More than 160 Supporters Attended Donor Appreciation Lunch at Beck’s Hybrids

Published: April 4, 2012

West Lafayette, Ind. – More than 160 Indiana 4‑H supporters gathered on Friday to celebrate Indiana 4‑H programs and allow the Indiana 4‑H Foundation to thank all its 2011 donors with a Donor Appreciation Lunch and Annual Meeting. Beck’s Superior Hybrids generously hosted the event at their facility in Atlanta, Indiana. Board president Christy Denault kicked off the meeting with a report on the Foundation’s status. “I am pleased to report that in 2011 the Foundation reached $1.1 million in assets, which means the Indiana 4‑H Foundation is supporting more programs and giving more scholarships than at any time in its history,” said Denault. Four years ago the Foundation’s assets totaled $250,000. The Foundation credits this tremendous progress to donor generosity and support during difficult economic times.

The Foundation also has added seven new endowments since 2009, some of the toughest years for fundraising in U.S. history. Two of the more recent endowments include the Jabaay Endowment, which helps ensure that 4‑H programs are accessible for special needs youth, and the Wayne and Barbara Jennings Endowment, which will provide one scholarship a year for a 4‑H youth in Hendricks County.

Sonny Beck, President of Beck’s Hybrids, gave the keynote presentation. He spoke about how he learned innovation and gained an entrepreneurial spirit at a young age because of 4‑H. He talked about building a “chicken picker” as one of his first electrical projects in 4‑H. The chicken picker was designed to pull the feathers off a chicken, a job Sonny helped his mother with and didn’t like doing. “I figured there had to be a better way,” Sonny explained, “so I built one.” His experience with 4‑H continues to contribute to his company’s leadership and hiring philosophies. “We look for a positive attitude and work ethic when hiring employees. I have seen that 4‑H can instill these qualities and a determination to succeed in young people at a time that is very important in the life of a young person.”

Andrew Schmidt, a 2012 recipient of the Foundation’s Senior Scholarship sponsored by Beck’s, also spoke at the meeting. “I would never have experienced these amazing opportunities, however, without volunteers like you who dedicate their time, energy, and finances to help 4‑H members learn. Your efforts have gone a long way, by helping 4‑H’ers like me gain the responsibility they’ll need as both adults and future 4‑H volunteers,” Schmidt said. He concluded with a thank you message to the donors and volunteers in the audience, “Your support of 4‑H has been a wise investment as participating in 4‑H produces students that colleges are looking for. Thank you for helping build up the next generation of 4‑H volunteers and being the catalyst for positive change that the fuels the Revolution of Responsibility.”

Purdue Extension educators and Indiana 4‑H youth members were on hand to demonstrate some of the newest programs Indiana 4‑H Foundation secured funding for in 2011. Dr. Renée McKee, Assistant Director of Extension and State 4‑H Program Leader, explained how these programs are part of the bigger picture of 4‑H’s three national mission mandates of citizenship, healthy living, and science. Donors were kept busy using household items to extract DNA from strawberries, checking out the JunkDrawer Robotics curriculum, and exercising as part of the 4‑H Healthy Living 60 Challenge. They also heard Junior Leaders talk about their experience in launching a weekend food backpack program for children who receive free and reduced lunch.

“This was a great opportunity for our donors to hear from today’s 4‑H youth, and give them some hands-on experience with the kinds of programs they are supporting,” said Shelly Bingle-Coffman, Executive Director of the Indiana 4‑H Foundation. “We can’t thank them enough for their generous support that makes these programs possible and makes a positive impact on the lives of thousands of young people all across the state.”

For more than fifty years, the Indiana 4‑H Foundation has supported Indiana 4‑H, the largest youth development program in the state, by building partnerships to secure financial support, advocacy and promotion of Indiana 4‑H Youth Development now and for generations to come. The 4‑H Youth Development Program is the single largest youth development program in Indiana. The Indiana 4‑H Foundation is a 501(c)3 public charity. For more information about the Indiana 4‑H Foundation and how you can become involved, visit or contact the Executive Director, Shelly Bingle-Coffman, at or 317-445-7977.