Skip to main content

What do goats, soap and sewing all have in common? Entrepreneurship.

For most people the answer is "absolutely nothing!" But for one graduating senior, it's their differences that have led to her growth in 4-H.

Beth Ann is a Steele County 4-H'er. She followed her brother's footsteps by showing goats in her early 4-H years. And it was one special little goat that launched her into a decade of learning, exploring and even teaching others.

A love for learning began in the barn

Many 4-H youth show animals in competition with other youth. But before Beth Ann could show anything, she had some learning to do. As a Cloverbud, a special 4-H program for 5-7 year olds, Beth Ann found learning to be fun. She loved doing things independently, without her brother or mom's help.

"I still remember my first goat and working with her every day," recalled Beth Ann. "She was my favorite!" Taking on her first goat project required Beth Ann to be responsible. She had to take care of this tiny little goat, and train her every day.

When her first county fair came around and it was show time, Beth Ann entered the ring with her mother by her side. She did her best to show what she'd learned and walked out with both a ribbon and excitement to do more. That bond created by training her first show goat was just the beginning of her 4-H career.

Exploring entrepreneurship

As she grew older and her showing skills grew, Beth Ann looked for other areas to advance her project further. Her brother had tried a goat soap project, and Beth Ann decided to expand what he'd started into a small business of her own.

As a young entrepreneur, she set out to find new ways to change the scents and ingredients in her soap products. Making goat milk the main ingredient, Beth Ann created all-natural products tailored to people with skin conditions and sensitives. Soap making expanded to lotion and body cream products, which she now sells at small shops, farmers markets and holiday showcases throughout southern Minnesota.

The student becomes the teacher

Beyond showing goats and making soap, Beth Ann looked for another project that would be challenging and provide new skill-building opportunities. Her mom encouraged her to try sewing. After taking a few classes and learning new designs, Beth Ann began mastering a new skill.

"Her first dress for 4-H was at the age of 9," her mother Brenda explained. "And for the past three years, state level 4-H judges have asked Beth Ann to offer sewing workshops!"

As a high school senior, Beth Ann worked with Missy Koch and the Steele County Extension office to create and offer two sewing workshops for local youth. She had the opportunity to present on a hobby she loves and teach others whose ages ranged from 2nd to 13th grade.

It was her choice to pursue and master something new that led to building the communication skills, leadership and confidence that she has now.

Continuing to pursue new things

As high school graduation nears, Beth Ann is reflective about how her years in 4-H have helped her pursue her diverse interests. She has sought out challenges and new types of learning opportunities in 4-H. "It's given me an idea for what I want to do in the future!"

Goats, soap and sewing make absolute sense to Beth Ann, and she wouldn't be who she is today without them.

4-H is great for exploring new ideas and building skills for life.
Interested in learning to sew like Beth Ann?
Or starting an animal science project?
Check out the Minnesota 4-H website for more information!

By Mariah Jean Larson
University of Minnesota student
Steele County 4-H alum

Print Friendly and PDF