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MADISON - Wisconsin 4-H Youth Development inducted 15 staff, volunteers and supports into its Hall of Fame at Green Lake Conference Center on Nov. 4.

“Each of the 2017 Wisconsin 4-H Hall of Fame laureates has transformed the lives of children and families with whom they’ve worked and the communities in which they’ve lived,” says John de Montmollin, interim co-program director of Wisconsin 4-H Youth Development.

Wisconsin 4-H Hall of Fame Laureates in 2017 include UW-Madison Professor Emeritus and UW-Extension Wildlife Ecology Specialist Scott Craven and distinguished alumni inducted Orion Samuelson, a national agricultural broadcaster who credits his lifelong career to a passion for public speaking developed in 4-H, and Bob Walton, the former CEO of American Breeder Service (ABS) who became interested in breeding through a 4-H calf project.

The Wisconsin 4-H Hall of Fame was established to recognize 4-H volunteers, financial supporters, staff and pioneers who made major contributions to the 4-H movement at the local, state and national levels. The candidates represent 4-H in the broadest sense – people who had an impact on the lives of children, their community or state through significant contributions of time, energy or financial resources to 4-H and its members.

Other 2017 Wisconsin 4-H Hall of Fame Laureates are:

Dr. Walter L. Bible: Founding Father, Sauk County 4-H (In memoriam)

Dr. Walter L. Bible was a Lime Ridge dentist and dairy farmer who devoted his free time to the youth of Sauk County.

“It was the pledge more than anything else which makes me realize the great value in carrying on and developing 4-H work,” Bible said.

One youth recalled that Bible stressed the importance of discipline and taught them to conduct business meetings, but he also remembered the fun and adventure. His Lime Ridge 4-H Club made ice cream and took tours of farms and creameries.

Fun took a back seat to the primary purposes Bible had in 4-H — improving the abilities and opportunities of young people and improving the genetics of their herds. So he set about “filling farm boys’ minds, as well as the cavities in their teeth.”

Bible also helped dairy project members arrange financing and guided them in selecting and raising their first purebred cattle. Bible also convinced the Sears-Roebuck Company to extend their Pig Project to Sauk County.

Within the first 8 years, more than 100 4-H and FFA members received gilts from other members, a tradition that continued across the county.

Wayne W. Brabender: State 4-H Learning Resources Coordinator

Wayne Brabender joined UW-Extension in 1973 as a 4-H Marketing Specialist. In 1983, Brabender put his skills to work on statewide 4-H curriculum where he managed production, acquisition, and distribution of 400 statewide 4-H publications.

On a national level, Wayne juried 4-H curricula, chaired the Communications and Expressive Arts National Jury and edited six national 4-H curricula: Child Development, Citizenship, Get Real! Get Active!, Photography, Small Engines, and Theatre Arts.

Brabender put his love of photography to work as State 4-H Photography Specialist and created the State 4-H  Photography Advisory Committee of volunteer photo leaders to plan, develop, and conduct programs and generate resources for the state’s 11,500 project members and 500 photo leaders.

During his 35-year career, Wayne was active with WAE4-HYDP as editor of Entre Nous newsletter, chair of the Communications Committee, and member of the Board of Directors, earning the association’s DSA and Tennie Award. Upon his retirement in 2008, UW-Extension recognized Wayne for his “overwhelming enthusiasm, support, and leadership” for 4-H.

Janice L. Bublitz: Ozaukee County 4-H Volunteer Leader (In memoriam)

Janice Bublitz was an Ozaukee County 4-H Volunteer Leader for 40 years, providing leadership that reached beyond the county to the district and state level. Bublitz’s work impacted hundreds of 4-H youth and their families. She was an innovative educator focused on building youth as leaders and developing the capacity of other volunteers to lead in 4-H and the community.

Bublitz’s favorite areas to teach were nature, music, drama, and the youngest 4-H members. She was the county’s 4-H Summer Camp Lead Naturalist at Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center for more than a decade, working to develop youth staff into camp naturalists who could teach their own camper programs.

