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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Learning, growing and giving back. Why Sharon Davis loves helping youth explore animal science in 4-H.


Did you know that 67% of all Minnesota 4-H'ers participate in an animal science project?

Sharon Davis has been working for over 30 years with Minnesota 4-H specializing in livestock education for youth. Most recently, she began a new position as Extension educator and Science of Animals Director, she focuses on educational programming and policy.

"It's important to help guide youth learning so they can raise, feed and care for their animals. 4-H animal science projects are a great way to promote engagement, self-directed learning and science skills in young people."

In the show ring, 4-H youth exhibit the knowledge and skills they've built working with their animals. But youth learning doesn't begin and end in the show ring. Raising an animal in 4-H is a continuous cycle of growth that extends for months and even years for some youth. It's a learning cycle where Sharon invests her leadership and knowledge every single day.

Learning transferable skills

Working together with the core animal science team, Sharon coordinates and develops the educational foundation of the Minnesota 4-H animal science program. This includes workshops, training, judging experience and livestock camps, along with those well-known and loved animal shows at the county and state fairs.

Raising animals is a learning process for everyone involved. Families learn and grow right alongside the 4-H youth who's participating in the animal science program. Sharon recognizes how much this program builds teamwork, decision making skills, and a youth person's sense of responsibility and work ethic. Raising an animal can be transformational.

"Part of my job is helping adults and youth recognize the skills they build in animal science projects. They're learning skills that are transferable to other areas of their life as well."

Thursday, June 7, 2018

What do goats, soap and sewing all have in common?

For most people the answer is "absolutely nothing!" But for one graduating senior, it's their differences that have led to her growth in 4-H.

Beth Ann is a Steele County 4-H'er. She followed her brother's footsteps by showing goats in her early 4-H years. And it was one special little goat that launched her into a decade of learning, exploring and even teaching others.

A love for learning began in the barn

Many 4-H youth show animals in competition with other youth. But before Beth Ann could show anything, she had some learning to do. As a Cloverbud, a special 4-H program for 5-7 year olds, Beth Ann found learning to be fun. She loved doing things independently, without her brother or mom's help.

"I still remember my first goat and working with her every day," recalled Beth Ann. "She was my favorite!" Taking on her first goat project required Beth Ann to be responsible. She had to take care of this tiny little goat, and train her every day.

When her first county fair came around and it was show time, Beth Ann entered the ring with her mother by her side. She did her best to show what she'd learned and walked out with both a ribbon and excitement to do more. That bond created by training her first show goat was just the beginning of her 4-H career.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

4-H is all about animals, right?

Monthly column from Minnesota 4-H director Dorothy McCargo Freeman


The goal of 4-H is to empower youth with skills to lead for a lifetime. We always have and always will be focused on young people.

So then, why do you suppose that many people think 4-H is about animals? And is that belief a problem? Should we try to convince others that we are not focused on animals?

I say no. And here is why.

Raising animals is a powerful way for youth to build critical life skills. Skills they can take with them no matter what their future holds.

4-H volunteer Sara Bergman empowers youth to lead and serve in Lake County

Sara (right) with fellow 4-H leadership conference
participants from Lake County
As soon as Sara graduated from 4-H, she signed up to be a volunteer. Sara couldn't imagine missing a minute as part of the 4-H community.

"4-H was a great program for me. I wanted to be part of keeping it available for kids in our county. I had to wait a few years to chaperone since I was so close in age to the youth, but it was worth it. I'm now our county's designated State Fair chaperone. Whenever there’s a spot open, I'm there."

You don't have to be a parent to love kids!
Sara first joined 4-H in the 6th grade. She loved being a member of a club, creating skits for Share the Fun and building her leadership skills over time. She's still friends with many of the people she shared 4-H with as a youth and has even convinced a couple of them to join her as a 4-H volunteer.

"I love spending time with kids, but don't have any of my own. When my younger cousins' club needed a leader the girls approached me to ask for help. I jumped in! Being a 4-H volunteer means I can help my family and other kids in the community too."

Thursday, May 17, 2018

4-H teen wins public health achievement award for teaching younger youth

Meet Briana M.

Briana is a 4-H'er from Washington County. She recently received a Public Health Achievement Award for her work encouraging healthy living in fellow youth.

4-H grows healthy and engaged young people.

A Senior at Park High School, Briana is in her second year helping younger youth make safe and healthy choices as a 4-H Youth Teaching Youth teen teacher.

"I used to babysit a lot, but got involved with 4-H because I wanted to learn more about being a teacher. I had no idea how hard it is or how rewarding it feels when kids learn from me."

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Jessica Pierson Russo wants to make 4-H great for everybody


Citizenship and leadership are woven into all parts of the Minnesota 4-H urban youth development program. The more diversity there is in a community, the more we understand how important these skills are, according to Extension Educator Jessica Russo.

It's in the curriculum, in grant proposals, volunteer training and in programming. Through 4-H ambassador programs, campus visits, club exchanges and just everyday 4-H club experiences, youth are building skills to navigate relationships with people who are different from them.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Release your potential by dreaming big

Monthly column from Minnesota 4-H director Dorothy McCargo Freeman


I am a dreamer

It's true. I spend a great deal of time dreaming and envisioning what could be for myself, my fellow youth workers and 4-H as a whole. I love to imagine the future.

Are you like me? Do you see possibilities and opportunities wherever you go? This way of viewing the world can be a natural inclination. It can also be cultivated. It can be grown.

Yes we can

Every single day, we are surrounded by problems of all sizes. It can be tempting to see problems as permanent roadblocks, barriers we cannot move. But that is just not true. You and I have so much potential to affect change.

Even when facing the biggest most complicated challenges, make your first reaction "yes, we can." If you begin with possibility, you will orient yourself toward what can be.

Saying "yes, we can" shapes the way we approach life. It is the beginning of seeing the possibilities all around us. It heightens our consciousness to not just our present, but also our potential.

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