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"It's fun to see youth and adults grow, gain confidence, and learn together."

Meet Dan Landherr.

Dan is a volunteer with 4-H in Chisago County.

4-H is the perfect place for Dan to share his love for building, creating, and innovating with his family and with other youth from his community.

Dan first started volunteering with 4-H when his oldest son was 10 years old. They were both interested in robotics and thought it would be fun to explore the topic with other youth and adults. They worked with their local 4-H program coordinator to spread the word and had a good turnout.

"The first year I volunteered, we had 12 youth participate, including my son Nathan. We joined the FIRST LEGO League program to explore a challenge with a competition to work toward. When we started, the youth didn’t know much of anything about robotics, but they were excited to learn."

4-H Robotics, using the FIRST LEGO League program, has been a great way for youth in Chisago County to build skills in problem solving and creative, open-ended thinking. Each challenge takes months to complete, requiring that teams embrace a really big problem, break it into pieces and solve it collaboratively.

"I love watch kids who never thought they could accomplish the challenge actual make progress and come up with really great ideas," said Dan. "And 4-H is a safe place to fail in the process. Failure is an important part of learning. The consequences are low and we're supportive."

It's been seven years since Dan first started volunteering with 4-H and every year he's tried to build and expand the STEM offerings for youth in his community. Dan's goal is to make the programs he starts sustainable without his direct participation.

"We have about 50 youth in our 4-H Robotics program now. We’ve added a FIRST Tech Challenge team for 8th-12th graders and FIRST LEGO League Junior teams for the youngest kids, said Dan with clear pride in his voice. "Some parents have gotten so excited about what the kids are doing that they’ve stepped up as volunteer leaders. 4-H is really a great place for the whole family."

Dan and his wife Lisa know firsthand how valuable 4-H can be in the positive development of youth. Lisa grew up in Mower County 4-H and Dan is a proud alum of the Acorn Acres 4-H Club in Olmsted County.

"All four of our children have grown up or are still in 4-H. They've done robotics with me, but have also explored other projects that interested them.  In 4-H, youth get to learn by doing in a hands-on way that they don’t always have time for in classroom setting. This kind of learning is beneficial for all kids."

Dan has many options for where to spend his time as a volunteer. He keeps choosing 4-H because he is inspired by the growth he sees in the youth who participate.

"This is the good stuff; I get to see the light bulbs turn on. It is fun to see how much youth and adults can grow, gain confidence, and learn together. I think 4-H is even more fun for me now than when I was a kid!"

We are so proud to have Dan Landherr and his family as part of the 4-H community. Dan's commitment to youth development is building a thriving and innovative community in Chisago County.

Thank you, Dan!

Dan and Lisa Landherr live in Wyoming, MN with their four children. When Dan is not volunteering with 4-H he is an electrical engineer with Boston Scientific.

Find 4-H in your community!

Erin Kelly-Collins
University of Minnesota Extension
Center for Youth Development

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