Elissa Lodermeier of Goodhue was a 12 year 4-H member who received a $500 Purple Ribbon Scholarship in 2021. In her application essay she states, “4-H has taught me how to work hard for my goals…. It has taught me to go after new challenges, and work with others. It has taught me to pride myself in whatever victories I achieve whether they be big or small. As I have begun to grow into my young adult life, I realize more and more all the things 4-H has taught me and helped me with thus far.” Her thoughts echo those of the other award recipients on the value of youth organizations.
Elissa attends the University of Wisconsin-Stout where she majors in psychology but the Purple Ribbon funds can be used for any post-high school endeavor including military, farming or any other occupation. Chloe Struss from Hay Creek used the interest she developed in her 9 years as a 4-H member to start her own photography business. She says, “One of my favorite things about 4-H is the people that I have met and the lifelong friendships I have created. I wish everyone would become a 4-H member.”
The Purple Ribbon Fund, a 501(c)(3) organization, is raising funds to expand this scholarship program. The money is available to any eligible youth across all project areas. Board member Bob Eppen explains, “We figured they all put in a lot of time and all should be rewarded equally.” It is currently available to the graduating class of 4-Hers who have stayed in 4-H throughout their senior year in high school and been a member for at least 6 years. The Goodhue County Extension Service notifies seniors of the opportunity and applications are available online.
With only a short fund-raising time period, the group was able to award $500.00 to each applicant in 2021. Their long-term goal is to provide $1000.00 awards, starting slowly to maintain sustainability. With the number of eligible seniors rising from18 in 2021 to 36 in 2022, and their hope to grow and also support local FFA youth, there is an emphasis on raising more funds. The Goodhue Lion’s Club, Goodhue County Pork Producers and local businesses have stepped up to help but the group is looking for more partners. Any business, group, or individual may sponsor one or more scholarships or simply make a donation of any amount. Donations should be sent to: Goodhue Co. Purple Ribbon Fund, 34890 165th Ave. Way, Goodhue, MN 55027. For more information or to pledge a donation, call Bob Eppen at (651) 380-0494 or speak to any other volunteer including Derrick Dicke, Betty Dicke, Brandon Schafer, Noah Erickson, or Andy Mann.
Chloe may not get her wish that everyone joins 4-H but it is certainly popular in Goodhue County. Award recipient Alexis Callstrom from the White Rock area joined when she was 8 years old and says she is proud to have been part of something so big in her community. Her parents, Adam and Shannon, were not involved when they were younger so felt they had a lot to learn. While there were some ups and downs, Alexis says, “This was one of the best choices my parents decided to make, and I am thankful for it every day”.
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