By Hannah Richardson, additional information from press release
Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser and Volunteer Louisiana recently announced the 2021 Champions of Service that includes a Marthaville woman. Laura Strahan is one of the 10 outstanding volunteers named.
Strahan was recognized for her 30 years of service to 4-H with a ceremony with friends and officials at the MLK Center in Natchitoches May 17 as the Central Champion. She has worked with the Louisiana 4-H Foundation, as a school club leader, led fundraising efforts, has been a project mentor and hosts workshops to ensure students stay involved and succeed in 4-H.
Executive Director of Volunteer Louisiana Judd Jeansonne and Director of Communications and Volunteer Outreach for Volunteer Louisiana Kori Chisham were in attendance to present an award to Strahan. Also in attendance were Congressman Mike Johnson’s representation Chip Layton, who presented Strahan with a congressional certificate, and Louisiana 4-H Volunteer and Leadership Specialist Megan Franks.
Before Covid-19 affected how ceremonies would be planned, the winners would travel to the State Capitol. Jeansonne said now, they to travel and present the individual awards, and in a way it has been an honor and a privilege to see the communities these Champions have affected.
“What stood out about [Strahan’s] application was the dedication that Laura has shown for 30 years to 4-H,” he said. “It is a real commitment to a single organization, and not just commitment for commitment’s sake, but it is about valuing young people in the community of Marthaville and using 4-H as a vehicle to make sure they have opportunities that they may not otherwise have.
“Making the best better-and that’s what she has done. She’s a force of nature and made things happen in a time of COVID especially, getting her principal to make sure there were still going to be 4-H opportunities despite the limitations and a global pandemic. That’s what really stood out, the singular dedication to a cause and to a community that clearly she loves and clearly loves her.”
Strahan thanked her supporters after she received the award in her hands. “I have loved 4-H since I was 9 years old. I’ve never done anything in 4-H without a team behind me,” she said. “Any project I undertake, my family is right behind me.” She also thanked her friends on the Natchitoches 4-H Foundation and the one who nominated her, 4-H Agent Pam Pearce, as well as the members of Volunteer Louisiana and Nungesser.
The announcement was made during National Volunteer Week April 18-24. The annual Champions of Service Award recognizes outstanding volunteers from seven geographic regions across the state, plus outstanding AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and Corporate volunteer programs
Volunteer Louisiana, located in Nungesser’s office, manages 16 AmeriCorps State programs, promotes volunteerism, and coordinates spontaneous, unaffiliated volunteers in times of disaster. It is supported by grants from the federal agency, AmeriCorps.
“Nowhere else is our state’s character and resilience of spirit more evident than through the volunteers we have here in Louisiana,” said Nungesser. “The Champions of Service Awards are just one way we can recognize the impact our volunteers have on their communities. It is a chance to celebrate our volunteers and thank them for lending their time to make a difference for their fellow Louisianans. I am proud to help honor the achievements of our service champions while encouraging others to become active volunteers in their communities.”