CHEVY CHASE, MARYLAND – In celebration of National 4-H Week, National 4-H Council announced that Madelyn Zimmerman, 19, of Milford, is the winner of the 2021 4-H Youth in Action Pillar Award for Agriculture.
Zimmerman will be recognized nationally for her drive to provide agricultural opportunities to at-risk students and youth with disabilities in her community. The 4-H Youth in Action Awards began in 2010 to recognize 4-H’ers who have used the knowledge they gained in 4-H to create a lasting impact in their communities.
Zimmerman identified at-risk youth in her school district and invited them to show animals at her farm. Primarily focused on youth who felt alienated at school, she provided a safe space for youth to belong while teaching them to show animals and find their passion.
Additionally, Zimmerman got involved with a startup program with Purdue University Extension in Kosciusko County, called Poss-ABILITIES, a program designed to provide mentorship and agricultural experiences to youth with disabilities.
“It all started at our county fair when a little girl with Down syndrome came up to me and my cow and said, ‘I wish I could do that’,” Zimmerman recalls. “She didn’t think she could show an animal because of her differences.”
After speaking with the girl’s parents, Zimmerman knew she had an opportunity to make a difference.
“There are so many things youth with special needs can do,” Zimmerman said. “They may need some adjustments or extra help, but they have amazing talents and love learning something new.” In the past ten years, Zimmerman has watched dozens of youth grow in confidence and communication skills through her work in 4-H: “We all need to find our place in this world, and 4-H offers countless opportunities to make that happen.”
Zimmerman will receive a $5,000 scholarship for higher education and will serve as an advocate and spokesperson for 4-H Agriculture programming.
“Madelyn is a shining example of bringing together people of diverse backgrounds through agriculture to make a positive impact on the lives of young people and their communities,” said Lisa Safarian, President of Crop Science North America and National 4H Council Board Trustee. “At Bayer, we are proud to support many young people – just like Madelyn – as they learn and develop leadership skills that can make a positive difference in our world in the years ahead.”