AMES, Iowa – For some Iowans, 4-H is the reason for the career path they chose or the skills they gained. For others, it’s all about the lifelong friendships formed while camping at the Iowa 4-H Center, planting a community garden, or learning how to make everything from clothes to snacks to robots. Everyone has a 4-H story.
The Iowa 4-H Foundation is gathering those stories through the “My 4-H. My Commitment.” campaign, according to marketing director Shelly Greving.
“We want to know individuals’ 4-H stories so we can collectively share how 4-H has made the best better for all Iowans,” Greving said. Iowans can tell their stories in words or pictures, in print, video or audio. The Iowa 4-H Foundation is collecting the stories to share on 4-H websites, blogs and social networks, and in other communications with current and potential 4-H supporters.
Iowans already are sharing their stories of “My 4-H.”
Winneshiek County 4-H leader Michelle Schwarthoff said, “My 4-H is watching the kids learn life skills they can carry with them. … I really enjoy watching the kids’ faces when they have achieved their goals.”
“4-H has provided a great foundation for my son to gain confidence and leadership skills, as well as life skills,” said Roxanne Bappe, a Story County 4-H parent. “His favorite part of 4-H is his involvement in shooting sports. Fortunately, it provided an opportunity for my husband to become involved as well. He is now a 4-H shooting sports instructor, which also provides my son with a time to bond with his dad.”
Patti Vander Hart is a 4-H leader in Marion and Dallas counties. For her, 4-H means “watching the members grow through good times as well as tough situations. 4-H truly teaches them life skills they use now and when they become adults.”
Kyle Gouldenpfennig, a 4-H alum from Louisa County, said, “I was part of county, area and state council, and I met so many people that have altered or changed my life in a positive way. I will be sure to put my kids through 4-H because of all the life lessons and the incredible networking options that 4-H has to offer. It will always hold a special place in my heart.”
Leah Whitlach found the Iowa 4-H Center through a Google search for summer camps near Des Moines.
“I knew nothing about 4-H, but the program seemed cool and it looked like some place I could spend my summer,” said Whitlach, now a member of the camp staff. “Two years later I can’t imagine being any other place on earth. Camp … has given me the opportunity to build my leadership skills, helped me figure out who I truly am, allowed me to make friendships that will last a lifetime — and with all that, I get to spend my days hanging out with the best kids ever. Somehow I still get to call this a job, even though it just feels like home.”
Added Jacob, a current Johnson County 4-H’er, “This is my second year in 4-H and it has been an amazing experience. I joined 4-H going into my freshman year and I just wish I had joined sooner. I would encourage anyone I meet to get involved in 4-H and make memories that will last a lifetime!”
“Past and present Iowa 4-H’ers know the value of their own 4-H experience and the positive impact 4-H has had on their families and communities,” said marketing director Shelly Greving. “However there are thousands of Iowa youth in urban neighborhoods and rural communities who don’t yet know about 4-H. We want to spread the word to launch new 4-H clubs, train more volunteers, develop more programs and give more Iowa youth the opportunity to experience the benefits of 4-H.”
Iowans can add their stories to My 4-H. My Commitment by sharing their video at www.youtube.com/iowa4h or writing their story and submitting it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, on social networking sites include @iowa4h in your post.
About the Iowa 4-H Youth Development Program
4-H is the nation’s largest youth development organization, serving more than 6 million young people across America with programs in leadership, citizenship, communication and life skills. One in five Iowa school-age youth participates in 4-H. In Iowa, 4-H Youth Development is headquartered at the Iowa State University campus in Ames. 4-H is supported by federal, state and county funding, private grants and donations, and fees. For more information about joining 4-H, contact your Iowa State University Extension county office at www.extension.iastate.edu/content/county-offices/ or visit www.extension.iastate.edu/4H.
About the Iowa 4-H Foundation
The Iowa 4-H Foundation, www.iowa4hfoundation.org, provides the financial resources to develop and deliver quality 4-H youth programs throughout the state of Iowa. The opportunities provided by the Foundation help young people enhance their ability to use critical thinking, leadership, communication and social skills – tools that will give them a competitive edge in their future endeavors. The Iowa 4-H Foundation is a charitable 501 (c) 3 organization with a governing board of 35 trustees.