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CALS Weekly

2024 North Carolina 4-H Alumni Honored

4-H Awards 2024

The 2024 North Carolina 4-H Alumni Award winners will be honored on Saturday, April 27, in the McKimmon Center at North Carolina State University.

The achievements and service of 4-H Alumni Award recipients exemplify 4-H’s mission of “Making the Best Better,” living out the mission of 4-H and creating a legacy of excellence within the organization. They advocate, represent and support the leaders of tomorrow – shaping the lives of young people now and in the future.

Lifetime Achievement

This award recognizes outstanding 4-H program staff, 4-H alumni and 4-H donors for their valuable contributions to successful program initiatives across the state. Through their efforts, these winners have improved the reach of 4-H by participating in programs, providing support, volunteering and networking on behalf of 4-H.

Ernestine Alston (Guilford County)-. In Guilford County, Ernestine Alston has been an active 4-H volunteer from 1981 through 2024. During this time, she served the organization with loyalty, honor and distinction by working tirelessly with 4-H members and families to promote 4-H throughout the county. 4-H is extremely important in her life. Miss Ernestine’s philosophy statement includes how important working with youth is to her: “It is ‘Learning By Doing’ because it enhances motivation and self-esteem in our youth today.” She loves teaching youth life skill curriculums, such as public speaking, presentations and fashion revue. Miss Ernestine has not only contributed to creating excellent experiences for youth but has also served in several capacities on the county, district and state levels that allow her to advocate for underserved youth across North Carolina.  

Frank Meador (Rockingham County)- The Meador Family is synonymous with the 4-H Electric Program in North Carolina. From the club to the state level, you will always find Mr. Frank in attendance at 4-H Electric Congress as a volunteer with Rockingham County. Frank has helped foster his family’s love for 4-H through three generations of service and leadership. Frank and his late wife, Leola, continuously advocated for youth and encouraged them to participate in new activities and document them in their presentations and record books. Their 4-H club has been led by the Meador family for several generations. The Frank and Leola Meador Electric Endowment was created by the family to support 4-Hers on their quest to learn more about STEM and participate in the Electric Program on the local and state levels.

Mike Davis (Guilford County)– Dr. Mike Davis is an Honor Club 4-H’er and served as Associate State 4-H leader for 10 years before becoming the NC 4-H State Program Leader from 1995 to 2001. His work in this role was integral in the opening of the Eastern 4-H Center, launching the State 4-H Gala as a successful fund development model and leading teams of superlative 4-H professionals to expand professional development and grantsmanship opportunities reaching diverse audiences through innovative program delivery strategies. He served as chair of the National 4-H Strategic Development Council. His 4-H philanthropy continues to support agent and volunteer excellence and youth recognition through the 4-H awards program. At the university, Dr. Davis served as an administrator with University Extension and Engagement (now known as NC State Extension) and as the founding director of the Shelton Leadership Center at NC State. He continues to coordinate youth development internship programs in his community and is an entrepreneur engaged in environmental sustainability.

Partners Award

This award honors individuals or organizations who have provided impactful philanthropic support to the North Carolina 4-H program.

Moore County Farm Bureau- In 2022, the Moore County 4-H Extension agent reached out to Moore County Farm Bureau seeking sponsorship of the upcoming 4-H Livestock Show. In response, the Moore County Farm Bureau Board and insurance agents contributed more than $3,000 to cover the cost of premiums, ribbons, grand and reserve champion awards, and judges’ fees. Without this support, the event would not have been held. Over the past two years, Moore County Farm Bureau donated more than $6,000 in premiums awarded to over 100 youth. 4-H members across 12 counties in central North Carolina, including Moore County, showed beef steers and heifers and goat does and wethers at the event. Livestock shows teach youth life skills through hands-on, experiential learning, as well as time management, animal husbandry, independence and more. Moore County Farm Bureau impacted the lives of these 4-H members by providing the opportunity to grow the life skills needed to be active, contributing members of their communities as adults. The organization continued its support of Moore County 4-H by attending the livestock show, encouraging youth participants and donating bottled water for show participants and families, which the Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers group handed out during the event. Moore County Farm Bureau is a committed supporter of NC 4-H, actively contributing to youth development in the state.

Family Legacy

This award is presented to multigenerational families who have made a lasting and significant impact on the North Carolina 4-H community.

