4-H builds leaders for the future
Mentoring youngsters, sitting on national committees and developing curricula are all admirable points on any adult’s resume. But this is just a sampling of leadership activities in which Iowa 4-H youth are engaged. Iowa State University Extension 4-H Youth Development produces pioneers, innovators and drivers; visit with any one of them for a glimpse of Iowa’s future.
La’Shieka Berka has helped plan and deliver the 4-H after-school and summer program for ISU Extension’s Le Claire Heights Community Enhancement project in Davenport for four years. “We help out with homework, talk to the children, listen to them and teach them life skills,” Berka said.
The Le Claire Heights project in Scott County is one of three Iowa sites funded by a national Children, Youth and Families at Risk grant. The project has been a large factor in Berka’s upbeat attitude about the future. “It helped me understand that everybody is here for a service,” she said. She passes that philosophy on to the children.
Berka knows the value of building social capital. “It’s the families that have to work together in a community. I want neighbors to walk down the street and feel good about their neighborhood.” This spring, Berka will be the first person in her family to graduate from high school. She plans to attend the University of Iowa to study nursing.
Michael Cooley has taken the leadership skills he built through his 4-H experience in Adair County to a national level. He recently was invited to work with Operation Military Kids, a national 4-H project designed to serve children with parents on active duty in Iraq or elsewhere in the world.
“We used an Iowa component that I have worked with, Speak Out for Agriculture, and adapted it into a Speak Out for Military Kids concept. I was able to present that idea to the group and it was selected as the direction we wanted to go,” Cooley said.
With a wealth of leadership experiences, Cooley said, “I have learned to get along with all sorts of people and about diversity. A leader needs to listen to what people want and need and accommodate those things.” Cooley has a passion for community. “I really see myself as being an advocate for small communities and the schools in them. I also hope to give a lot back to 4-H.”
Sac County 4-H’er Dan Determan credits 4-H with helping him prepare for a career. Looking forward to majoring in Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management at ISU, Determan connects service and learning.
“As club president, I’ve learned how to cater my leadership style in serving the needs of members. I think this will help me in my career by being able to understand people’s priorities and what they’ll respond to,” Determan said. “I’ve learned that you can’t just tell people what to do and expect them to follow. You have to show them the way and guide them and be active with them.”
Taking his leadership abilities beyond the Iowa borders, Determan will be serving on the 4-H National Fundraising Curriculum committee, creating a program that will help youth learn about fundraising for nonprofit organizations.
The Extension Connection is a quarterly publication of Iowa State University Extension.
Laura Sternweis, editor, email@example.com
Last update: April 2004