40 Iowa Youth Begin Term on State 4-H Council

September 21, 2023, 3:51 pm | Sydney Peterson, Madeleine Bretey-Smith

AMES, Iowa – Forty Iowa youth are beginning their new terms as State 4-H Council members. The State 4-H Council induction was held during the closing ceremonies of the 2023 Iowa 4-H Youth Conference on June 29.

“These young leaders will serve as ambassadors for the 4-H Youth Development program throughout the state and in their local counties,” said Madeleine Bretey-Smith, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach 4-H leadership and civic engagement specialist.  

2023-2024 4-H State Council.To be considered for the State 4-H Council, each member submitted a written application and then participated in interviews with a panel of 4-H mentors. This selective process focuses on how candidates communicate their leadership and communication skills and their potential to contribute as a part of a large group.

“The members gain experience in a wide variety of valuable life skills, including communication, leadership and professionalism,” said Bretey-Smith. “Through State 4-H Council, youth have the opportunity to participate in training, serve in committee leadership roles, and work as ambassadors for the Iowa 4-H Youth Development program at county and statewide events.”

As a part of the council, members are responsible for organizing and implementing the annual Iowa 4-H Youth Conference, which brings over 400 high school students to Iowa State University’s campus for three days in June. Council members also serve at the Iowa State Fair and other Iowa 4-H events and visit counties to share with 4-H’ers how to get involved with state and national 4-H opportunities. The council members also coordinate, promote and oversee the 4-H’ers for 4-H fundraising campaign.

“The State 4-H Council strengthens the 4-H Youth Development program by advocating with young people around the state about some of the exciting programs, experiences and information relevant to today’s teens,” Bretey-Smith said. “The 4-H program provides young people with leadership roles at the state and county level to engage them as full participants, allowing them to partner with staff and volunteers in planning and implementing their projects and programs.”

“Youth leadership opportunities, like being on state council, are impactful to help you grow as a person and help those around you grow with you. I’ve been able to build lifelong skills that I will carry throughout my high school career and life beyond it,” explained Sydney Schilling, who represents Worth County and will serve her second term on the state council. “This year, I hope to make a fun and inviting environment for Iowa 4-H. I want our program to be as appealing as possible to those youth on the fence about 4-H and retain those members to help them grow in life.”

“Getting to represent such a great program and have fun with other 4-H youth who are just as passionate as me is an amazing thing,” Schilling added. “I look forward to building up my friendships with the rest of the council and building up our program for years to come.”

“I am excited to leave a positive impact on Iowa 4-H and inspire younger youth to get more involved at the state level in 4-H,” said Brody Kuhse, who represents Bremer County and will serve his second term on the state council. “My favorite part of state council is the ability to meet new people, especially the idea of making a difference with them. We build personal relationships that last and allow us to work very well together. I am looking forward to our next state council retreat, where we will continue to work toward our goals for this term.”

“The opportunity for youth to step up and demonstrate leadership ability and learning is very important, especially with teens,” Kuhse explained. “Taking initiative allows youth to realize their potential and grow. Leadership is an important life skill for all youth to experience.”

“I am so excited to work with this group of young leaders! I look forward to seeing how this group grows and evolves together as they set their goals and achieve them throughout the year,” said Bretey-Smith. “As a former Iowa 4-H council member myself, I am honored to continue supporting youth-adult partnerships and lifting youth voices in our organization. I am enthusiastic to support these young people as they strive for their goals and gain an increased understanding of the positive impact they can have in their communities and beyond.”

Council members attend multiple retreats throughout the year that focus on developing leadership, civic engagement, communication and personal life skills while providing opportunities to work as a team and make friends.

The State 4-H Council members represent all parts of Iowa. They work to give back to their communities and help 4-H Youth Development best serve the youth of Iowa.

  • Council Members from Southwest Area: Pacey Bogue, Carroll County; Molly Freese, Carroll County; Parker Brock, Cass County; Ailey Marburger, Mills County; and Monica Osborn, West Pottawattamie County.
  • Council Members from Southeast Area: Sophia Costello, Clinton County; Ophelia Skaggs, Davis County; and Elijah Westercamp, Van Buren County.
  • Council Members from South Central Area: Kierstin Smith, Clarke County; Colin Giles, Polk County; Emma Lihs, Polk County; Kaci Vanlaningham, Polk County; and Grace Van Oosbree, Warren County.
  • Council Members from Northwest Area: Lily Schulenberg, Cherokee County; Aubree Boender, Lyon County; Alyson Ball, Plymouth County; Nora Pickhinke, Sac County; Lydia Harpenau, Woodbury County; Brigid McGowan, Woodbury County; and Maria McGowan, Woodbury County.
  • Council Members from Northeast Area: Abby Elsamiller, Bremer County; Kysa Klein, Bremer County; Brody Kuhse, Bremer County; Casey Leerhoff, Butler County; Brooke Hansel, Clayton County; Anna Egan, Fayette County; Charlie Schrader, Linn County; Autumn Schmitt, Winneshiek County; and Addison Wicklund, Winneshiek County.
  • Council Members from North Central Area: Haley Heinselman, Cerro Gordo County; Claire Sampson, Cerro Gordo County; Hadley Shatek, Cerro Gordo County; Gensley Ball, Clay County; Nolen Steiner, Hardin County; Aiden Anderson, Webster County; Grant Farnham, Webster County; Sasha Hess, Webster County; Benaiah (Ben) Meier, Worth County; Sydney Schilling, Worth County; and Harley Charlson, Wright County.

For those interested in applying for the State 4-H Council, the State 4-H Recognition Day application will open on Jan. 1, 2024, and close at 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 1. For more information on the State 4-H Council, please visit https://www.extension.iastate.edu/4h/statecouncil or email Madeleine Bretey-Smith at mbretey@iastate.edu.

Sharable photos

  • 2023-24 State 4-H Council.
  • Northwest Region Members: (L-R) Alyson Ball, Lily Schulenberg, Nora Pickhinke and Aubree Boender. Not pictured: Lydia Harpenau, Brigid McGowan and Maria McGowan.
  • Southwest Region Members: Back row (L-R): Pacey Bogue, Molly Freese and Parker Brock. Front (L-R): Monica Osborn and Ailey Marburger.
  • North Central Region Members: Back row (L-R): Aiden Anderson, Grant Farnham and Nolen Steiner. Middle (L-R): Hadley Shatek, Claire Sampson and Benaiah (Ben) Meier. Front (L-R): Harley Charlson, Sydney Schilling, Sasha Hess and Gensley Ball. Not pictured: Haley Heinselman.
  • South Central Region Members: (L-R) Kiersten Smith, Emma Lihs and Grace Van Oosbree. Not pictured: Colin Giles and Kaci Vanlaningham.
  • Southeast Region Members: (L-R) Sophia Costello, Elijah Westercamp and Ophelia Skaggs.
  • Northeast Region Members: Back row (L-R): Brody Kuhse, Charlie Schrader and Casey Leerhoff. Middle (L-R):  Abby Elsamiller, Kysa Klein and Brooke Hansel. Front (L-R): Addison Wicklund and Autumn Schmitt. Not pictured: Anna Eagan.


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