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Bexar County 4-Hers receive more than $225,000 in scholarships


Sixteen recent high school graduates associated with 4-H clubs in Bexar County were awarded $225,550 in scholarships Aug. 14 at the Bexar County 4-H Awards Program in Helotes.

More than 350 people attended program, presented by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service office in Bexar County. 4-H is a program of Agrilife Extension, part of the Texas A&M System.

The San Antonio Livestock Exposition, Inc., was the largest contributor toward this year's scholarships, providing a record-high $192,000 in funding. Additional scholarship funding was provided by the Texas 4-H and Youth Development Foundation, Bexar County 4-H Horse Leaders and the Bexar County organization of the Texas Extension Educators Association.

Scholarship recipients were Jacob Ballard, Alyssa Berry, Adina Boyd, Brittany Byrd, Ryan Jonas, Anna Kersch and Katie Mair from Helotes 4-H; Michelle Bailey, Joshua Milikien, Haleigh Ricks and Darren Sulthenfuss from East Central 4-H; Hannah Foster, Andre Jones and Angela Stevens from Encino 4-H; Rebecca Campbell from Alamo Metro 4-H; and Audrey Vasquez from Northeast 4-H.

"This scholarship means a lot to us," said Anna Kersch, 18, of Helotes 4-H, a graduate of Sandra Day O'Connor High School. "These are generous scholarships and will help us go a long way toward reaching our goals in college."

"There are a lot of things to do in 4-H in addition to agriculture, like science and technology activities," said Andre Jones, 18, of Encino 4-H. "I'm going to major in biology and eventually go into medicine."

Among the attendees at the awards program, emceed by Rebecca Campbell, this year's Bexar County 4-H Council president, were County Commissioner Precinct 4 Tommy Adkisson; representatives of State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and Carlos Uresti: Tony Magaro, Fred Petmecky and other SALE representatives, and Lupe Landeros, director, AgriLife Extension, Bexar County.

Along with scholarship announcements, the program included recognition of 4-H Clover Kids; Honor Club awards; Rookie, Bronze, Silver and Gold Star awards; "I Dare You" and "Gift of Time" awards; as well as scrapbook, horse, method demonstration proficiency and volunteer leader recognition awards. It also included announcement of 4-H adult leader officers and installation of 2009-2010 Bexar County 4-H Council officers.

A silent auction and plant sale were held prior to the awards ceremony to help pay for the event.

"These 4-H award winners and scholarship recipients represent some of the best and brightest not only from area 4-H programs, but from our county, our state and our nation," said Landeros. "They embody the 4-Hs - heart, head, hands and health - and live them each day. They have pledged themselves to improve themselves and their community and have fulfilled that pledge."

Landeros said the county's AgriLife Extension office currently administers 68 4-H clubs with more than 3,000 members countywide, making it the state's largest.

"But while we have club oversight, it's the 4-H members and adult leaders who give the clubs their spirit and provide the ability to make a positive impact in the community," she said.

Landeros added that 4-H members receiving SALE and 4-H Foundation scholarships were selected through an extensive evaluation and interview process conducted through the AgriLife Extension office.

"We worked with area clubs and organizations to identify the most deserving high school seniors from area 4-H programs to compete for these scholarships," said Greg Myles, AgriLife Extension county agent for 4-H and youth development.

The $192,000 in SALE scholarships were awarded using criteria including academic ability, 4-H project work, demonstrated leadership abilities and level of service to the community, he said.

The $32,500 in 4-H Foundation scholarships given this year were based on criteria which included overall 4-H experience, academic record and financial need.

Myles noted that an additional requirement for the SALE and 4-H Foundation scholarships is that recipients attend a Texas college or university to pursue a degree in agriculture, agribusiness, life sciences or a related field approved by the funding organization. He also noted that two Peggy Coleman Bexar County 4-H Horse Leader scholarships totaling $750 went to active county 4-H members meeting junior livestock and open qualifying horse show requirements.

A $300 Book scholarship from the Bexar County Extension Education Association was presented to a student whose 4-H record book advanced to the district scholarship competition.

In addition to gaining public recognition at the award ceremony, recipients participated in a press conference held earlier in the day at the Bexar County Commissioners Court and hosted by Precinct 3 County Commissioner Kevin Wolff.

Wolff commended the recipients on their hard work and dedication to the 4-H program, as well as their academic and personal achievements and their desire to pursue a degree in agriculture, agribusiness or life sciences.

"These are tough economic times and it's good to see that these deserving students are receiving scholarships will help them obtain their dreams," Wolff said. "Agriculture and agribusiness are important to our county and state, and it's good that SALE, AgriLife Extension and others help support young people in their desire to get an education in these areas."

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