Shutt Family-  Dorothy Freeman met Gene Shutt at Millstone 4-H Camp in the summer of 1979. Dorothy was a longtime 4-Her and had worked at camp for several summers before that.   In May 1980, Dorothy and Gene got married on the rocks at the camp. Gene began his professional career at Millstone as the Camp Caretaker and rose to become the Center Director. Both Gene and Dorothy served Millstone in many capacities for 27 years. Their children, Ben and Forrest, grew up at Millstone doing every camp chore imaginable and eventually taught classes when other staff members were unavailable. Ben created and currently maintains the North Carolina 4-H History and Learning Center website. Forrest and his wife, Jessica, worked together at Millstone and served as camp counselors, program directors and summer camp directors. The whole family worked hard to help establish camps for teens and military kids, such as 4-H Teen Camp, Operation Purple, Camp Corral and OMK. Gene was instrumental in the advancement of North Carolina’s nationally acclaimed 4-H Shooting Sports program, hosting many 4-H Shooting Sports instructor trainings, as well as district and state tournaments both for 4-H and the NC Wildlife Resources Division. Gene and Dorothy continue to serve North Carolina 4-H as members of the Millstone 4-H Camp Advisory Committee and on the NC 4-H History and Learning Center Committee.

Hall of Fame

This award recognizes 4-H volunteers, Extension professionals, staff, employees, donors and others who have made a significant impact on the 4-H program and/or 4-H members through the contribution of time, energy, financial resources and more at the local or state level.

Billie-Jo Waelz (Gaston County)- Billie-Jo (BJ) Waelz has been a club leader and volunteer for the Blazing Saddles 4-H club for more than 10 years. She has encouraged and, with some things, even required her youth members to participate in leadership roles, presentations, project record books and portfolios. She is supportive of all the members as she is present at as many of their events as possible and celebrates their successes. Her club participates in multiple community service projects every year, including, but not limited to, providing horse shows and Valentine’s Day cards to nursing home residents, collecting and donating food to local food pantries and hosting a toy drive for youth in need during the holidays. Additionally, her club was the only one in the county to survive COVID-19. Her dedication and ability to think outside the box have created a club that thrived and grew during the period all other clubs dissolved. Her club was also able to continue and participate in many district and state events when there was no 4-H agent in the county. She is the ultimate volunteer – what every county hopes to have – and has been instrumental to the youth of NC 4-H. 

Tammy Kelly (Lenoir County): Tammy Kelly joined her local 4-H Club in Carteret County when she was 9 years old and has been actively involved in NC 4-H ever since. She compiled an impressive record of achievement as a 4-H’er, including being elected as a district and state 4-H Council officer, being inducted into the North Carolina 4-H Honor Club and serving as an active member of NC State Collegiate 4-H Club. Beginning her career with Cooperative Extension as a 4-H Agent in Franklin County in 1988, Tammy spent 15 years building a balanced 4-H program that involved hundreds of youths annually. In 2003, Tammy was named Lenoir County Extension Director and has since spent 20 years growing a premiere educational program in southeastern NC. After the floods of Hurricane Matthew destroyed the Lenoir County Cooperative Extension Center and the Lenoir County Livestock Arena in 2016, Tammy mounted a campaign to rebuild both facilities. Today, they serve as regional and community centers of cooperative Extension programming. For more than 35 years, Tammy Kelly has been a leader in NC Cooperative Extension and 4-H.

Theresa Clark (Durham County)– Theresa Turner Clark began her professional career with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in 1975 as an agent with dual responsibilities in 4-H and Home Economics in Chowan County. In 1987, under the 1862 program of North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Theresa Clark became the first Black 4-H agent hired in Durham County to lead the 4-H program. She retired in 2007 from North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Durham County, where she served in the following positions: 4-H Agent, Family and Consumer Science Agent and Interim Director of the Durham County Cooperative Extension Service. Theresa always took the opportunity to work hand in hand with those that she served to lead by example and encourage participation. However, she found it rewarding to pass the baton to 4-Hers and volunteers who had developed skills and knowledge to enrich not only their lives but that of others, too. This act was one of her greatest accomplishments.

