4-H'er discovers more to youth program than county fair

WORTHINGTON, Minn. - Nearly 11 years ago, Nicole Prins joined the Nobles County 4-H program at the urging of her stepmom, Megan Prins. The self-described shy kid knew of the youth organization because she'd helped friends with their beef project,...

Nicole Prins of Worthington is exhibiting in her final year of 4-H at the 2016 Nobles County Fair. Her projects include clothing and photography. (Julie Buntjer/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON, Minn. - Nearly 11 years ago, Nicole Prins joined the Nobles County 4-H program at the urging of her stepmom, Megan Prins. The self-described shy kid knew of the youth organization because she’d helped friends with their beef project, but she had no idea as a fourth-grader of the opportunities that lay ahead of her.

Today, Prins is looking back on a 4-H journey that has taken her from the Elk Tip Toppers 4-H Club to four-time Nobles County 4-H Federation Officer, winner of numerous trips to the Minnesota State Fair and travels to Missouri, Ohio and Texas through the local 4-H Interstate Exchange Program.

People who stereotype 4-H’ers as farm kids that spend their fair days doing chores, primping their livestock and leading animals through the show ring haven’t met someone like Prins. She lives in town and has never exhibited livestock -- or quart jars of corn -- at the county fair.

“4-H isn’t all about cows,” she said. “There’s so much for everyone to do, and there’s so much you can learn and so much you can take from 4-H. I’ve just really enjoyed my time being in it.”

Prins found her niche in 4-H projects including photography, clothing, foods, fine arts and crafts.


“There is a project for everyone in 4-H,” Prins said, adding that there is also so much more to 4-H than fair projects.

“There are so many opportunities,” she said. “It’s a great way to make friends. There are so many people I’ve met at State Fair and traveling to other states through Interstate Exchange that I might not have met.”

Prins credits the youth organization for the valuable life skills she’s gained -- public speaking, leading a meeting and teamwork.

“When I started off in 4-H, I was just a shy little girl,” she said. “With the positions I’ve held, I can run a big group, which I think will be beneficial in my career.

“A lot of what you do in 4-H is teamwork,” she added. “I think I’ve learned to work well with others, too. You learn so many important life skills.”

Like a typical 4-H’er, Prins became more active in the program as a teenager. She became a Nobles County 4-H Ambassador as a seventh-grader, volunteered as a judge’s assistant during county fair entry day and accepted her first elected position as secretary of her 4-H Club.

She was elected Officer-at-Large of the Nobles County 4-H Federation as an eighth-grader and was re-elected to that role the following year, eventually finishing out the term of secretary for a fellow 4-H’er. She followed up the role as Federation Secretary with two terms as Federation President.

Prins became a role model for younger children and a mentor in the 4-H Cloverbuds, a program geared for children ages 5-7.


“It’s fun to get the younger kids excited about 4-H, so I do what I can,” Prins said.

With all she has experienced in 4-H, Prins said she has learned the most from her participation in the Interstate Exchange, a program in which 4-H’ers from Nobles County visit 4-H’ers in another part of the country. They stay with host families and are immersed in different cultures and traditions.

“You learn a lot about how people in different areas live,” Prins said. She also found the exchange to be a time to learn more about fellow 4-H’ers in Nobles County.

“You definitely grow closer,” she said.

Prins participated in her final Interstate Exchange this year, when she hosted a 4-H’er from Cuero, Texas in early July. Now, she’s participating in her final county fair as a 4-H member.

“It is sad because 4-H was -- and still is -- a huge part of my life, but I hope I can still be involved in it as much as I can,” she said.

She will still work her shift in the 4-H Food Stand, perhaps win a trip to the Minnesota State Fair and come back if she’s able to help with Cloverbud meetings.

Prins will be a sophomore this fall at South Dakota State University, where she is pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. She ultimately wants to complete schooling to become a nurse practitioner. Because of her involvement in 4-H, Prins earned the Andrea Ruesch Scholarship to help fund her college education.

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