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The Lauderdale County Commission recently recognized Alabama Extension professionals for their outstanding service to the county’s 4-H program.
Dr. Gary Lemme, director of Alabama Extension, presented the Lauderdale County Extension team with a Crystal Clover, which recognizes the county as a 4-H Centennial Youth Initiative county and Awards of Excellence medals.  Lauderdale County is one of 22 Alabama counties designated as a CYI county.  
In addition to the award of CYI county status, Lauderdale County will get a full-time 4-H Club Foundation regional agent. The funding of this agent is provided by Alabama Extension and the 4-H Club Foundation. 
“It’s an honor to be able to work with these Extension professionals and see first-hand the impact that they are making in the lives of youth in Alabama,” said Lemme. “They have accomplished a lot this year within the county’s 4-H programming, which I am certain will impact youth for years to come.”
The Centennial Youth Initiative (CYI) is committed to developing 4-H programs in Alabama to increase access so that more youth can participate in the program, and to enhance the learning experiences that are available to youth. The award is based on the following standards of excellence in Alabama 4-H programming:
·       Forming a unified Alabama 4-H team and program        
·       Utilizing consistent research-based curriculum resources
·       Diversifying delivery modes tailored to today's youth
·       Promoting plan-of-work development and teamwork at all levels
·       Aligning staff and position assignments to support program resources and delivery modes 
Lemme said that the Lauderdale County 4-H program has excelled in forming a unified 4-H team and program, which has helped the staff diversify its delivery modes to better meet the needs of today's youth.
All four Lauderdale County Commissioners are former 4-H’ers. “4-H builds leaders, proof of our county commission,” Tilenius added.
“We are in grades four, five and six of Lauderdale County schools and in certain programs in Florence schools, but we certainly want to reach older students and expand the program we offer,” said Heidi Tilenius, Alabama Extension coordinator for Lauderdale County.
Ruthie Smith, a fifth grade student at Lauderdale County Elementary School and a 4-H member for two years told her 4-H story during the special ceremony. She thanked everyone for their support of 4-H in the county. She added that 4-H had provided her with fun and wonderful learning opportunities and that she had participated in some excellent projects. Some of her 4-H projects include Speak Up Alabama, Chef 4-H, Pig Squeal, Chick Chain, The World I See Photography, and The World I Imagine Photography. 
“I learned that self-discipline is one of the most important things in 4-H, as well as being responsible,” she said.  “I have learned that to be the best you have to practice, work hard and know your project.”