Sonoma-Marin Farm News, October 2011
Story by Tim Tesconi
There were more than 600 people at the 4-H Foundation of Sonoma County’s Barbecue held on Sept. 17 at Richard’s Grove and Saralee’s Vineyard in Windsor where more than $100,000 in gross revenues was raised.
Once the bills are paid, the benefit barbecue and auction is expected to net somewhere around $70,000, said Susan Hansen, executive director of the 4-H Foundation of Sonoma County. She said attendance was up over last year and guests generously opened their wallets to help support the 4-H Foundation, which provides scholarships and grants to 4-H club members. The foundation also operates the 4-H Center in Rohnert Park.
“We may be faced with challenging economic times but the success of the barbecue just shows that our community has its priorities straight: always support youth development because our future depends on it,” said Hansen.
The theme was “Happiness is….Head, Hands, Heart and Health.” The event showcased the apple heritage of Sonoma County and included an antique apple delivery truck festooned with cases of apples, a Charles Shultz statue of Lucy holding her blue ribbon apple pie, an “appletini” signature drink, and numerous apple varieties to sample from Walker Apples in Graton.
Dinner was delicious with BBQ chicken and tri-tip prepared by Lombardi’s Catering of Petaluma. Dessert was apple crisp courtesy of the Piner High School Culinary program, which is under the direction of Debbie Grove, a former 4-H Club member. The apple crisp was topped with Screamin’ Mimi’s vanilla ice cream.
A 4-H horse color guard, under the leadership of Pat Alexander of Kenwood, presented the flags and national anthem before the live auction kicked into high gear. New this year was the Golden Ticket Lottery, with a 1-in-60 chance to win a live auction item of your choice before the bidding started. Tickets sold out quickly. Paddles were raised quickly for exclusive dinners, trips to Disneyland and Alaska, and even a minature-donkey.
The Fund A Need Scholarship drive raised over $8,000 this year.
Saralee McClelland Kunde, a director of the 4-H Foundation and chairwoman of the event held at her vineyard estate, said the event was a tremendous success financially and in community outreach and goodwill for the 4-H program.
“We were blessed with perfect weather for the barbecue. People stayed and enjoyed a beautiful evening in the Russian River Valley. The event shows the widespread community support for 4-H and the 4-H legacy in Sonoma County,” said Kunde. “The event has become a reunion for many people who were 4-H members in their youth. It’s so gratifying to see the continued support for a program that means so much to so many in Sonoma County.”
Kunde is a former 4-H club member herself and a generous benefactor to the 4-H program. She and her husband Richard Kunde donated their Richard’s Grove, a private park, as the venue for the barbecue and activities.
Petaluma veterinarian Fred Groverman, president of the 4-H Foundation, said the benefit barbecue not only raised funds for the 4-H Foundation but awareness about the 4-H program in Sonoma County.
The barbecue attracted generations of former 4-H Club members who came together for what has become an annual reunion of those who wore the classic white and green uniform over the last 77 years. Sonoma County’s first 4-H Club was chartered in 1934.
Many of today’s leaders in agriculture and business are proud to call themselves 4-H alumni.
The barbecue will be held at the same time next year at Richard’s Grove and Saralee’s Vineyard. In 2012 the 4-H Foundation of Sonoma County will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its founding.
Jennifer Lynn Bice Receives 4-H Alumni Award, presented by the 4-H Foundation of Sonoma County
Former 4-H’er is hailed as pioneer in California artisan cheese movement
Jennifer Lynn Bice, a former 4-H Club member who built her dairy goat project into a thriving national business, was awarded the annual 4-H Alumni Recognition Award at the 4-H Foundation of Sonoma County’s BBQ on Sept. 17 at Richard’s Grove and Saralee’s Vineyard in Windsor.
The 4-H Alumni Award, presented annually by the 4-H Foundation of Sonoma County, honors a former 4-H Club member who on a daily basis upholds the values of leadership, citizenship and community service, which are the hallmarks of the 4-H program.
“Jennifer attributes her business success to the values she embraced as a 4-H Club member and her lifelong commitment to the 4-H motto “To Make the Best Better,” said Susan Hansen, executive director of the 4-H Foundation of Sonoma County. “It is with great pride that we award this year’s 4-H Alumni Recognition Award to Jennifer Lynn Bice whose life and work upholds the values of 4-H.”
Hansen noted that 40 years ago Jennifer Bice was showing her goats as a 4-H Club member. Today she is hailed as a pioneer in the California artisan cheese industry and one of the leading American mavens of specialty cheeses.
