Ylarregui receives prestigious Diamond Clover Award


For The Madera Tribune

Howard 4-H member Katie Ylarregui show off the many pins she earned during her time at 4-H. She earned one last award, the prestigious California 4-H Diamond Clover Award.

 

After devoting the past 11 years to the Howard 4-H program, Katie Ylarregui received the notification she had been waiting a couple of months for.


She knew she could receive the California 4-H Diamond Clover Award, but wasn’t positive until she received a letter dated July 16 that she was the recipient of the highest achievement for which a California 4-H youth member is recognized.


“It was pretty exciting. I kind of knew beforehand since I had to show that I all the requirements done,” she said. “It’s the highest achievement you can get in 4-H. I had to do submit that list two months ago when I finished the last of the achievements.”


According to the letter, the Diamond Clover Award was established to recognize exemplary effort learning and growth of 4-H members. She was recognized for her competency, confidence and of a caring leader of character who is connected to others and contributes to your community.


Ylarregui is in her final year of 4-H and will attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in September to major in kinesiology to be a physical therapist.


“It’s kind of bittersweet,” she said. “It’s my last year in 4-H. I’m done with 4-H. It’s nice to know I accomplished everything that you could in the program. It’s also kind of sad because I’ve been in it for the last 11 years of my life.


“My move-in date is September 14,” she said. “ I’m going to show at the fair, actually. I have a market lamb and show market chickens.”


Unfortunately, showing and selling her animals is her best and worst parts of 4-H.


“I’m don’t like selling my sheep and my chickens,” she said. “It’s kind of sad and I don’t like selling my sheep and chickens. I don’t enjoy that part. I do enjoy raising the animals. That’s my favorite part.”


“We admire your contribution to your club and community as a 4-H member,” said Lynn Schmitt-McQuirty, 4-H Statewide Director in a letter to Ylarregui. “You should be proud of what you have accomplished as you have taken on multiple leadership roles at the club and area levels. The committee was impressed by your leadership to provide care and comfort to seniors in your community during the pandemic. You have shown amazing growth as a leader and as a caring and confident individual in the 4-H program. It is clear 4-H has benefited from your contributions. Because of your achievement in 4-H as a youth member, we are confident you will continue to practice your great leadership qualities in all that you do.”


Ylarregui said her biggest accomplishment was organizing a day camp for 4-H students this past year.


“That one is hardest to choose of what would be my biggest accomplishment,” she said. “The thing that I enjoyed would be every year we put on a 4-H camp and I was one of the organizers for it. Because of COVID, we did a day camp since camps weren’t open. We had 40-something kids at my house for two days doing different activities. It was so much fun. The kids enjoyed it so much. It felt so great to now you were able to improve their summer. It was something that made my month better to be with people rather than me in front of my computer.”


Ylarregui’s involvement began before her with her grandparents, parents and older brothers.


“I’m a third generation 4-H’er,” she said. “Both of my brother’s were in it, my parents were in it and my grandparents were in it. That’s how I got into it. Once you’re in it, you love to do the activities. I’ve been able to do a lot of different projects and learn a lot of different skills. That’s probably what’s kept me in it. I’ve made lifelong friends and memories I will never forget.”


Her favorite 4-H project was community pride and being able to organize a fun day at Valley Children’s Hospital.


“My favorite of that was the past few years we went to Valley Children’s Hospital and had an activity day with the kid,” she said. “We got the hang out with the kids in the hospital.”


Ylarregui knows she followed in her brother’s footsteps, but is also realizing she blazed a trail for those following her.


“I’m the last child in my family,” she said. “I had that idea there’s a trail to follow with my older brother. He is my role model. I have younger underclassmen that I’ve taken under my wing. Creating that standard that you can go higher that what’s been before can help you achieve your goals. You can achieve your dreams no matter how big they are.”


She also admits that her brother, Matthew, set a high bar, but she also knows she went over that bar.


“That was my whole goal. I wanted to do better than he did,” she said.


In addition to her involvement with Howard 4-H, Ylarregui was also involved at Madera High School and was an integral member of both the water polo and swimming teams.


“That was great.,” she said. “I looked forward to that so much. During COVID, none of the pools were open, either. I had to train at my grandma’s house. Being with my friends for sports made my year. We figured out ways to work out. I had to do land workouts. I’m not too good on land. I’m only good in water. I hated those workouts.”


This year, swimming and water polo seasons were, literally, back-to-back, but Ylarregui found time to enjoy the seasons, particularly getting a Senior Night.


“I was super appreciative to have a Senior Night,” she said. “It was sad at the same time to know I was almost done with this sport. I was super happy to be able to celebrate that I was on the team for the past four years with the people that I love.”


At the end of the year awards ceremony at Madera High School, Ylarregui was named the Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year and her name will go on a banner inside Joe Flores Gym.


“I’m super excited to see my name on the board, especially since my brother’s name is there. We created a legacy, almost,” she said.


Before she heads to San Luis Obispo for school, Ylarregui is coaching a swimming club team in Madera and is a life guard at The Island to get some money for college.


“I kind of miss having practice every day,” she said. “Last summer whenever we had morning practices, I was like I can’t wait for this to be over. Now, I want to do it again.”


Overall, Ylarregui is proud of what she has accomplished with Howard 4-H and hopes to leave a trail for others to follow.


“I definitely feel like I’m leaving a legacy,” she said. “Almost everyone in Madera County 4-H knows who I am. I went a little higher than kids before me with state stuff. I hope more kids start getting more involved more than just the county, but through the state.”