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4H Alumni Honoree Sam McMillan.jpg

Sam McMillan Honored with Youth Ag & Leadership Foundation’s Alumni Recognition Award

Sam McMillan, a former member of Sonoma County’s 4-H and FFA programs who was inspired by those organizations and his family for a lifetime of service to the community he loves, is the recipient of the 2024 Youth Ag & Leadership’s Alumni Recognition Award.

The annual award, given by the Youth Ag & Leadership Foundation of Sonoma County, honors a former member of the 4-H or FFA who continues to uphold the values of leadership, citizenship, and community service that are the hallmarks of those organizations. Sam, who is 78, fits that profile on all counts. For decades he has been a community leader and active volunteer not only for 4-H and FFA but Rotary Club, the Men’s Garden Club, the Sonoma County Fair, and more. He has donated his time and talents to “make the best better” in the 4-H and FFA traditions.

Like many farm youth growing up in the 1950s and '60s, Sam was a member of 4-H and then transitioned his sheep, swine, and poultry projects to Santa Rosa FFA where he was guided by legendary agriculture teacher J. Wesley Jamison. Sam won many awards for his 4-H and FFA projects and earned the FFA State Farmer Degree.

Sam started as a member of the Bellevue 4-H Club and then in 1955 joined the newly formed Steuben 4-H Club because of the growing number of 4-H club members during that era in Sonoma County. His children – Jennie, Scott, and Todd – would become members of Steuben 4-H Club where Sam and his wife Rita served as 4-H leaders.

In 1966 Sam McMillan went to Morocco after being selected for the International Farm Youth Exchange or IFYF program. He spent six months in the North African country and met people from all walks of life. It was a defining chapter in his life. When he returned home, he was drafted into the US Army and was sent to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas where he completed his military duty.

Sam served as a director of the Sonoma County 4-H Foundation, now the Youth Ag & Leadership Foundation, from 1999 until 2019. He continues to volunteer for foundation events while being a dedicated supporter of 4-H and FFA. In 2011 he received the 4-H Foundation’s Shining Star Award in recognition of his significant contributions to the foundation and 4-H Club work. In presenting the award, the directors praised Sam as the Foundation’s unsung hero, noting he is among the first to volunteer and someone who always gets the job done. 

“Sam McMillan does it all without drawing attention to himself, quietly doing whatever needs to be done to advance 4-H Club work and assist the 4-H Foundation,” said foundation directors in naming him the Shining Star.

Sam will be honored at the Youth Ag & Leadership’s annual fundraising barbecue on August 24 at Richard’s Grove and Saralee’s Vineyard, the Windsor estate created by agriculture leaders Richard and Saralee McClelland Kunde.

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