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We are Minnesota 4-H!

Thanks to the hundreds of individuals and groups who joined us during National 4-H Week to celebrate the lasting impact that Minnesota 4-H has on our lives. Here are just a few of the fabulous photos you shared with us using the #iam4h and #mn4h hashtags.

Remember that every day is a good day to be Minnesota 4-H proud! So, keep sharing those selfies on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Let the world know that...WE ARE 4-H!

Erin Kelly-Collins
Alumni engagement coordinator
Minnesota 4-H Foundation / 612-624-7667







I am 4-H!

cara-iam4h.jpgBlog post by Cara Miller

I am an alum of the Iowa 4-H program, a former employee of the Colorado 4-H program and now working with Minnesota 4-H.

I have spent a great deal of my life as a 4-H'er and am very proud to say so. Please share your 4-H pride by posting an #iam4H selfie on Facebook or Twitter during National 4-H week October 5-11.

I am who I am today because of 4-H!

Cara Miller
Executive Director
Minnesota 4-H Foundation

Renville County 4-H Endowment Officially Created!


The Minnesota 4-H Foundation is excited to announce the creation of a new 4-H endowment for Renville County. Fifty-seven donors contributed over $23,000 to make the Renville County 4-H Endowment a reality.

A team of youth and adult volunteers wrote letters, visited with civic groups, wrote thank you messages and got local donors excited about this opportunity.

As part of the local 4-H Leaders Council, Renville 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 Leaders Council 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 the Renville County 4-H program. 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 Renville Co. 4-H Gift of Grain Brochure.pdf for the upcoming harvest season.


If you would like to make a contribution to the Renville County 4-H Endowment, please contact Erin Kelly-Collins, county development liaison, at 612-624-7667 or

Minnesota 4-H Club Solving Real World Problems

4-h-robot.jpgA new and exciting 4-H project that youth from all around the state are participating in is LEGO® Robotics. This project area is designed to engage youth in science, engineering and technology by designing, building and programming robots that accomplish specific tasks. Many 4-H clubs participate in local competitions to demonstrate the effectiveness of their robot's design and programming. The competitions also provide the youth with opportunities to address and solve real world problems using their robotic design experience.

One 4-H club from St. Louis County, made up of six 10-13 year olds, took the theme for this past year's competition, weather related disasters, and created a solution that is a marketable product with the potential of saving many lives. The specific problem they chose to address was the difficulty rescue workers encounter when trying to locate people whose cars have slid off roads into deep ditches or are stranded in flood waters.

4-h-robotics-club-st-louis-county.jpgAfter extensive research, including information gathering from local fire fighters, police officers, and tow truck drivers the club landed on a solution: an emergency light on a telescoping rod that is small enough to fit in a glove box, but when extended to capacity (up to eight feet) and attached to a vehicle window, can flash for up to 10 hours. When a car slides into a snowy ditch, the beacon will help a tow truck driver locate them, or if there is a flash flood, rescue workers can find someone stranded on their car and take action. The 4-H youth designers are currently seeking a patent for their design, and hope to produce them commercially in order to help save people in these bad weather situations.

This 4-H robotics project is another great example of how 4-H uniquely empowers youth to use their heads to solve real world issues and get excited about technology, engineering and science through hands on learning experiences. The Minnesota 4-H Foundation is proud to financially support this and many other science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) projects across Minnesota. To learn more about how you can get involved with helping youth solve the real world challenges of today and tomorrow, click here or give us a call. We'd love to get you connected!

By Frank Mumford
Director of Annual Giving
Minnesota 4-H Foundation
Ph: 612-625-2180

Kittson County 4-H youth increase beauty and safety at local community pool

kittson-youth-selecting-flowers.jpgIn the spring of 2014, the Two River 4-H Club of Kittson County received a Helping Hands Grant from the Minnesota 4-H Foundation for a pool beautification project in their community. Here's their story as told to Erin Kelly-Collins.

After spending several years maintaining the landscaping near the entryway of our local community pool, our club felt it was time to reevaluate the design and utility of the space. We first received feedback and encouragement from city maintenance workers to take on this project and knew that we could seek funding from the Minnesota 4-H Foundation if our plan was well developed.

