UACES Facebook 2019 4-H Governor’s Award finalists
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2019 4-H Governor’s Award finalists

June 28, 2019

By Mary Hightower
U of a System Division of Agriculture

Fast facts:

  • This year’s finalists are from Benton, Lonoke, Washington counties
  • Fritch, Gardner return as finalists
  • First year as finalists for Burnett, Swears 

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LITTLE ROCK – A demanding interview process, followed by lunch with Gov. Asa Hutchinson and his wife Susan, were all in a day’s work for the four 2019 Arkansas 4-H Governor's Award finalists.

The Hutchinsons hosted the judges and finalists at a lunch at the Governor’s Mansion on July 26, following a morning of interviews with the judges. The winner will be announced in late July during the 4-H State O’Rama. 

Gov Hutchinson giving a tour of the governor's mansion.
MAKING A POINT — Gov. Hutchinson talks about the balcony at the Governor’s Mansion from which then-Gov. Bill Clinton announced his run for president (U of A System Division of Agriculture photo by Mary Hightower)

“Of all the activities we have in Arkansas 4-H, this is one of the most difficult,” said Angie Freel, interim director for the Arkansas 4-H program. “The level of achievement, and the sheer energy these young people expend for the betterment of their communities is incredible.”

Learn more about 4-H Leadership

This year’s finalists are:

Sagely Burnett of Winslow. Burnett was recently selected as the 2019 inductee to the Arkansas 4-H Hall of Fame. She is majoring in agriculture business, with an emphasis on pre-law at the University of Arkansas. Among her many achievements, Burnett represented Arkansas in national competitions seven times; was a state 4-H ambassador, and an Arkansas 4-H State Officer at Large. She has been self-employed since 2010, raising and selling dairy goats, dairy cattle and commercial swine. In 2018, Burnett took part in “Adopt A US Soldier,” sending weekly letters and monthly packages to a service member and has encouraged others in her club to do the same. “Supporting those who sacrifice so much for us not extra, it should be necessary.”

Lane Fritch of Hiwasse. This is Fritch’s second year to be a finalist. She served as the Arkansas State 4-H president in 2017-18 after serving as an officer at large in 2016-17. She has won the state 4-H competition in instrumental music and was part of the Arkansas State Fair winning vocal group in 2017. She will be attending Henderson State in the fall after graduating from Crowder Community College. “Through each of her projects, Lane has had a heart full of joy because of the way her projects allow her to help others and give back to the 4-H program that gave her so much,” said Jessica Street, Benton County extension agent for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Katie Gardner of Fayetteville. This is Gardner’s third time as a finalist. She currently serves as an intern at the White House. Among the honors she has earned: National Coca-Cola Scholar, one of 150 selected from 86,000 applicants; U.S. Veterans Affairs Youth Volunteer of the Year; Borlaug Scholar – Arkansas World Food Prize Youth Institute; Arkansas 4-H Hall of Fame Inductee, U.S. Senate Youth Program State Finalist and a five-time U.S. Presidential Community Service Award winner. “Katie Gardner represent the very best of what the state of Arkansas has to offer,” said then-Washington County Extension Staff Chair Berni Kurz. “She demonstrates what is possible  through 4-H.”

Caleb Swears of Carlisle. Swears is a state record book winner who also has been recognized as an Arkansas 4-H Teen Star and Arkansas 4-H Ambassador. He has been involved in multiple 4-H activities, including dairy judging, shooting sports, beef quiz bowl and national 4-H Congress. Swears has been working with past Governor’s Award winner Sara Gardner to establish a collegiate 4-H chapter at the University of Arkansas. Swears is seeking bachelor’s degrees in crop production and agricultural business, with a concentration in pre-law.  

To learn about 4-H and other extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit Follow us on Twitter at @Arkansas4H.

About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126