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Mary (Dickson) Linehan: "Being a 4-H volunteer helped me find a job I love!"

Meet Mary (Dickson) Linehan, a Ramsey County 4-H alum, and former 4-H Mom and Chisago County 4-H volunteer. Recently she shared about her many experiences and all the hats she's worn as a part of Minnesota 4-H.

Erin Kelly-Collins: What is one of your favorite 4-H memories?
Mary Dickson Linehan: As dorm mom at both the Chisago County fair and the Minnesota State fair, I was able to spend time with a large group of kids. It was always fun, and I enjoyed watching these young people grow up to be amazing adults. I run into these adults now, and we have such a wonderful time reminiscing. Every one of these 4-H’ers says that 4-H prepared them for college and careers. So many have shared job interview stories, with future employers praising them on their interview skills and poise. They all say they owe it to 4-H.

EKC: What are some of your career or professional highlights?
MDL: After I was a quiz bowl coach for 4-H, I was offered a job through the school district. I was a middle school quiz bowl coach and taught the gifted and talented program. I also work as a hairdresser. I love meeting people and being creative.

EKC: How has 4-H impacted your career path?
MDL: Actually, I’m confident that my job teaching Lego Robotics and the middle school Knowledge Bowl program was directly because of my 4-H volunteer resume. All the hours and years I spent supporting my own kids and the other youth in our 4-H program really prepared me well to be successful working for our local school district.
EKC: What were your main 4-H project areas?
MDL: I asked my mom to help me recollect. The club I was in was called "Happy Hustlers," or possibly "Happy Hikers” in Falcon Heights, Ramsey County. Our leader was Pat Brown. I was in it from 1970-1973 or so. I participated in sewing, cooking, dog obedience, and horseless horse. I remember going to compete in cooking and sewing at the Ramsey County fairgrounds. I also remember our club competing in Share the Fun. We sang a song titled "4-H Leaders Hats Off to Thee," sung to the tune of the University of MN rouser. What good memories!

EKC: How was your family involved in 4-H?
MDL: My children joined 4-H as Cloverbuds in 1998. We chose the Chisago County Almelund Allstars 4-H Club because they had a thriving horse project, but my children decided they were more interested in poultry. Both kids showed poultry at the County and State level, and both participated at Nationals in Kentucky. My son was on the Poultry Knowledge Bowl team in 2006, and my daughter was on the judging team in 2009.

I was the leader of the Almelund Allstars 4-H Club for two years, 2002-2004. I was also the dorm supervisor at the Chisago County Fair from 1999-2007, and state fair chaperone from 2004-2007. I was our county's Jr. Poultry Knowledge Bowl coach from 2002-2006, and assistant coach with the state team. I helped with the poultry interviews for many years as well.

EKC: Now that your kids have completed their 4-H years, how will your future 4-H involvement look?
MDL: I’m currently taking some time off from 4-H and concentrating on the Chisago Lakes Lions Club. In 2013 I became the first female president in our club's history. I hope to find ways of pairing the Lions with 4-H locally. Both organizations are similar in supporting community service and generosity. I’ll always consider myself a proud member of 4-H.

If you would like to be a Minnesota 4-H Featured Alum, please share your story using this online form. If you know an alum you would like to nominate, contact Erin Kelly-Collins at

Alumni Coordinator
Minnesota 4-H Foundation

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