Youth Voices: A Passion for Agriculture at Home

By Madelyn Zimmerman March 18, 2021

Although I’ve grown up on a farm my whole life, I didn’t come from a 4‑H family. In fact, it wasn’t until I was in third grade that I even began to understand what 4‑H was. Some family friends encouraged me to get involved with some of the programming that 4‑H has to offer, and after talking to them, I knew I wanted to get involved. I went to their house, and I immediately fell in love with all of their cute, fluffy cows. That one positive experience with them turned into a 10-year career that was filled with a broad variety of programs, competitions, and even starting a family livestock business.

As my 4‑H career progressed, I wanted to pass on my knowledge to the future generations of agriculturalists. I not only wanted to teach people about some of the programs I became involved with, but I also wanted to provide them with opportunities that they couldn’t get anywhere else. I began to reach out to students at my school and invite them to come to my house, do their homework, and learn about a variety of potential areas of interest through hands-on experiences. In my time doing this I brought 12 new members to the 4‑H program, and many of those have begun their own cattle herd and have continued my legacy left on them to educate others.During my freshman year of high school, I made a new friend. Her name is Anna, and she has down syndrome. While I was feeding my cows at the fair, she ran up to me and said “I do that,” which to her meant that she wanted to get involved with agriculture but didn’t know how because her abilities were different than mine. Together, we got involved with a program called PossAbilities. This program partners an older 4‑H’er with a member with a disability. These members spend time working on their projects together and learning new things. Today, Anna is active in 4‑H and she now has her own beef herd that all started because we believed in each other’s abilities.Because of 4‑H, I found my passion. I found that I love to work with livestock, but more importantly that I love to educate and advocate for others. My journey began because one person believed in me, and my journey is continuing because of resources like 4‑H at Home. Had I not gotten out of my comfort zone to get involved with 4‑H at a different level, I never would have found my passions.

While I have been stuck at home during this pandemic, I find myself wondering how I can continue to impact those around me. There is one specific resource that has still allowed me to be involved in 4‑H, and that’s 4‑H at Home. This provides activities on a wide variety of topics that can be done with friends and family. For example, you can do a hands-on activity involving agriculture, which isn’t a topic that is covered in the classroom at some schools. 4‑H at Home can introduce young people to new areas of interest, and once an activity is completed it will recommend other activities for you so you can continue your learning journey.

Here are some of my favorite activities that kids can enjoy at home, while exploring different aspects of agriculture:

You can visit 4‑H at Home and use the filter tool to find activities related to agriculture, animal science, and so many other topics. It’s a great resource for young people, and I am thankful for my friends, family, leaders, and organizations for finding new and innovative ways to get involved in 4‑H programming, even while I’m stuck at home.

Madelyn is the 2021 4‑H Youth in Action Pillar Winner for Agriculture, sponsored by Bayer.