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Craig Ross: "I give because 4-H helps young people learn they can make a difference in the world."

Craig Ross was a founding member of the Victoria Vikings 4-H Club in Alexandria, Minnesota. His parents started the club in the 1970’s to teach their children conservation, confidence, and creativity among other qualities. In 4-H and on the family’s hobby farm, Lois and Lyle Ross encouraged their four children, Becky, Drew, Craig and Scott Louis, to explore a variety of topics and try new things. Gardening, baking, shop, leadership, demonstrations, Craig and his siblings tried it all! and while they weren’t always purple ribbon winners, the skills they built have stuck with them well into adulthood.

“We did do really well in the Conservation project area. Our family used to joke about the 9-year reign we Ross boys had on that purple ribbon at the Douglas County Fair and the trips to the State Fair too. Dad always loved helping us with those projects.”

Craig attended one year at the University of Minnesota –Twin Cities before finding his place at the smaller University of Minnesota campus in Morris. He graduated in 1989 with a degree in English and a teaching certification and moved to Washington for a job teaching English and coaching high school basketball. He loved coaching and was eventually invited to lead teams at two colleges in Denver, CO. Although the confidence and perseverance he developed in 4-H served him well as a coach, in the end he wasn’t able to garner enough wins to maintain his coaching positions long-term.

“You know, you’ve got to win to stay employed in coaching. And when that didn’t work out, I wanted to find something else that I could do better was more fulfilling.”

In 1998 Craig started working as a trainer doing parent coaching at a small company based in the Denver metro area. It wasn’t hard for him to see the similarities between this professional role and his 4-H experience years before.

“When I first got started as a trainer, it sort of felt like those demonstrations I did as a young 4-H member. I remember one landscaping demonstration in particular at the State Fair. My partner and I kept losing our spot in our notes and couldn’t keep it together. We laughed so hard. Let’s just say it wasn’t exactly purple ribbon worthy.”

Over time, Craig found his confidence and style as a professional trainer and helped the company find its niche in the industry. Serving as CEO since 2010, Craig has guided Verus Global into a corporate culture & leadership development company that works with successful leaders and organizations to put their values into action. In addition to leading Verus Global, Craig has co-written three books on leadership, the most recent title ONE Team.

“4-H helped me discover that I wanted to do something important and that I have what I need to make my desire a reality. I use that knowledge every day to help people and organizations find within themselves what they need to be successful. We create a process that enables the gifts that are within people to come forth.”

Although Craig has lived most of his adult life outside of Minnesota, he is a regular financial supporter of Minnesota 4-H. He gives in honor of his mother Lois and as an expression of gratitude for all the 4-H leaders who are investing in the lives of our children.

“My mom is my inspiration. And 4-H was her mechanism for teaching us kids that we could be and do anything. If my contributions help just one more young person to believe he or she can make a difference in the world, it’s worth it. 4-H leaders did that for me. Now I can do it for somebody else.”

Thanks to Craig for sharing his story and for being a faithful donor to Minnesota 4-H!

Alumni Coordinator
Minnesota 4-H Foundation

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