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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.

Rick does his best to get 4-H youth involved in as many different lama-related activities as he can. On the farm, they host birthday parties and hold petting zoo days and field trips where the 4-H'ers educate folks of all ages about llamas. He believes that these experiences help young people grow not only with their animal knowledge, but in public speaking as well.

Rick with Carver County 4-H youth
"Once the kids who are shy and soft-spoken get ownership of an animal, they get excited and want to tell people about it. Being able to see these kids have fun, succeed and grow in this program is what it is all about," Rick said.

Rick recently received the 2017 Super Samaritan Award from HERO Coalition. "Everything I do is based on the 4-H'ers. They are my first and most important priority with all I do." He feels as though the youth he works with are the ones who truly deserve the reward.

Minnesota 4-H is filled with caring and committed adult volunteers just like Rick Carlson.

by Madison Muir
University of Minnesota student
Kittson County 4-H alum

Discover how you can become a 4-H volunteer.

Learn more about the 4-H llama and alpaca project.

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