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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Rick is giving back to 4-H by building a local youth lama program!

Rick Carlson watching
a 4-H State Llama competition
Rick Carlson had no big goal in mind when he started his farm, except for one - to build 4-H club in Carver County to help youth explore llamas. Over more than a decade, Rick has put endless hours into working with 4-H youth to ensure they have a positive, hands-on experience with llamas.

Fourteen years ago, Carver County 4-H's Lama project was nonexistent. Thanks to Rick and his love for animals and young people, the project is now flourishing with more than 100 4-H youth along with their families.

Using a leasing program, Carlson's Llovable Llamas gives city kids long-term opportunities to work with lamas and show them at a county or state fair. At Carlson's farm, Rick has an open-door policy so the kids can come and go, working with their animals on schedules that works best each for them. "Some of those kids could live here, they are here so often," Rick said. It puts a smile on Rick's face to see how far these kids have grown. He's excited to see where this project will go next.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Who in your community needs 4-H?

In 4-H, youth build the skills they need to lead for a lifetime. You know this because you're living it out each day. You are connecting with caring adults who encourage you to learn and grow. You are developing friendships with youth across towns, counties and all over the state that will last for many years to come. 4-H is an amazing place to grow up.

But there is a problem
Thousands of Minnesota youth don't yet know that 4-H is the perfect place for them. In fact, research shows that up to 350,000 young people right here in Minnesota aren't involved in out-of-school enrichment activities. These young people don't live hours away from you. They are your classmates, your neighbors, and even members of your faith community.

Minnesota 4-H'er turns hobby into career

Mikayla showing her dairy cow at the 2017 Minnesota State Fair 

Mikayla E. grew up on a dairy farm in Washington County. Across her 13 years of showing dairy cattle in 4-H, what started as a simple hobby during the summer has become Mikayla’s passion. Her experiences in 4-H led her to college and career goals focused on the dairy industry.

Mikayla recently reminisced about her time at the 2017 Minnesota State Fair. This year she was honored in the Minnesota 4-H Dairy Showcase, a program that recognizes 4-H youth for their dedication to their cows, clubs and communities. This year she was awarded a $3,500 scholarship through the program, one of the highest prizes available. This award came after many years of perseverance and dedication. “The harder the work you put in, the better results you’ll see,” she said during a recent interview.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

"I volunteer because in 4-H, no matter what you're interested in, you can find a place to belong, work hard, and experience success."

Jeff with his wife and daughters
Jeff Eibler is in his 15th year as a 4-H volunteer.

He first signed up to volunteer at the request of his wife, Jan. She wanted to be sure that their three young daughters could experience 4-H near their home in International Falls, Minnesota.

"I didn't know much about it at first, but came along for the ride. Once I became a volunteer, I started looking for ways to contribute. Since I was interested in dogs, the dog project seemed like a good option."

After Jeff and his girls explored the 4-H Dog Project for a few years, they discovered Minnesota 4-H's Project Bowl program. This series of regional and state competitions challenges teams of youth on their knowledge of 4-H project areas. Teams are asked questions and buzz in to give their best response.

"Our first year we had two junior teams in the dog project area. Both experienced success at the regional competition, but got hammered at state. We all came back with our tails dragging. But let me tell you, getting beat is a great motivator."

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Volunteering is a gift. Who will you share it with?

11,000 caring adults volunteered with Minnesota 4-H last year. If you are one of those generous community members, thank you. Your time, enthusiasm and commitment empowered 69,000 young people with the skills they need to lead for a lifetime.

But there are so many more young people who need 4-H. In fact, census data indicate that up to 350,000 Minnesota youth don't yet have access to meaningful, hands-on, enrichment activities. They are waiting for us!

Encouraging parents to learn with their kids
Brad and Teresa Schmidt are long-time 4-H Shooting Sports & Wildlife volunteers in Douglas County. Their strategy for encouraging and engaging parents has grown the program from 2 to 13 screened and enthusiastic volunteers.

"After I mingle with parents for a while, I'll sneak in a homework assignment that gets them involved with their kids," explained Brad. "As parents learn, they want to participate more. Building confidence in parents is important to moving them toward volunteering."

Thursday, July 13, 2017

"My hope for our kids is that they will become connected and committed to their community. Our youth are our future."

Meet Jim Schneider.

Jim is a science teacher at Northome High School in Koochiching County. His first 4-H experience as an adult was judging science and engineering projects at his local county fair.

"I grew up in 4-H, but in a different area, and I didn't initially think about 4-H for our family. But once I got reconnected, I remembered how great the program is and wanted my sons to be involved."

When his older son Caleb was young, he and Jim joined a 4-H club near their home, started attending monthly meetings, and began exploring different project areas. About 15 years ago, when their club needed a new leader, Jim stepped up and agreed to fill that volunteer role. The club continues to this day, and Jim's younger son Peter is an active member.

Jim especially enjoys helping 4-H youth explore engineering and design through the 4-H robotics program. He coaches teams that work collaboratively on robotics challenges and compete with other teams across the region and state in the FIRST LEGO League.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

"4-H is teaching me how to be a responsible leader. I can take that to college to make a difference, influence others."

Ermias is a Minnesota
4-H True Leader
Ermias is a 17 year-old member of 4-H who lives in South St. Paul. As a teen teacher in the Dakota County 4-H Youth Teaching Youth (YTY) program, Ermias is building leadership and communication skills while helping young people make healthy living choices.

"I heard about YTY through an afterschool community service group I'm in. Kirsten [4-H staff] helped me learn more about the program, get enrolled, and find opportunities to be trained and teach."

Teams of 4-H Youth Teaching Youth teen teachers learn a healthy living curriculum and then deliver lessons to classes of third, fourth, and fifth graders. Topics include healthy eating, cooking, disease prevention and awareness, and choosing to be active.
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