Start counting; 76 continuous years of 4-H from 39 family members, 351 cumulative years of membership, 269 cumulative years of volunteerism, 96 state fairs, 23 state judging teams, 11 national leadership conferences, and more udders than one can count. Those are the statistics racked up by members of this year’s Illinois 4-H Foundation Family Spirit Award recipients.
The Maynard and Jeannette McCullough Family of McHenry County was honored during a celebration held Aug. 12 at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield as the 2017 award winners.
Jan Sibley, Illinois 4-H Foundation board member and former Stephenson County 4-H member, said the award was created to recognize Illinois families who have substantially benefited from 4-H and continue to advocate for the Illinois 4-H program over multiple generations. Years of 4-H membership is just one criteria for winning families. In addition to longevity, families selected advocate for the county and state 4-H programs through their community service and philanthropy.
Jeannette, born in 1928, was a 10-year 4-H member of the Dunham Girls 4-H Club in McHenry County and was a National 4-H Club Congress winner in 1946 in the fashion revue project. During the war years, Jeannette raised a large garden to help feed her community. She served as a 4-H volunteer leader for 30 years.
Jeannette passed up a full ride scholarship to University of Illinois to marry “the love of her life who was returning home from World War II,” Sibley said. The couple raised five children, Jack, Pat, Jim, Mary Jo, and Mike on their dairy farm. The fourth generation youth are now becoming 4-H members.
“My grandmother began fostering the importance of 4-H in our family,” said Granddaughter Lori McCullough Dunn. “She inspired us all to try new projects and to always do our best in every activity we took on.”
Dunn’s children are now members. “My dream is that their 4-H experience is as fun and diversified as mine was, and that they feel compelled to explore new activities, build self-confidence through participation, and make many new friends along the way, just as I did,” Dunn said. “If they accomplish even a few of those goals, then grandma’s legacy of 4-H leadership will truly live on.”
4-H has played a major role in the career paths of the McCullough family, Sibley said. “From dairy farmers, ag and elementary teachers, and meat processing plant owner, to agriculture, insurance and horticulture sales, it is certain that many of the members of the McCullough family found their career paths through 4-H.”
The Illinois 4-H Foundation’s mission is to build relationships to generate financial resources for Illinois 4-H, said Foundation Executive Director Angie Barnard. “Funding from individual donors, our Illinois 4-H Project Partners, companies, and friends of Illinois 4-H help the Foundation support statewide programming initiatives along with scholarships, assistance to national events, grant opportunities, and assists us in filling funding gaps.”