- Author: Joseph Rowlands
- Editor: Suzanne Morikawa
Editor Note: The following essay was submitted by Joseph Rowlands for a 4-H scholarship from the Napa County 4-H Council.
4-H has had a drastic impact on my life. Having been born with cerebral palsy meant that I required many therapies on a weekly basis. I always needed people to assist me physically with activities. This meant that I didn't have much confidence in myself.
I joined 4-H at the age of eleven and raised two goats. Suddenly I was responsible for the care and well-being of two living things. They didn't care whether I was as strong as my peers, they just wanted food and water. I found that my strength improved, my confidence grew and I loved showing at the fair, even though I still required an assistant to help me control the goat. The next year I showed all by myself and placed! I realized then that I could do anything, my disability would not stop me. I didn't need a first place ribbon to feel like a winner, I was one as I was as capable as everyone else. 4-H gave me the confidence to believe in my own abilities.
The summer after middle school, I attended 4-H camp, having never been away from home before. My oxygen requirements have always meant that people were nervous to have me without my mother, just in case something went wrong. 4-H was amazing and said, “of course I could attend,” and they bent over backwards to make the week happen. This was my first experience being away from home. It started to put a seed in my head: “I could go away to college. I am capable of leaving home and I will be fine.” I will be moving to Sonoma State in the fall, living on campus. Close enough that I can still keep my regular doctors, yet independent. 4-H helped me to be independent.
I have been a member of Valley Ranchers 4-H since I was eleven years old. I have raised goats and steers. I used to be mentored by the older youths in the program and now I am one of the mentors. I have been involved in various projects through 4-H, such as the robotics club, arts and crafts, summer camp, presentation day, favorite food day and various other activities. Over the years I decided that I wanted to be more than just a member and joined as an officer. I became Club Treasurer for two years, then I became Club Co-President for two years, this year I am Club President. I am a Napa County 4-H Ambassador and I am also on the Napa County 4-H council as the member at large.
Involved in my community
Prior to COVID, I was involved in the robotics club at Justin-Siena High School. I was also in the choir at my church and very involved in the youth group. Unfortunately, once Covid-19 started, I had to give up most of my extracurricular activities. Over the years I have done a lot of volunteering work. I was one of the teen leaders of a STEM event at the Boys & Girls Club. I have been a Vacation Bible School counselor for various summers since middle school at Saint Apollinaris Catholic Church. I was a tribe leader at the 4-H summer camp in Angwin. I volunteered through Gigg at the Community Projects Christmas tree sale every year since middle school. I handed out water to runners on Thanksgiving mornings at the Turkey Trot held at the Napa Valley College, amongst other activities.
Technology and Robotics
Technology has a way of making the world accessible for people like me who have disabilities. From a young age I learned to program robots and I see the potential use of robotics to better our world. Robotics has uses in many ways: from the medical field, to the car industry, to assisting people with disabilities in leading a more independent life. I decided that I would like to pursue a career in technology and I hope to narrow down a specific field during these next four years of college.
I will be attending Sonoma State University and majoring in Computer Science. This scholarship would change my life. It would help to open doors to me that have previously been closed. As a recipient of a 4-H scholarship, I would utilize this scholarship to help with my college expenses such as my tuition, room, board and books.
Supportive 4-H Leaders
As for the 4-H leaders I have come into contact with, they are so numerous to mention. I have had nothing but amazing 4-H leaders who have supported me throughout my 4-H career:
- Jennifer Wade-Yeo, Valley Ranchers 4-H leader who has believed in me and encouraged me to try out for officer positions, ambassador positions and the 4-H council. She has always been such a great mentor, without her encouragement I am not sure I would have applied.
- Tammy Hill, who believed in me and my abilities and encouraged me to not only enjoy camp as a camper but to come back and be a tribe leader! I don't know if I would have had the confidence to try for tribe leader without your encouragement. Again, when you were interviewing me for the Ambassador position and I stumbled through my interview, you helped me find some talking points helping me through the process.
- Mrs. Maria Thomason, the Robotics leader, has always been so encouraging.
