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Morgan Ernsbarger receives 4-H Community Service Award

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Last Saturday night the 4-H Recognition Night was held as the conclusion of National 4-H Week. Several awards were presented to members and leaders for their accomplishments. One of the awards presented was the Leonard Ernsbarger Community Service Award.

There are several 4-H members putting a lot of effort into community service. It was my honor to present the award Saturday night to my granddaughter, Morgan Ernsbarger. Selection of this award is done by a committee and I was not aware she had been selected until just prior to the recognition night.

It has meant a lot to me for this award to be presented in my name as an honor to me. When it was established, little did I realize that a granddaughter would become a recipient, which happened this year.

This award is presented to a 4-H member, 10-years-old and older, who best exemplifies the HANDS and HEART portion of the 4-H pledge. These young people are self-motivated and have given of themselves in volunteering to help others throughout the county. They have demonstrated leadership and citizenship, and they contribute to the group effort of making a difference in the community. The selection of the winner is based on 75 percent for community service and 25 percent on leadership. A $50 Savings Bond and a traveling plaque are awarded annually.

There are several reasons this award is special to me. 4-H members awarded this recognition, as well as those making applications for the award, have already gained a lot through their service to the community and in leadership. As many of you are aware, one of my personal, special interests is community service. These young people are making great contributions to the community.

This year's recipient is 14 years old and a member of Lone Star 4-H. Morgan said in her application for the award, "The 4-H pledge says 'hands to larger service,' which is really what 4-H is all about." She has done a number of things related to community service, some I had forgotten about until reminded and some I never did know about.

Her opinion is that community service comes in many different forms. She has helped her church by donating crafts and baked goods to the Bazaar and by volunteering as a leader and cheerleading coach to the Children's Ministry. Morgan has also helped Adopt a Family at Christmas and help pick out and purchase gifts for a needy family. She has made candy for the community blood drives and the chocolate sale for the Moss House.

Several years ago, Morgan grew her hair to donate to Locks for Love. Further, she has participated in various food and clothing drives.

She has helped in many community service projects with 4-H. This year, Lone Star chose the Nevada Recycling Center. For this project, the group volunteered at the center and offered people help to bring in their recyclables. Morgan said, "It was great to see their surprised and happy reactions to this assistance. And now, (along with my sister) I have motivated my family into recycling more, which ultimately not only helps our community, but our world."

Morgan helped the Lone Star 4-H Club ring bells and volunteered for the Salvation Army shopping spree. She said, "Christmas time is a perfect opportunity to be thankful for what you have while helping others who are less fortunate."

Through the local Teen Council, she volunteered at the booth for United Way at Oktoberfest. They set up a game, encouraged participation and gave out prizes promoting 4-H. Morgan also helped make Boo-boo bunnies and Easter care packages that were donated to Children's Mercy.

After attending 4-H events like the Teen Conference and the Energizer, she came up with ways to help people from across the world. One workshop posed the question of how to use a 4-H project to help others -- which prompted her to coordinate a bake sale following the devastating Haiti earthquake. Baked goods from her local and state fair winning recipes were featured for purchase, with all proceeds going directly to the United Methodist Committee on Relief. The bake sale brought in $565.00.

At a Difference Makers workshop she learned about the OshKosh Cranes for Kids program, where the company pledged to send an item of clothing after the tsunami in Japan for every origami crane they collected. Not only did she participate at the workshop, she brought this idea home, started folding paper squares into birds and taught others in her 4-H club and church. Two boxes with over 300 cranes were filled and delivered.

One of the things she has done recently, which I was not aware of, is volunteering as a baby sitter at the Moss House as part of her child development experience.

Morgan says that the most meaningful project she did this year was reinstating Hearts-n-Hands ... We Can! This idea is based on Carol Parmentor's Special Kids -- Special Animals, an interactive tour of the fair for children with special needs. This project involved presenting the idea to the fair board, making flyers and getting sponsors, planning and organizing the event, and ultimately, actually working with the special need kids.

"This was an awesome and rewarding project, which also gave me valuable experience. In the future, I hope to continue improving this event and eventually get a B.S. in education and one day work with children with special abilities," she said.

Morgan concluded her entry by saying, "Through these projects, I have been able to show my heart by using my hands to give and work for others. I plan to continue ... be an active member of my community all my life. Service to the community benefits us all and makes it a better place. It is a powerful way of putting the 4-H pledge into action and truly making a difference."

The applicant is allowed only one page to tell their story, so only a portion of things can be included. Leadership counts 25 percent for the award. Other experiences of leadership were not included. She has held offices in her local club, including serving as president. She served as a junior council member on the county 4-H council. She is a freshman at Nevada High School and is one of the varsity cheer leaders as well as a flag girl with the marching band.

Morgan demonstrates the talent of 4-H members. I continue to be amazed on what the recipients of this award accomplished.

Congratulations go to Morgan Ernsbarger for receiving the Leonard Ernsbarger Community Service Award.

Leonard Ernsbarger
Leonard At Large