Sarah Dietrich (Wake County)– Sarah Dietrich focuses her life around service to make the best better. Starting at a young age, Sarah was heavily involved in 4-H, Girl Scouts, church and with her community and family while growing up in Union County. Sarah presently has more than 55 years of involvement with NC 4-H. As a youth, Sarah showed livestock for years and earned the title of Union County Champion with her prized black Angus steer. At the same time, Sarah participated in presentations in the Home Environment, Electricity and American Business fields and completed yearly cumulative record books. Over her impressive 4-H career, she was a state presentation winner in all three areas, a District and State Officer and a National cumulative project book winner, earning a trip to the National 4-H Congress held in Chicago, Illinois. The highlight was her induction into the NC 4-H Honor Club in 1977. As an adult, Sarah was a parent volunteer with Raleigh Rangers 4-H Club (20 years), a Wake County Horticulture Club volunteer (20 years), NC 4-H Honor Club treasurer and now serves as NC 4-H Honor Club chief financial officer. Sarah and her husband, Geoff, raised two daughters who followed in their parent’s footsteps as active 4-H’ers. Both daughters are NC 4-H Honor Club members, inducted in 2007 and 2013. Sarah earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Master of Science in Management from NC State. Sarah had a successful career as an MIS manager with SAS Institute. In retirement, she continues to stay busy with family, her church, growing wheat, corn and soybeans on their farm, sharing her passion for agriculture with others, mentoring Girl Scouts and serving as a fundraising coordinator for youth who want to travel internationally. Sarah has the head, heart, hands and health to help others and a determination to do her best.

Kim Nead (Carteret County)- Kim Nead has been no stranger to the North Carolina 4-H Program for many years. In the early 1990s, two of her three young children were involved in a 4-H horse club in the next county over. It didn’t take long before Kim felt called to start her 4-H club in her town. In 1996, Kim and her husband, Russell, began the Newport Roadrunners 4-H Club in Carteret County. Kim’s goal with the Newport Roadrunners 4-H Club was to help local youth learn leadership, citizenship and community service and grow in whichever 4-H projects they were interested in. Kim served as the main leader of the Newport Roadrunners 4-H Club for 27 years. Kim has completed all levels of Master Volunteer Leader Training. Her efforts as a volunteer leader have been successful, and she has been recognized with the following: 1999 State Volunteer Leadership Team Award along with her husband Russell; 2018 Carteret County Outstanding Volunteer; 2018 SE District Individual Volunteer Leader Award; 2021 State Individual 4-H Volunteer Recognition; and inducted into the Achievement Hall in 4-H Leadership in 2024.

Jacqueline Roseboro (Columbus County) –  Jacqueline Roseboro began her career in Extension as the Columbus County 4-H agent in 1974 and then served as the Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) agent before rising to the County Extension Director role in 1995. She helped local youth perfect their sewing skills and demonstrations for District Activity Day and state presentations at 4-H Congress and aided members in preparation for the fashion reviews. With encouragement and support, she was a driving force in 4-H members having the opportunity to attend the National 4-H Congress as state clothing record book winners. Jacqueline continuously pushed individuals outside of their comfort zones and toward success. She has received several local, area, state and national awards for her commitment to 4-H and Youth Development. 

Crystal Smith (Warren County)- Crystal Smith worked diligently for more than 30 years in Youth Development and recently retired as a County Extension Director in Warren County. Her career began as a 4-H Program Assistant in Franklin County before she transitioned to 4-H Agent in Warren and Granville counties. She was promoted to County Extension Director in Hertford County before moving back to Warren. During her tenure, she held many officer positions in her 4-H Agents Association, both district and state. She was dedicated to the mission of Extension, and helping people was what she thrived to do. She coached team members, secured and increased county funding contributions, secured grants to support local programming needs and increased 4-H enrollment. As a result of her impact on Warren County and with the support of local government funding, she secured 100% county support for a first-ever full-time 4-H Program Assistant. Crystal was instrumental in managing and creating new opportunities through her grant-writing initiatives, which totaled more than $3 million.

Fred Bass Jr. (Wilson County)- Fred Bass Jr. is a person who personifies the meaning of being a lifetime 4-H’er in North Carolina. Following in the footsteps of his father, Fred Bass Sr., he became a dedicated 4-H’er participating in livestock projects, project record work and leadership events at the county to national levels. He attended the National 4-H Congress in Chicago and was inducted into the NC 4-H Honor Club. However, Fred’s dedication to 4-H shines even brighter through his role as a club leader, volunteer, parent and grandparent, tirelessly supporting his family and their love of the 4-H program. His wife, Annette, and he were second-generation club leaders of the Lucama 4-H Club and led the Wilson County 4-H Volunteer Leaders Association. Fred also served on the Wilson County Livestock Board and as a volunteer chaperone for the National 4-H Congress. Currently, Fred works with the Wilson County Shooting Sports Club to provide a club meeting location and shooting range and is a staunch supporter of the 4-H Livestock Program.

Mark Dearmon (Wake County)-  Mark Dearmon was one of the founders of the North Carolina 4-H Performing Arts Troupe in 1982 and has been the driving force behind the 4-H Entertains Competition since 1992. Mark uses his talents in communications to help 4-Hers reach their potential through their artistic talents. His mentorship and dedication to showcasing 4-Hers and his passion for youth development is unmatched. Mark is a staunch advocate for 4-Hers in the arts and has given countless hours to help mentor 4-Hers and foster their talents. Mark is retired from NC State and has been a phenomenal resource to help tell the 4-H story for more than 40 years.

