4-H awards presented on closing day of county fair

Anita Swanson grew up on a farm. She guided her children through 4-H programs and activities. She’s tirelessly worked to get a new livestock barn built on the fairgrounds. She spends countless hours selling dairy treats during the Anoka County Fair.

Charlie Padula presents Anita Swanson with a Friend of 4-H award during the July 28 4-H graduation and awards ceremony at the Anoka County Fair. Photo by Sue Austreng

Charlie Padula presents Anita Swanson with a Friend of 4-H award during the July 28 4-H graduation and awards ceremony at the Anoka County Fair. Photo by Sue Austreng

And on July 28 Swanson received the Friend of 4-H Award.

If you have attended the Anoka County Fair, you have probably seen Swanson working in and around the large livestock barn and food stand. This is just one of the many Anoka County 4-H areas she coordinates and to which she devotes her own volunteer hours.

Swanson grew up on a farm in northern Anoka County and although she was not involved with 4-H as a youth, she made sure her daughters were active members of the St. Francis Go-Getters 4-H Club.

Swanson served as Go-Getters club leader for several years, and although it’s been many years since her girls graduated from 4-H, Swanson’s enthusiasm for 4-H and the county youth has not diminished.

Primarily, Swanson has worked with the Anoka County 4-H large livestock program. As an active member of the large livestock committee, she holds many key roles and wears multiple hats. She is not only the secretary and treasurer for the committee, Swanson is also the key person for Anoka County livestock quality assurance and the statewide ethics for animal science program.

Swanson and her family still farm today, which may help explain her passion for the livestock program.

But livestock isn’t her only interest; Swanson attends and supports dozens of other 4-H events every year.

“Anita is a true friend of 4-H and Anoka County is proud to recognize her for her endless efforts and continued support,” said Charlie Padula, vice president of the 4-H management committee, when he presented Swanson with the Friend of 4-H Award.

Also recognized during the ceremony was Mel Larson, a 4-H parent, who has generously given of his time and energy to benefit the annual Clover Dash.

The ninth-annual 4-H graduation and awards ceremony also presented six youth with scholarships.

A $500 Amber Boyd Memorial scholarship was awarded to graduating 4-H participant Michelle Anderson.

Sabrina Habin received a $200 large livestock scholarship.

Graduating 4-H’ers Amanda Guimont and Rachel Martonik, as well as Rachel Pederson, and Adam Whitt, each received one of four $500 youth education scholarships.

Twenty-two 4-H participants received recognition and applause as they achieved graduation.

Those youth were Michelle Anderson, Kyle Begin, Emily Calistro, Veronica Cich, Blake Degerstrom, Amanda Guimont, Bobbi Kelling, Erin Kerrigan, Joseph Kluthe, Ben Landis, Samantha Larsen, Rachel Martonik, Emilie Paulus, Emily Peterson, Dominick Picote, Tori Plaisance, Anna Reese, Alyssa Schuck, Michael Spiering, Rose Szurek and Jonathan Thompson.

Recognition was also given to graduate Patrick Godin, who had left July 23 for U.S. Air Force basic training in San Antonio, Texas, and therefore could not attend Sunday’s ceremony.

Four-H families held homemade paddles with Godin’s image pasted on to them, some wore stickers with his image and all offered congratulations and best wishes to the 4-H graduate who is also a member of the St. Francis High School class of 2013.

Sue Austreng is at sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com

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