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Determination, leadership and compassion

By JUDITH LINDER-ASHAKIH • Jul 6, 2019 at 10:00 AM

Two young women from Huron County have been awarded Kevin Zimmerman Memorial 4-H Scholarships of $500 each to give a boost to their upcoming college expenses. This is the fifth year that two graduating seniors have received awards for excellence.

Amelia Opper of the Monroeville Peru Patriots and Regan Olak of Huron County Clovers both were encouraged and excited to join 4-H as Clover Buds. Each has 13 years' experience pursuing a multitude of very different 4-H projects each year. From feeder hogs to cake decorating, from raising cattle to public speaking, from camp councilor to leadership camp, Opper and Olak have found similar values accrue from their efforts. Cooperation, hard work, responsibility are lessons and skills gained today in 4-H clubs that will be useful for a lifetime.

Amelia Opper credits her grandfather, Gary Opper, an advisor, because "He really wanted me and my brother to join as Clover Buds. I was always first to give demonstrations, (even) in front of older kids. Then I found out about officers and decided I wanted to be one." She did this at age 10 as a news reporter. Since then she has held many other offices and been president three times. Her club currently has 50 to 60 members. Needless to say, she learned to be a public speaker in a hurry. It helped to have as advisors both her dad and her aunt, as well as Ken Brooks.

BGSU Firelands College is already a large part of Opper's life as she has collected 30 college credits while in high school and will stay on at the Firelands campus. Being in 4-H leadership camp and being president has impacted her ability to be a competent leader and student, getting people out of their shells and ready to work together. Opper says, "As president you have to get youngsters to pay attention."

She has over 150 hours of community service. She has been a Junior Fair Board member for two years, has won varsity sport letters in school track and field, has been a 4-H camp councilor four years, also an officer in her FFA club. She continues to be an active member of Ohio Farm Bureau. She couldn't wait to become a server by fifth grade for her parish church, St. Alphonsus, as well as St. Joseph. Her aim is to become a nurse practitioner.

Regan Olak says that "as a Clover Bud I began to learn leadership and to build skills that are going to take me through life. Being a delegate from Huron County to the Ohio 4-H Leadership Camp at Camp Ohio was an experience in meeting others loving 4-H as much as we do." (Regan's twin sister, Kaitlynn, is also a dedicated member.)

Along with leadership projects, Olak has raised goats and alpacas. Samples of the myriad skills 4-H members learn are shown in Olak's choices of public speaking, cooking, clothing, canning and freezing projects, and well, yes, a laundry project. Photography and a pygmy goat take up time. Don't forget all the demonstrations members put on at each meeting. Add her terms on the Junior Fair Board. She is a volunteer on the CARTEENS program through the local court system. In a self-determined project she called "Happiness is Homemade," she created dog treats. With her twin sister, Kaitlynn, she was co-winner at 2018 Junior Fair Queen competition.

Olak will be studying at Baldwin Wallace where she plans to pursue a double major in public health and community service as well as becoming a neonatal and intensive care nurse. She shadowed such a nurse in a special project at Metro Hospital where she "saw some eye-opening cases which got me interested in medicine." She felt drawn to the hands-on care due to the compassion and concern she felt the neonatal nurse projected. Nursing could also provide an opportunity to travel.

"I didn't want to become a doctor since my mother has two of us going to college," Olak shared. "I can upgrade my studies after seeing where it leads. I'm very thankful to the Zimmerman family. It (the award) will be well used for college and 'Help to make the best better," she said, tongue-in- cheek.

Olak said she heard about the Zimmerman Scholarship in school, from friends, and from the Extension Office mailing of Bonnie Malone. She speaks to future 4-H members about scholarship availability by saying, "Take all opportunities possible to (get) help for your future success. So many supportive people in our county make this possible. There's no price tag on 4H. It's such an incredible experience."

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