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Maggie Heezen is shown with her quarter horse, Helen, on Wednesday at the Murray County Fair in Slayton. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)

Hadley teen promotes 4-H at every opportunity

SLAYTON — What does an enthusiastic 4-H member do when her county fair just happens to be the same week she packs her bags and moves off to college?

Well, for Maggie Heezen, it’s become a juggling act.

On Tuesday, the rural Hadley teen competed in the Murray County 4-H horse show with her quarter horse, Helen. On Wednesday, she fit in a shift at work, moved her livestock to the fairgrounds and exhibited in the evening 4-H Sheep Show. And on Friday, she’ll pack up her things and head west to South Dakota State University, where she will become a freshman pursuing a major in human biology.

In between, she’ll soak up what she can of the Murray County Fair.

“Murray County Fair is one of the best fairs in the region,” Heezen said. “There’s really something for everyone to come check out.

“Murray County is really welcoming and such an inclusive county,” she added. “I feel everyone should come check out the Murray County Fair.”

Heezen joined the 4-H Cloverbuds as a kindergartener and became a member of the Cameron 4-H Club as a third-grader. In the past 14 years, she’s challenged herself both as a leader and a learner in the youth organization. Her zest for 4-H most recently resulted in her selection as a Minnesota 4-H Ambassador.

In the role, Heezen will promote the youth organization statewide during the next year. One of her first responsibilities is to be a welcoming face of 4-H at the Minnesota State Fair’s 4-H building. She plans to be on the state fairgrounds Aug. 25-26 and Sept. 1-3, as she again juggles 4-H responsibilities with college life.

Ride of her life

Heezen has had four primary project areas during her 4-H career — horse, sheep, performing arts and youth leadership.

“I’ve been showing horses since I was a little girl old enough to walk,” she shared, adding that she’s competed at the State 4-H Horse Show every year since she became age-eligible in the sixth grade.

In addition to competing in riding events with her quarter horse mare, Helen, Heezen is also active on a horse judging team and public speaking program for horse exhibitors, both of which have led to trips to Texas and Kentucky in recent years.

Heezen has also competed at the state fair in sheep and performing arts.

Making an impact

Heezen graduated from Murray County Central this spring, and plans to pursue pre-med at SDSU. Her goal is to become a pediatrician.

“I’ve done a lot of work with younger kids and I love helping them out,” she said. “I also love science and I really love to learn.”

Working with kids, science and education are all aspects of the 4-H program Heezen enjoyed, and she especially appreciates the leadership skills she gained while in the organization.

“When I was in fifth or sixth grade, I saw those leadership opportunities — I saw how inclusive and diverse the program is,” she said. “It’s not just for farm kids with a dairy cow. It’s for kids who live in the middle of the Twin Cities who really like art or music. There’s a project area for everyone. There are so many options out there for 4-H members to do.”

Within Murray County, Heezen has been a county 4-H ambassador and held federation offices, including that of president.

Combining her leadership roles with her projects, Heezen said she’s learned a lot about life, discipline and setting goals, and achieved skills that will be necessary as she pursues her career.

With one more year left before she graduates from the 4-H program, Heezen is setting some high goals — to lead others to 4-H and to make a difference in their life.

“If I make a difference in one kid’s life, that’s what matters,” she said. “(4-H) has meant so much to me and taught me so much about life. Hopefully I can have that impact as well.”

Heezen has one older and one younger brother and one younger sister. Her favorite fair activity is premier showmanship, which is scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday. A three-time competitor in the event, Heezen will miss it this year due to her move to college.

For a complete schedule of Murray County Fair activities, visit murraycounty

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at The Farm Bleat

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