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Traverse County 4-H'er Logan Johnson receives Pace Scholarship

Logan Johnson, a Traverse County 4-H alum, is a student at South Dakota State University and the Minnesota 4-H Foundation's 2015 Pace Scholarship recipient. Staffer Eunice Lin recently interviewed him about how 4-H influenced his development and career path. Here's a peek into their conversation:

Eunice Lin: How did your family get involved with 4-H?
Logan Johnson: My mom and grandpa were in 4-H and I wanted to carry on the family tradition. I started 4-H back in the third grade in a Junior Master Gardeners Program. After a few years, we decided to form a 4-H club called the Super Sprouts. Thanks to my grandma for sparking my interest in gardening.

EL: How have you stayed connected to 4-H in your area?
LJ: I’ve tried to stay connected. It’s hard to stay connected when I'm at SDSU and working so much. I have been able to judge a neighboring county's lama show because of my experience in the Lama project. I'm also involved in a 4-H Program Quality Assurance Project with Jan Derdowski and Deborah Moore. I help evaluate Minnesota 4-H youth programs, along with a few other young alumni, and provide suggestions and ideas to help further improve those programs.

EL: What advice do you have for current 4-H’ers?
LJ: Get involved! There are so many opportunities that I didn't realize were available. Going to my first 4-H YELLO! conference helped me to realize that there is more to 4-H than just activities at in county. I would say to get involved in little things, like presenting about 4-H to county officials, even if you think it’s not worth your time. That’s what I did with 4-H early on and it is the smartest and most valuable decision I made.

EL: Tell me about a favorite memory from your years in 4-H.
LJ: State Fair, Minnesota 4-H State Ambassador Program, showing alpacas, National 4-H Conference, YELLO!, BLU, Super Sprouts activities, county ambassadors, mystery trips, 4-H camps, singing songs. Just about every thing I did in 4-H ended up becoming one of my favorite memories! 

EL: What were your primary 4-H projects and how did you choose them?
LJ: In middle school I did indoor/outdoor gardening, and was involved in a community garden that we started. My family gardened a lot so I was interested in it at a young age. I was also part of a Lama project in 8th grade. A few friends and I were walking by an alpaca booth, and I (barely) convinced my parents to let me get a couple alpacas (not llamas haha!). I did my research to convince my parents that I really was ready to have them, and we also had a farm so we had the space. I brought them to a regional Llama show that we had, and I did that project for 5 or 6 years.

EL: How do you spend your time when you’re not busy studying and working?
LJ: Once I started school, I got into the SDSU meat judging team. It’s something that I enjoy quite a lot. I also love running, and just being outside, especially when it’s nice out. I also hang out with friends when I can.

EL: Tell me a little about what you’re studying at SDSU and what your career goals are.
LJ: I’m studying animal science with a business and production emphasis, so if I were to go back to the farm and work, I could do that. I’ve also been thinking about food production, or food science, careers outside of veterinary-related work.

EL: How did your 4-H experiences prepare you for this career?
LJ: I think that, especially in the animal science industry, there are a lot of jobs where you need to be really driven, and know how to talk to people. Being in 4-H helped me get out of my shell, especially with the public speaking side of things. The 4-H programs I helped lead put me on stages to present in front of a lot of people, including co-leading the National 4-H Conference in Washington D.C. I believe the skills I gained will set me apart from other people in the future when I apply for jobs in my career.

EL: How else are you involved in your university community?
LJ: I'm quite involved in both the SDSU Meat Judging Team and the SDSU Meat Science Quiz Bowl Team with practices and competitions. My Judging Team and I have traveled to Texas, Colorado, and Iowa just in the past spring. We have 4 more week-long competitions coming up in the fall where we will travel to Pennsylvania, Texas, and Nebraska.

EL: What are you passionate about?
LJ: I love meat science, as well as teaching people more about the production and processing that goes into their foods. I also enjoy reading about what the public is thinking about their food, and coming up with ways that I could I educate the public about their food.

EL: It says in your application that you have 3 minors – food safety, Spanish, and meat science. What sparked your interest in those areas, and how are you managing that?
LJ: Once I switched out of the pre-veterinary major, I knew that I wanted to learn about food safety. I figured Spanish would help no matter what industry I go into, especially in our area and with a recent increase in migrant workers. I chose the meat science minor because I'm really interested in it, and I’m involved in the meat judging team at SDSU. It’s not too much more work, I transferred about 24 credits from high school by earning concurrent credits that counted towards my undergraduate degree.

EL: Why do you think Minnesota 4-H is great?
LJ: I think the people that are working in Minnesota – the volunteers and youth, and anyone who is involved in 4-H – are awesome people and mentors. There are so many different conferences, like the National 4-H Conference in Washington D.C., where I really noticed how amazing our staff and people in Minnesota are compared to numerous other states. There are mentors in Minnesota counties and around the state that help you with what we’re good at and what you could improve on, which can help our youth grow. We have programs that really engage youth, and that makes Minnesota 4-H stand out from other organizations and states.

Eunice Lin
Minnesota 4-H Foundation

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