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Katelyn’s 4-H story: Livestock, learning and one patent pending

Katelyn and one of her horses

Katelyn admits that her life has become "pretty wild" in the last few years. She joined 4-H because she loved cows and wanted to learn more about them. That love has quickly expanded into a commitment to learning and a desire to be an agri-science innovator.

Wild is certainly one word to describe how busy the life of a 4-H'er can get. And Katelyn explains that her 4-H life is wild for all the right reasons.

Cows, horses, sheep, ducks… and a deep love for learning

Katelyn is from Itasca County, and she's been ambitious and brave since a young age. When she was just three-years-old she learned to ride her first horse, and by the time she was five, she had her first heifer to show. As a 4-H Cloverbud, a special program for 5-7 year olds, Katelyn's love for showing cattle took off and she's been showing livestock ever since.

Since then Katelyn has continuously added new animals to her family's farm, with help and encouragement from her mom, aunt and grandma. Each livestock species requires gaining different knowledge, ensuring she can care for their unique needs. Being committed to her animals' wellness makes traveling away from the farm difficult. "I get connected to the animals and love spending time working with them all summer long," reflected Katelyn.

Right now, she's raising five different livestock species! "I want to show every species of animal at my county fair by the time I graduate," she explained, "I love learning, and I learn something new from the animals every day."

Katelyn and one of her calves

While Katelyn's animal project began from a love of cows, it's her ambitious goals and love for learning that keep it growing. It's a project that has her busy all summer long, working and caring for her livestock. "I have a lot of projects to do and animals to care for with my family. Sometimes trying to do everything just doesn't work out." But she won't let challenges discourage her or scare her away from pursuing what she loves—this includes creating a new technology to help with farming.

Becoming an agri-science innovator

When Katelyn was still in middle school, ambition carried her learning to new heights. She joined the Itasca County 4-H Science of Agriculture team, which designed and presented The ATV Fencing Buddy, an innovative solution to an issue farmers often faced when pasturing cattle. Their invention won first place in the statewide competition. 

"It took a lot of work and revisions," Katelyn explained. "We talked to people from around our area, as well as experts from Roseau." In fact, the design is so innovative that a fellow inventor has agreed to take their prototype to the next level and beginning manufacturing it for distribution. "Now it'll be used to help with electric fencing on farms. Instead of lugging everything across fields, farmers will be able to lay down the lines much faster."

The 2017 Itasca County Science of Agriculture team
The 2017 winning Science of Agriculture team from Itasca County 4-H.

Expanding her learning nationally

The team's success earned them a trip to the National Youth Summit on Agri-Science in Washington D.C. They presented a workshop on their invention, promoted the 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge, learned about urban ag and industry careers and even visited the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "It was so cool! We got to meet with youth from New Jersey, Kansas and Missouri. Being in the Capital was like a dream come true."

4-H has transformed young Katelyn's love for cows into a passion for learning and a willingness to take on challenges with courage and drive. No matter where her future takes her, she knows 4-H is building in her the skills she needs for a lifetime.

"4-H is a great opportunity to meet new people and do things that you never thought you'd try. You can learn new things all the time! 4-H takes you a long way if you stick with it and you might just find something you love too."

Want to find a new project area in 4-H to try too?

Interested in learning more about the ATV Fencing Buddy?

Curious to join the next 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge?

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

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