SOMERSET COUNTY: 4-H Youth Development program names 10 scholarship winners

Courtesy photo

A group of ten students from throughout Somerset County were recently named as the recipients of this year’s Somerset County 4-H scholarships.

The scholarship program, which is open to members and alumni of the Somerset County 4-H Youth Development program, is awarding a total of $16,500 to this year’s winners to help fund their continuing education.

Recipient of the Joseph J. & Florence K. Klimas Scholarship is Alyssa Peterson of Middlesex; 4-H Trainmasters Scholarship and Rob Fellows Memorial Scholarship, Melanie Quick of Flemington; 4-H Alpaca Club Scholarship, Melissa Bright from Hillsborough; 4-H Prep Scholarship, Melissa Bright from Hillsborough and Wil Staats of Bridgewater. Recipients of the Somerset County 4-H Association Scholarships are Brianna Ames of Hillsborough, Christine Arcoleo of Basking Ridge, Owen Busler of Bridgewater, Erin Kopecky of Bound Brook, Hannah McCray of Hillsborough, Megan Parise of Skillman, Melanie Quick of Flemington and Wil Staats of Bridgewater.

Brianna Ames has been a Somerset County 4-H member for the past eight years. Throughout that time she has been a member of the Woof Dog Club, Stablemates 4-H Horse Club, Beef Clubs, Hippology, as well as Teen Horse Council. Her leadership and mentoring roles have been recognized within each club she has been an active member. She has dedicated numerous hours and days to a plethora of county activities and outreach initiatives.

Through her work with the Stablemates Horse Club, Brianna helped organize and run the benefit horse show for a young girl named Campbell Grace Hoyt who battled Anaplastic Ependymoma. Brianna is currently a senior in High School. She will be attending the University of Delaware in the fall to pursue a degree in Animal Science.

Christine Arcoleo has been a Somerset County 4-H member for the past ten years. Throughout that time she has been a member of the Crazy Frog Hoppers and 4-H Senior Council. She has been a mentor to the younger members within her clubs and has participated in a variety of community service projects over the years.

Among them are the following: collecting toys, making dolls and creating Easter baskets for children in hospital; raking leaves for the elderly; road cleanups; making baked goods for local blood drives; and assisting the public with making crafts and learning Double Dutch at the annual 4-H Fairs.

On a 4-H National Level, Christine was chairman of the Healthy Living and Congressional Living Workshop Committee during her attendance at the Citizenship Washington Focus Conference in Washington DC. Christine is currently finishing her freshman year at The University of Notre Dame.

Melissa Bright has been a Somerset County 4-H member for the past eight years. Throughout that time she has been a member of the Woof Dog Club, Senior Council and New Centre Dairy Club. Since Melissa does not live on a farm she became part of the Loan-a-Calf program, which allows her to borrow a calf and assist in training it to maturity.

Melissa has been part of the County Dairy Quiz Bowl team and has competed in the National Dairy Quiz Bowl, Jeopardy, Speech and Tri-fold contest for the past five years. Melissa was selected the 2016-17 New Jersey State Dairy Princess. Melissa is currently finishing her freshman year at Raritan Valley Community College. She is completing her prerequisites and is planning to continue her studies in Animal Science at Rutgers University.

Owen Busler has been a Somerset County 4-H member for the past five years. Throughout that time he has been a member of the Roboforce Club. He has also been a 4-H TOPS Camp Counselor and 4-H Fair Herdsman for the last several years. One year he accomplished his goal of staying at the 4-H Fair for 100 continuous hours, which is an incredible accomplishment.

In 2015-16, Owen co-coached the Lego League team and with his guidance, the team was successful in winning the local and NJ state championships. Owen is also a member of his high school robotics team for the past four years, and team captain for the last two years.

Owen earned the rank of Eagle Scout from the Boys Scouts of America. Owen will be attending The New Jersey Institute of Technology School of Engineering and Albert Dorman Honors College in the fall.

Christine Jensen has been a Somerset County 4-H member for the past six years. Throughout her time in 4-H she has been a member of the Discover Prep Club, Wags N’ Whiskers Club and Senior Council.

