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"What I like about 4-H is being in a supportive community. 4-H is like family."

Meet Manny.

He's is a 4-H'er from Ramsey County and a member of the Teen Power 4-H Club. He first got involved with 4-H at a local community center eight years ago. Little did he know what an important impact 4-H would have on his future.

4-H is a meaningful place for Manny. It's a place where he isn't stressed and feels safe to learn new skills. Photography is his most recent interest and his connections with 4-H staff and volunteers are helping him explore all the ways he can use photography to communicate his ideas and observations.

4-H youth visiting the Minnesota State Fair in 2014.
Manny's in the back row, held up by his brother Xavier.
"It's supportive community," he said when asked what he liked most about 4-H. "It's like family." In fact, 4-H is family for Manny. His dad is a club volunteer and his siblings are past and current members of Teen Power too.

Last summer, Manny was on the 4-H STEM team at the Minnesota State Fair. His primary responsibility was to help the thousands of visitors to the 4-H Building discover the fun and creativity that comes with exploring engineering and technology.

Manny doesn't always realize his own leadership skills or see the impact he has on peers. But both adults and other youth know Manny to be a strong leader who's willing to learn and grow.

"He is very articulate and precise," commented a fellow 4-H'er when asked to describe their friend. "His way of doing things we call 'the Manny way' meaning he's good at making things his and personalizing things to show who he is."

Manny and fellow 4-H STEM staffer at the 2017 Minnesota State Fair
His club leader reflected that "Manny knows when to step down, when to step up. He makes sure projects get done right and that everyone is included and feels part of the community. Manny gives kids that feeling that makes people want to stick around."

Manny is a junior at Washington High School in St. Paul and looks forward to college. He's interested in the University of Minnesota, but his dream school is the University of California Los Angeles, where he hopes to study medicine.

4-H grows confident and driven leaders.

By Lucia Davila Alvarez
Augsburg College student
Ramsey County 4-H alum
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