Devils Lake volunteers receive high honors from extension

Kristin Harner
Special to Devils Lake Daily Journal

DEVILS LAKE - Doug Darling and Candace Berg of Devils Lake, North Dakota, were recently honored for their volunteer service to North Dakota 4-H.

The North Dakota State University (NDSU) Extension Center for 4-H Youth Development presented Darling with the Salute to Excellence North Dakota 4-H Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer award and Berg with the Salute to Excellence North Dakota 4-H Volunteer of the Year award for 2021.

As a volunteer for the Ramsey County 4-H program, Darling has dedicated 16 years to the Ramsey County 4-H shooting sports program. He prepared and coached youth since the beginning of the county program in 2004, qualified seven teams for national competitions and one shotgunner achieved national grand champion trap honors. He is the program leader for the county 4-H shotgun program and volunteers for both air rifle and air pistol programs.

Doug Darling of Ramsey County was honored with the Salute to Excellence North Dakota 4-H Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer 2021 award. Pictured left to right: Mark Landa, ND 4-H Foundation Board President; Darling; Cindy Olson, Ramsey County Extension assistant; Sara Laite, Ramsey County Extension agent; Lynette Flage, NDSU Extension associate director; and Rachelle Vettern -- NDSU Extension leadership-volunteer development specialist/professor.

“Darling is a selfless leader who holds the successes of every 4-H member very close to his heart,” says Cindy Olson, Ramsey County administrative assistant and 4-H program assistant. “He volunteers countless hours coaching and fundraising to help the members achieve their goals. His positive impact on the 4-H members is evident by the graduates which are now shotgun coaches in the program.”

Darling empowers people to be the best they can be and encourages everyone he coaches that, “every clay counts, never give up.”

Darling was instrumental in starting an exploratory outdoor recreation day for middle school youth. He supports the 4-H shooting sports program in many ways including assisting with training shotgun instructors, the state 4-H shotgun contest and the state advisory committee meeting.

Darling also has written numerous grant applications for organizations to obtain funds for youth development, was instrumental in starting the local Women in Outdoors program, is a member of the Lake Regions Shooting Sports Association and Rotary and is the Lake Region State College president.

Berg has been involved with Ramsey County 4-H as a parent for 15 years and as a club leader for Four Leaf Friends 4-H Club for eight years. This year their club was recognized for the first time as a healthy North Dakota 4-H Club.

Berg’s approach to planning the club year includes involvement and input from members and parents. She challenges each family to take a month to be in charge of planning the entire meeting. She has led her club to do multiple community service projects annually. These projects include painting city fire hydrants, baking goodies for the local nursing home and raising funds to purchase supplies for foster care emergency kits to name a few.

“Berg is dedicated to continually making a positive impact on the 4-H members she comes in contact with by helping others and lifting spirits with her endless smile,” says Olson. “Her passion for the outdoors has led her to integrate activities at the local game reserve to help 4-H members discover things about themselves that they may never had before.”

She also has chaperoned high schoolers to three national 4-H forums.

Berg has been elected treasurer of the Ramsey County 4-H Council for the past five years. She also regularly volunteers to serve on committees and helps to coordinate activities for older 4-H members to keep them engaged in 4-H. Her innovative ideas and willingness to help, make Berg a great asset to 4-H and her community.