Skip to main content

A.J. Hasslen: "4-H brought me out of my shell and helped me build skills to communicate my ideas."

A.J. Hasslen’s career ambitions are directly tied to her experiences as a Minnesota 4-H’er. She was raised in Sherburne County 4-H, starting with a rabbit project as a 5th grader and consistently adding projects each year including sheep, horse, western heritage, beef, and swine. One of her favorite 4-H experiences was serving as a Minnesota 4-H State Ambassador (2011-2013) where she developed leadership and communication skills she continues to hone today.

“4-H brought me out of my shell when I was young and helped me build skills to communicate with people and get my ideas across clearly.  Thanks to 4-H, I realize that working with people and educating the public about agriculture is what I want to do in my future career.”

At one point in A.J.’s middle school years, she strongly considered following a group of friends who were quitting 4-H, but the tenacity of A.J.’s mom kept her active. “When I was in 7th grade I wanted to quit but my mom wouldn't let me. I am so glad she didn't!  4-H brought me so many great opportunities and developed the network I have today!”

A.J. is set to begin her senior year at University of Minnesota-Twin Cities where she is majoring in Agricultural Education-Leadership and Communications. She is also pursuing a minor in animal science and a certificate in Human Resource Development. This summer, A.J. will be a dairy sales intern at Gilman Co-op Creamery.

“I love teaching the public about current issues in agriculture.  I really enjoy getting to use my personal story when communicating about hot topics and misconceptions in the industry.”

Although busy balancing school, work and other commitments during her college years, A.J. still finds ways to stay connected to the 4-H program she loves. She recently volunteered at the 4-H Celebration of Agriculture, demonstrating how 4-H is preparing the next generation of agriculture leaders, and also volunteers with Sherburne County 4-H as a co-leader for their swine project. “Just because you’ve graduated out of 4-H doesn't mean you have to be done.  Young alumni can be chaperones for one-time events or volunteer leaders if they have more time. Just stay involved! It’s easy to give back to such a great program.”

If you would like to be a Minnesota 4-H Featured Alum, please share your story using this online form. And if you'd like to nominate somebody you know please contact Erin Kelly-Collins (

Erin Kelly-Collins
Alumni Coordinator
Minnesota 4-H Foundation

Print Friendly and PDF