When 18-year-old Devon Alt heard about the impact of flooding in southern and central parts of the state, he decided to lend a helping hand to West Virginians in need.
That helping hand came in the form of a $14,000 donation to flood relief efforts, collected from the sale of one of his goats during this year’s livestock auction at the State Fair of West Virginia.
“I read a lot about the disaster as information was released regarding the loss and devastation affecting entire communities,” said Alt. “I’ve exhibited for years at the state fair and have close ties with residents in that area, so I ended up knowing a lot of people who were impacted by the flooding—I knew then I had to do whatever I could to help.”
According to Alt, this calling to help others was one of many qualities gained during his years in West Virginia 4-H, a program of the West Virginia University Extension Service that fosters leadership and volunteerism in youths and adults.
“Devon is a shining example of the impact West Virginia 4-H has on youths in this state,” said Steve Bonanno, WVU Extension Service Dean and Director. “He recognized an issue within a West Virginia community and took initiative to develop a plan of action using the resources he had—that’s the definition of a true leader, and the 4-H family is so proud of his compassion and commitment to help fellow Mountaineers in need.”
From age nine to 16, Alt was a member of the Goalseekers 4-H Club in Mineral County, West Virginia, where he learned to train and exhibit animals and later became president of the club.
“I learned many life lessons in West Virginia 4-H, most of them involving civic responsibility and pragmatism,” said Alt. “As soon as I learned about the thousands of people affected by the flooding, I knew I could use the skills and talents I’ve learned to help those in need.”
Alt began preparing for the auction months before the annual state fair. Two months out, he was busy walking, running and training his goats for the event. He even worked to cut their hair and groom them in preparation.
“Training is difficult and requires an immense amount of patience, especially with the stubborn kind of animals that I train and show,” said Alt. “It takes time and effort to train them right, but the biggest reward is the feeling of success after a big win.”
Thanks to the generosity of a number of donors, Alt’s final earnings were $14,000. Donors included Farmers Home Fire Insurance; Greenbrier Motors; McDaniels PreOwned; Bank of Monroe; Wallace and Wallace; S.J. Neathawk; Ora Ford; Jim Justice; Billy Morgan; Jennifer Williams; Arthur and Ruth Bartenslager; Joshua Peplowski; Jane Johnson, DDS; Dr. John Johnson and Peg Bollenbach.
The money was donated to the WVU Extension Service flood relief fund at mountainerconnection.com/WVFloodRelief, open to donors through the WVU Foundation.
In July, WVU alumnus Ken Kendrick promised a $500,000 donation to the flood relief fund to match gifts made by fellow alums and donors up to that amount. Thanks to Alt and thousands of donors across the nation, donations continue to flow in.
“We’re overwhelmed with gratitude as we see the support from people all over the nation for the flood victims in this state,” said Bonanno. “It’s inspiring to know people like Devon are willing to step up and help our state’s residents rebuild their homes and communities.”
True to his ambitious 4-H background, Alt enters his first year of college at West Virginia Wesleyan College this summer where he will be studying political science with a dual major in sociology and hopes to pursue a master’s in business administration. After undergrad, he plans to attend law school.
“West Virginia 4-H gave me many opportunities, even more than the chance to exhibit at fairs and earn money from raising and selling livestock,” said Alt. “It taught me entrepreneurial skills and gave me the opportunity to be a leader within my community—both qualities I know will benefit me during my college career and beyond.”
For more than a century, West Virginia 4-H has focused on agricultural science, electricity, mechanics, entrepreneurship and natural sciences. Today, 4-H out-of-school opportunities also exist in subjects like rocketry, robotics, biofuels, renewable energy and computer science.
The WVU Foundation is a private non-profit corporation that generates and provides support for WVU. The Foundation is currently conducting “A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia University” – a $1 billion private fundraising effort on behalf of WVU. For more on the campaign, visit: www.astateofminds.com.
CONTACT: Brittany Dick, WVU Extension Service
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