Jess Verstappen, a 17-year-old from High Prairie, is the 50th person to win the 4-H Premier’s Award, the highest honour that can be given to an Alberta 4-H member.
“4-H is a great organization to be involved in because of all the things you get out of it,” said Verstappen. “Not only is it a lot of fun, and you meet a lot of people, but you also learn a lot of different skills that help you out.”
Verstappen joined 4-H at age 13 after moving to Canada from Holland. She’s served as president, vice-president, and treasurer for the Coyote Acres branch in the East Peace district. She has completed beef, sheep and horse projects each year; has been active at the provincial level; and participated in the 4-H provincial sheep show and Summer Synergy in Olds. Verstappen helps her parents, Louise Liebenberg and Eric Verstappen, raise sheep, guardian dogs and a small group of cattle on their family farm, The Grazerie. Next year, she’ll be studying environmental sciences at Lakeland College.
“Jess is a wonderful example of the 4-H program and what involvement in 4-H does for our young people,” said Marguerite Stark, 4-H branch head with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. “It gives them confidence and great communication skills. It creates caring people who love to give back to the community, and are great mentors for young people.”
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Verstappen was also named one of 14 4-H Alberta ambassadors who exemplify leadership, communication, and personal development skills. The others are Paige Haupt (Medicine Hat), Stephen Tokariuk (Lethbridge), Quinci Jones (Olds), Joshua Manor (Calgary), Louise Erskine (Camrose), Amy Belec (Westerose), Aaryn Lynham (Stettler), Lowell Nelson (Morrin), Shea-Lyn Eddleston (McLaughlin), Amanda Palsitt (Two Hills), Lee Morey (Rochester), Lisa Reich (Tomahawk), and Lisa White (Beaverlodge).