From 4‑H to Farm Bureau: 4‑H Was Where I Learned More

by Kittrina Thompson

4‑H alumni are always eager to share their 4‑H story. It’s a proud moment as they recount their experience at 4‑H camp, attending and showing at their local Fair, or completing a 4‑H project. These experiences are what shaped them to become who they are today. Whether they’re farmers, educators, or small business owners, alumni credit 4‑H for giving them the skills needed to do what they are passionate about, both personally and professionally.

Through our partnership with American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), we seek to ignite the desire of young people to embrace agriculture, cultivate innovation, and empower them with opportunities to improve the world around them. These young people grow up to become Farm Bureau members at the county level and have stories of their own to share.

Meet Denise H., proud Louisiana 4‑H alumna.

Why was 4‑H important to you growing up?

DH: I was raised on a produce farm along with nine siblings. Our parents instilled in us great work ethics. We raised and grew everything we ate. So, there was not much time for after-school activities. 4‑H was the best opportunity for us to learn more about many of the things we were already doing as a family. My involvement in 4‑H allowed me to gain many leadership abilities that remain an important part of my life today.

How has 4‑H shaped who you are today?

DH: 4‑H was very instrumental in molding me into who I am today.  My interest in many things started at home; however, 4‑H was where I learned more, and it helped me build my confidence to participate in the many projects. It helped me build the confidence to become a leader, first by participating at the local level, then to participate at the state level. 4‑H helped me to find what my interests were and to grow those interests. It helped me become who I am today. I can say that without 4‑H, I never would have had the confidence to speak before a group. It was the start of a passion I have today, and that is to educate youth and adults about how their food is grown.

Are you still involved with 4‑H now?

DH: I am still involved with 4‑H today. I don’t know if there was a time that I wasn’t involved in 4‑H in some form. I was heavily involved while my children were growing up through 4‑H. Later, assisted the 4‑H agents whenever they needed help after they graduated because my youngest never stopped working with 4‑H’ers either. I then formed a non-profit, the Fast Food Farm, where I work with 4‑H’ers and FFA students.  The goals of the Fast Food Farm are: to educate consumers of all ages about how their food is grown; create innovative educational materials to which teachers and students can relate; teach the importance of agriculture to our daily lives and to the economy; provide mentoring opportunities for all students; and provide leadership opportunities for 4‑H, FFA, and Pro-Start students. The students are trained to be peer teachers for the two large events we have at the farm each year. I serve on the St. James Parish 4‑H Foundation Board, as well as the Louisiana 4‑H Foundation Board.