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How one 4-H club's service learning project continues to have a BIG impact

It's been eight years since recycling became a part of the Redwood County Fair. And we can thank one very special 4-H club for making it happen.

The Redwood Rainbows 4-H Club, located in Redwood County, Minnesota, saw the absence of recycling at the Redwood County Fair as an excellent community service opportunity. In 2006, with the assistance of several grants, including ones from the MN 4-H Foundation and the Redwood County 4-H Federation, the club purchased 50 red recycling barrels. They attached labels, cut small holes into the lids and posted signs around the grounds to educate fair attendees on what items were recyclable and should be put in a red barrel instead of in a garbage can. Fairgoers used the recycling barrels, volunteers sorted the plastic, glass, cardboard and aluminum and the county recycling center picked up and process the items collected.

After the initial success of this project, the club's passion for recycling and educating people on how easy it is to recycle continued. Instead of leaving the barrels in storage until the next year's county fair, they started loaning the recycling barrels to various cities and events in the area including Farmfest, a three day agriculture showcase that draws over 35,000 attendees annually.

Donalee Josephson & Patricia Buboltz, along with their 4-H families, organize the use of the recycling barrels at local events. "Recycling had become a habit at home and at work but when we went to large events, we had no place to recycle our items," explain Pat. "It seemed worthwhile to make these barrels available wherever possible. We also allow the school and community center to use them year round as they host many large events."

The long-term impact of this 4-H service learning project is staggering. Last summer alone, recycling efforts at the Redwood County Fair resulted in over 4,000 pounds of recyclable items being directed away from the landfill, including:

  • 400 pounds of plastic
  • 3,300 pounds of cardboard
  • 600 pounds of glass

    And at Farmfest 2013, the numbers were even more staggering:

  • 1,000 pounds of plastic
  • 150 pounds of aluminum
  • 7,000 pounds of cardboard
  • 1,600 pounds of paper avoided the landfill!

    Over 100 youth and adult volunteers participated in the recycling project last year. The enthusiastic volunteers gather the bags of recyclables, remove lids and stray items and sort types. Recycling materials not only makes sense to protect our earth and resources, but it also saves businesses money they would otherwise have to pay for garbage removal. Redwood-Co-4H-Recycling.jpg

    We are so proud of these 4-H youth and families who are really living out the 4-H pledge:

    I pledge my HEAD to clearer thinking,
    My HEART to greater loyalty,
    My HANDS to larger service,
    And my HEALTH to better living, for my family, my club, my community, my country and my world.

    By Karen Beranek
    Redwood County 4-H Program Coordinator

    This 4-H service learning project was funded in part by a Helping Hands Grant from the Minnesota 4-H Foundation. To learn more about this grant program, please visit our website or call us at 612-624-7971.

  • Support summer learning through volunteering

    More than half of the achievement gap between lower and higher income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. ( When I first read this I thought, if only all youth had access to 4-H! 4-H members stay active and engaged in learning all summer long.

    Throughout the summer months 4-H'ers are researching their projects, practicing demonstrations, training animals, growing gardens, experimenting with photos, working with wood and so much more! They are learning! They continue to use math and science skills, decision making and problem solving skills, and writing and language skills while they work on making the best project they can to show at their local fair. Then when they are judged at the fair they learn what they did well and how they can make it better next time.

    All the fun that youth are having in 4-H over the summer is really providing them with educational opportunities that can help them do better in school! Shouldn't all Minnesota youth have this same opportunity to join 4-H and expand their educational opportunities? To make that happen we need you! It takes adults who are willing to share their time and talents with young people to make 4-H happen. The more adults involved in 4-H, the more youth who can participate.

    You can make a difference in a child's education by being a 4-H volunteer. Visit Minnesota 4-H on the web or contact your local county extension office today and ask for the 4-H program coordinator to learn how you can be a 4-H volunteer.

    Cara Miller
    Executive Director
    Minnesota 4-H Foundation

    4-H Alumni at the Minnesota State Fair


    Do you plan on visiting the Minnesota State Fair this summer? The Minnesota 4-H Alumni & Friends Community will be there supporting youth as they show livestock, perform musical acts and offer demonstrations on a variety of topics all 12 days of the fair. Want to join us?

