4-H has always been a part of Amber Erickson's life.
And it continues to this day as she takes on a new role as the 4-H youth development field operations coordinator for South Dakota 4-H.
The Minnesota native recently spent the last three years as the South Dakota State University Extension 4-H Youth program adviser for Davison and Hanson counties 4-H, and while she's sad to leave the area she's grown fond of, she looks forward to making a statewide impact.
"I'm definitely excited and I've been enjoying it thus far," Erickson said of her new position she's held for the last few weeks. "There'll be aspects I miss as a county adviser as well. I cherish my time with them. I developed a lot of relationships with families and I look forward to keeping in contact."
Erickson, who obtained a bachelor's degree in animal science from the University of Minnesota, has been serving in Davison and Hanson counties 4-H since 2014. But her 4-H experience began when she was 8 years old showing beef cattle.
And now, in her new role, she'll be helping advisers across South Dakota assist students with their own cattle in 4-H. Her job as field operations coordinator requires Erickson to assist in the hiring process for new 4-H professionals, as well as help in training.
She will also serve as a liaison to county commissioners and other stakeholder groups.
"I'm most excited for working with 4-H professionals across the state, developing relations and assisting in this capacity as we continue to move the program forward," she said.
For Erickson, who said 4-H helped mold her as a person, the organization instilled in her many qualities and values such as leadership development. And it's through these experiences, she said, that made an impact to who she is today and where it's led her to go.
And she hopes to do the same for many other South Dakotans.
"I'd like to assist in continuing the legacy of 4-H and provide opportunities for kids of today's generation to have those same experiences," she said.
Filling a hole in Davison, Hanson counties
In her three years in Davison and Hanson counties, Erickson made many close bonds.
Erickson describes the local 4-H as a "close-knit" group and realizes that although she is now stationed in Brookings, she can still maintain a relationship with 4-Hers in Davison and Hanson counties.
And now she's assisting in finding her replacement, and within the next month, hopes to advertise the vacant position to find the right person for the job, she said.
For next couple of weeks she will also be traveling across South Dakota, introducing herself to various 4-H chapters. And for the person who takes over her role in Davison and Hanson counties, she has a bit of advice.
"We have a great organization and a great team to work for. There's endless possibilities of providing positive youth development and great communities to work for," she said. "We're very fortunate."