Katie Church, former 4-H'er and current 4-H volunteer, leads U of M president Eric Kaler through the 4-H barns at the Minnesota State Fair.
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.
Note to editors: In anticipation of National 4-H Week, the Sept. 26 Ag News Wire features guest columnist Katie Church, a former 4-H'er and current 4-H volunteer from Washington County who is employed by AgStar Financial Services. Please email Catherine Dehdashti at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like a photo of Katie Church.
Any use of this article must include the byline or following credit line: Katie Church is a former 4-H'er and current 4-H volunteer from Washington County, employed by AgStar Financial Services.
Media Contact: Catherine Dehdashti, U of M Extension, (612) 625-0237, email@example.com