Rauterkus honored nationally for 4-H volunteer work
Freedom – Each year for the last four years, Colt Rauterkus has given selflessly to help others in the Wyoming 4-H program through raising and selling an extra hog each summer along with his own 4-H projects.
The young adult, who was named one of Wyoming’s top youth volunteers, was recently honored in Washington, D.C. with the Prudential Spirit of the Community Award for his selfless generosity. Only 102 youth nationwide – one middle school and one high school student from each state and the District of Columbia – receive the national honor each year.
During the D.C. ceremony Colt received a $1,000 scholarship and an engraved silver medallion. His father Terry Rauterkus says it was something every youth should have an opportunity to experience.
“Everything involved with that trip was first class and top-of-the-line,” explains Terry. “The energy and excitement of the Prudential representatives was unbelievable. They treated those kids like celebrities.”
Colt started showing hogs when he was eight years old as a member of the Lincoln County Divine Swine 4-H club.
“He pretty much grew up with 4-H,” says Colt’s mother Jeane. “He started out with shooting sports and pigs, and then showed horses for years along with the pigs, before he decided to just focus on pigs.”
As he grew older, Colt became interested in leadership opportunities through the 4-H organization, and soon became a member of the Wyoming State 4-H Youth Leadership Team.
“It was while he was on the leadership team that he discovered there wasn’t a lot of money available for kids to travel,” explains Jeane. “He thought it was very important for the money to be available for kids to attend leadership conferences like the National 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C., and the National 4-H Congress in Atlanta, Ga.”
“I believed it was very important to my fellow 4-H members, and also to future members, to have money available for travel and seminars,” says Colt. “I would not want anyone to miss an incredible opportunity at education because there was not enough money.”
It was nearly four years ago during a family discussion that Colt and his family came up with the idea of raising and auctioning off a hog to raise money for the 4-H program.
“We already raise hogs,” says Jeane, “and our family has a feed store, so we have the best opportunity available to feed these hogs right.”
Each year, Colt, who grew up in Freedom, would carefully select an extra pig when choosing his 4-H projects for the summer. From spring until the 4-H county fair in August, he carefully nurtured the hog – keeping it healthy, feeding it well and making sure it was adequately exercised. In August it would be raffled or auctioned to help fund 4-H leadership trips for youth within the county who otherwise may be unable to go.
“Colt just wanted to give something back to the 4-H program,” adds Terry.
Each year Colt raised over $500, which he donated to the Lincoln County 4-H Leadership Council to help 4-H kids travel to state and national events.
“Colt is also very dedicated to the military,” adds Jeane. “If whoever bought the pig didn’t want it, he encouraged them to donate it to a needy military family in the area. He loves the military and all it stands for. There are many military families in this area, and it is a cause that is near and dear to his heart.”
Colt graduated in Spring 2011 from Star Valley High School in Afton, and he is now proudly a part of the United States military. He is currently stationed in Missouri for basic training, and after he finishes two other trainings for the Army this fall, Colt will become a college student next January at UW, majoring in history.
“He is very proud to serve the military,” says Jeane. “He is very patriotic.”
Mostly, Colt hopes others will step forward to raise money for community service groups.
“I hope I have set an example for others to follow, and perhaps they will even raise the bar higher and exceed their expectations,” he says.
Jeane adds, “These groups do so much to benefit youth and the community, and it never seems like there is enough money to go around. We just wanted to do our part to help.”