Our members spent several meetings imagining what a redesigned space could be, paying particular attention to safety, utility and overall attractiveness. We consulted with a local landscaper and greenhouse who taught us about benefits and detractors of the different materials and plants we were considering and built a budget based on their feedback and expertise.

Two of our members, along with their parents, made a formal presentation to the city council and asked them to providing partial funding for the project. The council was very receptive to the idea, and voted to fund the project expenses that were not covered by our Helping Hands Grant.

Once our club's funding was in place, we were able to finalize plans, purchase materials and schedule our work days. Although we expected the landscaping project to take two full days in the hot sun, it went much faster because of the many people who helped, including 17 members and 8 adult volunteers.

"Hard work is more fun when you are doing it with friends," said Alyssa (age 11), one of our club members who helped during our work day. "We all pitched in and had a long day. But, in the end it was worth it to see how great it turned out!"

In addition to the landscaping and general community service experience this project provided our youth and adult volunteers, it also was a wonderful opportunity to build leadership skills in our older members.

"I thought it was fun to help because it was a type of project that most 4-Hers don't do," said Danny (age 17). "Even though there were many young 4-H'ers, the older ones helped teach them to get the project done right."

We are so grateful for the support we received from the Minnesota 4-H Foundation and others. Our youth learned so much from this project and we really see the positive impact we had on our community.

"I loved it! I was so excited that we were all able contribute to such an awesome thing for our community," said Madison (age 16) who was the youth leader of this project. "No matter how young you are, you can make a difference in your community!"

The Minnesota 4-H Foundation proudly supports 4-H community service projects through our Helping Hands Grant program. The application deadline is February 1st. Click here to learn more.

Britta (Monson) Fisher: "4-H propelled me into a life of service."


Britta (Monson) Fisher was raised on a family farm in Sibley County. Her parents, Mark Monson and Denise (Harjes) Monson Alms, met during a 4-H Radio Speaking Contest in 1972. Britta is the eldest of their 4 children, all of whom grew up as second-generation members of the Be Square 4-H Club near Gaylord, Minnesota.

"4-H gave me so many fantastic opportunities to see older kids modeling behaviors that I wanted to emulate," reflected Britta recently. "Their modeling made me aspire to early leadership roles in my club and community."

And Britta's 4-H leadership roles were many. She was her club's recreation leader when she was nine years old, followed by historian, treasurer and president in subsequent years. Following in her mother's footsteps, she served as a 4-H State Ambassador ('95-'96), traveling throughout the state representing and advocating for 4-H.

"I was one of the youngest Ambassadors, but the older youth totally embraced and encouraged me. I developed a lot of confidence from all the training and public speaking opportunities the program gave me that year."

britta-fisher-4h-state-ambassador.jpg After her time as a 4-H State Ambassador, Britta wanted to engage further in citizenship and leadership activities. On the recommendation of her former county extension agent, Deb Noll, Britta was appointed as national youth consultant on a project team with the National 4-H Council in Washington D.C. She served for four years in this position, focusing mainly in the areas of fund development and youth and adult partnerships.

Britta's varied leadership and community service experiences in 4-H, including interning with both the Minnesota 4-H Foundation and her county 4-H program, prepared her well to serve as a visionary leader for multiple non-profit organizations. "I embrace the motto of making the best better every day of my life. I believe that living out the 4-H pledge will lead to good things." 4h-alum-britta-fisher-national-press-club.jpg

And good things have come from Britta's commitment. She is currently the Executive Director of Wheat Ridge 2020, a community development organization with the vision of empowering citizens to actively engage in shaping and sustaining their community. She has also worked as the Statewide Advocacy Manager for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and as the first Executive Director for Housing Justice!, a faith-based housing advocacy organization based in Denver, Colorado.

Britta encourages her fellow 4-H alumni to be advocates for 4-H and other youth development programs. "Youth development is an essential aspect of a healthy community. There are so many youth doing good and great things all around us, so be a spokesperson...shine the spotlight on those good things."

Britta and her husband met at a youth leadership conference in 1997 as part of her 4-H activities. They live in Colorado with their two young children.

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

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

    Blog post by Cara Miller

    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!

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