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Joshua Kukowski: "4-H lets you be yourself."

Meet Joshua Kukowski.

Joshua grew up in the Oakmound 4-H Club of Clay County. Not only is he an alum, but he's also an Extension Educator in northwestern Minnesota, a member of the Minnesota 4-H State Citizenship and Leadership Team, and a 4-H State Ambassador Adviser.

One of Joshua’s favorite memories of his 4-H days is participating in Share the Fun, an event where clubs perform plays and skits for each other. "I remember how the kids wrote the script and we all won a trip to the State Fair in 1989- it was my first year in 4-H and I got to go and perform there. It really brought our club together."

Joshua with fellow state ambassadors 
Another fond memory for Joshua is a 4-H leadership trip to Manitoba, Canada when he was a State Ambassador. "I remember getting stopped at the border, running out of gas, and arriving around 2 a.m. in the middle of Manitoba- but what I remember most about that was the constant laughing with lifelong friends and working and believing that what we were doing was important."

These lifelong friendships and passion for his work inspired Joshua to attend Moorhead State University (now Minnesota State University, Moorhead) to study Education and Social Studies. He later got his Masters in Public Policy from the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

With colleague Jacquie and
ambassador alumni Maddie

His career path didn’t lead straight to 4-H, but has always focused on service. He started out teaching high school for 7 years in Baltimore, and then worked for the non-profit sector in Bogota, Colombia. "I spent the better part of a year welcoming foreign volunteers to Bogota and placing them with partners that we had doing service." He then taught in Colombia for two years and gained a fluency in Spanish, an appreciation for deep learning in culture, a million crazy stories, and "most importantly" his wife, May. Together, they have two children, Sofia, and Daniel.

Joshua is grateful for the real-life skills he developed in 4-H, ones that are practical in his career today. "4-H prepared me to communicate with anyone. Recently, at a YELLO! Banquet, I heard that echoed by two people, Laura Wyatt and Andy Carlson, who said that 4-H has allowed them to thrive in unique circumstances. I am a successful educator because of the ability to communicate and 4-H allowed me to do and practice communication." He also appreciates the atmosphere that 4-H provided and continues to provide. "4-H allows you to explore new opportunities and meet new people.  In a sense, it lets you be yourself.  So, think about 4-H as a stress-free chance to learn, question, and be yourself."

Laura Wyatt
Minnesota 4-H Foundation

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