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College of Human Ecology

Shawnee county 4-H family earns state honor

Friday, June 6, 2008

MANHATTAN, Kan. - A Shawnee County, Kan., family - Dan and Charlene Patton and their daughters Jana, Krista, Megan and Lori - has been selected as the Kansas 4-H Family of the Year.

The award is given annually by the Kansas 4-H Foundation and was presented at the Emerald Circle Banquet June 5 in Manhattan, Kan., said Gary Gerhard, Kansas State University professor of 4-H youth development and chairperson for the state 4-H awards program.

The family was nominated by the K-State Research and Extension office in Shawnee County.

Each of the 15 4-H clubs in the county is invited to submit a nomination for the family of the year, said Leroy Russell, 4-H agent in Shawnee County. The nominations are then evaluated and a selection is made by an impartial panel from an exchange county, which, in this case was Atchison County.

"We are grateful to all our 4-H families, and take pride in honoring them each year," Russell said. "The Pattons are longtime 4-H members and perennial volunteers who typically work earnestly to provide positive youth development opportunities for youth."

In speaking about the award, Charlene Patton credited her enthusiasm for Kansas 4-H to her mother, Juanita (Uhl) Kendall, who joined the Silver Lake 4-H Club in 1932.

"Mother was attracted to the 4-H foods and nutrition project, and the subject became a lifelong interest for her," said Patton, who noted that her mother served as a 4-H foods leader for 19 years, teaching food, food preparation, nutrition and health to more than 100 4-H members.

Patton´s father, John Kendall, shared her mother´s enthusiasm for youth development, she said.

"My parents believed strongly in the power of youth development and were willing to invest their time to help children learn life skills," said Patton, who noted that each of her parents logged more than 40 years as 4-H volunteers in the Grantville community.

Patton, the eldest of the Kendall´s children, joined the Grantville 4-H Club in Jefferson County in 1961. With her parents involved as project leaders, members of the club worked together as they practiced leadership, citizenship and service to establish street lights, street names and a volunteer fire department in their community.

"We learned what it takes to develop a petition, canvass the community for signatures and present the recommendations to the county commissioners," she said.

Getting involved in community helped Patton develop leadership skills, but like her mother, Patton truly loved 4-H projects that focused on food, nutrition, and health. As a 4-H´er, she wrote a weekly "Be a Better You" nutrition article for "The Valley Falls Vindicator" newspaper. She also earned the state and national 4-H foods project awards in 1969, and went on to earn a degree in foods and nutrition and business at Kansas State University in 1975.

"4-H projects helped to shape my career," said Patton, who worked as a marketing specialist promoting Kansas food products for the state´s Department of Agriculture before developing a food consulting business with clients such as the Home Baking Association and Kansas Soybean Commission.

She met her husband, Dan Patton, from Grant County, Kan., at K-State.

Dan had Boy Scout rather than 4-H experience, but has become a longtime 4-H volunteer, and has organized more than 20 workshops to teach safety with the 4-H Shooting Sports project.

"I wanted our daughters to learn about safety, and have been pleased to be able to share my interests and concerns about safety with many youth," he said.

The couple´s daughters have each enrolled in the Shunga Valley 4-H Club (in Topeka), and, through the years, benefited from learning experiences while completing a total of 180 projects.

All four girls have served as a foods project leader for their local club, and Lori also has provided project leadership in clothing.

Jana, Megan and Lori also have created 87 monthly "Cooking with Children" articles for two community publications. Each of the four Patton girls also has trained to become a Kansas Wheat Commission spokesperson to promote 4-H and baking, and teamed with their mother, Charlene, to offer state 4-H baking workshops in McPherson in 2002 and in Wamego in 2007.

Each of the four girls also has earned the state 4-H foods project award: Jana, who was named state food project winner in 2002, completed a five-year degree in nutritional sciences at K-State and will follow up with a coordinated program in dietetics; Krista, who earned the state award in 2003, graduated from K-State in 2007 and now is a kindergarten teacher in Topeka; Megan earned the state award in 2005, and has just completed her first year studying art history at K-State, and Lori, who earned the 2007 state award, graduated from high school this year and will enter K-State in the fall to study interior design and business. Lori also has earned the 2008 state 4-H project award in Clothing & Textiles.

"4-H has provided opportunities for our family to grow together and spend time together as a family. It´s a youth development program that helps young people become more self-confident young adults with life skills, and it has prepared each member of our family to move into the next phases of our lives," Patton said. "We are grateful for these opportunities and look forward to giving back to others so that they might have similar experiences -- and benefits."

In honoring the 4-H family of the year, Gordon Hibbard, president of the Kansas 4-H Foundation said: "The Patton family exhibits a stellar commitment to 4-H. They are truly outstanding leaders who have a strong passion for the organization and the benefits it provides to our Kansas youth."

Juanita and John (now deceased) Kendall were honored as Jefferson County Friends of Extension (1987); the Dan and Charlene Patton family were previously honored as the Shawnee County 4-H Family of the Year (2007) and Dan and Charlene also were honored with the Shawnee County Extension Council Appreciation Award (2007).

More information about the Kansas Family of the Year award is available by contacting Gerhard at 785-532-5800. More information about the Shawnee County nomination or awards is available by contacting Leroy Russell at 785-232-0062.

More information on 4-H educational opportunities for youth is available at county and district K-State Research and Extension offices and on the 4-H Web site: www.kansas4h.org.

Story by: Nancy Peterson, K-State Research and Extension News Media Services, www.oznet.ksu.edu/news

This article was posted on Friday, June 6, 2008, and is filed under Apparel, Textiles, & Interior Design, College News, Food, Nutrition, Dietetics and Health, Hospitality Management.