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Message from Jennifer: It is my honor to serve

Dear 4-H youth, families and volunteers,

As Dorothy indicated in her letter to you last month, her retirement began on July 31. Dean Durgan asked that I serve as the Interim Minnesota 4-H State Leader during our transition to new Minnesota 4-H leadership. It is my honor.

I have been with University of Minnesota Extension since 1993. My very first position was a 4-H Extension educator in Brown County. Most recently, I was the Assistant Dean at the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development providing leadership to the educational direction of MN 4-H, intercultural programs and our research agenda. I am also an instructor at the University of Minnesota’s Youth Development Leadership master’s program in the College of Education and Human Development.

I am also a 4-H mom. My daughter Sofía just completed her first 4-H judging experience as a third grader at the Ramsey County Fair. She brought a photography project and was thrilled to demonstrate her team’s 4-H Engineer…
Recent posts

Katelyn’s 4-H story: Livestock, learning and one patent pending

Katelyn admits that her life has become "pretty wild" in the last few years. She joined 4-H because she loved cows and wanted to learn more about them. That love has quickly expanded into a commitment to learning and a desire to be an agri-science innovator.

Wild is certainly one word to describe how busy the life of a 4-H'er can get. And Katelyn explains that her 4-H life is wild for all the right reasons.

Cows, horses, sheep, ducks… and a deep love for learning Katelyn is from Itasca County, and she's been ambitious and brave since a young age. When she was just three-years-old she learned to ride her first horse, and by the time she was five, she had her first heifer to show. As a 4-H Cloverbud, a special program for 5-7 year olds, Katelyn's love for showing cattle took off and she's been showing livestock ever since.

Since then Katelyn has continuously added new animals to her family's farm, with help and encouragement from her mom, aunt and grandm…

210 youth from across Minnesota participated in statewide engineering challenge

Over 200 youth demonstrated teamwork, creativity and innovation at the 4-H Engineering Design Challenge.

The energetic buzz of 210 youth preparing for show was hard to miss at Minnesota 4-H’s annual Engineering Design Challenge on Aug. 6. The event welcomed youth from across the state in a fun learning event that encouraged teamwork, innovation and lots of creativity.

Using the engineering design process, teams of 3rd – 12th graders built complex machines that accomplished a simple task: planting and watering a single seed.

Each team spent weeks, and in some cases months, building the perfect machine to meet the challenge. They used 4-H curriculum to explore engineering principles and tested multiple designs and equipment as they went. 4-H adult volunteers guided each team, providing meeting space, helping to secure materials and learning right alongside the young people.

"I think the best part of the 4-H Engineering Design Challenge is how much youth and adults learn and grow…

Be fearlessly committed to growing more true leaders

After 15 years leading Minnesota 4-H, I am ready to return home to Virginia and pass leadership on to the next keeper of the clover.

Jennifer Skuza will serve as interim leader of Minnesota 4-H beginning Aug. 1. She has been with University of Minnesota Extension since 1993 in youth development roles including program coordinator, educator and assistant dean. Jennifer is passionate and intentional. I know our program will thrive under her leadership.

Thank you for welcoming me into the Minnesota 4-H family. You have a deep commitment to high-quality experiences for young people. I am grateful to have served alongside you.

4-H has always been about growing youth into leaders –confident and knowledgeable people who act with integrity, collaboration and pride. As our program continues to adapt to the needs of today’s youth, I challenge you to remain focused on our heart, our goal. Be fearlessly committed to growing more true leaders in Minnesota.


Dorothy McCargo Freeman

Committed family man finds his volunteering home in 4-H poultry program

If you ask Mark Otto about his 4-H roots, he’ll likely chuckle before explaining that he’s “been a member since the womb.” Mark grew up in a large, tight-knit family and his mother was a 4-H alum. She made sure all her children were actively involved. Mother Otto firmly believed that the skills 4-H builds in young people last a lifetime.

Since childhood, Mark has remained involved in 4-H. As a youth he attended local, regional and statewide events and explored a variety of project areas until identifying his clear favorites, leadership and citizenship.

As an adult, Mark’s used the skills he grew in 4-H to help his own children learn and explore. He loves the 4-H hands-on philosophy and how the many activities allow all youth, no matter their age, to find something they love.

“It’s the right organization at the right time for everyone,” said Mark as he thought about how all his children can explore in 4-H together. “I’ve learned as a parent and volunteer that you don’t give a lectur…

Thanks for your support, Tractor Supply Company!

We are pleased to announce that twelve Minnesota counties have been awarded funds totaling $3,280 from the Spring 2018 Paper Clover Campaign through National 4-H.

This promotion is held twice annually in partnership with Tractor Supply Company stores across the nation. During this promotion, shoppers at participating stores can donate $1 to their local 4-H program. Each contribution was honored by the display of the donor's name on a paper clover at their store.

Please help us congratulate the following county recipients:

Blue Earth • Clay • Dakota • Isanti • Morrison • Nobles • Olmsted • Pennington • Scott • Sherburne • South St. Louis • Wright

The next TSC Paper Clover Promotion will be in the fall.

For more information on the Paper Clover Campaign, check out Tractor Supply Co.’s website!

Are you interested in making a gift to support 4-H? Learn more here.

By Mariah Jean Larson
University of Minnesota student
Steele County 4-H alum

Overcoming obstacles, growing a career and giving back to a community

Abby Donkers is the summer intern for Rice County 4-H.

There are 87 counties in the state of Minnesota. What were the odds that Abby would get to be a 4-H summer intern at her home county's Extension office? Not as likely as you'd think!

It's rare for interns to work with their home county, they're usually placed somewhere new. For that reason, Abby's doing everything she can to help improve programs, plan events and connect with youth. She wants to give her absolute best to the program that's given her so much.

Building leadership and career skills 4-H partners with counties across Minnesota to provide college students with summer internships alongside local program coordinators. Responsibilities vary by county, but Abby's role has her attending 4-H camps and helping coordinate activities and programs throughout the summer. She is also engaged in planning and preparing all 4-H aspects of the Rice County Fair.
This work takes a lot of organization, attenti…