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"I've learned that when you volunteer, you can learn as you go. What matters most is that you're there."

Meet Danielle Lake Diver.

Danielle is a volunteer mentor with the Nahgahchiwanong Fond du Lac 4-H tribal youth program.

She meets weekly with 4-H'ers at the Cloquet Community Center, helping them identify topics of interest and connect to resources that build their knowledge and skills.

"Our youth are interested in cooking and robotics this year. It'll be fun to help them learn new things, but I admit, I'm a little nervous about robotics. I don't know anything about robots. I guess I'll be learning right alongside the kids!"

Although Danielle is new to 4-H, she has been connected to Fond du Lac tribal youth for several years. Beginning in 2013, Danielle worked as a Promise Fellow at Fond du Lac Ojibwe (K-12) School. And for four years, she partnered with youth and the local Master Gardener program to co-lead a youth gardening club and cultivate community gardens.

"Being a 4-H volunteer helps me stay connected to the youth I've gotten to know over these past years. They are great and I want to be a positive role model for them."

Volunteering has always been an important part of Danielle's life. When she was 14-years-old, Danielle took on her first volunteer role, serving meals to men, women, and children experiencing homelessness. Ever since, even as she's lived in Ohio, Florida, Washington, and now Minnesota, Danielle continues to find ways of connecting her passions with how she spends her time.

Danielle planting seeds with 4-H youth
"I've learned that my presence makes a difference. It matters way more than what I know. When you volunteer, you can learn as you go. What matters most is that you're there."

When asked what Danielle dreams of the youth in her 4-H club, she talks about legacy, the importance of elders of all ages teaching and influencing those who are younger.

"I hope youth, as they get older, will stay connected and become leaders. And I hope that more volunteers join us so that there are always caring adults present, supportive and engaging. Together, we can best serve the youth in our community."

When Danielle isn't volunteering with 4-H, she is a Math Corps tutor at Stowe Elementary. She and her husband Aaron live on Fond du Lac Reservation.

Thank you for volunteering with youth in the Nahgahchiwanong Fond du Lac community, Danielle. Your passion, energy, and presence are growing true leaders!

University of Minnesota
Extension Center for Youth Development

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