4-H students awarded for dedication to community

Published 12:01 am Thursday, December 13, 2007

NATCHEZ — Two local students are raising the bar on community service.

Ellen Bairnsfather, 13, and Caleb Vines, 15, won the 2007 4H Good Provider Award in recognition of their dedication to community service.

Vines is a ninth-grader at Vidalia High School and Bairnsfather is an eight-grader at Monterey High School.

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While many might think of 4H as simply an organization devoted to rearing livestock, Vines said it much, much more.

“It’s just a good way to help out,” Vines said.

Vines said he first became involved with 4H seven years ago when he and his brother tended their own flock of sheep.

But when Vines’ family moved to Vidalia he had to give up his sheep, but he stayed with 4H.

While Vines no longer tends sheep he has translated the care he once gave to them to his community.

Over the past year Vines has made Christmas cards for the elderly, planted flowers at local churches and sacked satsumas for fundraisers.

Bairnsfather has a similar history with 4H, while participating in a myriad of service projects in the community she still raises goats.

“I really like the goats,” she said. “But goats need a lot of attention.”

Bairnsfather said she spends plenty of her time cleaning, feeding and primping her goats for 4H competitions.

And when she’s not tending the goats she’s tending the community.

Bairnsfather earned her Good Provider award by collecting clothes for hurricane victims, donating money for various fundraisers and volunteering at the concession stand for her school’s sporting events.

But Vines and Bairnsfather can’t tell you why they make good recipients for the award.

LSU AgCeneter State 4H Youth Development Officer Tanya Walker said the teens’ attitude about the award is fitting.

“They have just done so much service they don’t think it’s a big deal,” she said. “And that’s why it’s a big deal.”

Walker said Vines and Bairnsfather both kept a portfolio documenting their service projects.

“They put a lot of time into all of their projects,” she said.

As part of their award Vines and Bairnsfather were sent on a trip to New Orleans and given an opportunity to tour hurricane-damaged neighborhoods.

They also both won a cash prize of $75.

Vines is the son of Ken and Delynn Vines.

Bairnsfather is the daughter of Joe and Debbie Bairnsfather.