With the right lumber and tools, Clyde Mellin can show just about anyone how to build a birdhouse. But the bigger take away is what is built within – the patience, character and confidence that develops when a 4-H’er participates in an experiential 4-H activity project taught by caring and dedicated adult volunteers.
On March 4, 2014, Delaware 4-H learned that Sussex County 4-H leader Clyde Mellin, Seaford, was named a 2014 Northeast Region recipient of the 4-H Salute to Excellence Award (STE) a national volunteer recognition program. Mellin, recognized as a state winner at February’s Delaware 4-H Leader Forum, is now is one of four individuals in consideration for national honors as the 4-H Volunteer of the Year. The national award winners will be announced during National Volunteer Week, April 6-12.
Mellin, a professional carpenter, began volunteering for Sussex County 4-H in 2011. Mellin invigorated interest in 4-H’s wood science area by offering a wide assortment of wood science projects and activities. Under his guidance, 4-H members constructed bat houses, robin nesting lodges, and giraffe recipe holders. But Mellin’s goals go far beyond showing someone how to build an object. With his workshops always at peak attendance, having a captive audience for a few hours means, for Mellin, an opportunity to reinforce skills such as tree identification, botany, suitability of wood for carpentry, wildlife and ecology (another 4-H project), math and measuring skills, safety best practices and following directions. Mellin serves as a judge for county 4-H project books and helps develop 4-H youth critical thinking skills through wood science judging contests at the county and state level. Mellin offers trainings throughout the 4-H year (see a 4-H YouTube of Mellin in action) and in 2013 serves as the project chair for the state. He has been a fixture at the Delaware State Fair organizing wood science judging and a visible booster for 4-H overall. A regular at county meetings and wherever help is needed. Mellin does not always need lumber or power tools to build enthusiasm for 4-H.
“Clyde is very meticulous and organized,” said Jill Jackson, Sussex County 4-H Educator. “He has a wonderful connection with the 4-H members and they listen intently to what he teaches them in workshops and trainings.”
Beginning at the county level, The Salute to Excellence Award acknowledges outstanding volunteer service within two service divisions – Volunteer of the Year (VOY) for service 10 years or less and Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer (OLV) for service greater than 10 years. From the county level, candidates are considered for the state – regional and possible national levels of recognition. In Delaware, The Salute to Excellence Award is sponsored by the DuPont Company and the Delaware 4-H Foundation.
Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO of National 4-H Council stated in the announcement that each nominee was evaluated and scored “through a rigorous selection process.” Regional recipients will “receive $200 to be donated to the 4-H program of their choice and a $400 travel scholarship to attend their respective STE Regional 4-H Volunteer Forum,” Sirangelo wrote.
Delaware 4-H leaders celebrate, learn and receive recognition
In Delaware, more than 60,000 youth are impacted by 4-H programs and curriculum delivered through traditional clubs, afterschool programs, day and overnight camping and other events. Michelle Rodgers, associate dean at UD’s College of Agriculture & Natural Resources and director of Cooperative Extension addressed the group. Growing up on her family’s dairy farm in Pa., Rodgers was an active 4-H’er and continued in collegiate 4-H while obtaining her undergraduate degree.
Rodgers said the success of the program in Delaware could not be realized without the contribution of the 4-H volunteer. “Our entire Extension program really runs with volunteers. You extend the work we can do in ways we can count that are very tangible in terms of the outreach and education and the impact we have realized in Delaware. My personal thanks to you for your role and leadership.”
At February’s forum UD Cooperative Extension specialist Ernie Lopez welcomed the large gathering of volunteer leaders who meet once a year to train in several 4-H curriculum areas, exchange ideas and are the focus of the special day of honoring their service. “The Salute to Excellence Awards are the pinnacle of recognition for our 4-H volunteers, not just here in Delaware but across the country, Lopez said. “We are all blessed for all of our wonderful volunteers.”
The list of First State 4-H volunteer winners for 2014 are:
• New Castle: Volunteer of the Year : Patricia Leach, Lifetime Volunteer: Kimberly Klair
• Kent County: Volunteer of the Year: Elaine Webb, Lifetime Volunteer: Joanne Carter
• Sussex County: Volunteer of the Year: Clyde Mellin, Lifetime Volunteer: Sharon Anderson
From these outstanding county winners, Delaware 4-H announced that Clyde Mellin and Sharon Anderson were selected to represent Delaware.
To become a Delaware 4-H leader, adults go through an extensive application process which includes a criminal background check. In addition to training opportunities at the annual forum, 4-H volunteers receive curriculum training and support at the county level, and many participate in regional and national 4-H leader forums and 4-H sponsored events.
For more information on Delaware’s 4-H programs visit the Delaware 4-H website.
Article by Michele Walfred, photos by William Campbell