- Author: Jesenia Mendoza
On top of serving 4-H as a volunteer she is a nurse at the Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Facility, a mother to 2 4-H members, Bailey and Loomis, and a pet owner of a few animals including a turtle.
4-H has encouraged Sara to better herself. She mentions, “I'm actually pretty shy. I don't like speaking in front of people, I'm always afraid I'm going to mess something up! So when I start to worry about things like that, I think about what I would say to one of our youth members, and then I take a deep breath and go for it.” Sara is an inspiration to other volunteers.
Her work ethic and great sense of humor is contagious. When working with Sara, she is enthusiastic about everything she does. In 4-H, she is the go-to person and she usually has the answer to all questions.
Sara's decision to continue to volunteer for 4-H, is due to past volunteers. “When I realized that our organization is full of people who started out not knowing and learned as they went, I knew I could do it too. I was struck by how members and leaders shared a working relationship, building trust and camaraderie through their leader/member roles. I wanted to inspire kids the way my children's leaders were inspiring them! So that's what I try to do.” One of her wishes is to make Sonoma County 4-H more visible and enticing to more people. “I do my best to get the word out about this fantastic program, I tell anyone who will listen all about the amazing things it has to offer,”
One of her most memorable moments happened when “She recently received a letter in the mail from a young man who presented at County Presentation Day for the first time. I won't go in to details about the letter other than to say I was touched by his effort and the time he took to tell me what it meant to him. And his sweet letter, handwritten and hand-addressed coupled with seeing the pride on the faces of all the youth when they accomplish something through this program reminds me why I volunteer in 4-H. It's for the kids. They are our future, and our job (as I see it) is to support them in preparing themselves for it.”
Sara has worked hard to provide 4-H'ers “the best learn by doing environment” and we are grateful to have her as a volunteer. Thank you Sara!
- Author: Jesenia Mendoza
In her early years in Sonoma County, Mary was heavily influenced by Shirley Dempel. Shirley was great at inviting people to get involved and then making sure they were suitably placed and happy. That lead to serving on the County Council and even two terms as president. One year she was the All Star advisor, and also she was fortunate to serve as the State Diamond Star advisor. She was privileged to attend National 4-H Congress in Chicago as the Keith Barnes Award winner, which meant that she chaperoned 37 CA State 4-H record book winners as they joined with other state winners in their projects to share experiences and be honored. She was chosen to be the adult chaperone for the National 4-H Conference team in the mid-90s.
In her adventures outside the county Mary served in many offices on the Sectional Council, including president. She helped initiate CAL Conference and served as one of the advisors for many years. The final State 4-H Leaders' Forum was held in Santa Rosa in November, with Mary as the chair. One of her most meaningful memories occurred in the 1990s when Ruth Brinker asked to meet with some Sonoma County 4-Hers. Ruth was the founder of Open Hand, an organization in San Francisco that was founded at the height of the AIDS epidemic to provide meals and medical care to those who were in great need. She theorized that a 4-H child raising an animal for the fair could just raise a second one and donate it to their cause. However naive her thinking she presented it the assembled group. They agreed it was a fine cause and immediately became Project 4-H Lends A Hand. Families like the McMillan's, Miller's, Heartt's, Derickson's, Sanders, and many more, generously participated for over 5 years. Many hundreds of pounds of meat, fruit and vegetables were donated by Sonoma County 4-H families, as well as financial support from fund raising events. The project members received a letter of commendation from the Points of Light Foundation and a Declaration from the CA State Assembly recognizing the importance of helping the less fortunate.
Currently, Mary is the advisor for the County Wildlife Project which she has been doing for over 25 years. She is also one of the originators of the new CA 4-H Discussion Meet project. Once again a youth said, "Why can't we have Discussion Meet in 4-H?" And it just seemed so right to develop the Members' and Leaders' Guides, using the Farm Bureau's DM as a guide. She, and the state DM committee, will be sharing the materials at the Western Regional Leaders' Forum in Alberta, Canada in March. Next year when WRLF is held in CA there will be a western region contest with state winners convening in San Diego to determine the region winner. Such fun to explore possibilities.
Mary's Thoughts: The 4-H program offers many opportunities to expand personal involvement and peak new interests. You are encouraged to take advantage of them. It may mean travel' it may mean another meeting; it may mean stepping outside your comfort zone. Never stop learning and growing. It might mean that you serve on a state-wide committee, i.e. Use your knowledge and skills learned in your county Fashion Revue to further the State Fashion Revue. Your experiences and ideas are valuable so share them when you can. CA 4-H is going through major changes. Find a place to fit you and continue to be the best you can be. If we have learned anything in our volunteer adventures it is not about convenience. It is not about easy. It is not about the mundane. It is about the children. Open your heart, ask good questions, and hang on for a glorious ride.
- Author: Jesenia Mendoza
Naomi Edwards December Volunteer spotlight
With 5 children in 4-H, Naomi has dedicated many hours to 4-H. Her passion of being a mom and helping children achieve their goals has made her one of our most dedicated volunteers in 4-H. Her nomination stated “she is always helpful, willing to be flexible and happy to help.” And she is! Currently she is a project leader for Poultry, Rabbits, Photography, Baking and International studies program – where she provides resources on how to host children from across the world. The international studies project is new to 4-H but has been part of her life for years. “We host children from around the world all year long, it's our way of traveling the world without leaving our home”
On top of being a volunteer for projects, she volunteers for 4-H county committees. She is currently the chair for Fashion Revue Which she holds dear to her heart as it really embodies her idea of teaching 4-H members how to help the community. “last year we made pillows for cancer patients who had ports. It's a great way to show 4-H'ers how their work can benefit the community.” On top of all that she is involved in the Scholarships, I & R, Science field Day and Presentation Day.
