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Cindy (Mathison) Terwilliger: I love helping youth be successful in whatever they choose!"

Cindy (Mathison) Terwilliger is a passionate volunteer. She was only in 4-H for a few years during the 1960’s, but there developed a love of learning and saw the positive impact of caring adults on young people.

Catching insects on Club leader's farm
“I remember one sunny summer day our whole club went to our club leader’s farm and scoured the fields for insects. She then patiently taught us how to properly mount and display each specimen. That year my entomology exhibit went on to the Minnesota State Fair and earned a blue ribbon! I still have the bug box, ribbon and newspaper article with my name in it.”

After graduating from high school, Cindy married John Terwilliger and had two children, Becky and Lee, who were members of Wadena County 4-H. While caring for her growing family, Cindy also raised beef cattle and created artwork she sold at art and craft shows around central Minnesota. Following an early retirement, Cindy and John elected to volunteer with some of their favorite local organizations including the Nisswa Area Historical Society, Gull Lake Drifters Snowmobile club, and the City of Lake Shore Park Committee. She is also a 4-H volunteer with the Black Bear 4-H Club in Crow Wing County.

“My 4-H volunteer work comes FIRST! I love being part of helping youth be successful in whatever they choose to do. One of my 4-H girls is now in her third year at West Point....I’m so proud!”

Cindy getting heifer lead tips
from an older 4-H'er in 1963
Cindy credits her experiences in 4-H, both as a youth and adult, with making her the passionate and engaged volunteer she is today. She has learned to write by-laws, use Parliamentary Procedure, and access resources to find the information and tools needed for any situation.

On the recommendation of Extension Educator Heidi Haugen, Cindy participated in Extension’s 2010-2011 U-LEAD cohort where she learned about leadership and working with others in an organization. This year she is using those skills to help the Miss Nisswa Scholarship Pageant committee develop bylaws and policies in preparation for obtaining non-profit status.

Cindy with 4-H youth at 2014 awards program
“I always say that all the good things I know were learned from my connections with Extension’s programs!”

Cindy feels strongly that 4-H engagement is a strong indicator of a youth’s future success in life, wherever their interests lead.

“My advice for current 4-H youth is to remember that the longer you stay in 4-H the better and more meaningful your experiences will be. Don't say you’re too busy for 4-H. It WILL make a difference in your life. Stay involved!“
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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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