For many, 4-H is a close to decade long endeavor, partaking in the organization from the ripe old age of eight to eighteen. But for some, those four-leaf clovers make quite the impact and inspire them to continue within the organization. Carole Curtis is one of those special individuals, who has dedicated over 40 years to the youth organization.
Curtis grew up on her family's farm south of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Her father ran a feedlot, which Curtis helped out on in any way she could as a child.
“I spent a lot of time picking up hay, chopping corn and opening gates,” Curtis said.
Curtis exhibited an array of animals during her time in 4-H, but concentrated most of her beef projects. The communication and leadership skills she acquired during her time as a 4-H member have stuck with her long after she hung up her cattle’s show halter and she cherishes her time and the lessons she learned through the organization.
“Those were significant skills I used later in my life, plus everything I learned about agriculture,” Curtis said. “I think 4-H was invaluable to me.”
Following high school graduation, Curtis went out to continue her education at South Dakota State University, where she double majored in home economics extension and child development welfare.
Curtis went on to leave quite a legacy as an Extension educator, filling various roles over the years since first becoming an educator in 1976. Some of the roles include home economist, food and nutrition specialist, 4-H educator and supervisor.
After retiring from her role within Extension, Curtis was approached by a group of young people.
“I had a group of kids that were interested in becoming 4-H members, and I didn’t have a leader. So, I became the leader,” Curtis said. “I think it’s a great experience for all of them, and they learn a lot of skills in areas that interest them.”
Curtis particularly loves being able to see the growth in her 4-H members as they grow older within the organization.
“It’s been very enjoyable. Particularly watching the kids grow up from a shy 8-year-old to a very assertive 18-year-old who is going to do great things in this world. That’s very rewarding to me,” she said.
Curtis’ mentees took notice of her years of dedication to the 4-H organization and nominated her to be inducted into the South Dakota 4-H Hall of Fame. Curtis was inducted to the Hall of Fame at the 2021 South Dakota State Fair.
“It was a great honor,” Curtis said.