Shelby County Outstanding 4-H'er Awards

The Shelby County Outstanding 4-H'er Award is given out annually to FIVE outstanding youth who deserve to be celebrated for the positive impact they are making in their communities. The youth, who are nominated by their peers or advisors, are featured online and in the Sidney Daily News. They also receive a certificate recognizing them for their outstanding leadership. This is a noteworthy award that is presented every fall.


Emma wilt

Award #1: Emma Wilt

Our first Outstanding 4-H'er is Emma Wilt. Emma has been a member of Merry Mod Makers 4-H Club for 8 years. Her awesome projects have led her to State Fair multiple times. Emma has also participated in Junior Leaders and has held various officer positions in her club. According to her advisor, Sally Behr, Emma shows great leadership in her club and is fantastic with the younger members.

At Fort Loramie, Emma is involved with National Honor Society, Spanish Club, History Club and the County Art Show. She also plays on the volleyball and softball teams and serves on the high school's wellness committee.

Beyond 4-H and school, Emma has participated in Buckeye Girls State thru the American Legion Post 355. Her faith also keeps her involved at St. Michael’s Catholic Church as a Eucharistic Minister, Mass Server, Mass Greeter and Vacation Bible School volunteer. When she isn't busy volunteering for one of the many organizations she helps with, Emma works at Al’s Bar & Grill as a cook.


Award #2: Katelynn Garber

Katelynn has been a 4-H member for six years and is the secretary of the Starting Farmers 4-H Club. According to Katelynn's advisor, Jerry Schmidt, "The list of Katelynn's accomplishments and leadership abilities is strong. She is always willing to help the younger members of the club at any time."

Katelynn just completed her first year of a two-year term on Junior Fair Board, where she was selected as Junior Fair Board Rookie of the Year by her peers. She is a 4-H camp counselor and volunteers countless hours of her summer helping staff in the Shelby County Extension Office. Katelynn was selected as one of two teens to represent Shelby County 4-H in Washington D.C. this summer at Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF), a state-level leadership opportunity for accomplished 4-H teens. Katelynn also won Grand Champion Meat Pen of Rabbits and Reserve Grand Champion Single Fryer Rabbit at the 2018 Junior Fair.

Beyond 4-H, Katelynn is a senior at Houston High School, where she is a member of National Honor Society, captain of the volleyball team and active with the Houston FFA Chapter. Katelynn is also on the praise team at Lockington United Methodist Church.


Award #3: Samantha Gaerke

Samantha Gaerke has been a member of Russia Livestock 4-H Club for 13 years and is currently in the role of Secretary. She has taken a wide variety of projects including drawing, painting, photography, poultry, sewing, creative writing, and others. She has had the opportunity to participate both at county and state level competitions. She admits that her hardest project she ever took was sewing a Japanese Kimono. Samantha has also been a member of the Shelby County Junior Leaders for 4 years and a Shelby County 4-H Camp Counselor for 3 years. In addition Samantha was a 2017 Ohio 4-H Citizen Washington Focus (CWF) Delegate. Samantha is currently serving her 2nd year on the Shelby County Junior Fair Board.

At Russia Local High School, is a member of the National Honor Society, Academia, Envirothon, Future Teachers of America (FTA), Russia Science Olympiad, Concert Band, Marching Band, and Pep Band, and has participated the County Art Show. She has received awards as top student in both Spanish and Art. She is a 4.0 student. She also has played Varsity Russia High School Volleyball team for 4 years and was captain her senior year. Samantha also is on the Varsity Bowling Team.

Beyond 4-H and school, Samantha has participated in Buckeye Girls State thru the American Legion Post 355. She is a Community Blood Donor and a member of the Farm Bureau. She was a counselor for Conservation Day Camp for 2 years. Samantha is also a member at Saint Remy Catholic Church where she is involved as a Vocational Bible School Leader, is a member of Stella Maria, and Saint Remy Leadership Group.

When she isn't busy volunteering for one of the many organizations she helps with she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, working on her art, and taking care of her poultry flock. After graduation this spring she plans on pursuing a career in Industrial Design and Agricultural Communications.


