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Kristie Johnson: "In 4-H, I work with professionals who have the same passions that I do!"

Meet Kristie Johnson, an Otter Tail County 4-H alum and program coordinator for Polk County 4-H. We recently caught up with her to learn a little about her 4-H story:

Erin Kelly-Collins: What were your main 4-H project areas?
Kristie Johnson: Every year I showed dairy cattle and entered my photographs. My goal was to try one new project area each year in addition to dairy and photography, so I tried a lot of different projects throughout the course of my 4-H career.

EKC: Did you participate in any state or national 4-H experiences?
KJ: The state fair was the highlight of my year every year. It was one of the few opportunities to leave the farm and meet new people and make lifelong friends. Now as a staff, my goal is to attend CWF and other national opportunities 4-H has to offer!

EKC: What is one of your favorite 4-H memories?
KJ: Every year during our final club meeting before the county fair, we had the opportunity to showcase which projects we were planning on bringing to the fair. My family would always bring our favorite dairy calves or some of our non-livestock projects and talk about the steps we had taken all year in order to get them ready for the fair. After, we would have an ice cream social or potluck. It really made the club feel like a family and you got to know everyone so much better during that time.

EKC: Tell me about your college & career experience. What are you particularly proud of?
KJ: After I graduated high school I took my passion for showing dairy cattle that I developed through 4-H and worked as a professional cattle fitter. I traveled all over the United States working for some of the best registered dairy cattle and breeders in the industry. I graduated from the University of Minnesota Crookston in 2012 with a degree in Animal Science.

Since graduation I’ve worked for the University of Minnesota Extension as a 4-H Program Coordinator for Polk County. I also serve on the Minnesota State 4-H Dairy Project Development Committee, doing work with the state 4-H dairy show and social media coverage throughout the year to promote the Minnesota 4-H dairy project all over the state.

EKC: What's your passion? What do you love about your work and your field?
KJ: I have two passions; working with young people and agriculture. I love having the opportunity to provide hands on learning experiences for youth in order to help them develop the skills they need to succeed in the future. I also love having the opportunity to work in the dairy industry and with so many professionals who have the same passions that I do.

EKC: What advice do you have for current 4-H'ers?
KJ: Get out and do it! Try something new, whether it is a new project area or club or leadership position. You will only have this opportunity once so make the most of it. I found my passion through 4-H, and trying new things is what lead me there. There are so many things that 4-H has to offer so start exploring!

EKC: How did your experience in 4-H help prepare you for what you are doing today?
KJ: 4-H had a huge impact on my life. From the time my grandpa gave me my first show heifer when I was 10, I was hooked and tried to grab every opportunity that came my way in 4-H. I gained so many leadership, communication and team building skills that have helped me succeed not only in my career, but also in my life because of the experiences I had in 4-H.
Kristie with son
(and future 4-H'er) Dean

EKC: Tell me a little about your family and personal interests.
KJ: I love to travel! Being involved in the Dairy industry still allows me the opportunity to travel for shows and cattle events, which also gives me the opportunity to see new places and try new food (I love to cook and bake so it’s a great excuse to get out and try new restaurants). I also still enjoy photography and try to get outside and take pictures as much as I can, of all sorts of subjects. I enjoy horseback riding and have gotten involved with local riders clubs in the area, participating in fun shows and events and traveling to go trail riding in the badlands and other areas. I have a 2 year old son named Dean, a dog and 2 cats.

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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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