- 6/21 Volunteering keeps one of the first 4-H Shooting Sports Ambassadors connected and contributing
Jacob (far right) with fellow Chisago County
4-H members at the
2010 Minnesota State Shoot
Jacob is a volunteer with the Minnesota 4-H Shooting Sports and Wildlife program.
Early leadership experiencesAs a high schooler, Jacob helped create an ambassador program for older youth who were enthusiastic about shooting sports. With the support of local 4-H staff, Jacob and a few other teens welcomed younger youth into the program and built their networking skills as they communicated the value and impact of shooting sports education statewide.
"Since I was really young, I loved shooting sports," reflected Jacob. "In 4-H, I was encouraged by adults who believed in me and loved the sport too. I knew I wanted to be just like those adults. They were there for me when I was growing up. That’s why I am there for the next group of kids in 4-H."
Finding ways to contributeAfter graduating, Jacob started volunteering with middle school youth who were new to his local 4-H club. Over time, he discovered lot of opportunities to contribute. Currently he and other members of the state 4-H Shooting Sports and Wildlife committee are exploring ways of connecting Minnesota youth with ATV safety education.ATV Safety is Minnesota 4-H’s newest project area. Thanks to funding from Polaris Industries, 4-H is training adults and empowering young people with critical hands-on safety experiences. Just this past year 475 youth were impacted by this partnership.Read more.
Jacob enjoying a birthday surprise
from youth in his 4-H club
Ensuring all youth belongJacob has a keen eye for youth who might feel like outsiders. As a 4-H’er Jacob always felt welcome and part of the shooting sports community. Now as a volunteer, he works hard to ensure all youth find their place and feel safe to grow.
"I pay attention to the kids who don't seem to have a lot of other caring adults in their lives," said Jacob. "I want to help them be successful and know they belong."
And while most 4-H volunteers have children in the program, Jacob is one of many younger adults who aren’t waiting to be parents to get involved.
"It's not essential to have a kid to be a volunteer. Those of us who aren't parents are just passionate about the content. We love helping new and different youth get connected to the sport."
Jacob and his chosen siblings. "We have different parents,
but together we form a family."
Grow skills and lasting friendships4-H outdoor experiences like shooting sports and ATV safety teach youth critical skills like decision-making, self-discipline and concentration. They promote the highest standards of sportsmanship and ethical behavior. They help young people discover lifelong recreational activities that can enrich their lives.
"And the friendships that grow through 4-H are long-lasting. Even all these years after my ambassador experience ended, I'm still friends with other shooting sports ambassadors," reflected Jacob. "We're here for each other. Always."
More volunteers welcomeJacob is one of more than 1,000 caring adults who help Minnesota youth engage in 4-H outdoor experiences. If you'd like to learn more about shooting sports or other 4-H outdoor recreation, visit our project page.
- 6/14 Learning, growing and giving back. Why Sharon Davis loves helping youth explore animal science in 4-H.
Did you know that 67% of all Minnesota 4-H'ers participate in an animal science project?Sharon Davis has been working for over 30 years with Minnesota 4-H specializing in livestock education for youth. Most recently, she began a new position as Extension educator and Science of Animals Director, she focuses on educational programming and policy.
"It's important to help guide youth learning so they can raise, feed and care for their animals. 4-H animal science projects are a great way to promote engagement, self-directed learning and science skills in young people."
In the show ring, 4-H youth exhibit the knowledge and skills they've built working with their animals. But youth learning doesn't begin and end in the show ring. Raising an animal in 4-H is a continuous cycle of growth that extends for months and even years for some youth. It's a learning cycle where Sharon invests her leadership and knowledge every single day.
Learning transferable skillsWorking together with the core animal science team, Sharon coordinates and develops the educational foundation of the Minnesota 4-H animal science program. This includes workshops, training, judging experience and livestock camps, along with those well-known and loved animal shows at the county and state fairs.
