With the Auglaize County Fair less than five months away, organizers took the time Monday to thank those who make the 4-H program a success each year.
The Auglaize County 4-H Leadership Banquet awarded two prestigious awards — Outstanding 4-H Adviser and Friend of 4-H — and Beth Miller, Auglaize County 4-H youth development extension educator, told a room full of people in the Junior Fair Building Monday evening just how important volunteers are.
“It’s through their support that we have a program,” Miller said, noting all the volunteers who help make 4-H programs and the Auglaize County Fair possible.
She had one person in particular in mind, as she awarded Buckeye Beavers Adviser Bill Lehmkuhl the 2012 Outstanding 4-H Adviser of the Year.
“He’s a volunteer that brought dedication not only to his club, but to the program,” Miller said.
Lehmkuhl, who did not participate in 4-H as a kid, said he was still active in the county fair by bringing cattle during his high school years as he participated in FFA.
It was not until he had children of his own that he got involved in the Auglaize County 4-H program.
“When my kids started in 4-H, I thought it would be good to help others,” Lehmkuhl said.
Lehmkuhl, of Minster, has four children, Ben, 23, Kaitlyn, 19, Amanda, 15, and Rebecca, 13, and when his oldest joined 4-H, that is when Lehmkuhl became active at the club level and then progressed to more involvement as the years went by as he watched his children enter the program.
“I was on the Junior Fair Livestock Committee,” Lehmkuhl said. “I helped with weigh-ins at the fair, and then I got elected as vice president of the Sale Committee.”
Lehmkuhl currently serves as president of the Livestock Sale Committee, and he has had this title since the 2012 Auglaize County Fair.
When Lehmkuhl was asked how he felt about receiving the award, he said he was in shock.
“I look at it as 4-H is for the betterment of the youth of Auglaize County,” Lehmkuhl said. “It’s not a one person thing. There are a lot of volunteers.”
Lehmkuhl said teamwork is what makes the 4-H program continue to prosper.
“I look at it as there is no ‘I’ in team,” Lehmkuhl said. “We work together well at the fair, and it really shows by the quality of the 4-H program and the quality of our youth.”
Three elected officials also were recognized at the banquet for their support of the county’s 4-H program.
The Auglaize County commissioners — John Bergman, Don Regula and Doug Spencer — were awarded the Friend of 4-H Award.
“This is great,” Bergman said after the awards banquet. “It’s really a tribute, to not only us three, but to the ones who came before us and supported the program.”
Bergman said roots run deep as each of the commissioners have roots in the Auglaize County 4-H program, as each were members, and their children were members. In addition, Regula was an adviser and Spencer’s children are currently in the program.
“You can’t put a value on the program,” Bergman said. “It has a positive impact that goes on for years.”
Bergman said the 4-H program has expanded over the years into various areas and allows the members to display numerous talents — including anything from showing livestock to quilting projects and vying for royalty to being a junior leader.
“These are wonderful kids and it’s a wonderful program,” Bergman said.
Regula gave a thanks to all the volunteers in attendance at the banquet after receiving the award.
“It’s people like you that keep our program going,” Regula said. “We’ve got the best in the state.”