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Alaska 4-H leaders receive top regional volunteer awards


Two Alaska 4-H leaders have been named the top Western region volunteers.

Patsy Perkins of Fairbanks and Patty Miller of Kenny Lake competed with 4-H leaders nominated from 12 other Western states. Perkins received the Salute to Excellence Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer award, and Miller was recognized as the Volunteer of the Year, an award for leaders with 10 years or less work with 4-H.

Perkins has been a leader in Fairbanks for 25 years and is the main leader for the Forty Below Moosekeeters club. Fairbanks 4-H agent Marla Lowder, who was one of several individuals who nominated her, said Perkins led 4-H clubs when her children were in school, continued to teach classes and help out after they graduated and then started her current club seven years ago when she realized more clubs were needed.

She has about 30 members, including a dozen Cloverbuds, who are in kindergarten to second grade. The older members meet monthly with the younger children and offer activities like outdoor science fun, crafts and robotics. The older children work on leadership, food preservation, cooking and sewing.

Perkins also leads an annual district sewing service project in which youths sew mittens and hats for youth who are homeless or in foster care. She teaches spring sewing and cooking classes and is the camp cook for the summer 4-H camp. Perkins serves as treasurer for the Alaska State Volunteer Leaders Organization and was the finance chair for Western Region 4-H Leaders Forum, held earlier this month in Fairbanks.

Perkins participated in 4-H in Oregon as a youth, and said she continues to stay involved because it’s satisfying to see children learn new skills and develop their leadership abilities. “I enjoy it, and the kids enjoy it,” she said.

Palmer 4-H agent Lee Hecimovich, who nominated Miller, said she has served as a club leader in Kenai, Palmer and Kenny Lake for 10 years. She said Miller has worked to increase 4-H enrollment in the Kenai and Mat-Su districts and in more rural areas of the state. As the new state shooting sports coordinator, Miller is assisting with statewide shooting sports leader training, workshops, activities and events in the rapidly growing project area. She served as president and other roles within the state leaders association, on livestock and shooting sports committees and as a fair judge.

Miller said she was in 4-H as a child and wanted her four children to learn practical skills through 4-H, too. Her two youngest children, who are 8 and 15, are part of the Copper River Nuggets club, a general club whose members participate in gardening, horse care and raising animals.

Both women were recognized during the Western Region Leaders Forum in Fairbanks. They join finalists from three other regions for consideration of the Salute to Excellence national volunteer awards. 4-H is the nation’s largest youth development program and is coordinated in Alaska by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service.


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