Niles man recognized by Cass County 4-H as Volunteer of the Year

EAST LANSING — Cass County 4-H volunteer Gordon Ridenour has been honored with a prestigious Michigan 4-H Salute to Excellence Volunteer of the Year award. The award was presented Oct. 5 during the Michigan 4-H Foundation’s 4-H Emerald Award Ceremony in East Lansing.

The 4-H Volunteer of the Year Award is given to outstanding 4-H volunteers who have 10 years of service or less. Winners are selected through a statewide nomination and review process.

The award highlights the important work of 4-H volunteers across the state who share their time, energy and commitment to 4-H every day to improve the lives of Michigan young people.

Gordon Ridenour

This year, Gordon Ridenour, of Niles, was one of two individuals to receive the Michigan 4-H Salute to Excellence 4-H Volunteer of the Year award.

Ridenour has been one of the driving forces for Cass County 4-H for the past nine years, with an unwavering commitment to the Sleepy Hollow 4-H Club and the county 4-H Leaders’ Association. He is known for his patience and his problem solving and listening skills.

As the current president of the 4-H Leaders’ Association, Ridenour is respected for his ability to keep a meeting moving while encouraging members to share their ideas. He consistently thinks outside the box and creatively brainstorms solutions to problems that arise.

“I have been involved in many projects and programs in our county, as it is all for the kids,” Ridenour said. “They have shown me their appreciation in ways such as water wars and wrapping my truck in plastic or just a hug. The kids’ respect and love is my greatest reward.”

Recently retired, Ridenour has opened a new repair business and promotes the Cass County 4-H program to new parents and community organizations. He has helped recruit new 4-H volunteer leaders and always advocates for the 4-H program.

Ridenour encourages members to present and share their ideas and is never afraid to take leadership of projects. He also shares his passion for welding, carpentry, electrical, plumbing and cooking by organizing 4-H project meetings, recruiting new members and mentoring young people to help them complete their projects.

“Gordon is an asset to the Michigan 4-H program in Cass County, to other leaders and, most importantly, to the young people in the program,” said Stephanie Consford, former Cass County MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator, who nominated Ridenour for the award. “He forms positive relationships with youth, takes advantage of every opportunity to advocate for 4-H and is willing to try new programming efforts.”

The 4-H Emerald Awards Ceremony was hosted and emceed by State Sen. Judy Emmons, a Montcalm County 4-H alumna and 2014 4-H Emerald Clover Society inductee.

Salute to Excellence honorees received a replica of the brick engraved with their name that will be placed in the 4-H Salute to Excellence trillium walkway at the Kettunen Center in Tustin. Awardees also choose a county- or state-level Michigan 4-H program to receive a $400 recognition grant in their honor. These grants are made possible by the Michigan 4-H Volunteer Recognition Fund of the Michigan 4-H Foundation.

Brenda Alverson of Genesee County also received a 4-H Volunteer of the Year award, and Cheryl Barton of Shiawassee County was honored with the Salute to Excellence 4-H Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer award.

For more information about the Michigan 4-H Salute to Excellence Awards and awardees, visit mi4hfdtn.org/4-h-emerald-awards/michigan-4-h-salute-to-excellence-awards/.

The Michigan 4-H Foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports Michigan 4-H Youth Development. For more information about the Michigan 4-H Foundation, visit mi4hfdtn.org. Michigan 4-H Youth Development is the youth-serving program of Michigan State University Extension. More than 209,000 youth are involved in 4-H with the support of 16,000 adult volunteers. For more information about Michigan 4-H, visit 4h.msue.msu.edu.

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