Imagine a 15-year old youth who gets called out to New York City to receive a national award for doing what came pretty naturally to him. Then imagine being that youth on the stage with other honorees, including a famous country singer (Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland) and the executive vice president of a major international corporation (Jim Borel of DuPont). I would have a hard time imagining what it would be like to be that youth, but I got to see Kent County 4‑H member Nate Seese have that experience on Tuesday night when he received the 2012 4‑H Youth in Action Award at the third annual 4-H Legacy Awards Gala hosted by National 4-H Council.
I’ve told Nate’s story on several occasions in Spotlight, so today I’d like to spread the spotlight a bit further to tell you a bit about Nate’s family, parents Christine and Kevin Seese and grandparents Jeanne and Louis Kiesling.
Youth like Nate don’t just happen, and no one should think that 4-H is what made him special. Obviously it begins at home, and I was honored to meet Nate’s parents and grandparents at the National 4-H Gala. His mother, Christine, was born and raised on a farm in New Jersey. His father, Kevin, has worked in agribusiness on an international stage for much of his career. They actually chose to move to Michigan and to realign their careers so that their children, Nate and Nate’s older sister Hannah, could have a childhood more connected to community, church and the land than they had previously, a childhood much like their parents experienced. It was heartwarming to see that commitment rewarded with their son’s recognition in New York. And then to meet the grandparents who drove up from New Jersey to see their grandson honored was a special treat. Grandfather Louis was a 4-H’er 56 years ago. Jeanne has a wealth of stories about raising kids on the farm. Christine and her siblings grew up working on the farm, and she had some colorful stories to share about planting strawberry seedlings and treating city folk to a rural experience when they visited the family farm.
Kevin grew up as a youth active in 4-H. He and Christine specifically sought out 4-H as a program that they thought would help them to raise their children with the values and skills they acquired from their own experiences. And Glenda Kilpatrick, Michigan State University Extension children and youth educator, who has worked with Nate and his club and their leaders, was able to witness the impact of Nate’s choices and actions on others who hear his story.
Nate’s a special young man. And I recognize that Michigan 4-H has thousands of young people equally committed to contribute to their communities. Nate has received a great deal of well-deserved attention for his work and each of the other youth in 4-H deserve that recognition as well. I like telling his story because it captures people’s attention so well. I think the only dry eyes in the room when Nate accepted his award were his own. There’s nothing too haughty about this young man. He represents many more youth and I hope to shine the spotlight on others as well. Michigan has a promising future with youth like Nate Seese and the thousands of others we serve through Michigan 4-H.
You can read more about the award Nate received at this summary of the National 4-H Gala.
Nate tells his own story here and on the following video: