In Carroll County, the name Hull is becoming synonymous with the 4-H Presidential Tray.
On Sunday, Ginger Hull followed the example of her sister Heather by winning the silver tray and $1,500 scholarship that are 4-H's highest honor. Heather won last year.
"I'm ecstatic," said Ginger from the 4-H National Congress in Chicago yesterday. "I wasn't really thinking about it. I'm very honored to be selected to receive it."
"I'm just elated," said Robert M. Shirley, a county extension agent who works with 4-H. "This is a tremendous honor for Ginger, but it's also a tremendous honor for the Carroll County 4-H program, all the volunteers and members."
This is the third time a Carroll County student has won the highest honor given in 4-H, Mr. Shirley said. It also will be the last. After changes in the structure and sponsorship of the 4-H National Congress, the award has been eliminated.
Bonnie Crispin, a 1989 North Carroll High graduate, won the award in December 1990.
But even if it looks as though the Hull family genes predestined Ginger's win, her mother, Illona, maintains it was nothing but hard work that garnered the prize for the 16-year-old Westminster High junior.
"Her goal was to make it to Chicago," Ms. Hull said. "She worked hard enough that she got some other awards as well. . . .
"I've just encouraged them to go with any opportunity presented to them, and they've seized those opportunities and gone with it."
The same is true of Carroll County's four other national winners, two of whom were candidates for the tray, Ms. Hull said.
Melanie Soper has kept a travel poster from Chicago on her bedroom wall for the past year for inspiration, Ms. Hull said.
"Everything she did pointed to this trip to Chicago," she said, noting that Melanie was a national winner and one of the 20 students chosen to participate in the final round of interviews for the Presidential Tray.
"A lot of kids think that this just happens, that when you start winning big prizes it all just falls in your lap," Ms. Hull said. "But it takes hard work and planning to get there."
To win the Presidential Tray, contestants must be national winners in their 4-H specialty. Each 4-H'er focuses on one of 34 project categories upon becoming a senior member at age 14.
After being nominated by state advisers, the students participate in two rounds of interviews before the 12 Presidential Tray winners are chosen.
The award is given to two students in the Citizenship category, two in the Leadership category, two in the Achievement category and six chosen from the remaining areas, Ginger said.
Only those competing for the Presidential Tray -- Jenny Brothers, Ginger and Melanie from Carroll County -- know they are national winners before they get to Chicago so they can prepare for interviews.
Ginger received a $1,500 scholarship from Coca-Cola for being a national winner in the Citizenship category. She will receive her silver tray and a $1,500 scholarship from the Reader's Digest Foundation at an awards banquet tomorrow night.
"I still haven't narrowed down what I'd like to do," Ginger said of her college plans.
"I'm still considering communications, public relations, fashion design, interior design," she said, naming a few of her interests.
Choosing Citizenship for her 4-H project category was relatively easy by comparison.
"It was the area I excelled in," Ginger said, adding that she had to choose between Citizenship and Crafts. "I haven't done as well as I'd like to in Crafts, and with Citizenship I can use all my community service and government stuff.
"That narrowed it down for me."
In addition to working with "Kids on the Block," which uses life-sized puppets to teach children about disabilities, Ginger has worked as a junior leader with the 4-H Laser program for handicapped students.
She has also taught ninth-grade workshops at Westminster High, attended national 4-H programs on citizenship in Washington and is president of the Carroll County 4-H Teen Council for older members.
In total, five Carroll County students received national scholarships, the largest group from the county since the contest began in 1921, Mr. Shirley said. Three Carroll County 4-H members won national scholarships last year.
"This is a tremendous high for us and the entire program," he said.
About half the students winning trips to Chicago in the 34 4-H category areas are sponsored by national corporations Mr. Shirley said. Trips for the rest are sponsored by local or state organizations.
The number of national sponsors has been dropping, he said.
Jenny, 16 and a junior at Westminster High, was a national winner in the Clothing category. She said she plans to use her $1,500 scholarship from Coats and Clarks Inc. and Singer Sewing Co. to either study journalism or become a teacher.
"I haven't looked around too much," she said. "I like Bethany in West Virginia and Temple in Philadelphia. I heard about them at the college fair and fell in love with their programs."