Award #4: Joseph Ballas

Joe has been a member of the Merry Mod Makers 4-H Club for nine years. A leader in most everything he does, Joe and his projects have made it to the Ohio State Fair multiple years.
According to his advisor, Sally Behr, Joe's leadership and knowledge of many issues has helped guide the other members of his club in various directions.

Joe is an avid runner. He has represented Fort Loramie High School in cross country at the OHSAA State Finals and also qualified to run at the New Balance Nationals in New York City. He also placed 13th in the Emerging Elite.

Beyond 4-H and running, Joe is a member of band, Spanish Club, the Mathletes and Science Olympiad. He has also participated in the Quiz Bowl at Wright State Lake Campus for 3 years. He is a recipient of the American Award thru the American Legion and was named American Government Student of the Year. Joe also placed first in the Voice of Democracy competition through the VFW.

Joe's other accomplishments and activities include:
- Volunteering for St. Vincent DePaul Organization
- Raising $600.00 for the Red Cross after the 2017 Hurricane Season
- Helping with SCCF Foundation, ARC Foundation, Agape Food Pantry and Rustic Hope
- Serving as a Camp Counselor for Camp Dalanda – a camp for developmentally disabled children
- Participating in the Church Choir, CYO basketball, NFL Pastoral Regional Youth Ministry and more at his church
- Working at Wagner's IGA during the summer


Award #5: Addie White

Addie White is a nine-year member of the Scissors to Sheep 4-H Club and a rock star Junior Fair Board member! According to JFB advisor Cassie Dietrich, Addie is always up for any task and very attentive to her assigned departments. She is thorough and cares very much about making sure things are done correctly!

Addie has taken a variety of 4-H projects, including feeder calves, rabbits, goats, ducks, photography and creative writing. She has been the treasurer of her club for two years and helps with trash pick and the pizza bash.

Beyond 4-H, Addie is part of the yearbook team at Hardin-Houston High School, where she is a Senior. She is on the Environmental Team, a member of the National Honor Society, Class Vice President on the Student Council and part of the Spanish Circle. Addie has also been on the Academia team and helped with Vacation Bible School at the United Method Church. Addie enjoys running cross country and helping younger members in their club learn about all the awesome opportunities 4-H offers.


Collin Luthman

Award #1: Collin Luthman

Collin was nominated by his advisor, Sally Behr. Collin has been a 4-H member for 10 years, wherein he has held numerous club officer positions and served as a 4-H Camp Counselor. Collin has represented Shelby County at the Ohio State Fair numerous times with his outstanding non-livestock projects, ranging from creative arts to woodworking and foods.

Outside of 4-H, Collin is an avid runner, participating in cross country and track at Fort Loramie High School. He has attended Buckeye Boys State Conference in Columbus and is a member of St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Fort Loramie, where he is a Mass server and also a Lector.

In his spare time, Collin continues to shine in his work at Sherman Landscaping and also for his father’s business, Luthman Concrete Co.

According to Behr, Collin is "just an AWESOME all-around member inside and out." He guides many members with their projects and is always willing to help out in any way he can.

Riley Jackson

Award #2: Riley Jackson

Riley has been an active member of the Creative Clovers 4-H Club for more than 10 years. She has received numerous honors in the Foods and Nutrition project categories and has represented Shelby County at the state level multiple times. According to advisor Kristi Bayhan, Riley shows outstanding leadership in her club. "She helps with whatever task is at hand and is also a great help with younger club members, especially her three younger siblings."

Outside of 4-H, Riley is the President of her Junior class, Vice President of Student Council, Treasurer of JC FCCLA, and a National Honor Society member. She has won awards for distinguished student and HOBY leadership and obtained the highest score for the Americanism test her freshman year of high school.

Riley's service to her community is extensive. She has helped with planting flowers and picking up trash at the JC pool/park area, pulling weeds and cleaning up at a local cemetery, serving at the scholarship breakfast, and making blankets for Ronald McDonald House. Riley has also participated in Bowls for Love (organized meals for teachers, staff, and community to raise money for The Fish Pond Food Pantry) and spends time at Dorothy Love visiting with the residents. She is a mass server and greeter at St. Lawrence Catholic Church and volunteers annually at the Rhine Turkey Shoot helping with raffle sales, craft wheel, and set up for the event.