Bublitz’s early work with the younger brothers and sisters in her 4-H Club became mini-4-H long before the Cloverbud Program. Her leadership to transition to the 4-H Variety Show format gave every youth the opportunity to be on stage, a tradition that lives on.

Bublitz trained in state programs and successfully implemented them in her county, including Youth Volunteers in Motion, the Volunteer Force, and the Youth Protection Program. Her ability to work with youth and adult leaders in these leadership experiences set a direction for the youth-adult partnerships valued today.

Almost until her passing, Bublitz remained an active 4-H leader in the Ozaukee County 4-H program.

Scott Craven: UW-Extension Wildlife Ecology Specialist

Scott Craven was appointed as UW-Extension Wildlife Ecology Specialist and worked in that capacity from 1979 until his retirement in 2011. For over three decades, his dedication to sharing his knowledge of wildlife ecology and the broader area of natural sciences touched the lives of thousands of 4-H youth, adults, and staff, in addition to many other young people and adults throughout Wisconsin.

Craven traveled the state to teach leader training sessions and 4-H workshops on topics related to wildlife ecology and collaborated with local county 4-H agents, and other state and national groups and agencies. He participated in developing and implementing the NatureSpace 4-H project curriculum, shooting sports project and activities, and the state Wildlife Habitat contest.

Craven was a member of the Upham Woods Advisory Committee for thirty years. He served on the committees that developed both a physical plant master plan as well as an educational master plan for Upham Woods. He provided professional development workshops for camp staff and volunteers, led tours, and provided leadership for sustaining the natural environment of Blackhawk Island.

Craven became a trusted adviser to many camp directors and provided continuity to implement the mission of the Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center. He also has a long and varied list of volunteer activities over the years, including youth hockey coach, board member of the Wisconsin Natural Resources Foundation, and president of the Cochrane Lake Management District.

Rick and Peggy Daluge: Wisconsin 4-H Foundation Supporters

Rick and Peggy Daluge are strong supporters of the Wisconsin 4-H Foundation and models of the service that embodies it.

The Daluges are past Wisconsin 4-H Foundation Board members who have been involved as donors and buyers at the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Meat Products Auction at State Fair since its inception 25 years ago.  As members of the Wisconsin 4-H Foundation’s Heritage Society, they have made a planned gift to 4-H. Rick served on the State Fair Ag Advisory Board where he ensured a positive experience for participants and always advocated for 4-H. Both served on the Dane County 4-H Leaders Board while their children were 4-H members.

Peggy is a Fond du Lac County 4-Her who focused on dairy judging and showmanship. She was the 1967 Wisconsin Holstein Girl. Peggy was the first female to graduate from the UW-Madison Dairy Department with a bachelor’s degree. She sat on the Dane County Fair Board and served twice as the Dane County interim 4-H agent.

Rick’s was a Buffalo County 4-H agent upon graduation from college. He later served as assistant dean for Agricultural and Life Sciences at UW-Madison for 36 years and director of the Ag Short Course for 25 years.

Kay Lettau: Winnebago County 4-H Volunteer Leader

Kay Lettau credits her 9-year Winnebago County 4-H membership with creating skills used throughout her life. They helped her succeed in her community, her career as a high school science teacher, and 4-H work at local, county, and state levels.

Lettau’s passion for youth and adult development is apparent. She works to empower others to gain life skills, assume leadership, solve problems, and create partnership synergy. She focused on helping others be “the best they can be” during 15 years as co-leader for her local 4-H club. She spent many years as County 4-H Board Director and President, as well as 7 years as adult and youth volunteer coordinator for the State Fair Governor’s Blue Ribbon Meat Auction. Lettau also served 6 years on the State 4-H Adult Leader Council and 6 years on the Wisconsin 4-H Foundation Board.

