STILLWATER, Okla. — It wasn’t until her children showed an interest in 4-H that Rayanne Carpenter began to learn more about the youth development organization – and she’s been learning ever since.
After her middle child was active in the organization for about three years, Carpenter decided she needed to fully invest herself and became a volunteer leader. Now, nearly a dozen years later, Carpenter continues to volunteer with the Blanchard 4-H Club in McClain County where she leads the Cloverbuds.
Her dedication to the organization was recognized recently when she was named the 2022 State 4-H Lifetime Volunteer of the Year at the 4-H Parent/Volunteer Conference at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. This award is presented to volunteer leaders with 10 or more years of service. She was also recognized as the Southeast District Lifetime Volunteer of the Year and the McClain County Lifetime Volunteer of the Year.
“When my daughter joined 4-H, I didn’t really know much about Extension or the organization, but after seeing how she was learning and growing, I decided I needed to be involved,” Carpenter said. “I became a certified volunteer, then later became a volunteer leader.”
Even though her own children have aged out of the program, Carpenter said she continues to volunteer her time and talents because she knows the values 4-H teaches its members.
“4-H’ers learn so much more beyond their specific projects. They build on those skills they’re going to use throughout their lives, such as getting up, setting goals, dressing appropriately for the occasion or sewing on a button,” she said. “It’s just fun to see them grow up, go to college and become successful, solid citizens.”
“Rayanne is someone members and other volunteers look up to as a 4-H volunteer. She is a person others go to for ideas and feedback for their own clubs,” Taylor said. “She brings such a positive attitude to everything she does.”
Carpenter is the president of the volunteer council in McClain County. She also oversees the concession stand at the McClain County Spring Livestock Show.
Carpenter, a teacher and school librarian for Blanchard Public Schools, said she uses 4-H curriculum not only in her 4-H club but also with her students. She said the research-based information comes from universities and all the lessons are enthusiastic and well done.
“No matter what, using 4-H curriculum to teach children is a good thing,” she said.
Hunter Haxton, former McClain County 4-H’er, said Carpenter is an outstanding professional, mentor and teacher.
“For several years, she has been among the most visible proponents of education and fundraising for McClain County 4-H. She’s been out in front teaching members and volunteers alike,” Haxton said. “Because of her love for teaching, she brings so much to the 4-H program and makes learning fun for all, whether we’re learning a new STEM project or preparing for an upcoming competition.”
Carpenter said she would encourage other parents with children new to 4-H to consider becoming a volunteer leader.
“It’s amazing to watch your club members grow up and go do great things in life, and that can be attributed to 4-H,” she said. “I’m glad I get to be a part of that.”
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