Not only did members of the Somervell County 4-H Club receive well-deserved recognition for their achievements at Tuesday night’s annual awards banquet, they also got seldom-heard encouraging words about their future.

Vance Christie, agriculture director for Weatherford College, was the special speaker at the banquet, which was held at the Somervell County Citizen's Center. Christie told the young 4-H members that the prospects for careers in agriculture and related fields have improved in recent years.

Christie said that some educators and others in the field have done “a major injustice in telling them” they no longer can make a living in agriculture.

“That is not a fact anymore,” Christie told the crowd, which also included District 59 State Representative J.D. Sheffield, Glen Rose ISD Superintendent Wayne Rotan and Glen Rose Mayor Sue Oldenburg.

Christie referred to a 2015 article published by USA Today that ranked agriculture in the nation’s top five money-making occupations.

He cautioned that improvements are still needed in the agriculture industry, adding that the United States is the world’s leading food producer. He noted that the average age for farmers in the U.S. today is “approaching” 60.

“We need to get the word out to the younger generations,” Christie stated. “Because of the increasing world population, our producers are going to have to get more efficient.”

Participation certificates for District Food Challenge, Record Book, Photography, Food Show and Leadership Lab were handed out first.

Next, the state 4-H qualifiers were honored. They included Dakota Dunson-Gray, Creedence Hankins, Ashlyn Williams, Hunter Douglas and Eryka Renteria in the Indoor Archery Match category.

Four key annual awards that were saved until last by Somervell County AgriLife Extension Agent Zach Davis were the Gold Star Award, Silver Star Award, Bronze Star Award and Rookie Award.

The Gold Star Award, the highest annual local 4-H honor, was awarded to Winston Lagergren. That award goes to members for “above and beyond” accomplishments in the 4-H program. Lagergren has been an active member of the Glen Rose Shooting Sports 4-H Club, and is heavily involved in his Wildlife and Natural Resources project. He qualified his record book for the 4-H state contest and was club parliamentarian.

Jackson Miller received the Silver Star Award, which recognizes outstanding achievements by Intermediate 4-H members. It’s the highest honor possible for the Intermediate category.

Jackson Miller has been involved in a beef project and has been showing steers and heifers at the Somervell County Youth Fair. His projects also included photography, food show and record books. He also helped with the Clover Kids Camp, which teaches young kids about 4-H opportunities.

The Bronze Star Award went to Payton Alexander. She is involved in beef projects, showing steers and heifers at the county youth fair. Alexander has also competed in major livestock shows, and shows angus heifers in the open circuit at state and national shows. Alexander’s other 4-H projects include food challenge, photography and record books. She also has been involved in multiple community service activities.

Liam Miller earned the Rookie Award, which is the top award for first-year 4-H Club members who strive to go “above and beyond” in the program.

Liam is involved in the food and nutrition project, and participates in the 4-H contest and the local youth fair. He won Best in Show at the Somervell County Youth Fair with his craft project. His community service included volunteering at various 4-H functions, and decorating doors at a local nursing home. Liam and Jackson Miller are brothers.

New officers for the coming year, who were elected in May, were also recognized and received gifts from Zach Davis.