    We are looking for alumni who can volunteer a few hours during the fair to welcome alumni into the 4-H building and livestock areas, help people sign up for the alumni newsletter, listen to great stories of 4-H in the days of old and just have a fabulous time celebrating all that 4-H offers the youth of Minnesota.

    Alumni who volunteer a minimum of 3 hours during the State Fair will receive a complimentary gate ticket; alumni who volunteer for at least 6 hours will also receive a complimentary meal ticket to the 4-H cafeteria. Come join us, give back to the program that gave you so much, and have a blast reliving a few of your favorite 4-H memories!

    To learn more about volunteering or to sign up for a volunteer slot (or two), please fill out this interest form.

    I hope you'll join us!

    Erin Kelly-Collins
    Alumni Coordinator
    Minnesota 4-H Foundation

    State Fair Judge credits 4-H with sparking his own creative passion


    Jim Sannerud, a professional artist who specializes in woodturning, grew up in Ham Lake, Minnesota as a member of Anoka County 4-H. Pat Morriem, retired 4-H agent and educator, recalls "Jim was a great 4-H member. He was an outstanding camp counselor and mentored a lot of young campers at our Anoka County 4-H Camp Salie. Jim had such a great rapport with young 4-H members; they looked up to him and learned from him."

    jim-sannerud-headshot.JPGMuch of Jim's 4-H experiences focused on poultry (his 7th grade Golden Giant entry won third place at the State Fair), but it was in the shop of his club leader, Kenny Irvin, where Jim was introduced to woodworking (his first project was the yellow gumball machine pictured on the left). One of the many woodworking tools and machines Kenny kept in his shop was called a lathe and Jim was especially intrigued by it. Now, decades after that first visit to his 4-H club leader's shop, Jim spends hours each day using a lathe turning wood into beautiful works of art and utility.

    10 years ago, after spending most of his professional life as a cabinet and furniture maker, Jim decided it was time to turn his much-loved hobby of woodturning into a career. Twice he's traveled to northern Sweden in order to study under master sloyder Wille Sundqvist. As his skills and creativity sharpened, he began displaying and selling his work in art fairs across the country. He shares his woodturning expertise with enthusiasts of all ages and experience levels in classes throughout the United States, as well as in Sweden and Ukraine.

    Jim is proud of his 4-H roots and prioritizes giving back to the program that introduced him to his creative passion. Since 2001, Jim hasn't missed a year of judging 4-H woodworking projects at the Minnesota State Fair. "Jim's personality makes each 4-H'er comfortable in the judging experience," notes Sandy Ducharme, 4-H Exhibits Coordinator at the Minnesota State Fair. "The knowledge and passion he shares with them enriches the learning and judging experience." sannerud-state-fair-judging-pins.jpg

    Jim proudly displays his judging pins on the wall of his St. Paul studio. He hopes that giving back to 4-H as a judge will encourage another generation of youth to explore their passions. "4-H really fostered my creativity and sparked my interest in the art of creating," mentioned Jim during a recent interview at his St. Paul studio. "I hope my time volunteering at the State Fair each summer does the same thing for this generation of 4-H youth."

    Jim's artwork can be viewed in person at the North House Folk School in Grand Marais and the Gallery of Wood Art at the Landmark Center in St. Paul. To learn more about Jim Sannerud, visit his website at


    By Erin Kelly-Collins
    Alumni Coordinator
    Minnesota 4-H Foundation

    Do you have a great 4-H story to tell? We'd love to hear it!

    Congratulations Traverse County 4-H!

    Traverse Co 4-H Federation.JPGThe Minnesota 4-H Foundation is excited to announce the creation of a new county 4-H endowment for Traverse County. Thirty-four donors contributed over $10,000 to make the Traverse County 4-H Endowment a reality. An anonymous donor enthusiastically gave a $5,000 gift in memory of family members who believed in 4-H and knew what a strong 4-H program brings to the community.

    A team of youth and adult volunteers--led by Melissa Persing, Traverse County's 4-H Program Director-- wrote letters, visited with civic groups, wrote thank you message and got local donors excited about this opportunity.

    As part of the local 4-H Federation, Traverse County youth will have opportunities to make decisions in partnership with adults about how funds generated through the new endowment will be used to benefit young people in their community. The Federation hopes to use these funds to increase learning about the science behind projects local 4-H'ers are engaged in--whether that be animals, garden vegetables, robotics, photography or other popular 4-H projects.

