4-H Congress held annually in Atlanta, GA, National 4-H Horse Round Up, 4-H Agriculture Day at the Massachusetts State House, the Eastern States Exposition where they showcase their projects, and so much more.

Thank you! I appreciate your support! 

Sincerely, 

… 

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