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Matthew Schmidtbauer: "4-H taught me the skills to be a CEO."

Matthew Schmidtbauer
CEO of Squishy Circuits
4-H was a place of exploration for Matthew Schmidtbauer. Throughout his time in Anoka County 4-H, he tried several different project areas.

"Beekeeping, coin collecting, firearm safety, electronics and more. 4-H gave me such a wonderful opportunity to explore new topics," said Matthew during a recent conversation with fellow alum Laura Wyatt. "I was always encouraged to try different things."

For many years, Matthew took a project to exhibit and be judged at the Minnesota State Fair. "I can still remember how excited and proud I was for being awarded a state fair trip with one of my projects. It was a new, unique, and exciting experience to be able to spend the night on the fairgrounds. After going my first year, I worked extra hard on my projects the next year to earn a spot back!"

Matthew with a grand champion project during his 4-H days
Matthew applied what he’d learned in 4-H to be successful in college and develop his career. Now an entrepreneur and CEO, Matthew has reconnected with 4-H as a judge for our annual Rube Goldberg Engineering Design Challenge. "Being a judge is a great opportunity to meet the latest and greatest 4-H minds, see their machines, and encourage them to continue growing and learning through 4-H."

Matthew is extremely involved in the STEM community and strives to motivate youth to engage in the field. Immediately after graduating from the University of St. Thomas, he started working as an electrical design engineer and ran a side business called Squishy Circuits. That side business, which helps elementary age youth convert play dough into electrical circuits, has now grown into his full-time job and life passion. 4-H was key to his success.
Matthew with a shipment of Squishy Circuits

"My 4-H experiences were extremely beneficial. They provided me with confidence, communication and presentation skills, and more. I’ve used them every day as an industry professional and while running my own company." Since 2011, Squishy Circuits has sold tens of thousands  of kits, building creativity and STEM enthusiasm in young people from 25 countries around the world.

Matthew uses the 4-H pledge as a way to guide his passion and encourages current 4-H youth to do the same. "I set goals to help myself and others around me and try new things. Every day, I make a difference in the world through my actions. Try something unfamiliar. You’ll be surprised by how much you can learn and grow from the experiences!"

Laura Wyatt
Extension Development Office

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  1. Anoka County 4-H proudly claims Matt!-- and the MN 4-H STEM team is very excited to be connecting with Matt for the Engineering Design Challenge. When Matt spoke to the Rube Goldberg teams at the MN State Fair last Aug., it was magical to watch the young people and volunteers react to Matt's story of how his 4-H involvement (and his parents' encouragement to tinker and pull things apart!) helped lead him to pursue an engineering pathway in college and pursue the creation and successful expansion of Squishy Circuits! Matt also spoke about how he used problem solving skills and the engineering design process every single day...a life skill he encouraged the youth to keep developing through their 4-H involvement!


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