Russell Murray (Johnston County)– In the late 1950s, Russel Murray and Rebecca Parker met at Millstone 4-H Camp. They would go on to get married and raise three sons, and throughout, 4-H was the catalyst for the driving force in their service to North Carolina youth. As an NC 4-H Honor Club member, Rebecca began a reception in 1976 for newly tapped 4-H Honor Club members at 4-H Congress. After her passing in 2011, the North Carolina 4-H Honor Club named the reception in her honor, and Russell has continued to support it through donations. Both Russell and Rebecca were charter members and served on the board of directors of the Johnston County 4-H Alumni Association, and Russell was appointed a lifetime board member in 2015. They established two endowments through NC 4-H: the Monroe and Ina W. Parker Scholarship with the Johnston County 4-H Program, which provides funds to support 4-H Congress, and the John Russell and Rebecca Parker Murray 4-H Achievement Endowment through the North Carolina 4-H Foundation. At last year’s Honor Club reception, Russell was recognized by Honor Club President Becky Caison for his continuing support, friendship and attendance each year. He encouraged the new Honor Club members to pursue their goals, nurture their 4-H friendships and make their service to 4-H a lifelong investment. 

Pamela Outen (Cabarrus County) – Pamela Cordell Outen has impacted the lives of tens of thousands of young people over her 52-year career with North Carolina Cooperative Extension.  She started as a trainee agent in Union County in 1972, where she fell in love with the 4-H program. She planned to teach home economics, but after the trainee experience, she knew Extension would be her choice. After graduation, she joined the Rowan County staff in 1973 and then Cabarrus County in 1979 and has created an extensive legacy of success stories. Her energy, enthusiasm and dedication have resulted in state-, regional- and national-winning 4-H’ers and a county 4-H program envied across the entire state. Pam’s collaborative spirit helped to forge a powerhouse 4-H team in Cabarrus County in the 1980s and 1990s. Even when she transitioned to full family consumer science work, Pam continued to provide outstanding food and nutrition programs to youth and trained Extension & Community Association volunteers to extend that reach. Pam’s 4-H’ers have produced children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren that still bleed 4-H green! 

Full Circle Alumni

This award is presented to a 4-H alumnus or alumna who gives back to the 4-H program, ideally making an impact as a volunteer or Extension professional.

Lily Knepp (Forsyth County)- Lily Knepp is a Forsyth County 4-H alumna who gives back to the program that helped her get her start in outdoor education. Formerly, as a park technician and environmental educator at Pilot Mountain State Park, hands-on education was a vital part of her job. She used her knowledge and skills to help 4-H members prepare for Forestry and Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program (WHEP) competitions and educated them at 4-H club meetings. As a new assistant county ranger for the North Carolina Forest Service, she continues to be willing to help 4-H whenever asked.

Young Alumni 

This award is presented to 4-H alumni under the age of 30 who has transitioned from a 4-H member to an outstanding volunteer or Extension professional.

Luz Canseco (Lee County)- Luz Canseco has been an NC 4-H volunteer for nine years and is the volunteer leader for Al Ritmo de Mi Tierra 4-H Club, which roughly translates to “the rhythm of my land.” Luz graduated from the Magetsi 4-H Dance Club and wanted to be sure future youths had the same opportunities she enjoyed as a 4-H member. While attending college, Luz opened ARdMT to share Latin American Culture with club members through the arts; dance, music, crafts and art. She has built a strong youth leadership team that learns about Latin celebrations and festivals. She currently serves as the South Central District Volunteer Association President for 2020-2025.

Outstanding Citizen Alumni

This award is presented to a 4-H alumnus or alumna who has used the knowledge and skills gained through 4-H to make an impact on the greater community.

Amber Nead Davis (Carteret County)- Amber Davis (née Nead) was a Carteret County 4-H member from 1996-2009. Amber was involved in many areas of 4-H, including showing horses and livestock, presentations, leadership and service. Amber was tapped into the NC 4-H Honor Club in 2007. Amber remained involved in 4-H at the collegiate level at NC State University, where she graduated in 2012. After graduation, Amber worked for Cooperative Extension for three years and then became an agriculture teacher for seven years. Amber now works for the National FFA Organization. She remains involved in 4-H as a volunteer and with her daughter, Oakley, who is a cloverbud. member of her community.