Raising animals is a learning process for everyone involved. Families learn and grow right alongside the 4-H youth who's participating in the animal science program. Sharon recognizes how much this program builds teamwork, decision making skills, and a youth person's sense of responsibility and work ethic. Raising an animal can be transformational.
"Part of my job is helping adults and youth recognize the skills they build in animal science projects. They're learning skills that are transferable to other areas of their life as well."
- 6/7 What do goats, soap and sewing all have in common?
Beth Ann is a Steele County 4-H'er. She followed her brother's footsteps by showing goats in her early 4-H years. And it was one special little goat that launched her into a decade of learning, exploring and even teaching others.
A love for learning began in the barnMany 4-H youth show animals in competition with other youth. But before Beth Ann could show anything, she had some learning to do. As a Cloverbud, a special 4-H program for 5-7 year olds, Beth Ann found learning to be fun. She loved doing things independently, without her brother or mom's help.
"I still remember my first goat and working with her every day," recalled Beth Ann. "She was my favorite!" Taking on her first goat project required Beth Ann to be responsible. She had to take care of this tiny little goat, and train her every day.
When her first county fair came around and it was show time, Beth Ann entered the ring with her mother by her side. She did her best to show what she'd learned and walked out with both a ribbon and excitement to do more. That bond created by training her first show goat was just the beginning of her 4-H career.
- 5/24 4-H is all about animals, right?
Monthly column from Minnesota 4-H director Dorothy McCargo Freeman
The goal of 4-H is to empower youth with skills to lead for a lifetime. We always have and always will be focused on young people.
So then, why do you suppose that many people think 4-H is about animals? And is that belief a problem? Should we try to convince others that we are not focused on animals?
I say no. And here is why.
Raising animals is a powerful way for youth to build critical life skills. Skills they can take with them no matter what their future holds.
- 5/24 4-H volunteer Sara Bergman empowers youth to lead and serve in Lake County
As soon as Sara graduated from 4-H, she signed up to be a volunteer. Sara couldn't imagine missing a minute as part of the 4-H community.
Sara (right) with fellow 4-H leadership conference
participants from Lake County
"4-H was a great program for me. I wanted to be part of keeping it available for kids in our county. I had to wait a few years to chaperone since I was so close in age to the youth, but it was worth it. I'm now our county's designated State Fair chaperone. Whenever there’s a spot open, I'm there."You don't have to be a parent to love kids!
Sara first joined 4-H in the 6th grade. She loved being a member of a club, creating skits for Share the Fun and building her leadership skills over time. She's still friends with many of the people she shared 4-H with as a youth and has even convinced a couple of them to join her as a 4-H volunteer.
"I love spending time with kids, but don't have any of my own. When my younger cousins' club needed a leader the girls approached me to ask for help. I jumped in! Being a 4-H volunteer means I can help my family and other kids in the community too."
Minnesota 4-H in the media
- Local 4-H programs help donate books to Africa - The Ekalaka Eagle
- New 4-H club focuses on performing arts | Park Rapids Enterprise
- Local 4-H group performs well at state event | Austin Daily Herald
- 4-H youth trained as camp counselors | Echo Press
- Anoka County 4-H program coordinator recognized with distinguished service award | ABC Newspapers | hometownsource.com
Center for Youth Development in the media
- Minnesota 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge: Infusing Agricultural Science and Engineering Concepts into 4-H Youth Development | Rice, J, Rugg, B, Davis, S | Journal of Extension
- Focus on Methodology: Beyond paper and pencil: Conducting computer-assisted data collection with adolescents in group settings
- Dilemmas in Youth Work and Youth Development Practice - Laurie Ross, Shane Capra, Lindsay Carpenter, Julia Hubbell, Kathrin Walker - Google Books
- Citizen Science as a REAL Environment for Authentic Scientific Inquiry | Nathan Meyer, Siri Scott, Pamela Nippolt, et al |
- A Call to Embrace Program Innovation | Nathan Meyer, Sherry Boyce, Rebecca Meyer | Journal of Extension
- 6/7 What do goats, soap and sewing all have in common?