State 4-H officers experience wide-reaching benefits
Laramie — Wyoming and the nation’s 4-H programs are designed to help youth develop the skills necessary to succeed in life. According to members of the state 4-H officer team, comprised of youth from across the state, that’s exactly what the program is achieving.
“We don’t have offices,” explains 17-year-old Sasha Andrie of Gillette. She says the team decided that they would simply join forces for the betterment of 4-H, without individual titles. “We are all on the same playing field and step up as needed.” Andrie, a nine-year veteran of the 4-H program, will attend the University of Wyoming where she’ll study civil engineering beginning this fall. Prior to heading off to college, however, she says she’ll take her 2009 projects to the Campbell County Fair.
“I am in rabbit, market swine and youth leadership,” she says. “In the past nine years I’ve also been in cat, dog and horse. I have been in the presentation contest every year but this year.” Andrie says 4-H has helped develop her confidence, transforming her from a shy child into someone willing to learn new things and take on challenges.
“There really is something for everyone,” says Andrie to those youth considering involvement. “I have met my closest friends in the program.”
Nine-year member and fellow officer Megan Foote shares a similar story. “Discipline, hard work and work ethic, organization and determination are among the many things I have learned. Although, I think that the most important lesson I have learned through 4-H is that you don’t have to be rewarded for everything you do. If you enjoy something, keep doing it. Life shouldn’t be about competing against others but competing against yourself and improving yourself to your standards, not anyone else’s standards for you.”
Foote says, “I love the 4-H program because it isn’t about how rich you are, what you look like, how many cars you drive or who is wearing the coolest clothes. In 4-H you have something in common with everyone.”
Jamie Geho of Douglas has been a member of 4-H since she was old enough to join. She’s shown dogs since first beginning in the program, later showing sheep and swine.
Like Andrie, Geho says through 4-H she’s learned to meet new people, help fellow 4-H members and approach life with greater confidence. “If you want to meet new friends, learn lifelong skills and learn about yourself,” says Geho, “then 4-H is the way to go. It offers almost anything a person can think of.”
Seventeen-year-old Hannah Johlman of Sheridan says she’s participated in sewing, visual arts, leathercraft, horse, citizenship, photography and foods and nutrition. Johlman says that through helping younger members she’s learned to be a leader.
When it comes to Johlman’s individual projects, she says she’s learned perseverance, determination and patience. “One year I had to redo my leather project five times because I kept messing up one thing or another,” she recalls, “Last but not least, I have learned how to stand up in front of a group of people and put words together that make sense. My public speaking skills were terrible.”
Johlman says, “Not only do we learn skills related to our projects though, 4-Hers learn character skills, leadership skills, public speaking skills and all of that good wholesome stuff that will last us a lifetime.”
Ian Hamilton of Laramie says 4-H has taught him how to help others, as well as to identify areas where he needs to polish his owns skills. “One of the things I’ve improved upon through 4-H is my public speaking skills,” he says.
Hamilton says, “4-H has so many project areas that what you like to do is probably there. If not, you can start an area yourself.”
Like so many Wyoming 4-Hers, Trista Ostrom of Park County says 4-H is a family tradition that takes in at least three generations of her family. “My family has been involved in 4-H as long as I can remember.”
In her ninth year in the program, Ostrom says she’s participated in fabric and fashion, rabbits, food and nutrition and leadership. “The best skill I have obtained is public speaking. I have given a presentation on the county and state level all nine years that I have been a part of 4-H. I have also used this skill as part of the state leadership team and at other county and statewide events. I have also learned great leadership skills that I will use the rest of my life.”
Of 4-H Ostrom says, “It prepared you for all aspects of the real world. It develops character in young people that will continue developing as they grow older. 4-H is the largest youth organization and the best leaders in our world come from a 4-H background.”
Jennifer Womack is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.