Award Year

Craig Bidner was raised in the 4-H tradition and says his entire family bleeds green and white. His parents, Gordon and Sandra Bidner, made sure 4-H was a way of life for Craig and his brothers, Brent and Scott. “4-H was a learning opportunity and a foundation that we built on to succeed in life,” he said. 

Bidner was a 10-year member of the Danvers Industrial Youth 4-H Club and the Rugged Ramblers 4-H Club in McLean County. Highlights of his time in 4-H include serving as a 4-H Junior Leader from 1983 to 1985; attending the National 4-H Leadership Conference in 1984; serving as president of the Danvers Industrial 4-H Club; winning Grand Champion Yorkshire Barrow at the Illinois State Fair in 1985; and attending the National 4-H Club Congress as a national award winner.

Bidner has been an entrepreneur all his life, a trait he developed as a child on the farm where he raised pigs, cattle, and crops. “I was able to pay 100 percent of my college expenses at the University of Illinois through 10 years of raising livestock,” he said.

That entrepreneurial spirit served him well, and today he is the owner and CEO of Nikco Sports, a company which has provided high-quality sports memorabilia and collectibles since 1990. Bidner said the successful business has been able to accomplish an even greater goal – donating a percentage (over one million dollars) of the proceeds from its major sporting event promotions to nationwide charities such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Children’s Miracle Network, and the Boys and Girls Club. In 2004, Nikco Sports received the Mississippi Valley Family Business of the Year Award from Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, School of Business. 

Bidner, his wife Joy, and their two children, Calvin and Ava, live in Wildwood, Missouri. In 2009, Bidner discovered there was no active 4-H Club in St. Louis County. “With a population of over one million residents, I was determined to change that fact,” he said. He and his wife began the Gateway Gang 4-H Club and have been the leaders for the last six years. Their son Calvin serves as president and daughter Ava is the club secretary.

“I’ve taken great pride in watching our members grow,” he concluded. “It’s been an incredible opportunity to give back in this way and watch our 4-H members “learn by doing.”