By Scott Bidroski
For Gordon resident Jackie Simonson, 4-H was not always at the top of her list.
But when her oldest daughter Lindsey began to show interest in the activities that 4-H held, Simonson found herself becoming move involved.
That blossomed into a position on the 4-H Council and then eventually into the leadership role for the Albany 4-H Club.
“Everything about our local 4-H program excites me,” said Simonson.
“I love helping the youth learn and experience new things and I like learning from them too,” she added.
This passion and love for being a volunteer has led Simonson to an unexpected recognition.
She was named one of the 2023 Nebraska 4-H Emerging Adults Volunteer award, joining eleven individuals across the State of Nebraska who received the honor.
Simonson was chosen based on a nomination submitted by Melissa Mracek who is a 4-H Extension Educator in the Northern Panhandle.
“Jackie is always thinking about new ways to reach youth members and have them actively engage with Sheridan County 4-H,” said Mracek.
“As long as I have known Jackie, she has been willing to jump in with a helping hand and always thinks of the youth members first,”added Mracek.
Simonson admits ‘spare’ time was not included in her vocabulary.
She holds a full-time job at Farmer’s Coop, three children to chase around with all their activities, and helping on the farm, relaxation is a farfetched notion.
But the benefits far outweigh the busy schedule and the challenges it can present.
“After volunteering to take over our 4-H Club, I’ll admit, I was overwhelmed and instantly regretted saying yes,” said Simsonson.
“But the kids never missed a beat and have been so amazing and helpful the transition has been easy. Sheridan County really does have some amazing kids,” she added.
Simonson has been a natural for the role, checking all the boxes that are needed in a volunteer with the 4-H Program.
This is something Mracek knows it not easy to find, as volunteering is a driving force for program success.
“The 4-H program has so many amazing volunteers that dedicate a tremendous amount of time, talent, and efforts to the program. I love having the opportunity to recognize them and make sure they know how much we appreciate them. We could not impact all the youth we do without them serving as a caring adult. Jackie is a prime example of a caring adult who wants to help our Sheridan County youth thrive,” said Mracek.
Simonson really enjoys everything about her involvement with 4-H but notes that she finds great joy in learning alongside the student and her children through their activities.
Experiencing the programs with her children is an obvious added bonus.
“Over the last few years, when my kids have wanted to try new projects, we’ve learned together,” said Simonson.
“I not only get quality time with my kids but I also learn with them!” she added.
If anyone is interested in the activities that are available through Sheridan County 4-H, you can reach out to the local Sheridan County 4-H Extension Office.
The office is located in Rushville at 800 S. Loofborrow St. and you can reach them via telephone at 308-327-2312.