Chris Willow
  • Emily Bergsieker.
    Emily Bergsieker.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Celebrating National Volunteer Week, April 16-22, the Missouri 4-H Foundation is proud to present Emily Bergsieker with the 2023 Naomi Crouch 4-H Volunteer Leadership Award. Bergsieker is recognized for more than 13 years of service and support to 4-H in Lafayette County.

“We are honored to recognize Emily Bergsieker for her outstanding efforts on behalf of Lafayette County 4-H,” said Rachel Augustine, director of the Missouri 4-H Foundation.

Recipients of the Naomi Crouch 4-H Volunteer Leadership Award may select a 4-H club or county program to receive a $250 award in their honor. Bergsieker chose the Lafayette County 4-H Council.

Q: How did you first become involved with 4-H?

A: I joined 4-H as a third grader. The youth specialist at the time came to my classroom to talk about 4-H and send home information for my parents. I was an 11-year member of the Fairview 4-H Club in Lexington, Mo. When I aged out, I took one year off and then started volunteering as a project leader for floriculture. After a couple years, the club leaders asked if I would become an assistant club leader. I agreed as long as they didn't make me club leader, because I was trying to finish my college degree and working full time. Well, they still made me a club leader the next year and I served Fairview 4-H Club as their club leader for about 11 years until I took my current position as the youth specialist for Lafayette and Ray counties in 2019.

Q: Why do you think 4-H is important for young people?

A: 4-H gives youth the ability to explore their passions, find new interests, belong to a group and meet new friends as well as build their confidence in themselves to help with their leadership and public speaking skills.

Q: What made you want to become a 4-H volunteer?

A: I started volunteering to help youth learn about projects that I was passionate about, but then I never left because I kept getting involved in more aspects of the program, from 4-H Council advisory board to fair board treasurer. All these areas of the program are helping youth in different ways.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of being a 4-H volunteer?

A: One of the most rewarding parts of being a volunteer is watching youth grow and develop. An example: When I became club leader of Fairview, there was a young girl that joined the club. She was shy but she loved sewing and it was fun watching all the different outfits she made, making it to state fashion revue multiple times. She now is a 10-year member of the club, serves as county council president and will be serving as the 2023-2024 State Council president. She is an excellent leader and communicator and has a passion for the 4-H program. To watch her accomplish so much and not be that shy girl anymore is why I volunteer and now work full-time for the program.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to give back to 4-H?

A: Sometimes it may feel that you are just giving and giving to the program, but if you watch those youth, you will see the sparks happening and it will make all the time and energy worth it. You have to remember what you are doing for the youth and to make a difference in their life.


The Naomi Crouch 4-H Volunteer Leadership Award is presented annually to volunteers and organizations for devoting their time and talents to MU Extension’s 4-H youth development program. The award is named in honor of Naomi Crouch, a native of Plattsburg, Mo., who was a 4-H volunteer and Missouri 4-H Foundation trustee for more than 20 years.

About Missouri 4-H

Missouri 4-H is an active, dynamic organization of young people who are learning, growing, and preparing to be the leaders of today and tomorrow – making a real difference in their community, country, and world. 4-H is the youth development program of the University of Missouri and the nation’s Cooperative Extension System. For more information, visit

About the Missouri 4-H Foundation

The Missouri 4-H Foundation is the independent philanthropic partner of the University of Missouri Extension 4-H Center for Youth Development. For more than 70 years, the foundation has secured and managed funds for Missouri 4-H, providing higher education scholarships, recognizing 4-H volunteers, and supporting the work of MU Extension 4-H. Learn more at

Emily Bergsieker.