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Celebrating the impact of 4-H

Monthly column from Minnesota 4-H director Dorothy McCargo Freeman

October 1st marks the first day of our 75th year observing National 4-H Week. It's an annual opportunity for youth, parents, volunteers and alumni across the country to celebrate the impact 4-H has made on our lives and our communities.

Has 4-H made a difference for you?
Take a moment to think about how 4-H has made a difference in your life. Have you become more confident speaking in front of others? Have you explored interesting and challenging ideas? Have you made deep and lasting friendships? Are you inspired to lead?

4-H has made a difference for me.
I have spent my entire career learning and growing in 4-H. I can't imagine who I'd be without this special organization. Who would have imagined that the eldest child of James & Nannie McCargo, who were just 5th & 6th grade educated, would grow to become president of the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents? Many years ago, like 4-H volunteers do every day here in Minnesota, somebody saw my potential and helped propel me forward toward servant leadership.

I was shy and even called "homely" as a young person. And it was true. I had great discomfort communicating my ideas with others. But now, through lots of learning by doing, encouragement, and practice, practice, practice, I feel confident as I speak to groups large and small. 4-H is the place where I was able to grow into a true leader.

4-H made a difference for others.
It's not just you and I who have been positively impacted by 4-H. Thousands of alumni have countless stories about the difference Minnesota 4-H made in their lives.

"The 4-H pledge is something to live by. My experiences in 4-H have made me a more caring and community-minded person." - Dr. Dian Lopez, retired computer science professor

"4-H prepared me for where I am today. Skills I learned in 4-H such as leadership and teamwork, presentation and discussion..I use every day." - Christoph Brostrom, Minnesota Army National Guard

Celebrate your 4-H story
This week, I encourage you to share your 4-H story with folks in your community. 4-H really does make a difference for youth, and adults, throughout Minnesota. Your story will help others see just how important 4-H is. Here are a few ways to take action:

  • Visit a local business that supports 4-H and let them know they've made a difference for you
  • Post a photo on Instagram that shows a way you've been growing through 4-H
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper about how important 4-H is for youth
  • Tag a 4-H volunteer on Facebook and tell how they helped you learn something new
  • Post a Vlog or Snapchat that celebrates the friends you've made in 4-H

In Minnesota, nearly 69,000 youth and more than 11,000 volunteers are involved in 4-H. Together, we are the leaders our communities need. And 4-H has room for many more.

Happy National 4-H Week!

Dorothy McCargo Freeman
Associate dean and state 4-H director

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