Lettau’s skillful role modeling and positive support elicit confidence from others. This was clear as she co-directed and counseled youth and adult leaders at 14 summer 4-H camps. She also led the county 4-H Dog project, chaperoned county and state groups at 4-H Conference, Space Camp, Interstate Exchanges, and National 4-H Congress. Kay was a co-chair for the 2007 North Central Region Volunteer Leader Forum, which hosted more than 500 regional 4-H youth and adult volunteers.

Tom and Donna Miller: Dane County 4-H Volunteer Leaders

4-H alums and volunteers Donna and Tom Miller have shared 17 years of leadership with the Madison West Questers 4-H Club. The Millers organized the West Questers, an urban club, with a philosophy of youth empowerment, community service, and creating a safe place for all. Their fun meetings include mixed ages and parents.

The Millers’ youth empowerment philosophy is evident in these quotes: “Let the kids be in charge,” Donna has been known to say. Tom often asks, “How’s that going to work?” to foster their critical thinking on logistics. Their success in developing a terrific 4-H club has benefitted hundreds of children and is evident in the growth of individual club members who are recognized at the county and national level.

Donna and Tom were Dane County Fair Superintendents in Foods and Photography for many years. Donna is currently a Sewing Project leader. Tom has been an active member of the State 4-H Photo Committee reviewing photography curriculum, teaching at statewide photography leader training, and judging the State 4-H Photo Exhibit. Tom’s knowledge and personality make him a popular county fair photography judge. He served on the Dane County 4-H Leaders Association Board, including two years as President.

Anne and Bob Oelke: 4-H Volunteer Leaders

Enthusiastic, dedicated and involved. These words not only describe Anne and Bob Oelke, but are reflective of their commitment to the 4-H mission.

The Oelkes are truly lifetime 4-H’ers. They grew up in Marathon County 4-H and remained active leaders in adulthood. Shortly after their marriage, they relocated to Pierce County and became 4-H leaders, wanting to continue their 4-H connection. When Anne and Bob moved to Randolph, they joined the Dodge County 4-H family and were involved for over 35 years, taking on leadership at all levels. At the same time, they volunteered at club and county events in Columbia County. Most recently, they became active in Marquette County 4-H.

The Oelkes have a positive impact on the youth and adults of all counties they are involved in. Their 4-H leadership roles include teaching educational sessions, serving as county resource leaders and junior fair superintendents, taking on committee work and fundraising, donating to programs and so much more.

The Oelkes understand the big picture of 4-H which shows in the way they work with youth and adults to “make the best better.” Both have volunteered locally, county-wide and state-wide in a variety of areas, leading workshops for youth and adults and provided leadership when Wisconsin hosted the North Central Volunteer Leader Forum.

Sue Pleskac: Wisconsin 4-H Volunteer Leadership Specialist

Sue Pleskac has a passionate belief in life-long learning and the empowerment of youth and adult learners in their own development. Pleskac began as the 4-H Youth Development Agent in Racine County from 1989 to 1998, and later in Jefferson County from 1998 to 2003. In both counties, she developed philanthropy initiatives, raising over $50,000 annually in Racine and $20,000 in Jefferson, to provide grants for youth groups to do community service projects identified by youth leaders.

Pleskac later served as the 4-H Volunteer Leadership Specialist from 2003 to 2011. Her priorities included volunteer development and management, youth leadership development, youth-adult partnerships, increasing capacity for community youth development, and strengthening 4-H community clubs. She conducted the first statewide research on the contribution of volunteers to the 4-H program.

Throughout her career, Pleskac had a successful history of creative teaching and program development at the county, state, and national level. She has authored, co-authored, and edited national and state curriculum, including Kids on the Grow (National 4-H curriculum on child development), National 4-H Headquarters Volunteer Research Knowledge Competency lessons for volunteers and staff, and 4-H Community Club Central website and lessons.

Ronald Richter: Calumet County 4-H Volunteer Leader

Ron Richter grew up in the Rantoul Center 4-H Club in Calumet County. As a parent, Richter became a Project Leader — now 36 years and counting — for the Horticulture and Forestry Projects.