Emily BohmanAward #3: Emily Bohman

Emily has been a member of the Russia Livestock 4-H Club for eight years and currently holds the officer position of Treasurer. Emily has taken numerous projects including Dairy and Market Beef projects, Photography, Scrapbooking and her favorite, Cake Decorating. Emily's cakes have won many awards at both the county and state levels.

Emily is also a second year Shelby County Junior Fair Board Member and third year Camp Counselor. When she is not busy with her 4-H activities, Emily participates in pole vaulting in both indoor and spring track. She was recently named an All-Ohio Academic Track and Field recipient and placed 3rd at the Ohio State High School Track Championships. Emily also holds the school record for highest vault.

A member of Saint Remy Catholic Church, Emily participates in Leadership Club, is a Bible Camp Leader and a member of Stella Maria, and plays CYO Basketball. Emily is also a member of National Honor Society and Future Teachers of America (FTA) at Russia High School.

Using her 4-H skills, Emily has started her own cake decorating business called “Tiers of Joy”. In what little spare time she has, Emily provides home care for local elderly.

Emily's club advisors nominated her because they are proud of her many accomplishments and because they believe she is a great role model to area youth.

Hannah MichaelAward #4: Hannah Michael

Hannah was nominated by her advisor, Bill Clark. Hannah has been a 4-H member for nine years, taking dairy and pygmy goats, meat ducks, photography and a variety of clothing projects. She consistently attends club meetings and is always willing to lend a hand at the club’s annual events and fundraisers. “Hannah is a great kid. She doesn’t do the work to be front and center. She does it because leading and helping others is the right thing to do. She doesn’t expect anything in return,” said Clark.

This coming program year will be Hannah’s fourth year on the Shelby County Junior Fair Board, where she helps lead the Beef, Creative Arts, Rabbits and Special Interest departments. Hannah is always one of the first to complete her tasks and takes her responsibilities very seriously. Her experience and knowledge have gained her respect from the other members, many of whom seek out her leadership when looking for answers. “She is the one who catches things that commonly fall through the cracks when planning the Junior Fair,” said Cassie Dietrich, Junior Fair Board advisor.

Beyond the 4-H world, Hannah is a member of New Hope United Methodist Church, where she helps plan Vacation Bible School and is a member of the praise team. She holds a part-time job at Ohio Living Dorothy Love as a cook in the rehabilitation unit. Hannah also participates in music, volleyball, basketball, show choir and the ambassador program at Christian Academy. Academically, Hannah serves on the National Honor Society and repeatedly makes the Dean’s List.

Maissen AkersAward #5: Maissen Akers

Maissen has been a 4-H member for nine years, where he has taken woodworking, welding, and a variety of poultry projects through the Progressive Livestock 4-H Club. Maissen is also a member of the Jackson Center FFA chapter. Between the two organizations, Maissen has led via multiple officer roles, including Vice President, Historian and Student Advisor. Furthermore, this coming program year will be Maissen’s third year on the Shelby County Junior Fair Board, where he leads the Horse Department and helps with the Creative Arts and Arenas and Activities committees.

This year, Maissen served as Junior Fair horse show ring steward, requiring him to spend numerous hours at the horse arena. He also helped manage the shows and teach the other Junior Fair board members how to work in the arena and announcer’s stand. The horse advisors praised his outstanding efforts, stating that it was one of the best years they had had in years. In addition, Maissen single-handedly hired the horse judges and helped the Extension Office coordinate the PAS show. “Because of the number of shows, horses is considered to be one of the more challenging departments on Junior Fair Board. However, Maissen saw the challenge as an opportunity and really worked hard to show that it’s not about the amount of work, but the way you approach the work that needs done,” said Cassie Dietrich, Junior Fair Board advisor.

Outside of 4-H and Junior Fair, Maissen has participated in FCA, youth group, basketball, soccer, track, student council, and marching and concert band. He also works part-time at the local movie theatre.

To nominate a youth, email Cassie at