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Monday, September 26, 2011

‘4-H helped me find my niche and succeed’ - National 4-H Week is Oct. 2-8

As a shy child scared of cows grazing in my own yard, no one would have guessed the path I would take in life. That is because the friends, family time and lessons I learned in 4-H shaped me into the person I am today. 

 

My grandpa instilled a love of agriculture in me at a young age. Following him around the barn helping with daily chores, I learned early on what it meant to be dedicated to something—to find something that you are passionate about and succeed at doing it. I found what I wanted to be passionate about through University of Minnesota Extension's 4-H program.

 

I joined my cousins in 4-H when I was in first grade. As I grew, 4-H volunteers and projects helped me find my niche and focus on my strengths. I developed a love of leadership, planning and, oddly enough, public speaking, all while becoming more confident.

 

My favorite 4-H projects involved livestock. While caring for my animals, I learned dedication, hard work, responsibility and determination. I also learned about financial management, how to deal with situations when things don't go as planned, and how to deal with life and death—important lessons that can't be learned in a classroom.

 

I studied Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota, which I had been introduced to through 4-H. Looking for ways to stay involved in 4-H, I joined the livestock judging team and took an internship coordinating 4-H livestock shows at the Minnesota State Fair. Through these experiences, I discovered new ways to be involved in the agriculture industry, and decided to explore agricultural business.

 

Following graduation, I was hired by AgStar Financial Services, a proud supporter of the 4-H program. The skills learned through 4-H helped me build a strong resume and earn a job with a company that is a strong advocate for 4-H and agriculture. I realized my life experiences were coming full circle when I decided to volunteer for 4-H to help give today's youth the same opportunities I had.  

 

Oct. 2-8, 2011, is National 4-H Week. 4-H youth, volunteers and other supporters throughout Minnesota will be celebrating how 4-H is making a difference in their lives and communities.

 

If you aren't familiar with 4-H in your area, I encourage you to find out about it. Start by visiting www.extension.umn.edu/youth/mn4-H. You'll discover a youth development program that offers learning opportunities in science and technology, creative arts, leadership and much more. By Katie Church, Minnesota 4-H volunteer

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