Richter used his resourcefulness at the Calumet County Fairgrounds, serving as Chairman to the 4-H Fundraising Committee, to build a new youth exhibition building. He served as the Superintendent of the Exhibition Building, housing adult projects and horticulture and crop entries for more than 35 years. Here he made his most enjoyable memories, helping youth and adults with their exhibits. He also chaperoned youth on many local, state, and national 4-H experiences.

He served nine years on the Calumet County 4-H Leaders Council, holding several offices. His leadership extended to the Northeastern Regional Leaders Council, also serving as President. Ron co-founded Calumet County 4-H Shooting Sports and purchased the first rifle for the youth in the project to use. On the state level, he served on the Plant and Soil Science Committee.

In 1994, Richter received the 4-H Volunteer of the Year Award from the Wisconsin 4-H Foundation. In 1995, he was honored with the Special Leadership Award from the Calumet County Leaders Council. In 2016, he was Calumet County’s Lifetime Volunteer Award winner.

Orion Samuelson: Wisconsin 4-H Alumnus

The best-known agricultural broadcaster in the country, Orion Samuelson was a Wisconsin 4-Her whose first project was a Guernsey heifer calf. He credits 4-H with igniting his passion for agriculture and his first experiences with public speaking, ultimately leading to his broadcasting career.

Samuelson considered becoming a Lutheran pastor before going to radio school. His early work was based in Wisconsin and he was working in Green Bay when his big break came. Samuelsonserved as Chicago WGN Radio’s head agriculture broadcaster beginning in 1960. He presented 16 agricultural reports daily. He was heard daily on 260 radio stations with his “National Farm Report” and on 110 stations with his “Samuelson Sez.” He co-hosted the Morning Show on Saturdays and now hosts “This Week in Agribusiness” on RFD-TV.

Samuelson has been recognized for his life-long commitment to agriculture by agribusiness organizations across the industry. He is the only broadcaster to receive two Oscars in Agriculture from the National Association of Farm Broadcasting. Samuelson was the first agribusiness broadcaster to be inducted into the National Radio Broadcasters Hall of Fame. In 2010, the City of Chicago named the corner of Illinois Street and Cityfront Plaza Drive ‘Orion Samuelson Way.’

Active outside broadcasting, Samuelson has served on the National 4-H Council Board of Trustees. This spring, he began working with the Wisconsin 4-H Foundation to raise $500,000 to support livestock programming. This campaign served as a sort of homecoming for Orion, whose roots are firmly planted in Wisconsin soil.

Robert “Bob” Walton: 4-H Alumnus

Robert “Bob” Walton is the former CEO of American Breeder Service who became interested in his career path as a 4-H member. Now globally renowned for his contributions in genetics research for the dairy, beef, and plant breeding industries, his first 4-H project, a calf named Daisy, started his life-long love affair with the dairy industry. Walton will tell anyone that the 4-H motto to “Make the Best Better” has been his personal mantra since childhood.

Walton’s first 4-H calf sparked a dream to breed a herd of cattle using all the “good” genes. This early exposure to the dairy industry through 4-H sparked Bob’s studies in genetics. Along the way, he tapped into the collective know-how of leading geneticists and evaluators to glean their insight and test his ideas.

Known as a visionary, progressive, and selfless leader, Walton has served a number of organizations that have benefited from his knowledge on emerging technologies and dedication to the animal agriculture industry. He holds the distinction of serving on the World Dairy Expo Board for 38 years.

Walton has been working with the Wisconsin 4-H Foundation in an effort to raise $500,000 to support livestock programming. This campaign brings Walton full-circle as he is now supporting the very projects that started his long and illustrious career and ignited a life-long passion for excellence.

The Hall of Fame ceremony and dinner were held during the annual Wisconsin 4-H Fall Forum weekend. Fall Forum is an opportunity for youth and adult leaders to attend a statewide training weekend with county and state staff to develop relationships, facilitate discussion between counties and provide an opportunity for youth and adult volunteers to be involved in the planning and evaluation of state programs.

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