VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – Jean Thomas has acquired quite the fan club in her 35 plus years as a 4-H leader.
While Jean has no actual kids of her own, she’s had more 4-H members come through her club than she can count.
She estimates the total is in the hundreds.
In Jean’s time as a 4-H leader, she’s had a huge impact on each of her members.
She helps the club host two rabbit shows each year, and teaches the senior members of the club how to run a show.
During fair week, she makes sure that there is a club dinner each night of the fair so working parents can bring their kids to “just have fun.”
Thomas looks forward to the week too, because it’s like a little reunion with former members.
She says, “They always seem to come back during fair time and visit and check in just to let you know how they’re doing and what they’ve been up to over the last year. It’s just real rewarding to see that they still have their roots here in Terre Haute and in 4-H and want to come back and visit with you.”
The four H’s in 4-H stand for head, heart, hands, and health.
In the organization, kids grow as individuals by developing strong work ethic and learning responsibility.
Thomas says, “It’s definitely life skills. There’s a lot of heartache there’s a lot of tears, but they’re definitely learning life skills for sure.”
Heather Sedletzeck nominated Jean for the Make a Difference Award.
Her kids are in Jean’s Rabbit Club, and are loving the experience.
Sedletzeck recalled, “They say, ‘she’s hardcore’ because she really expects a lot out of them. But will joke and laugh and say that she’s an awful lot of fun. She can make you work hard, but she can laugh and cut up with you. She’s just, she’s just great. It’s almost like having another mom in the barn.”
Besides the hundreds of hours Jean has put into the club, she’s also racked up hundreds of miles.
Heather says, “She will see to the kids getting their posters or educational projects to the State Fair, to the Indiana Rabbit Breeders State Convention, and has even been known to drive projects across the country. Last year, it was to California so our kids’ projects could be entered into the national show.”
It’s clear that Jean’s head, hands, and most importantly, her heart are 100% invested in the kids of the Vigo County 4-H Club.
She says, “The rabbits, you know, they come and go. But it’s the people that keep you going.”
To nominate someone in your community that you see is making an incredible difference, click here.