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Julia Holen: "You don’t even realize you're gaining skills that will be with you for the rest of your life!"

Minnesota 4-H alum Julia Holen
Julia Holen is a junior studying Animal Science and Agronomy at the University of Minnesota –Twin Cities in the College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences.  She is our September Minnesota 4-H Featured Alum!

What were your main 4-H project areas?
I spent most of my 4-H career in West Otter Tail County focused on the Swine project. I also participated in the Poultry project and did Livestock Demonstrations. From 2012 to 2013 I was a member of the Minnesota 4-H State Ambassadors program and was a Minnesota delegate to the National 4-H Congress in 2013.

What is one of your favorite memories from your years in 4-H?
In 2010, after 7 years of hard work and dedication, I achieved my dream of getting into the auction with my swine project when I received the last spot in the Purple Ribbon Auction with my Purebred Market Barrow. After countless hours researching genetics, forming different diets, and walking pigs morning and night, all of my hard work was recognized and it felt amazing. I don't think it was one year of luck that got me into the auction, but rather 7 years of progress and determination that reached me to my highest goal in the market swine project.
Julia and fellow 4-H'ers visiting National 4-H
Conference Center in Chevy Chase, MD.

What's your passion? What do you love about the work you're pursuing?
I have a strong passion for agriculture, specifically the swine industry. I love the constant opportunity to learn more within the large field of agriculture and meet so many people from different backgrounds. It is so important to me to remember that anything I say can influence the public and their opinion on farming practices and this only drives my passion to be stronger. I love being able to share my story from growing up on a small hobby farm to people who truly want to learn about food and agriculture.

How did 4-H help prepare you for what you are doing today?
I believe that 4-H truly and entirely led me to where I am today. The program helped me gain confidence in myself and my opinions as well as confidence to speak to others, whether it’s one person or a large audience. Growing through 8 years of showing pigs has helped guide me to the career in Swine Nutrition that I now hope to attain. 4-H has taught me how to form lasting and impactful relationships with people from any place in the world. Most importantly, 4-H taught me that it's okay to dream big and seek the endless possibilities that are part of this crazy life.

Julia and fellow 4-H alum A.J. Hasslen
What advice do you have for current 4-H'ers?
My advice for current 4-H'ers is to just go for any opportunity that you can. Whether it’s an opening to be a 4-H Camp counselor, an application available to attend an exchange program with another state’s 4-H group, or the chance to show an animal you've never had any experience with. Just go for it. There are so many opportunities within 4-H that can lead to possibilities you never dreamed possible.

When I first started showing animals, I never dreamed I'd develop such a passion for agriculture or that I’d actually enjoy giving presentations to others. 4-H helped me to learn these things about myself and countless others through the opportunities that I decided to go for.  The best part about all of this is that you won't even realize it until your years in 4-H are over and you've gained friendships and skills that will be with you throughout the rest of your life.

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

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