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Kelley awarded district 4-H distinguished service award

Debbie Kelley was the recipient of the 2014 Idaho County and the 2015 District 1 Distinguished Service awards. She is seen here with her plaques and her Grangeville-based 4-H Club, Rough Riders.

Photo by Lorie Palmer
Debbie Kelley was the recipient of the 2014 Idaho County and the 2015 District 1 Distinguished Service awards. She is seen here with her plaques and her Grangeville-based 4-H Club, Rough Riders.

— When Debbie Kelley was awarded the Idaho County 4-H Distinguished Service Award in 2014, she had no idea it would lead to another honor. Kelley recently learned she received the 2015 District I Distinguished Service Award.

“I’m very honored as I know there are many great 4-H leaders in Idaho County and the state,” Debbie said. “I am in very good company.”

Debbie has been leader of the Rough Riders 4-H Club for the past six years. However, her involvement with the program goes back a little farther than that.

“I took 4-H growing up – cooking and knitting projects,” she smiled. “I never got into the animal aspect until I had my own children.”

Debbie Kachelmier was born and raised in Nezperce and graduated from Nezperce High School. It was during high school that a friend set her up on a blind date with Mark Kelley of Grangeville.

“It was fun, but life went on and we both went our separate ways,” she said.

She went on to attend Lewis-Clark State College and obtained her degree in medical technology.

“I always thought I would work in a medical office, but a job came up at Coleman Oil and I liked the accounting end, too,” she said. Later she went to work for Baker Truck in Lewiston and also began dating her former beau, Mark. The rest is history.

The two married and lived in Lewiston for a time, then when a job opened at Baker Truck in Grangeville, she rook it. She has been with the company for 22 years this year and Mark helps run the family business, Prairie Land and Timber. They have two children. Drew, a 2013 graduate of Grangeville High School, is in the U.S. Navy, a nuclear electricians mate 2nd class. He is currently a junior instructor at the Naval Nuclear Power Training Unit in Ballston Spa, NY. Rachel is a junior at GHS who plays volleyball, basketball and tennis.

“I not only was able to see what 4-H did for me, but what it did and is doing for my own kids,” Debbie explained. “Kids in 4-H have the opportunity to learn responsibility but also an ease at being in front of people and talking to adults.” Debbie said demonstrations and group talks are good at helping kids get over public speaking fears.

Rough Riders is a small club and Debbie serves as the overall organizational leader while Lisa Canaday is the horse project leader.

“I care about all the kids in our group and one thing I want to instill in them is the need to care about and be kind to each other – and they do and they are,” she said. “Now, I hope that goes out and they are able to deal with other people in the same way. I want them to be aware of each other and other people and to be the ones to make a difference in their community.”

According to Susie Heckman, Idaho County 4-H Program Director, the distinguished service award (DSA) is sponsored by the Idaho 4-H Leaders Association. The purpose of the award is to recognize outstanding 4-H adult volunteers at the county, district and state level, who have demonstrated their leadership initiative and dedication to the Idaho 4-H program.

“Each year we have our 4-H members nominate volunteer leaders to select our county DSA winner,” Heckman explained. Afterwards, the application is submitted for the district DSA award.

Debbie is a member of the Idaho County 4-H Council, the mother of Idaho County Fair royalty (Rachel is first princess) and also helps with Triple Bar Drill Team.

“I enjoy our 4-H group so much,” she said. “We are laid back and have a lot of fun, but at the same time I know what the kids are capable of and what they are learning as is evidenced when I see their performances and awards from the Idaho County 4-H Horse Show and the fair.”

“One thing I hope as a leader is that the kids who are in our group or have been in our group will look back on their experiences with our group with fun memories and pride,” she added.


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