Rachael Manzer was named as Connecticut’s 4-H Volunteer of the Year and most recently awarded the National 2021 Northeast Region 4-H Volunteer of the Year Award. Manzer is a volunteer with UConn’s Granby 4-H Club of Granby, and a UConn 4-H Alumni.
Hartford County 4-H Extension Educator Jen Cushman notes, “Rachael’s dedication to making a positive difference in the lives of 4-H youth has greatly expanded the STEM opportunities for 4-H Members and promoted UConn 4-H to new audiences. Manzer exemplifies science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in 4-H. She understands the importance and need for STEM and Agricultural Literacy, and she has increased opportunities for STEM learning by establishing the only 4-H VEX Robotics Program in New England. Rachael’s efforts have not only expanded 4-H programming throughout New England (Connecticut and Massachusetts), but also increased the visibility of UConn 4-H on the national level as the team participated at the World Competition and the NASA Cubes in Space Competition.”
Manzer’s enthusiasm for STEM is infectious. She dedicates a large amount of time to 4-H throughout the year teaching 4-Hers how to think, not what to think. She focuses on workforce readiness skills in communication, listening, time management, critical thinking, problem-solving and teamwork. She guides youth in planning and implementing the building of the robot, public speaking presentations, fundraising and various community service demonstrations.
She is growing future leaders in 4-H and STEM. Manzer’s innovation shined as she was able to keep the 4-H robotics program going during COVID-19 following safety protocols. Not only that, the 4-H robotics teams qualified for the 2021 VEX World Championship and earned three World Awards.
Manzer, a 4-H alumna of the Litchfield County 4-H Club, grew up showing cattle. 4-H gave so much to her, her goal was to give back to the organization. Manzer stated, “I am truly humbled by this honor. I am part of a larger community. Without the 4-H leaders, parents, and the greater community these incredible programs for youth could not happen. I am thankful to all of you.”
To learn more about becoming a volunteer or enrolling your child in the UConn 4-H program visit 4-H.uconn.edu/