AMES, Iowa--“4-H is the best thing that has happened in my life.” That is the unabashed approval Jon Kempf, an 18-year-old from Guthrie County, gives the Iowa State University Extension 4-H Youth Development program.
Such approval, along with his abounding enthusiasm for life, spills over into his work as co-chair of the 2007 Iowa 4-H Youth Conference, “007: License to Succeed,” set for June 26-28 on the Iowa State University campus in Ames. The event is planned by the Iowa 4-H Youth Council, a group of 40 high school juniors and seniors.
“You don’t even have to be in 4-H to attend,” Kempf said. “If you’ve completed eighth grade, you can come. Conference can be three of the most incredible days of your life. Where else can you attend great workshops, awesome dances, hear inspiring speakers, do some community service and meet over 1,000 other people?”
Kempf encouraged those not old enough or otherwise unable to attend the conference to enroll in a local club or 4-H activity. “You will not be bored,” he said. “You have fun activities and can take trips around the state, nation or world. 4-H is the perfect organization to help kids grow up to be a positive impact and become our society’s future leaders. With 4-H, kids learn great characteristics such as leadership, citizenship and communications skills.”
A nine-year 4-H’er, Kempf exhibits the virtues he extols. After graduating in January 2007, from Panorama High School, he was selected as a program assistant and now serves as a marketing intern at the National 4-H Council in Chevy Chase, Maryland. During his five months there, he fulfilled his Iowa conference duties electronically and with return trips to Iowa.
One project Kempf works on at National 4-H Council is Access 4-H, a “new technology that will change the way we communicate with each other within the 4-H family.” Described as more than a Web site and greater than an online portal, Access 4-H will offer integrated online applications, services and tools to provide a one-stop Internet home for information, instruction and interaction.
Kempf not only serves on the state and national 4-H councils, but also as an Iowa 4-H Foundation trustee. The son of Robert and Lisa Kempf of Jamaica, Iowa, Jon attributed his zest for life to his parents who taught him “a great work ethic and that nothing is out of reach—you just have to shoot for the moon.”
Kempf has two passions—the 4-H program and theatrical arts—and has plans A and B for how they will play out in his life. In plan A, Kempf becomes director of the ISU Extension 4-H Youth Development program. “I owe this program a lot and I want to give my life back through a career in positive youth development.”
He will enter Iowa State University in the fall to pursue a degree in public service and administration in agriculture. His main interest is in positive youth development with nonprofit organizations. He also plans to pursue a graduate degree in marketing, nonprofits or communication.
In plan B, in case he does not end up “enjoying the world of nonprofit,” he becomes a drama teacher. He plans to minor in theatrical arts at Iowa State.
“I can’t say for sure where I will end up or what I will be doing, but with a good ISU major, I am confident about my future. The best part about these career fields is that I will be able to live in Iowa for much of my life, which is a high priority for me.”
For more information about the 2007 youth conference or to register, contact a local county office of ISU Extension or go online to www.extension.iastate.edu/4H/StateConference/index.htm