Genevieve just returned from the National 4-H Conference in Washington D.C. She was a member of the conference’s Youth Leadership Team (YLT).
Along with 6 other youth, Genevieve spent months building collaboration, problem-solving, and leadership skills while planning important aspects of this annual conference. It was attended by around 250 youth from across the United States.
“My primary roles during the conference were to host, build community between attendees, and co-lead a roundtable experience on climate change. I’ve grown a lot in my administrative skills. I’m way more efficient and thorough in planning because of my YLT experience.”
Growing into leadership
Serving on a national committee with 4-H did not happen by accident. Since first joining 4-H nine years ago, Genevieve has accepted a variety of progressive leadership opportunities, beginning in her neighborhood 4-H club. Each role has been a stepping stone for the next, building her skills and confidence over time.
“At first, I was just in 4-H because my mom wanted me to get outside and be involved in community service. Over time, adults and friends showed me different ways I could lead and help others. The community of 4-H is so great. You start local, explore and expand your influence.”
After holding vice president and president roles in her Northeast Urban 4-H Club, Genevieve was invited to join the Urban 4-H Ambassador Planning Committee. The APC coordinates leadership experiences for youth across the Twin Cities metro area. As an APC member, Genevieve learned about the diversity of youth and experiences in 4-H and the importance of making space for everybody.
“4-H is a big place with lots of different people. When we come together, we are one family. As leaders, it’s important to be aware of the people whose voices and ideas haven’t been expressed or heard. Some are very vocal and willing to communicate what they want and need. Others are less willing to use their voice.”
Learning and leading nationally
Genevieve wanted to learn more about leadership so she applied to be a Minnesota delegate to the 2016 National 4-H Conference. There she met youth from all over the county who were interested in leadership and making a difference in their community, nation and world.
An Extension 4-H educator named Judith Conway was the first to encourage Genevieve to apply for the conference’s youth leadership team. Genevieve was interested, but was unsure if she was qualified. Then she received an email from the conference organizers that convinced her to take a risk and submit an application.
“I knew it was the right choice. Even just the process of applying was filled with opportunities to learn and grow. And I’m so glad I did.”
Genevieve is in her final months of high school and looks forward to taking the skills she’s grown in 4-H on to college. Her intention is to pursue a career in patent law, while remaining active in climate change advocacy and volunteering with 4-H.
“You can’t come out of 4-H without confidence, self-awareness, and lifelong skills we can use no matter what our future. 4-H is for everyone. 4-H has been a great place to grow.”
Curious to know more?
Explore Minnesota 4-H leadership opportunities.
Learn more about the National 4-H Conference.
Find 4-H in your community.
University of Minnesota Extension
Center for Youth Development
Center for Youth Development