MONTCALM TOWNSHIP — It all started with two fat, little pygmy goats, ‘Moo’ and ‘Oink.’
Seven years later, after learning to properly care for her two precious animal friends and so many others, Kennedy Cogswell has become a young leader of the local 4-H community.
On Saturday evening, she was awarded the Earl Peterson 4-H’er of the Year, the highest honor achievable in the Montcalm County 4-H program.
“I think it’s a symbol of leadership, and that’s my goal, to be a leader for the younger members of 4-H,” she said. “I was just super happy, it was really cool.”
Cogswell, 16, who will be a senior this fall at Lakeview High School and is a member of the Mixed Bag of Nuts 4-H club, was among six finalists this year for the award.
Montcalm County 4-H Council President Kim Thompson said each candidate was interviewed individually by a selection committee while completing an application portfolio, containing information about each person’s 4-H career, a personal story and photos.
“Being the Earl Peterson 4-H’er of the year is the top honor that a Montcalm County 4-H member can achieve,” she said. “Each person nominated for this award must have had at least three years of 4-H membership, exhibited growth in leadership and citizenship skills, and have good character.”
Thompson said all six candidates were very well qualified to be 4-H’er of the year, but in the end, the judges agreed that Cogswell stood out above the rest.
“Each person nominated is very special to our program and each person is duly qualified to be 4-H’er of the year, unfortunately only one person can receive this honor which makes the decision for the judges very difficult,” Thompson said.
Cogswell’s foam pillow project, in which she created more than 700 three-sided pillows for the elderly, helped her grow as a person, she said.
Cogswell spent Valentine’s Day of this year visiting various hospitals and nursing homes, handing out her pillows after having hosted a community sowing day to create the pillows.
“I tried to hand out as many of them individually as I could,” she said. “It was the most rewarding experience ever.”
Cogswell will continue to show goats, as she has since she first began her career in 4-H.
The other five candidates for 4-H’er of the year were 1st runner up Rory Eldridge, 2nd runner up Elizabeth Yelland, Heidi Terry, Jacob Homich, and Ericka Haag.