AUSTIN — Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller is pleased to honor Daniel “D.J.” Kurtenbach, a junior from South Grand Prairie High School in Grand Prairie, Texas, as the winner of the Texas Department of Agriculture’s monthly GROW award. The award Gives Recognition for Outstanding Work to middle and high school students who demonstrate leadership and excellence inside and outside the classroom.
“I’d like to say how proud I am of D.J. for earning this month’s GROW award,” Commissioner Miller said. “Young Texans like D.J. make me hopeful for the future of our great state. He’s got the talent and the drive to succeed that has been fueling success in Texas for hundreds of years. Way to go, D.J.!”
D.J. was chosen from hundreds of Texas students for demonstrating leadership and academic success in his school activities, as well as his commitment to community service. D.J. was nominated for the GROW award by Angela Hudson, 4-H youth leadership development volunteer mentor.
“I am a fourth generation 4-H member who is truly humbled to receive the GROW recipient recognition for May,” D.J. said.
D.J. is not only active in school through his extracurricular activities, but he also has a passion for 4-H. Being a 4-H youth leadership development volunteer, Hudson has had the opportunity to watch D.J. in action. She said he is constantly thinking about how to make an impact by utilizing every opportunity put in front of him as a life lesson.
In addition to 4-H, D.J. is a member of Varsity Football, Varsity Track, Texas 4-H State Council and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He is a top 15 percent student in school. D.J. is also a leader in many of the organizations he participates in, including serving as president of the Dallas 4-H Citizenship Club, first vice president of the 4-H District IV and as Texas Council Community Service chairman.
Beyond his extracurricular activities and academic achievement, D.J. is an active member in his community. He helps out when he can and has organized the “Cleats for Kids” project every year since 2008. It all started when D.J. saw a friend in need of a pair of shoes to play sports. He gave his friend his shoes, and then turned this into a worldwide donation effort to provide children of all ages the equipment needed to play their favorite sports.
“Many people don’t realize the importance of agriculture and sports and how they impact our society,” D.J. said. “For eight years, I have collected gently used equipment and shoes to give to kids all over the world so they can have the same opportunities to get out and play like I do. I make sure to donate footballs, soccer balls, basketballs and cleats that use cowhide leather to promote my family farm heritage and help our farmers. Without agriculture, we simply couldn’t play sports, and I am grateful to our farm families each and every day. I have donated over 30,000 items and reached over 3 million people while helping over 20 charities.”
D.J.’s leadership is evident both in and out of the classroom, and he has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including the Texas Prudential Spirit of Community Award Bronze Medal, National 4-H Youth in Action Finalist-Citizenship, and Rotarian Paul Harris Fellow and Scholarship Winner 4-H-Achievement.
“D.J. has a true servant’s heart, and he is constantly working to make his community, country and world a better place,” Hudson said. “This young man has been a strong leader in every aspect of the word. From the moment I met him more than 10 years ago, I knew he would grow to make a huge impact on his community but never imagined the world.”
After graduation, D.J. plans to attend a Texas university and hopes to receive his secondary education degree in history. According to Hudson, he has high hopes of following in his father’s footsteps to become a teacher and coach.
For more on D.J.’s accomplishments, click here. The Texas Department of Agriculture established the GROW award to celebrate outstanding student leaders who demonstrate excellence in either their academic or extracurricular activities. Students can be nominated by community leaders such as teachers, coaches, school administrators, mayors, county judges or anyone else committed to recognizing youth leadership and achievement.
Between October to May each year, TDA selects one Texas student per month to receive the GROW award. This is our final award of the 2016-2017 school year. To learn more about GROW, click here.
—Texas Department of Agriculture
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