Webster County 4-H held its annual awards banquet Sunday at the Best Western Starlite Village Inn and Suites to recognize achievements of its volunteers and members.
As always, the kids played an important role in the proceedings. The County Council helped in planning and leading the event.
"We're the County Council. We meet once a month," said Nolan Mitchell, of the Washington Winners 4-H club. "We organize it."
Olivia Mitchell, left, of the Washington Winners 4-H Club, receives her Junior Achievement Award and Officer award for Photographer from Sharon Mitchell and JoAnn Lennon, the club’s leaders. Lennon later received an award herself, and was made an honorary 4-H member in appreciation of her service.
The council members serving as co-hosts for the night were Ica McMahon, of the Badger Builders, and Stephanie Martin of the Nifty Newark. They said organizing the banquet wasn't too challenging because of all the help from County Youth Coordinator Linda Cline.
"I helped write the script, and I helped Linda coordinate everything we're going to do," said McMahon. "I thought it would be really hard, but Linda's been there to help us, so that made it a lot easier. So it wasn't too difficult."
"We helped out. We chose who would do what," Martin said.
Other 4-H'ers took photos of the event for 4-H publications.
"Linda had me take pictures for the banquet because I had pictures that went to the State Fair," said Cole Davis, a member of the Fort Dodge Falcons.
Members of the council introduced the 15 clubs in Webster County and read ways they used their head, hands, heart and health to help the community, such as bell-ringing for the Salvation Army, collecting donations to the Beacon of Hope men's shelter or building a cat tree for the Almost Home Animal Shelter.
First the achievement awards and outstanding officer awards were given out, followed by county awards and scholarships.
Cline said close to 200 kids received awards, and around 275 people were in attendance at the banquet.
Volunteers who helped run the clubs were also honored.
Some volunteers have been active for more than 35 years, Cline said, providing help in whatever programs need it.
"I have over 100 volunteers in the Webster County 4-H program," she said. "By coming to the meal, that's their thank-you from the 4-H program for volunteering their time, for being a club leader, for working with the horse project kids, or whatever we need them for."
Three alumni awards were presented to former 4-H members who now help out with clubs or projects. Two volunteers who were never club members were also named honorary members in honor of their service.
One volunteer recognized was JoAnn Lennon, one of three leaders of the Washington Winners.
Lennon said she's been a leader for about four or five years, but has attended the banquet many more times.
"It's probably 19 years I've been coming for my kids," Lennon said. "I had five kids in 4-H."
Her job often isn't too hard; she just has to plan monthly meetings and make sure the kids get their projects done, and know about all their opportunities in 4-H.
"It doesn't take a major time commitment every day, but when you get busy, especially around fair time, it can get pretty hectic," she said.
Asked if she'd receive an award herself, Lennon said no.
"I just stand up there and give our kids the junior achievement or the senior achievement awards, or the officer awards," she said.
It wasn't until near the end of the evening Lennon found out she had been selected as an honorary 4-H member.
Lennon was never in 4-H herself, but said it's been a wonderful experience for her own kids.
"The leadership, the communications, just the citizenship they have learned. They've all received scholarships through 4-H, they've all gone on major trips, which they never would have. They just have gained so many lifelong friends."