Anyone that has participated in 4-H can attribute some skill back to something they learned in 4-H. Whether it is public speaking, finding their love for a certain career topic, organization, running a meeting, or more. Check out these stories from recent 4-H alumni as they share how they got their start in 4-H!
If you met me today, you probably would never guess I grew up in a Detroit suburb. My family moved to London, Ohio when I was ten years old and being an animal loving child, joined 4-H in Madison County as soon as I could. My 8-year 4-H career began with six Buff Orpington hens that had individual names and would eat out of my hand. By the end of my time in 4-H, I had raised chickens, turkeys, goats, sheep, dairy heifers, and a hog in addition to several special interest projects. I was a camp counselor and served on Junior Fairboard, among other volunteer opportunities.
To say 4-H changed my life would be an understatement! When I first joined, I was terrified of speaking in front of others and knew very little about farm animals. 4-H brought me some of my most cherished friendships, reinforced my work ethic, showed me that I love public speaking, and perhaps most importantly of all, founded my passion for livestock and agriculture. Because of my years in the program, and one particular year raising a market wether that required veterinary attention at Ohio State, I realized my life’s calling in food animal veterinary medicine.
Thanks to 4-H, I received several scholarships to attend The Ohio State University for undergrad where I majored in Animal Sciences and furthered my passions, particularly with dairy cattle. Today, I am a third year veterinary student at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine and begin clinical rotations in just a few months. I truly owe almost everything to the 4-H program and agricultural community for building me into the person I am today while giving my life a greater purpose in providing veterinary care to help farmers and hobbyists raise healthy livestock and thus a safe food supply.
Growing up, I was always looking for what my purpose was going to be in life. It wasn’t until I found myself in my first official 4-H meeting in Speedy Spurs Livestock 4-H club that I felt like I belonged somewhere. I can remember that feeling of acceptance that I had sitting around a table full of my friends that had similar interests to my own. Through my years in 4-H I found myself getting more and more involved in things outside of my own 4-H club and interacting at the state and national level. 4-H taught me many life lessons throughout the years. 4-H taught me how to be a Leader, how to Communicate with others and how to be Kind. I will cherish the time I had growing up in 4H and finding the courage I needed to branch out of my comfort zone.
Fast forward to now I am currently a sophomore at South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD. I am studying Agricultural Communications and Agricultural Leadership; I hope to use my degree to help develop youth programs in the Agricultural industry and offer opportunities to youth today, to prepare them for their future. Growing up in the a very supportive community inspired me to leave what I have always known and branch out to another part of the country and gain a new perspective on what the world looks like. I hope to gain the skills I need to help develop and shape the future leaders of our industry. And always remember, Communicate, Lead and Be Kind.
Rachel Garrison, Madison County 4-H Alumni and Program Coordinator at American Farm Bureau Federation
“I started my 4-H career at the young age of 6 as a Cloverbud. My project was cattle, and my first heifers name was Star, she was sweet yet feisty. I continued showing cattle until my last year in 2015. I took various other projects throughout the years like gardening and creative writing as well as joining the Junior Fairboard. I loved taking these projects and cherish the time I spent on the farm. I love that 4-H has so many aspects and found that I especially enjoyed working with my club members to give back to our community, creating lifelong friendships, preparing for skill-a-thon and club demonstrations just as much as being in a show-ring. The community of friends and mentors I found through Madison County 4-H is something I continue to use and value more every year.
My years in Madison County 4-H sparked my interest in agriculture and lead me to my career as a Project Coordinator for American Farm Bureau Federation. I get to work every day at an organization that supports and values America’s farmers and ranchers. The move from Ohio to Washington D.C. was big for me but I’ve found that my 4-H experiences have set me up to run headfirst with a helping hand and smile into anything. Madison County 4-H opened up my world to all aspects of agriculture and the world beyond. I consider my time in the program one of my most valuable assets in life.”