BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Two Somerset County 4-H leaders, Linda Rubinfeld and Sue Schurick, and two alumni, Sharon Toth and Patty Kestlinger, have been recognized for their efforts and dedication by being awarded the 4-H Outstanding Volunteer and Outstanding Alumni Award.
Sue Schurick of Hillsborough was not born into 4-H but found the organization through her children’s involvement. Her oldest daughter, Heather, was in a goat club. When that club split and needed a club leader, Sue volunteered to take half of the club – and be a leader for just a few years. That was 26 years ago. She is passionate and truly cares about the members. She always takes a personal interest in the kids. She cares about them, their project, and makes them feel a part of 4-H.
In addition to the club, Schurick has been a member of the Somerset County 4-H Association serving on the Yearbook and Catalog Committee, recording the ads that have come in and getting the Route 287 billboard, via her husband, donated for 4-H Fair advertising. She helps the BIG Committee working on Tricky Tray in the kitchen. Sue has also in the past served on the Round Robin Committee and has been the Goat Division chair for 19 years. When asked why she continues to volunteer for years after her own children have graduated from the program, her response was that she loves to work with the kids and see who they grow into as adults and also takes pride in their accomplishments.
As a 4-Her, Patty Nee Kestlinger of Hillsborough was in the Pins & Needles Club where they focused on cooking and sewing. She participated in Make It With Wool competition, Dairy Foods & Bread Baking competitions at the 4-H Fair, Cake Decorating demonstration at the fair, Work the Pie & Cake Booth in the Food Tent at the fair, and Spring and Fair Fashion Revues. In addition to Pins and Needles, she was in the 5th H club and volunteered at the Agapé House, hosting parties for the children there. She was also a "Fair Reporter" and went around with a video camera and did interviews with different 4-Hers around the fair.
For more than 20 years, Linda Rubinfeld of Basking Ridge feels her life as a volunteer leader has been blessed by the opportunity to make a difference for our "club, community, country, and world" in Somerset County 4-H. This journey started with her twins wanting to join 4-H Prep when they were in 2nd grade. Upon reaching 4th grade, Brian moved on to Trainmasters and Mighty Cavits and Rodents (MCR) Small Animal Club and Carolyn to MCR and People Pick Me Ups (PPMU) pet therapy club. As a 4-H parent, Linda’s appreciation of 4-H grew as she cheered on her son's efforts to build train models with Traumatic Brain Injury patients at Kessler. With PPMU, her daughter and she had the opportunity to touch the hearts of patients at Runnels, Mattheny, and Bridgeway.
About 12 years ago, the leaders of PPMU stepped down and Linda felt that she needed to step into leadership to keep the club from folding. She states that she “has felt honored to have caring, wonderful people move forward with the mission of improving other's lives via pet therapy.” As a club, they visit Lyons veterans with their pets and bring gifts. They also cheer up residents of Spring Hills in Somerset, help out at Gress Mountain Ranch, a forever home for rescued animals, and assist with 4-H events and fundraisers. By serving and making a difference, the youth of PPMU have been honored on the State, Regional, and National level of DAR for their community service. It is seeing these youth grow into leaders, public speakers, and into young compassionate adults that keeps her volunteering.
Sharon Toth of Pittsburgh has been involved with Somerset County 4-H for 16 years. She started in Chaps n’ Spurs Horse Club and then joined multiple other clubs, including Woof Dog Club, Cattlemen Beef Club, and Just Kidding Goat Club. She also created the Gingerbread House Contest that is part of the Festival of Trees. She was mostly involved with Woof where she was a leader and co-division chair before moving to Pittsburgh for grad school. Even though she lives over 300 miles away, she stays involved by chaperoning and creating workshops for the 4-H North Jersey Teen Conference, being a herdsman at the annual 4-H Fair, and judging fair displays. This year she also helped judge the new virtual state 4-H presentations. 4-H has allowed Sharon to become a staff intern with Project Youth Extension Services, a part of North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension that helps serve military families across the country who are faced with deployment. Her greatest joy in 4-H is watching members grow and become leaders themselves. She is grateful for her 4-H family and everyone who has helped her along the way.
In Spring 2014, Barb Navatto was running a sewing workshop and the purpose was to get more kids interested in sewing. So Barb reached out to Patty and her mother Cathy, along with other volunteers, to help with the workshop. After the workshop, a bunch of kids were interested in sewing but there was no pure sewing club for them to join, so Cathy and Patty decided to start up a club again. Patty loves working with the members and has even gotten her husband, Michael, into sewing and 4-H.
The 4-H Youth Development Program is part of Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station-Cooperative Extension.. For more information about the Somerset County 4-H Program visit www.4HisTOPS.org