Trufant teenager is 2012 4-H’er of the Year

By Lori Hansen • Last Updated 10:41 pm on Friday, June 29, 2012

4-H club members honored Saturday night include Kayla Burke, Above and Beyond award; Grace DeGelder, first runner-up; Heather Russell, second runner-up; and Mikalah Gribbell, 2012 Earl Peterson 4-H’er of the Year. — Daily News/Lori Hansen

GREENVILLE — The highest honor bestowed on a 4-H clubber in Montcalm County is the Earl Peterson 4-H’er of the Year award.

In a field of four contenders, Mikalah Gribbell, 16, of Trufant, came out on top to be named 4-H’er of the year at an awards ceremony Saturday night.

“To qualify, a clubber must fill out an application and prepare a portfolio for an interview with judges,” said Pat Dignum, area 4-H educator for five counties. “The judges will look at past participation awards, service and participation and the ability to promote 4-H to their club, county and state.”

Last year’s winner began the ceremony by handing out smaller awards, building the suspense among the four.

“This is the smallest number we have ever had and all four of the girls were very deserving,” said Dignum.

Gribbell, who will celebrate her 17th birthday next week, has participated in showing rabbits, forestry, small exhibits including photography and many other areas.

An upcoming senior at Northview High School through the School of Choice program, Gribbell conducted her 4-H’er of the Year interview via Skype while she was at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

“I don’t think I know of anything special about me over any of the other contestants,” said Gribbell, the daughter of Mark and Carol Gribbell. “All of the others were very deserving of the award, too.”

A member of the National Honor Society and the crew team, Gribbell says her experience in 4-H has helped build a strong work ethic.

“I think other kids at school see that,” said Gribbell, a member of the Country Cruisers 4-H Club. “I try to be a role model for 4-H outside of club too.”

Responsibilities with the award include promoting the club throughout the week and attending several events at the fairgrounds.

Kayla Burke, 19, received the Above and Beyond award. She has shown swine, horses and one still exhibit during fair week in past years. She is a member of the Barbed Wire and Roses Club. She is the daughter of Dave and RaeAnn Burke of Greenville.

Heather Russell, 18, a recent graduate of Central Montcalm High School, placed second runner-up. The daughter of Tony and Roxanne Russell has also shown pigs, goats, rabbits and participated in other areas through the Mixed Bag Of Nuts Club.

Chosen as the first runner-up, Grace DeGelder, of Barbed Wire and Roses group, is 16 and has been involved with 4-H for nine years. The daughter of Kathy and Jack DeGelder of Greenville, she has shown a large variety of animals and has done many other projects.

Correspondent Lori Hansen is a Greenville-area resident.

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