My Youth in Action experience still seems a bit surreal to me. From walking the “green carpet” with outstanding 4‑H alum, talking with donors and the media about my experience with 4‑H, and receiving an award in Washington, D.C. at a beautiful gala – I am still amazed that for me this all started on a farm.
I grew up in 4‑H and had lots of inspiring leaders over the years who shared their knowledge and passion with me, so it was natural for me to share my farm and animals with other children. Pretty soon, it grew into a bigger tour program, and we had lots of children visiting the farm and learning about animals, their food, and the earth. Last fall, my county extension agent encouraged me to apply for the Youth in Action award. I submitted a video about my farm tour program and felt so humbled to have been chosen for the Youth in Action award knowing that there were many qualified applicants from across the country.
As a 4‑H Youth in Action Award winner, I’ve already had several amazing experiences including an opportunity to travel to San Antonio, TX for an event with, Bayer Crop Science, who had made a generous donation to an elementary school with a thriving 4‑H program. Bayer was promoting an agricultural curriculum at the school and sponsored a special ag day, teaching gardening, beekeeping, and other sustainable practices. I was so glad I had learned about beekeeping and public speaking growing up in 4‑H and was able to give several presentations to the attendees. It was so much fun to be a part of that event, sharing my passion for agriculture with children.
In March, I flew to D.C. where I met the other YIA winners, Amelia, Bryanne, and Ava. We stayed at the 4‑H National Conference Center, which is the coolest campus with hotel rooms, a café, and ballrooms just outside of D.C. — who knew? There, we learned more about the national structure of 4‑H and the organization as a whole. We also went through media training and learned how to give an interview and make a speech using a teleprompter. I felt like the president! Together we toured the Newseum and the monuments on the National Mall.
The Legacy Awards itself was like a blur of AWESOME! National 4‑H Council put on an event that made us feel like celebrities the entire evening. There were celebrities and supporters, and the most inspiring 4‑H alumni stories I have ever heard. The common theme I heard from these outstanding alumni was: “I would not be where I am today if it were not for 4‑H.” I heard that over and over, and they said it with such gratitude and humility. And of course, I was having that same moment.
Winning the 4‑H Youth in Action Award means a lot to me. It brings me happiness, but it also brings responsibility because now I need to strive to be worthy of this award and move this work forward to inspire others. Now I am becoming a 4‑H alumnus, and I am excited to do great things to give back to 4‑H. The first thing I want to do is inspire you to apply for the 2018 Youth in Action Award. Think about a way that you can make a lasting impact on your community and make it happen. You have the tools; you have the support; you have 4‑H.