- Jennifer Goodrich who has been awesome in the leadership group
- Jennifer Jensen who has been amazing with the leadership project and the ambassador group!
- Of course Paul Tarap has been another mentor that could not go without being mentioned. He is a 4-H leader and he is the Ag4Youth leader, but I could not mention one group without the other as I would not have been in 4-H without Ag4Youth.
I know I am missing leaders that I have had interactions with, but I honestly could not talk about one leader standing out over anyone else as 4-H only has amazing leaders (at least in my experience). Everyone I have been in contact with has truly been a wonderful role model, encouraging and willing to bend over backwards to help.
Update from Tammy Hill, 4-H Volunteer for Napa County 4-H Camp
Joseph will be receiving the Polly Wagenknecht Memorial Scholarship from the Napa County 4-H Council.
- Author: Curtis Ullerich
4-H is operated as a partnership of staff and volunteers (and many of those volunteers are youth members!). Volunteers are critical to the program and 4-H simply couldn't exist without them. The roles we take on as volunteers can vary widely in scope and in how concrete our objectives are.
Evaluating at a presentation day, for example, is a well-defined role: You know exactly how long you'll be volunteering and that you'll be completing a feedback rubric about presentations.
Being a County Ambassador Advisor is a less concrete role. In this position you know you'll be in a youth-adult partnership for the tenure of a youth team to make a plan of work and execute it. Even if it's hard to describe what exactly it will require, you have lots of past examples of what teams have done to follow or contrast.
Volunteers and Youth help build the 4-H program
One of the most open-ended and potentially very impactful roles available to 4-H volunteers is being a Director on the California 4-H Management Board. The Management Board exists as a way to let volunteers and youth build the 4-H program, with close relationships and support from state staff. The opportunity here is in the phrase "build the 4-H program." What exactly does that mean? That is up to the Directors, and right now it means:
- Running the California 4-H Youth Summits;
- Supporting area presentation days across the state;
- Providing excellent state-level leadership and youth-adult partnership opportunities in our teams and committees.
We are able to change or add projects over time, based on the maturity of those projects, number of people on our team, and the skills of those people.
We have committees in the form of Youth Summit planning teams, and an Area Presentation Days committee. Joining one of these committees is a great way to contribute at a level that requires less time.
The set of committees and Director positions on our team is flexible. We always have a three-person Executive Team and a Treasurer, and we currently have a Youth Summits Director, Area Presentation Days Director, and Marketing Director. If we find someone with the skills and enthusiasm for fundraising, for example, we could add a Fundraising Director who would work closely with the California 4-H Foundation.
Now, for the seven of us current Directors (and the many who came before us), why did we join the Management Board as Directors? We care about the 4-H program and we're overflowing with energy about making it awesome. Does that sound like you, too? If you'll be 16 or older next year (or an adult volunteer), apply to join us! Contact Curtis at email@example.com for details.
Apply to join us! Contact Curtis at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
To read more about us, check out our Management Board webpage (our annual plan in particular), and read a summary of our last year of work. Want to meet us? All our business meetings are public. Join us in person or remotely using Zoom. Our webpage has details and agendas for all our meetings.
- Author: Curtis Ullerich
The California 4-H Youth Summits are three-day leadership conferences held at four locations throughout the state. They are designed to grow the leadership abilities of intermediate 4-H members (ages 11-13) and give hands-on leadership opportunities to senior 4-H members (ages 14+). Details and registration are on the 4-H Youth Summit event site.
Tell me about the Youth Summit. What kinds of things will participants do and learn?
Raedyn: It's an opportunity to learn more about yourself and your passions. Thinking about that now can give you a leg up once you get to high school.
Casey: We'll have hikes, workshops with different guest speakers, sessions to learn leadership skills and ways of finding your passion.
Raedyn: They'll learn about communication, teamwork, the six Cs--
Curtis: --the sixties?
Casey: no, the six C's!
(The six C's are Competence, Confidence, Character, Caring, Connection, and Contribution.)
The theme for the Youth Summits this year is "ripples of today, waves of tomorrow." Tell me about that.
