Barbara Zimmerman Hoedel

Barbara Zimmerman Hoedel received an award for her service to the Kodiak 4-H program. (Photo courtesy of Heather Johnson)

Kodiak 4-H volunteer Barbara Zimmerman Hoedel has received a top regional award for her 34 years of volunteer service with 4-H.

4-H is a youth development program that focuses on agriculture, science and home economics.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service announced Hoedel will receive the 4-H Salute to Excellence Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer Award. Hoedel, who serves as president of the Kodiak 4-H Leaders Council, is one of two people receiving a top leader award in the Western region, which includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Hoedel will also be considered for the same award on a national level. She is up against three other people, and the winner will be announced in April.

Marie Rice, founder of Kodiak 4-H, helped put together Hoedel’s nomination.

“She is an incredible volunteer and devotes so much of her volunteer time to helping the youth in Kodiak,” Rice said. “Especially in the area with the horses. She does horse camps and volunteers time with the therapeutic riding program.”

Hoedel said she was surprised to be chosen for the honor.

“The fact that I was the leader chosen out of 13 states, that kind of amazed me,” Hoedel said.

Hoedel began volunteering for Kodiak’s 4-H program 34 years ago when her daughter got her first horse at age 8 and joined the program.

“4-H is one of those organizations I wish that they had when I was a kid,” she said.

When the Kodiak 4-H horse leader retired, Hoedel took over. She has organized and accompanied teams to the Alaska State Fair and state horse show for 15 years.

Hoedel continued to get involved with 4-H at the state and national levels, where she recruited and trained new leaders and organized events like horse shows and petting zoos.

The kids have kept her involved in 4-H for all these years. She watched her daughter go through the program, and continues to stay involved for her grandchildren and other kids in the community.

“I love working with the kids and I love to see how they grow and change,” Hoedel said. “I just have to admit that I think I’m a little bit of a kid at heart, and I love sharing my animals and gardens with them.”

Hoedel is a certified therapeutic riding instructor and runs a therapeutic horseback-riding program for kids with special needs.

Contact Mirror writer Nicole Klauss at

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