For the past two years, she has been the vice-president of the Wags N’ Whiskers Club. She has also been a part of the 4-H mentoring program called “big-little,” where older members are placed with a younger member for the year to help out when needed. Christine will be attending Rutgers University in the fall.

Hannah McCray has been a Somerset County 4-H member for the past six years. Throughout that time she has been a member of Udder Club, Sheepfold, Branchburg Beef Dairy and Livestock, Exchange and a peer member for the Clover Explorers. She has raised a beef cow and pig from farm to plate. She is president of FFA at Polytech and on the academic team at Hillsborough High School.

Hannah has been the recipient of the Veterinary Science, Goat and Personal Development County Awards. She is an intern at the Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center as a foal sitter. Hannah is enrolled as a pre-veterinary student at the University of Delaware for the fall of 2017, but has also been offered a Guaranteed Transfer Option to Cornell University for the fall of 2018.

Erin Kopecky has been a member of Somerset County 4-H for the past 11 years. Throughout that time she has been a member of the Discovery Prep Club, Fantastic Fiber Club, Fantastic Foto Fanatics Club and the Wags ‘N’ Whiskers Dog Club.

Wags ‘N’ Whiskers is where Erin bloomed as a mentor and found herself within 4-H. While balancing school work and a new job as a Veterinary Clinic Administrator, Erin has managed to remain an active member of the Wags ‘N’ Whiskers Dog Club. Over the last year she has worked extremely hard as a Teen Leader, where she was instrumental in helping to organize the clubs’ annual county dog show.

Currently she is finishing up her freshman year at Raritan Valley Community College, where is she a Liberal Arts major.

Megan Parise has been a member of the Somerset County 4-H program for the past nine years. Throughout that time Megan has been a member of the Branchburg Beef, Dairy and Livestock, Chaps n’ Spurs and 4-H Exchange clubs. She has excelled in all the clubs, holding many offices and chairing multiple committees.

Megan has shown beef cattle at the Somerset County 4-H Fair and has competed successfully as a member of the Livestock Judging team. Megan was one of the high scorers at the Delaware Valley University contest last April. She is currently a freshman at Raritan Valley Community College pursing a degree in nursing.

Alyssa Peterson was a member of Somerset County 4-H for seven years. She was a member of the Country Kickers and Senior Council. During her time in 4-H she was part of the North Jersey Teen Conference planning committee, as well as the 4-H mentoring program called “big-little,” where older members are placed with a younger member for the year to help out when needed.

Alyssa generously gave her time towards programs such as 4-H TOPS Camp, the Somerset County Youth Council and Beats Inc., a therapeutic riding program for children with different disabilities. Alyssa is currently attending Kean University and will graduate in 2018.

Melanie Quick has been a member of the Somerset County 4-H program for the past nine years. During those nine years she has been a member of The Mighty Cavits & Rodents Club, People Pick Me Ups Pet Therapy Club, Senior Council Community Service Club, and Village Hidden in the Clovers Amine and Manga Club.

Throughout all her clubs, Melanie has actively taken on leadership and mentoring roles. She has been a member of the NJTC Planning Committee, run club meetings, planned community service activities, will be attending Citizen Washington Focus this summer, and most recently joined the 4-H Teen App Committee.

Melanie will be attending West Virginia University Honors College in the fall where is she plans to pursue a degree in Psychology and Women’s Studies.

Wil Staats has been a member of the Somerset County 4-H program for the past 12 years. Wil is a member of the Woolly Ones, Exchange, Branchburg Livestock and the Fine Arts Club. He excels at every task he takes on, from raising quality sheep to sculpting remarkable ceramics.  He’s held multiple club offices, traveled across the US as a representative for 4-H, and invested countless hours in community service.

Wil serves as a role model and friend to his fellow club members, and even took on the additional responsibility of leasing his animals to youth who do not live on farms.  This fall, Wil plans to attend Raritan Valley Community College, to begin his studies in early childhood education.

The 4-H Youth Development Program is part of Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station Cooperative Extension. 4-H educational programs are offered to all youth, grades K-13, on an age-appropriate basis, without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, marital status, civil union status, domestic partnership status, military service, veteran status, and any other category protected by law.

For additional information, contact somersetcounty4h@co.somerset.nj.us or www.4histops.org.