Log in

Four 4-H members in running for Governor’s Award


LITTLE ROCK — Four 4-H members are in the running for this year’s Governor’s Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Arkansas 4-H program.
The finalists were honored June 11 at a luncheon hosted by Donald R. Bobbitt, president of the University of Arkansas System, and his wife, Susan, following rounds of interviews with judges.
The winner will be announced July 24 at the annual State 4-H O-Rama on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville. Each finalist receives $1,000, and the winner will receive a silver tray and a $3,000 scholarship.
“Arkansas 4-H offers the young people of this state world-class youth development opportunities,” said John Anderson, senior associate vice president for agriculture-extension and director of the Cooperative Extension Service. “The program encourages youth to set ambitious goals for themselves and then equips them for success. This year’s Governor’s Award finalists exemplify what is possible for our 4-H members. All four have long and impressive records of excellence in their personal 4-H projects, in leadership within the organization, and in service within their respective communities.”
The Governor’s Award recipient is chosen not on a singular accomplishment but on demonstrated growth through leadership, community service and activities related to their project areas, over many years.
To be considered, an applicant must be a former state record book winner, submit two letters of recommendation, and submit a current record book detailing their work on projects, community service and leadership.
“Our Governor’s Award finalists clearly understand the importance of engaging in their communities,” said Debbie Nistler, head of Arkansas 4-H and Youth Development. “They have developed critical life skills that will serve them well throughout their lives. I am excited to watch them grow as adults”
This year’s finalists:
Kacie Clark, 18, of El Paso, is the 2023-24 Arkansas 4-H State vice president and the third member of her family to be considered for the Governor’s Award. Her two older brothers, Brent and Travis, both served as state presidents and are in the 4-H Hall of Fame.
During her 13 years in 4-H, Clark has held many leadership positions, been a Teen Star, a State 4-H Ambassador and a 4-H camp counselor for several years. She is a member of Vilonia 4-H and Faulkner County Teen Leaders. For her Healthy Living project, Clark competes in culinary competitions and promotes physical fitness by leading yoga classes and mentoring a foster child in basketball.
She is also involved in animal science and has led poultry workshops to help younger children learn about animal husbandry and flock management. For community service, she organizes quarterly service projects in Faulkner County.
Connor Henry, 17, serves on this year’s State Office team as secretary and is a member of 4-H Tech Changemakers and the 4-H Video Crew member. He’s a member of the Clover Kids 4-H Club in Arkansas County and has had a photography project for nine years.
Among Henry’s achievements are being a state record book winner in photography, winning the State O-Rama photography competition in 2021; winning a 4-H Ross Photography Contest award, and winning Photography Best in Show at the Grand Prairie Arts Festival. His work has been displayed at the Stuttgart Public Library. Henry plans to study engineering at the University of Arkansas.
Josiah Lillard, 17, of Searcy has been a member of 4-H for 11 years and has projects in computer science and coding and engineering and technology. He is the president of the Technology 4-H Club and a member of 4-H Tech Changemakers and 4-H Video Crew. Last year, he attended national 4-H Congress in Atlanta and served as a 4-H camp counselor.
Zach Gardner, 18, of Fayetteville, recently was inducted into the Arkansas 4-H Hall of Fame, an award given to one 4-H member each year who demonstrates high achievement, commitment and service.
Gardner has been a member of Washington County 4-H member for 13 years, with leadership as one of his project areas. He served as secretary for the Arkansas 4-H State Officer team in 2022-2023 and represented Arkansas 4-H at National 4-H Congress in Atlanta and at Citizenship Washington Focus in Washington, D.C.
He has logged more than 1,000 volunteer hours, many spent on veteran-related projects, including serving as a VA Hospital teen volunteer, volunteering with the National Wreaths Across America project, and helping with the annual National Salute to Veterans on Valentine’s Day. During the pandemic, Gardener organized car parades though the nursing home parking lots. He recently graduated from Fayetteville High School and plans to attend the University of Arkansas this fall to pursue a degree in finance.
The Arkansas 4-H youth development program is administered by the Cooperative Extension Service.