Spencer Riffel

Spencer Riffel of the Navarre Boosters 4-H Club was named the Dickinson County Outstanding 4-Her. Rather than holding the annual 4-H Achievement Banquet in November, Dickinson County Extension released a series of videos online featuring award winners and recognitions.

The coronavirus pandemic may have pulled the plug on the 90th annual Dickinson County 4-H Achievement Banquet, but it didn’t stop the celebration.

Instead of 4-Hers and their families gathering at Sterl Hall on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, this year a series of videos were released online that featured special awards and recognitions, according to Jill Martinson, Chisholm Trail Extension District 4-H Youth Development agent.

Each award winner also received a “swag bag,” courtesy of the Dickinson County 4-H Foundation and generous donors.

“The 4-H Foundation decided to do a combination — physically giving some fun things to the kids and unique items that are specific to Dickinson County and the Chisholm Trail 4-H Extension District — and doing the online award announcements,” Martinson explained.

“We were running a little bit behind the traditional banquet date,” Martinson said, speaking of releasing the videos in December, “but it took longer to get books judged and all the other little things done.”

The “swag bags” were ready the first week of December for 4-Hers to pick up at the extension office. 

The bags included not only each 4-Her’s awards, but also plenty of 4-H memorabilia including a neck gaiter that can double as a mask, a water bottle, pen, notepads, a copy of the achievement award program and other items.

“The goal is to have things that were branded with the new extension district for the 4-Hers to have,” Martinson said. “We wanted them to see the new Chisholm Trail Extension District branding.”

Chisholm Trail Extension District No. 20 formed in 2020, uniting Dickinson County and Marion County’s extension programs.

Award videos

As for the online videos of Dickinson County award winners, they are divided into specific areas. For instance, special awards are in one video, leader recognition is in another and so on.

The “Friend of 4-H” award — presented to Jenni Latzke — is a Zoom video of a conversation between Martinson and Latzke.

A Zoom video is appropriate since it has become the main communication tool for anyone having a meeting and has been the “go-to” way for 4-H Clubs to meet.

“It’s been fun reading the club reports in the newspaper. The clubs have found really creative ways to connect with each other,” Martinson said, commenting that the Holland Sunflowers recently held a Zoom meeting in a parking lot.

“They were in their own cars, but they were having a Zoom meeting,” she said with a laugh. “I know the 4-Hers are getting tired of Zoom meetings, but they have found some really fun ways to have connections even when there’s still restrictions on what they can do.” 


Less staff, but open

Martinson said the Chisholm Trail-Dickinson County Extension office is still open, although fewer staff is in the office at any given time. Some are onsite while others are working remotely.

“We’re still really accessible to everyone, its just some people are in the office and others are remote,” she explained. 


Special Awards

Jenni Latzke of Dodge City was the 2020 winner of the Friend of 4-H Award. A former member of the Jolly Jayhawkers 4-H Club in Woodbine, she has remained involved in her home county in many ways.

The Extension Appreciation award was presented to the Dickinson County Commission which includes members Lynn Peterson, Ron Roller and Craig Chamberlin for their support of the 4-H program. 

Spencer Riffel of the Navarre Boosters was named the Outstanding 4-Her. 

The Bart and Susan Hettenbach family was honored as 4-H Family of the Year.

Grant Heintz of the Fragrant Hilltoppers was honored for being a state project winner in Entomology.

Justin Latzke of the Navarre Boosters received an award for outstanding reporter notebook.

Four 4-H alumni were named state 4-H scholarship winners: Rylie Volkman of the Holland Sunflowers; Shelby Hettenbach and Jaryth Barten, both of the Jolly Jayhawkers; and Jamie Rock of the Navarre Boosters.

Jaryth Barten also was recognized for serving as an adult adviser for the Kansas Youth Council, Adam Snowball served on the State Tech Action Team, while Volunteer Leader Shawna Riffel was honored as the Kansas Association of 4-H Volunteers secretary.

Also recognized were the spring 2020 graduates, which included: Kevin Mills, Chapman Shamrocks; Lauren Hill, Fragrant Hilltoppers; Hannah Snowball, Holland Sunflowers; Erica Linder and Cody Meyer of the Mt. Ayr Go-Getters; Spencer Riffel, Julie Rock and Chesney Sprinkle of the Navarre Boosters Emilee Dobbs from the Newbern Wideawakes and Annie Bathurst from the Willowdale club.

The videos highlighting these awards and the many others presented can be viewed on the Chisholm Trail Extension District Facebook page.

Contact Kathy Hageman at reporter@abilene-rc.com 


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