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 Governors Award finalists June 25.


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


“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.”


This year’s finalists are:


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.


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. 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 University 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 represents 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.”


To learn about 4-H and other extension programs in Arkansas, contact a local Cooperative Extension Service agent, visit www.uaex.edu or follow the agency on Twitter at @Arkansas4H.


The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without discrimination.