A Portager that's been volunteering with the Gainsborough 4-H club for the past 42 years has been named the 2021 4-H National Volunteer of the Year.

Sandra Duchak, who grew up in Gainsborough but now lives in Portage, is the recipient of the award and says 4-H, which stands for Head, Heart, Health, and Hands, works to provide youth with the opportunity to step outside their comfort zone. This includes working on new skills, as well as their communication.

"I have been a head leader," explains Duchak when asked about her time with 4-H. "I've taught projects and I represent them on the area council and I was on the Manitoba 4-H Council for four years."

She adds, over the course of her time with 4-H, she's really enjoyed watching current and former members grow up into responsible adults. She's also grateful for all the travelling she was able to do with the club.

Duchak notes 4-H is a good influence, especially for younger kids.

"I would suggest anybody that has children to get them involved in the 4-H program," she added. "They learn some really good life skills and communication. Any time that an employer sees 4-H on their resume, they get put to the top of the list."

She would like to thank the Central Plains area council and the 4-H council for helping her become the person and volunteer she is today.

The 4-H National Volunteer of the Year Award was presented at a virtual ceremony held this past week.