    "Having a quasi-endowment with the Minnesota 4-H Foundation adds a level of financial security to our 4-H program," says Melissa. With an eye towards the future, the volunteer group that worked to start the endowment is looking for ways to engage additional donors and is considering a grain-giving drive for the upcoming harvest season.

    If you would like to make a contribution to the Traverse County 4-H Endowment, or learn about establishing a 4-H endowment in your county, give me a call. I'd love to help you!

    By Brad Starbuck / 320-441-9499
    Give Now

    Imagine what if...

    Older 4-Hers montage.png

    Are you a 4-H alum with some knowledge and experience in the following areas that you are willing to share with young people?

    • Feeding the World/Hunger

    • Equality

    • Future of Technology
    • EXT_PHOTO_660.jpg
    • World and global issues

    • Communication

    If so, we need you!
    YELLO, Youth Experiencing Leadership and Learning Outloud, the leadership program for 4-H youth held every year in June, is looking for a few 4-H alumni to lead young people in answering the question "What If". For example:

    • What if there was no hunger in the world?

    • What if there was no concept of individuality and everyone was equal?

    • What if technology ruled the world?

    During YELLO, June 9-11, young people from around the state will gather to imagine how our state, nation and world could be different "if". The 4-H state ambassadors who plan YELLO have asked me to reach out to all of our alumni around the state to find a few who can not only share their experience and knowledge on a subject but who can also share how 4-H has influenced their lives and careers.

    If you can spare a few hours on June 10 or 11 and want to be inspired and energized by some great 4-H youth please contact me directly at 612-624-8132 or I will happily connect you to our ambassador team. EXT_PHOTO_756.jpg

    Won't you please take a little time out of your schedule to share with Minnesota youth? Imagine what could happen if you do!

    Cara Miller
    Executive Director

    Featured 4-H'er: Abby K.

    Abby Ambassador.jpg

    Abby is a 4-H'er from Stearns County who currently serves as a Minnesota 4-H State Ambassador. She lives on a hobby farm and has always had an interest in animals. Her participation in 4-H has enhanced her involvement and interest in agriculture, specifically livestock. Ten years ago, when she first started 4-H at the age of 6, her only livestock project was showing rabbits that she leased from an aunt. Since then, she has continuously increased the number of livestock she's shown at the county fair, including swine and dairy heifers, and has participated in dairy knowledge bowl and dairy judging. Abby currently works on a dairy farm that is owned by one of the 4-H families in her county and plans to add a breeding pen of Call Ducks to her livestock entries in the coming year.

    Through her 4-H experiences, Abby has discovered and is pursuing a career path toward becoming a large animal veterinarian. While preparing her Veterinary Science projects, she has included other species of animals that large animal veterinarians would often tend to and treat. These projects have provided her opportunities to job shadow local veterinarians and gain further knowledge to prepare for her future.

    Another area that 4-H has provided Abby opportunities to explore is robotics. Through her involvement in a local robotics club, she is able to learn about technological advances as they occur and relates them to the effects that they have on the agricultural industry.

    Serving as a local 4-H ambassador through the Stearns County Junior Leaders program led Abby to apply for and be accepted as a Minnesota 4-H State Ambassador. Through this program, she has had the opportunity to learn about many different parts of 4-H including STEM, performing arts, and clowning, and how 4-H can look different in different parts of the state, but still be the same program. She has built up her leadership skills through officer positions in the Stearns County Dog Club, Robotics Club, and her general 4-H Club, Spunk Creek Critters. Through these leadership experiences, she has improved in public speaking, working with adults and youth, conflict management, and teamwork. She has also gained appreciation for the value of community service as a participant in activities such as cleaning ditches and preparing a meal for the residents at the Ronald McDonald House in Minneapolis.

    4-H has given Abby, and many other youth in Minnesota, life changing experiences by allowing them the chance to not only explore areas they are passionate about, but to also challenge themselves and experience new opportunities they might not have otherwise experienced. By supporting Minnesota 4-H, you can invest in the youth of Minnesota, youth like Abby, who take a small opportunity and make it into a whole new enlightening experience.

    Celebrate spring with a gift of grain!

    grain in open hand.jpg

    It finally seems like spring is coming! In a few weeks we will see the familiar sites of tractors in the fields prepping soil, planting seeds and preparing for the eventual harvest in the fall.

