Celebrating National Volunteer Week, the Missouri 4-H Foundation is proud to present Missouri 4-H volunteer Mary Beth Mitchell with the 2021 Naomi Crouch 4-H Volunteer Leadership Award. Mitchell, of Monroe County, is being recognized for more than 30 years of service and support to Missouri 4-H.
“We are honored to recognize Mary Beth Mitchell for her outstanding efforts on behalf of Monroe County 4-H,” said Kyle Kerns, chair of the Missouri 4-H Foundation board of trustees. The foundation is the private resource partner of the University of Missouri Extension 4-H Center for Youth Development.
Mitchell’s love of 4-H began in 1954 as a member of the F&L Hustlers 4-H Club in Audrain County. As a volunteer, Mitchell has served as a project leader for foods, veterinary science and horsemanship. She currently chairs the Monroe County 4-H Council, and for the past 12 years she and her husband, Bob, have volunteered for the Missouri State 4-H and FFA Horse Show.
“It is the personal achievement that these young people have and the success of being part of something that can be exciting,” Mitchell said. “They learn about winning, about losing, about presenting themselves and having a positive role model in life.”
Mitchell has served as member, secretary, vice president and president of the Monroe County fair board. She was a member and secretary of the Monroe County Extension Council and has supported numerous 4-H activities, including the fair, 4-H camp, Achievement Day and Recognition Night. Her sons, Travis and Clark, were 10-year members of the Paris Patriots 4-H Club.
Recipients of the Naomi Crouch 4-H Volunteer Leadership Award may select a 4-H club or county program to receive a $250 award in their honor. Mitchell chose the Monroe County 4-H Camp.
Mitchell said she wants to help 4-H prepare for this year’s camp, which will serve up to 75 campers. “For someone who is shy and beginning in 4-H, they learn how to communicate and talk to people. They grow there and the older ones are always so excited to share what they know,” she said.
Last year’s camp was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “So many of our 4-H’ers were disappointed that we could not have it,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell says that 4-H has done a great job of keeping up with the times, offering activities that go well beyond traditional farm-related projects to cover topics such as horticulture and floriculture, rocketry, computers, media and global education.
“That is something we would not have thought of 50 years ago,” she said. “Those are the things that will help young people be successful in their future, and that is exciting for me.”
The Naomi Crouch 4-H Volunteer Leadership Award is presented annually to volunteers and organizations for devoting their time and talents to MU Extension’s 4-H youth development program. The award is named in honor of Naomi Crouch, a native of Plattsburg, Mo., who was a 4-H volunteer and Missouri 4-H Foundation trustee for more than 20 years.