4-H Expert Series: Jill Soltau, 4-H alumna, and President and Former CEO of JOANN, on empowering the next generation of makers

By Jill Soltau February 01, 2018

Education continues to dominate the national conversation, and there are many perspectives on how we equip students with the skills they need to succeed. We know now that not all students learn the same way, and we should also remember that learning isn’t contained within a classroom.

As a 4‑H alumna, I know this organization gives young people something invaluable: inspiration to learn. 4‑H’s hands-on programs engage students in the learning experience and offer the opportunity to turn concepts into reality. Whether it’s baking, sewing, growing or giving back, 4‑H members gain confidence, discipline and motivation to continue learning, as they have for more than a century.

For the past 75 years, JOANN has also been on a mission of inspiration. We aim to inspire creativity in everyone, and to help them continue to create using their hearts, hands and minds. This is where our organizations perfectly align, and I am very excited to officially announce our partnership with National 4‑H Council this week. From our 4‑H Rewards program, which offers members a 15% discount on all JOANN purchases, to in-store learning opportunities and special events, we hope to inspire the more than 6 million 4‑H members, staff and families discover their creativity.

Regardless of focus area, we know 4‑H members can find their Happy Place creating with us. Some ties are evident, such as those who might use our fabric and notions to pursue an interest in fashion design. Other opportunities may be less obvious, such as decorating a prize-winning pig’s pen, icing the perfect cake for a bake sale, or making no-sew blankets for a local charity project.

By promoting learning as beyond school curricula, we can help young people grow into well-rounded, inspired and self-motivated leaders. I’m confident that together, JOANN and 4‑H will inspire millions of members, volunteers and many others, to continue learning and to continue creating throughout their lives.