    Giving a gift of grain to your favorite charity is a wonderful way to support the good work of Minnesota non-profits and to get a small tax break for yourself. The Minnesota 4-H Foundation is prepared to accept gifts of grain now, in the fall or anytime throughout the year.

    For more information about how to make a donation of grain contact Brad Starbuck, 4-H Foundation development officer, at 320-441-9499 / Or if you live in the Willmar area, stop by his office at 1802 18th Street NE. Brad raises support for 4-H agricultural sciences programs across the state. He would be happy to help you plan your gift of grain in support of 4-H.

    Happy spring!

    Cara Miller
    Executive Director
    Minnesota 4-H Foundation

    Gift of Grain Brochure_4.2014.pdf

    Ag Science Collage.jpg

    The Minnesota 4-H Foundation does not provide legal or tax advice. Donors should always consult with a professional advisor to determine tax implications prior to making any gift.

    Featured Alum: Artist Terry Williams

    Terry Williams 1.jpgTerry Williams was an early club member of the Urban 4-H program in North Minneapolis. In 1976, when Terry was a skinny and sparkly-eyed nine years old with a beautiful smile and living in North Minneapolis, and I was an Extension Educator for 4-H, our paths crossed and neither of our stories would ever be the same.

    One day, as I was hitting the streets seeking ways to start 4-H clubs through community centers, I met a tall raspy-voiced man named Art Love who worked at the Glenwood-Lyndale Community Center. He said, "there's kids running all over this area looking for something to do. Start with these two kids, Terry and Gomp, and their buddies. You'll have plenty to start a club."

    Well, it happened and all tradition went out the door. Meet once a month? They wanted to meet every day! They gathered at the Lorraine Black Child Care Resource Center, called themselves "The Brothers and Sisters 4-H Club" and had lots of project meetings.

    Terry & Bill_2.2014.JPGTerry loved to draw. In no time, he drew and painted a big mural on the cement wall in the basement where we met - it was his take on Fat Albert and others. I remember it well and from then on there was no stopping him. Within a couple of years, he was selling his oil paintings at the annual Hennepin County 4-H Share the Fun Festival. I kept one, hid it for all these years and just presented it to him at his last birthday. He was awarded many blues and purple ribbons at the Hennepin County Fair and won trips to the Minnesota State Fair. Both Terry and his brother, Greg, excelled in 4-H. Greg enjoyed performance, ended up performing for two years in the State 4-H Arts-In at the State Fair and for many community programs.

    Terry Williams 2.JPGOne of the H's in 4-H stands for "pledging my hands to larger service." 4-H was the perfect match for Terry who is just as passionate about serving people as he is about his art. Terry thrives on meeting people, and even more so when he has something of himself to share with them. What a recipe for success. For Terry, art has been the ticket. For Terry, integrating his artistic skills into helping others, like being a teacher with the 4-H Metro Art Force program or mentoring youth, has been an essential way of building community at the grassroots level. No wonder he was selected by the Minnesota State Arts board as a 2013 recipient of a Cultural Community Partnership.

    2.22.2014 Terry Williams Reception 051.JPGArtist Terry Williams, we are all proud of you. Your inner beauty is as beautiful as your radiant and community-reflective art.

    By Bill Svendsgaard
    Retired Extension Educator, 4-H youth development, Hennepin County

    A collection of Terry's artwork can be found at

    Show your 4-H alumni pride!

    Cara Miller.JPGI recently learned that Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea is a 4-H alumna from Red Lake County. It is always exciting to learn of leaders in our state, counties and communities who received some of their early leadership training in Minnesota 4-H. I am especially happy to hear people speak proudly of their 4-H experiences and how they influenced who they are today. Sharing your 4-H alumni pride is one of the best things you can do to support the 4-H program. Let your friends, peers and colleagues know that you owe some of your success to 4-H! The more of us out there talking about how 4-H helped us be prepared for our futures and careers, the more all people will know the impact 4-H has made and is continuing to make in our state and the nation. Be 4-H proud. Share your 4-H experiences with the world! You can start by going to our Minnesota 4-H Alumni and Friends facebook page to share your story.

    By Cara Miller, Executive Director of the Minnesota 4-H Foundation

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