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Walsh County 4-H leadership and communication skills land multiple members at national conferences

Marit Ellingson. Andrew Myrdal and Amilia Lillehaugen will be attending National 4-H Congress in Atlanta, Georgia, Nov. 24-29, 2022, and Hannah Myrdal is a delegate to National 4-H Conference in Washington D.C., April 14-19, 2023.

A boy wearing brown boots, black pants and a white shirt stands next to a brown hog.
Andrew Myrdal, a member of Walsh County (North Dakota) 4-H showed a hog at the Walsh County Fair on Oct. 20, 2022. Myrdal is a delegate to the 2022 National 4-H Congress.
Ann Bailey / Agweek
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PARK RIVER, N.D. — Sending a 4-H delegate to the organization’s National Congress or its National Conference is an honor few clubs experience even once.

But this year, Walsh County (North Dakota) 4-H has four delegates to one or the other event. In fact, those four make up half of the total number of North Dakota 4-Hers chosen to attend the upcoming events.

Marit Ellingson, Andrew Myrdal and Amilia Lillehaugen will be attending National 4-H Congress in Atlanta, Georgia, Nov. 24-29, and Hannah Myrdal is a delegate to National 4-H Conference in Washington D.C., on April 14-19, 2023.

“They cleaned house this year. They just had some really good applications,” said Rachalle Vettern, North Dakota State University Leadership and Volunteer Development Specialist.

Three girls and a boy stand in front of a Walsh County 4-H sign.
Hannah Myrdal, Andrew Myrdal, Amilia Lillehaugen and Marit Ellingson are members of Walsh County (North Dakota) 4-H.
Contributed / Terry Ellingson

The National 4-H Congress and National 4-H Conference selection committee looks at applicants’ civic engagement within 4-H and in the communities in which they live on the local, state and national levels, she said.

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“They really shined in those areas,” Vettern said.

Meanwhile, the selection committee was impressed by the quality of the Walsh County 4-Hers’ written applications.

“Theirs were very well put together,” she said.

The North Dakota 4-H Foundation selection committee also chose Alex Lahlum, LaMoure County for 4-H Congress, and also chose Jack Kram, Cass County, Malory Kemp, Pembina County, and Michaela Mitchell, Stark County, as 4-H Conference delegates.

The selection committee typically strives to have representation to the Congress and Conference from across North Dakota, but this year four of the strongest applicants were from the same county, Vettern said.

“It’s very unusual” to have four of the eight delegates from the same county, she said. However, Walsh County 4-H has a history of having a strong 4-H tradition with support from NDSU Agriculture Extension and 4-H staff, leaders and parents, so it’s not surprising that it would have multiple delegates.

A girl wearing blue jeans and a white shirt holding a black Angus.
Marit Ellingson, who is a 2022 National 4-H Congress member, showed an Angus at the 2021 Walsh County (North Dakota) Fair.
Contributed/ Terry Ellingson

Ellingson is a freshman at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. Andrew Myrdal is a senior at Valley-Edinburg (North Dakota) School, and his sister Hannah Myrdal is a sophomore at Valley-Edinburg. Lillehaugen is a junior at Dakota Prairie (North Dakota) High School. All four are veteran 4-Hers with a combination of more than 30 years of club membership between them.

Andrew Myrdal, 17, and Hannah, 15, are following in their parents' 4-H footsteps. The brother and sister show a variety of livestock, including goats, hogs and chickens, and are involved in communication arts and crops and land judging.

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Andrew Myrdal also is a North Dakota State 4-H Ambassador, a position that has taught him a lot about leadership and community service.

“It’s a great program. The stuff you get to help out with is always very rewarding. You know you have an impact in 4-H, and the program that has given you so much, you can give back,” Myrdal said.

Lillehaugen appreciates the communications skills she learned in 4-H, something that has had a positive impact in her personal and school life.

A girl wearing a white shirt and black pants holds a sheep.
Amilia Lillehaugen, a National 4-H Congress delegate from Walsh County, North Dakota, showed a sheep at the Walsh County Fair held Oct. 19-22, 2022.
Contributed / Terry Ellingson

“Before, I had a lot of social anxiety, and it’s helped a lot with that,” Lillehaugen said.

Honing leadership skills is another benefit of 4-H, the 4-Hers said.

Brad Brummond, NDSU Extension agriculture agent for Walsh County, is a key part of teaching 4-H members about leadership and his enthusiasm for the program is contagious, Ellingson said.

“He is the best Extension agent in the state. His dedication to 4-H and helping 4-Hers get to the highest level is unmatched by anyone I’ve ever come in contact with,” she said. “He’s really kind of set a spark for so many kids to get into 4-H and stay in 4-H.

The Walsh County 4-H members and their parents deserve the credit for sending four delegates to the national 4-H events, Brummond said.

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A man wearing a green pullover shirt and blue jeans holds a microphone.
Brad Brummond, NDSU Ag Extension-Walsh County, supports the county's 4-H program by encouraging members to participate in events like the Walsh County Fair. Photo taken Oct. 20, 2022.
Ann Bailey/ Agweek

“It’s because of the quality of our youth and the quality of our parents. We have a really, really strong 4-H program here and we have a 4-H tradition and a 4-H culture,” he said.

An agricultural Extension agent in Walsh County for 31 years, Brummond is coaching the children of former 4-H members.

“It’s a passion of mine. The reason I’m a county agent is because I had a county agent that took time and interest in me,” he said. “That’s why I’m here today.”

Related Topics: AGRICULTURE4-HAGRICULTURE EDUCATION
Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: abailey@agweek.com or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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