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Thursday, April 20, 2017

"In 4-H, I was surrounded by a community who believed in me."



Meet Sara Budde.

Sara is a 4-H program coordinator in Stearns County. She is passionate about 4-H because it helps youth find their confidence and learn to be the best kind of community members.

"Our kids are more likely to live healthy lives and contribute in meaningful ways. I've watched this in my own community my whole life. 4-H'ers learn to be great people and that shows in every part of their lives."

Research backs up exactly what Sara says. Youth who grow up in 4-H are four times more likely to actively contribute to their communities, and are twice as likely to both excel in school and make health life choices.


“School staff and administrators can tell who the 4-H’ers are right away. They are good at public speaking and are consistently good kids. Yes, we’re about professional success in 4-H, but we also care about helping youth to just be good humans.”

Sara herself is 4-H grown and can’t remember a time when 4-H wasn’t a part of her life. She was extremely shy as a child, so 4-H played an especially important role in her development. The youth and caring adults in her 4-H club were encouraging and supportive as she slowly built courage and confidence.

Minnesota 4-H State Ambassadors
2003-2004
“When I was young, I rarely talked to adults even in my own club. But over time, 4-H brought me out of my shell. It was a safe place to learn and grow. I didn’t always feel safe in school, but in 4-H, I was surrounded by a community who believed in me.”

Over time, Sara bravely accepted leadership roles that challenged her to further develop confidence, self-esteem, and determination. Being a camp counselor and holding 4-H officer positions in her club and county helped her discover that she could lead, encourage others, and make a difference. Her favorite, and most transformational 4-H experience, was during her first year of college, when she served as a Minnesota 4-H State Ambassador.


“I built close relationships with 20 youth from across our state that year. We really grew together. It was a really special experience."

Sara as a Minnesota delegate to
National 4-H Congress
Sara knew early on that she wanted to pursue a career within the Extension system. After graduating from North Dakota State University, she held internships in Kandiyohi and Clay counties, where 4-H staff continued to encourage her to grow and pursue her dreams.

“Becky Harrington was an important mentor to me during my year in Clay County. She took the time to help me talk through and process ideas. She provided encouragement, trust, and the constructive feedback I needed.”

Those internships helped Sara prepare for and pursue a professional career she is proud of. Her intention is to provide youth in her own community with meaningful professional preparation, just like she experienced.

“I love seeing our youth grow and change. In 4-H, they learn leadership, how to work as a team, the importance of flexibility and so much more. Our youth start as great kids and become even better over time.”


Erin Kelly-Collins
University of Minnesota Extension
Center for Youth Development
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