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Laura Ambrose: "In 4-H, I learned life skills and found a place where I belonged."

Did you ever wonder during your 4-H years how those awesome 4-H program coordinators (agents) got their start? Well this month’s featured alum so loved her own 4-H years that she decided to create similar experiences for the next generation of youth in her home county. Enjoy this story about giving back and staying connected from Laura Ambrose, 4-H alum from Kanabec County.

Laura with Chewy, a sled-dog
on the Gunflint Trail
Both my parents were raised in the 4-H program (Wadena and Martin Counties) and participated in Collegiate 4-H while attending the University of Minnesota. It was only natural that, with two older siblings who were 4-H members, and my mom serving as club leader, my 4-H career began the day I was born.

Laura with longtime Kanabec County 4-H
Shooting Sports volunteer Ruth Magnuson
I was involved in shooting sports, needle arts, foods, pets, shop, consumer education, child & family development, clothes you make, clothes you buy, crafts and forestry projects as a member of the Rum River Raccoons 4-H Club in Kanabec County. I spent one exciting year in the entomology project, earning a purple ribbon at the Minnesota State Fair with a three-sided poster on edible insects. I never expanded my learning about the field of entomology beyond that single project, but it sure what a fun year! I also participated in day camps (first as a camper, and eventually as a youth leader) and our local ambassador program, was a club officer for many years and served as secretary of our Leader's Council.

My favorite memories from my time in 4-H are also some of my last; having the opportunity to attend the National 4-H Shooting Sports Invitational meets in 2000 & 2001 in San Antonio, Texas. The self-discipline I learned as I prepared for these meets, the friendships I developed with other 4-H members from across the country and the relationships I built with the coaches have stuck with me through the many years since. I'm really grateful for those opportunities to extend my 4-H experience beyond Minnesota. Those memories I'll treasure and I daily encourage 4-H'ers I know to take advantage of similar opportunities.

Mandu enjoying a nap on Laura's shoulder
I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a degree in Wildlife Education, a decision that was strongly influenced by my learning in 4-H. I spent seven years working in the field of environmental education and interpretation before having the opportunity to give back to the very program that inspired my path---Minnesota 4-H! Just a little over two years ago I accepted the position of Kanabec County 4-H Program Coordinator. I consider it to be a true honor to work alongside some of the same volunteers and fellow 4-H alumni who guided me during my time as a member. They helped make me who I am today.

4-H had such an impact on my life, providing me with opportunities to meet new people, take part in fun and life-altering educational opportunities, learn life skills and find a place where I belonged. I really want to encourage today's 4-H'ers to just have fun! Don't worry if your food entry is overcooked, your vegetables didn't grow or your goat eats your purple ribbon. Keep a smile on your face and use your experiences to learn and plan for the future.

Laura Ambrose
Kanabec County 4-H alum
Kanabec County 4-H program coordinator
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