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Published October 17, 2011, 04:30 AM

Lessons learned in ag organizations carry over to other aspects of life

ST. PAUL —As a shy child scared of cows grazing in my own yard, no one would have guessed the path I would take in life. That is because the friends, family time and lessons I learned in 4-H shaped me into the person I am today.

By: Katie Church,

ST. PAUL —As a shy child scared of cows grazing in my own yard, no one would have guessed the path I would take in life. That is because the friends, family time and lessons I learned in 4-H shaped me into the person I am today.

My grandpa instilled a love of agriculture in me at a young age. Following him around the barn helping with daily chores, I learned early on what it meant to be dedicated to something — to find something that you are passionate about and succeed at doing it. I found what I wanted to be passionate about through The University of Minnesota Extension Service’s 4-H program.

Getting started

I joined my cousins in 4-H when I was in first grade. As I grew, 4-H volunteers and projects helped me find my niche and focus on my strengths. I developed a love of leadership, planning, and, oddly enough, public speaking, all while becoming more confident.

My favorite 4-H projects involved livestock. While caring for my animals, I learned dedication, hard work, responsibility and determination. I also learned about financial management, how to deal with situations when things don’t go as planned and how to deal with life and death — important lessons that can’t be learned in a classroom.

I studied veterinary medicine at the University of Minnesota, which I had been introduced to through 4-H. Looking for ways to stay involved in 4-H, I joined the livestock judging team and took an internship coordinating 4-H livestock shows at the Minnesota State Fair. Through these experiences, I discovered new ways to be involved in the agriculture industry and decided to explore agricultural business.

Career in ag business

After graduation, I was hired by AgStar Financial Services, a proud supporter of the 4-H program. The skills learned through 4-H helped me build a strong resume and earn a job with a company that is a strong advocate for 4-H and agriculture. I realized my life experiences were coming full circle when I decided to volunteer for 4-H to help give today’s youth the same opportunities I had.

Oct. 2 to 8 was National 4-H Week. Youth, volunteers and other supporters throughout Minnesota had a chance to celebrate how 4-H is making a difference in their lives and communities.

If you aren’t familiar with 4-H in your area, I encourage you to find out about it. Start by visiting http://www.extension.umn.edu/youth/mn4-H. You’ll discover a youth development program that offers learning opportunities in science and technology, creative arts, leadership and much more.

Editor’s Note: Church is a former 4-H’er and current 4-H volunteer from Washington County, Minn. She works for AgStar Financial Services.

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