She began as a volunteer in Steuben, when it was small, she enjoys small clubs because it has a family feel to it. She is now at Wild oak 4-H as a project leader and Co-community club leader.
Her most memorable moment of 4-H is the impact a volunteer (Mark Bush) had on her children, which then inspired her to broaden her skills as a volunteer. “My children and I wanted to do a poultry project but Steuben didn't have one, so we then crossed clubs to Gold Ridge where I met Mark Bush.” After learning much from Mark and guiding her to become a poultry leader, Naomi and her poultry group participated in a fair contest where both Steuben and Gold Ridge were participating. “We won, and the best part wasn't that we won it was what Mark did for us that made it the most rewarding” Naomi said with a huge smile. “Mark went up to the children and let them know how proud of them he was and to show them how proud he was, he gave them their very own chickens! The look on my child's face was worth all the hard work our family did in the poultry project.”
“4-H is a safe place to fail. It builds the confidence that many need.” Said Naomi, “it really helps children become leaders in our community, 4-H is not just for one type of person, it can really encompass anyone.” There are volunteers available to help children be whoever they want to be. Children can really grow in 4-H, thanks to volunteers like Naomi.
Naomi we are incredibly lucky to have you, you are helping the 4-H community grow. Thank you!
- Author: Jesenia Mendoza
Her history with 4-h started at the age of 9 at Bennett valley 4-H, as a child she fell in love with goats. Her parents, both 4-H volunteers, and members themselves as children, it is a family passion. “I started with Beef and dairy cows, but then I went to Redwood Hill and saw the baby goats.” That was it, she was hooked. “I went to 5 fairs a year minimum!” she truly enjoys raising goats. “As a child, I was way more reserved, 4-H helped me come out of my shell understand who I was and how I should project myself to the world.” Now she wants to provide that same service to children today. She has been a Dairy Goat leader for Green Valley 4-H for the last 4 years. She is a dedicated leader, “sometimes I will have a child call me to ask me goat questions, sometimes it's an easy question, sometimes I will need to go check out their goat.” The best part of being a goat leader is helping the kids reach their full potential. At one of her last fairs she remembers a young boy, who didn't believe in himself, he continued to say that showing was not his strength. Rebecca saw the potential in him, told him “you can do it, you can do great!” The member went into the show-ring with his goat and he won! He came running back to Rebecca with excitement and said, “I did it!” with a renewed confidence in his showmanship abilities. With Rebecca's help and enthusiasm he could be successful. The best part for Rebecca was seeing that he believed in himself and could do it.
As she prepares others to be great goat leaders, one of the leaders that helped her be successful was and still is Lisa Jack. One of her memories she was with Lisa is being at a fair and Lisa saw the way Rebecca was cleaning the goat's feet with a tooth brush, Lisa said, “that's going to take forever, here try this (a larger sponge)” she realized how much easier it was to clean goat's feet after that, “a life changing moment!” Lisa is encouraging and supportive which Rebecca strives to embody as well.
When she is not helping in 4-H she is taking care of her own goats, she has about 40. She enjoys reading, watching movies and baking. “I am a baker,” she said, if you have been in Rebecca's projects you probably have had one of her “mean cupcakes,” as she puts it. Rebecca is a recent graduate of Sonoma State University with a degree in anthropology. Although, her passion lies in helping children realize their potential. With her degree, she hopes to become a teacher.
Her hope is to lead the next generation of agriculturist. We think she is doing a fantastic job!
Rebecca, we sincerely thank you for your dedication and energy with 4-h. You are an amazing volunteer. We are very lucky to have you in our community. Thanks for helping 4-H members find their potential.
- Author: Jesenia Mendoza
Charlotte moved to Sonoma County in 1986, with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics from Chico State University. She worked in R & D at Flex Products and OCLI for many years. She also taught computer skills classes at several elementary schools. When she finds some spare time she enjoys gardening, playing with her dogs, and fixing up her Victorian home.
Charlotte is active in organizing Citizenship Weekend, chaperoning at Sonoma County 4-H Camp, and leading her club's dog and swine projects. In addition to serving as a project leader at the club level, she is the past Community Club Leader for Warm Springs 4-H. Her passion lies in helping 4-H members broaden their perspective of the world by encouraging them to attend 4-H youth conferences. She was raised in a remote area, so these conferences and travel opportunities helped her expand her horizons. She mentioned that one of her best moments was when she encouraged a 4-H member to attend State Leadership Conference. When he came back and met with Charlotte, he had the biggest smile on his face and thanked her for being a driving force in his decision to attend.
“It's very rewarding to be a volunteer for 4-H. Some of the nicest people are in 4-H; both kids and adults. The 4-H community is always there to help you. Someone always steps up to help in all situations, whether it's in 4-H or personal life.” This is a community she is proud to be included in. “I want to let people know that the sky is the limit with 4-H, it's not just about animals, it is about learning lifelong skills and finding your passion.”
Charlotte: Thanks for being a part of 4-H and helping youth find their spark!