About 4‑H Youth in Action Awards

The 4‑H Youth in Action Awards honor four 4‑H’ers who have gained critical life skills through their 4‑H experience and have utilized those skills to overcome challenges and to impact their communities. Each of the honorees are outstanding 4‑H’ers who epitomize 4‑H youth empowerment and leadership.

The 2017 awards highlight youth in each of our core areas. Through a formal selection process, one awardee is chosen within each pillar area: Agriculture, Citizenship, Healthy Living & STEM. One national Youth in Action Award winner will be selected from the four pillar winners.

The YIA Awards are officially presented at National 4‑H Council’s Legacy Awards. The 8th annual Legacy Awards were held on Tuesday, March 21, 2017, in Washington D.C.

Each YIA pillar winner will receive a $5,000 scholarship for higher education, be featured as the 4‑H Youth Spokesperson for their pillar area and an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C. to be recognized at National 4‑H Council’s Legacy Awards.

Information about the 2018 4‑H Youth in Action Awards application will be available in April.

2017 Youth in Action National Winner


Amelia Day, Fort Valley, Georgia

When Amelia Day escorted her father to an appointment at a veteran’s hospital in 2012, she didn’t know that the visit would spark an idea for a 4‑H service project that would reach far beyond her hometown. A 4‑H’er since elementary school, Amelia knew first-hand the transformative power of 4‑H; she’d seen the difference 4‑H opportunities made in her own life to aid her in overcoming a difficult speech impediment. At age 13, when she sensed a need for encouragement and support for our nation’s veterans, she put the leadership skills she’d learned in 4‑H into action, and Operation: Veteran Smiles was born. This service initiative provides care packages, notes of encouragement and musical therapy to veterans at the Carl Vinson Veteran’s Hospital in Dublin, Georgia. Over the past 5 years, Operation: Veteran Smiles has impacted more than 4,000 veterans and engaged more than 6,500 volunteers with the help of 4‑H clubs, volunteers and grants.

2017 Youth in Action Pillar Winners


Samuel Sugarman, Encinitas, California

Growing up on a farm, Samuel Sugarman realized in his teen years that youth in his San Diego suburb didn’t experience many opportunities to be outdoors. These youth were glued to cell phones, computers and television screens much of the time and had little to no understanding of where their food comes from. A 4‑H’er since the age of 9, Samuel had developed life skills like public speaking and goal setting, while learning from adult mentors who modeled servant leadership. Drawing on these skills he’d developed in 4‑H, Samuel created the free Farm Tour Program to connect youth in his community with animals and nature. Since the program’s inception, Samuel has led hundreds of Farm Tours for scout troops, youth groups and school groups. Through these tours, he taught youth about stewardship, compassion, patience and gratitude. In 2016, Samuel was honored for his service work with the Congressional Gold Medal for Service by Congressman Darrell Issa.

Healthy Living

Bryanne Sanchez, Imperial, California

Bryanne Sanchez became an advocate for healthy living in her community as her 4‑H club’s first Healthy Living Officer. Using this platform, Bryanne sought to bring initiatives promoting a healthy lifestyle to her Club and community. As her 4‑H club’s Healthy Living officer, she launched the annual Color Me Green Run in Imperial County. Annually, more than 250 runners participate in this fun, three-mile race that encourages youth and adults to stay active. She was instrumental in implementing the All 4‑Health Fair at the California State Leadership Conference, working to partner with other organizations to provide healthy living activities. Realizing that a healthy lifestyle includes both physical and mental well-being, Bryanne partnered with Creating Community Solutions to organize a Text, Talk, Act forum that provided more than 200 youth with the opportunity to discuss these topics in a healthy environment.


Ava Lonneman, Mogadore, Ohio

Ava Lonneman, a 17-year-old 4‑H’er through Ohio State University Extension, doesn’t let gender stereotypes get in her way when it comes to pursuing her dreams. Though told in elementary school that STEM “isn’t for girls”, Ava relentlessly pursued STEM herself and sought to bring STEM programming to her peers. As founder of a STEM mentoring program and her school’s 4‑H Maker’s Club, Ava has reached more than 1,600 youth using 4‑H curricula such as Junk Drawer Robotics and National Youth Science Day activities. Ava aims to explore all STEM fields and to set an example for youth to persevere in their interest areas, no matter the challenges they face. When she graduates in 2018, Ava plans to attend college and pursue a career in a STEM+M field, with the ultimate goal of becoming a university president.

2017 Youth in Action National Winner and Citizenship Pillar Winner, Amelia Day

2017 Youth in Action Agriculture Pillar Winner, Samuel Sugarman

2017 Youth in Action Healthy Living Pillar Winner, Bryanne Sanchez

2017 Youth in Action STEM Pillar Winner, Ava Lonneman