The Colorado 4-H Hall of Fame recently added two new members: Mary Kraft of Morgan County and Jerry Sonnenberg of Logan County, both of whom have made significant contributions or accomplishments in their lives that they attribute to their 4-H experience.
The Hall of Fame was established in 2011 to recognize outstanding Colorado 4-H alumni. This year’s induction ceremony took place earlier in June during the 4-H State Conference on the Colorado State University campus in Fort Collins.
The theme for this year’s Colorado 4-H Hall of Fame inductees is “Exemplary Leadership Serving Agriculture,” and the two newest members each tell a story of the positive influences that 4-H has had on their lives.
Mary (McIntosh) Kraft is a fourth-generation Colorado dairy farmer. Growing up she worked on her family’s Adams County dairy farm. Her love of animals led to 4-H projects that included horses, dog obedience and veterinary science. Additional projects allowed her the opportunity to participate in club leadership, speech contests, demonstrations and exchange trips — a training ground for organizational skills, parliamentary procedure and community service.
Kraft notes that her successes are the combination of 4-H activities and her parents’ dedication to the 4-H program. Her parents, David and Joyce McIntosh, both led projects, fundraisers, 4-H camp and mentored 4-H members in addition to running their dairy farm.
“They set an example of service, leadership and quality work output that are bedrock for my life choices and accomplishments,” Kraft said.
Kraft is a key agricultural and community leader in Colorado, having served on various boards related to economic development, the community hospital and performing arts. She is a graduate of the Colorado Agricultural Leadership Program; Colorado State University, with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Technical Communications; and the New York Institute of Technology with a master’s degree in business administration. Recently, she was named president-elect to the Colorado Livestock Association — the first women to hold an elected office or serve on the board of directors of that organization.
“Her tireless commitment and leadership to Colorado agricultural commodity groups, along with her passion for consumer education about food production, makes Mary a valuable champion for Colorado agriculture,” said Colorado State 4-H Director Jeff Goodwin. “The public speaking skills Mary learned as an Adams County 4-H member is just one of the many 4-H life skills she attributes to making her an outstanding leader in the Colorado agricultural community.”
Kraft and her husband Chris started their own 200-cow dairy, Badger Creek Farm, in 1988, in Morgan County. Improvements to the dairy took place through seven remodels. They then designed and built a second, state-of-the-art facility, Quail Ridge. In 2007 alone this dairy milked 4,200 head three times daily. The two dairies employ 75 people full-time and contribute to the economic fabric of Morgan County and Colorado.
A 4-H member in Logan County for a number of years, Jerry Sonnenberg served in many of the offices of his club while successfully completing a wide range of projects from livestock to leathercraft. Sonnenberg participated in 4-H leadership conferences as well as trips throughout Colorado to learn about the agricultural and cultural diversity within the state. After his tenure as a member, he served as a project leader for several Logan County youth in a number of different projects.
“The principles learned in 4-H have made a lasting impression in my life,” said Sonnenberg. The leadership skills and work ethic acquired through 4-H are evident in his accomplishments as an adult. “The goals I set and attained with the assistance of my 4-H leaders were instrumental in preparing me for a career of service to others.”
Through his involvement in 4-H, Sonnenberg has developed partnerships with people from a variety of backgrounds. His 4-H experience also has inspired his commitment to have a significant positive influence on the future of agriculture and our youth.
“Jerry is committed to ensuring and protecting agriculture as a way of life for future generations,” said Goodwin. “Whether working on the farm, ranch or in the legislative arena, Jerry is constantly working and serving.”
4-H is a community of young people across America learning leadership, citizenship and life skills. Visit 4-H online at colorado4h.org. Like 4-H on facebook at www.facebook.com/colorado4h.
Colorado 4-H is the youth-serving organization of Colorado State University, and a department of CSU Extension. Extension is the local university community connection for research-based information about natural resource management; living well through raising kids, eating right and spending smart; gardening and commercial horticulture; the latest agricultural production technologies and community development. CSU Extension 4-H and youth development programs reach more than 90,000 young people annually, over half in urban communities.