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The place that built me...

The 4-H Building has watched Jillian Bell grow her skills, relationships, and career. Today a professional photographer in the Twin Cities and a 4-H volunteer, Jillian can name pivotal moments in her life that happened in that special building on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

Back in Polk County where Jillian got her start in 4-H, she was her county and club president, dedicated a lot of time volunteering and took in as many 4-H opportunities as possible. Her hard work and love for 4-H led her to attend a statewide leadership conference, YLE, held in the 4-H Building.

Among the many good friends she made in 4-H was Luther at 4-H's annual youth leadership conference (now known as YELLO!), an annual statewide youth leadership conference.  Mutual good friends, also in 4-H, were first to recognize that they were perfect for each other and today they are married. Jillian credits 4-H with getting them together, and with showing her many other 4-H opportunities.

One of them was performing arts. She joined the State Arts-In program, and later, the State Arts-In Media Team, where she learned how to communicate well with her teammates and the public, too. Publicizing the Arts-in show was her main job. Later, she worked on the technical crew, learning how to use a hammer, nails and boards after receiving them and an order to "build the stage."

"Without this building, without these programs, I wouldn't have the friends - nor the husband - I do today."

With these many skills under her belt, Jillian became a statewide youth leader, joining the Minnesota 4-H State Ambassadors in 2000-2001.  What she gained was not about herself, but about helping others. "I feel like the program (State Ambassador) gave me the 'want' needed to be a good samaritan."

When Minnesota 4-H  formed a Photography Project Development Committee last year, Jillian was quick to volunteer. Alongside working with Tamron Camera Lens Company, this is one more way she can get out and educate others about photography technique and etiquette. Luther calls her a "mobile photography educator." 

This year she and Luther are back in the 4-H Building as dorm staffers, helping younger 4-H'ers to have the same valuable experience that they had, starting 20 years ago.

Written by Madison Muir
University of Minnesota student
Kittson County 4-H Alum

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