There was no escaping the emotions flooding Deb Granger’s face as her daughter, Katie Miller was called to the front of Kardell Hall Wednesday, July 9. Miller took the microphone to talk about the dedication her mother displayed to the youth of Eaton County through the 4-H program as part of the annual Emerald Award ceremony.
Granger received this year’s award, given annually to a member of the community that has shown tremendous dedication to the youth of the county, particularly through involvement in 4-H.
“Debbie has the mentality that 4-H is all about and for the kids,” Miller said.
Granger started in 4-H as a youth, growing up in a 4-H family on a farm in Vermontville. She showed beef and dairy cows in addition to participating in a number of craft projects. Her involvement increased, however, when her own two children were old enough to participate in 4-H. She spent 12 years as a co-leader of the Community Riders Club, seeing beyond the time her children were too old to show.
“Within two to three years of stepping down as a leader, she ran to become a member of the fair board,” Miller said. “She was always willing to clean bathrooms, help in the fair office or do just about anything asked of her.”
Mona Ellard, former director of Eaton County MSU Extension said Granger and fair board vice president Theo Savage were instrumental in keeping MSU Extension, which includes the 4-H program, alive in Eaton County several years ago when the County Commissioners were considering eliminating the program.
Today, Granger is helping the fourth generation of her family participate in 4-H as part of the Vermontville Jr. Farmers. She said 4-H, especially participating in the Eaton County Fair, provides youth with invaluable life experience.
“When you’re back in the camp area, you see all of the different families coming together to work, support and encourage each other,” Granger said. “The kids gain so much confidence in presenting themselves to the world. It’s something you can’t get without being involved in an organization like 4-H … it’s a real family organization.”
Granger said she is honored to receive the award, though she feels there are many people more deserving of the honor.
“It’s very special,” she said.