Jennifer is the owner of Sebastopol’s Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery, an internationally recognized cheese company. She is one Sonoma County’s most respected business owners and entrepreneurs, producing award-winning goat cheese, kefir, yogurt and other goat milk products at a creamery that employees 45 people.
Jennifer said the 4-H experience is one the cornerstones of Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery. The Bice family with dad Kenneth and mom Cynthia started Redwood Hill Farm in 1968 to provide fresh Grade A raw goat milk for the family and natural food store customers in Sonoma County.
Jennifer excelled in 4-H by showing her goats & rabbits as well as her dogs at American Kennel Club sanctioned dog shows. Active in the Twin Hills, Apple Blossom and Los Cabritos 4-H clubs, Jennifer held various club officer positions and was a 1972 Sonoma County All Star.
Jennifer especially enjoyed being a 4-H Junior Leader in the Apple Blossom 4-H Club Dairy Goat project. As a Jr. Leader, along with various duties she was instrumental in organizing a youth dairy goat show.
Jennifer never lost her interest in goats and took over the fledgling family business in 1978. Working along with her late husband Steven Schack, Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery was greatly expanded, becoming a leader in the production of premium quality goat milk products. The Redwood Hill Farm dairy goat herd is considered the premier herd in the country today. Jennifer also is a leading dairy goat judge, traveling all over the country to judge shows sanctioned by the American Dairy Goat Association.
For the last 40 years Jennifer has remained true to her mission: which is to craft the very best products in a way that is sustainable for Redwood Hill’s farmland, the farm’s dairy goats and the company’s employees. And it all started as a 4-H dairy project.
Sam McMillan Honored with 4-H Foundation’s Shining Star Award
Sam McMillan, a longtime director of the 4-H Foundation of Sonoma County who quietly devotes hours and hours of his time to 4-H and the community, is the 2011 recipient of the Shining Star Award.
The Shining Star Award, given by the 4-H Foundation of Sonoma County, recognizes a person who has made significant contributions to the 4-H Foundation and 4-H Club work. The award was presented at the 4-H Foundation’s Barbecue on Sept. 17 at Richard’s Grove and Saralee’s Vineyard in Windsor. There were more than 600 people at the fund-raising event.
Sam, 66, was gracious and humble, part of his character, in accepting the award, joking that he was selected for the award because he missed the meeting in which the committee was to decide on the 2011 honoree.
He said 4-H has played an important role in his life and that of his entire family, instilling the basic values of citizenship, leadership and community service. In addition to 4-H, Sam is active in the Santa Rosa Rotary Club, Elsie Allen Ag Boosters and Sonoma County Farm Bureau.
Sam has been a director of the 4-H Foundation of Sonoma County since 1999. He serves on a number of key committees and assists in overseeing operations for the 4-H Center in Rohnert Park.
Fellow directors on the 4-H Foundation board praise Sam as the Foundation’s unsung hero because he is always there to help and always gets the job done. He does it all without drawing attention to himself, quietly doing whatever needs to be done to advance 4-H Club work and assist the 4-H Foundation.
“Sam truly is the 4-H Foundation’s shining star. He has been a very dedicated, hard-working board member on the 4-H Foundation for many years. Sam can always be counted on to spend countless hours helping with our fund raising events and the management of the 4-H Center,” said Shirley Dempel, a founding director of the 4-H Foundation and the recipient of last year’s Shining Star Award.
Like his father before him, Sam was a member of the 4-H as was his wife Rita. Sam and Rita’s three children were 4-H members as well. Sam, with deep roots in Sonoma County, grew up on his family’s Santa Rosa poultry farm, which in 1960 was converted to a mobile home park following the demise of the mom-and-pop chicken farms in Sonoma County. Sam raised Hampshire sheep and Duroc hogs as his farm projects in 4-H and later as a member of the Santa Rosa Future Farmers of America.
In 1966 Sam was selected for the International Farm Youth Exchange (IFFY) program, administered by the National 4-H Foundation. He spent six months in Morocco and describes it as a life-changing experience.
Returning home, he attended Santa Rosa Junior College and would later serve as a chaplain’s assistant in the U.S. Army. In 1974, he married Rita Brians, a member of a Penngrove dairy family, further anchoring him to the farming community in Sonoma County.
Sam’s volunteer work in 4-H has truly made a difference.
“For me, it’s important to give back to the 4-H program, which has done so much to shape my life,” said Sam.