Raedyn: They'll learn how to advocate for themselves and the things they're passionate about. It'll help kids discover and delve into what they're excited about learning.
What'll they learn about advocacy?
Raedyn: They'll learn about understanding issues in the grand scheme of things but also on a personal level, so they can take it into their communities now or in the future. I know as a middle schooler you feel kinda like, with all these big issues "oh my gosh, well, I have to wait until I'm older to do something about that", but the thing is, they don't really have to wait. They can find ways to do things in their community to help out right now. I think that's important; that's one of the things we talk about in the planning meetings is making sure to keep it Big and Local.
Curtis: how do you keep something both big and local?
Raedyn: You talk about the big issue: This is what's going on overall, and these are some things you can do to help.
Curtis: Ah, so saying that you can make a difference without solving the whole problem.
What's the atmosphere at the Youth Summit going to be like?
Casey: It'll be a balance of learning and fun, like camp. There'll be times when you're listening and taking in information and there are times that are more interactive and doing things with others outside.
Raedyn: It's gonna have more variety than other leadership conferences because you'll have choices about which workshops to do. That ties into the fact that they're gonna be finding their passion, so if they find something that interests them they can do that instead of other courses that they might not enjoy as much.
The planning team is mostly 4-H youth. How does that impact what the event will be like?
Raedyn: It's fun planning a whole conference from the ground up. I've never done something that big. That seems pretty cool to me.
Casey: We're working with staff and adults from the Management Board. We get to choose what we focus on. We know what 4-H events are like and what we would want to do at a conference, so we try to keep it fun and learn about the things that are important to us.
I hear there's a session called the Leadership Lab. What's that going to be like?
Raedyn: It's a longer activity, more hands-on. It uses teamwork and gives everyone a chance to practice a leadership skill that's important to them. It's going to be very hands-on and engaging. We're trying to live up to last year, because the surveys were like "we love the leadership lab!" so we've gotta live up to that.
You can also attend the Youth Summit if you are 14 or older. What will their experience be like?
Casey: They're called facilitators, which is a lot like staff at other events. You attend, but you are helping out.
Raedyn: They'll make sure kids are on task, help them with activities. We'll assign some to be cabin heads, have them do head counts and stuff during breakfast, make sure everyone has eaten. We need people to help us execute what we're planning.
If I'm thinking about going but don't know someone else who's attending should I still sign up?
Raedyn: Along with educational sessions we're also gonna have recreation time and time for kids to socialize. They can make important connections by coming because they'll meet kids from all over the area.
Casey: Even if you don't know someone who's going you'll still meet people and make connections.
Raedyn: We're trying our best to make it a welcoming environment for everyone to meet new people.
More information about each summit is on the 4-H Youth Summit Event site.
- Author: Claudia Diaz Carrasco
The California 4-H Youth Summits are three day weekend leadership conferences hosted in multiple locations throughout the state.
Be a leader, be a hero
The theme of the Southern Youth Summit event was "Be a leader, Be a hero". Keynote speaker Dan Shomo, a former Navy seal, shared how skills he learned in 4-H helped him complete his military training.
The weekend agenda also included a workshop led by Derrick Robinson, UC ANR academic coordinator for the Money Talks project. During the Money Talks workshop, 4-H'ers learned budgeting basics using real-life scenarios and hands-on activities.
Exploring and connecting with nature through hiking, meeting new friends, and the workshops were some of the activities youth reported as their favorite part of the Southern Youth Summit.
Youth-Adult Partnership in planning the event
Tiffany Marino was the youth chair for the event and was supported by Kelly Dowlan, the Adult Chair. Tiffany, who started 4-H when she was 5 and has participated in the program for 14 years, attributes her leadership skills to 4-H.
"When I was younger, I was kind of quiet and reserved, and 4-H has definitely just brought me out of my shell and brought me a whole other level of confidence -- confidence in what I do and what I say. It's really changed me as a person and brought me to an understanding of who I am and what I want to do."
"4-H is such a great program because there's so many things you can do within it. It's not just an agriculture thing, it goes into youth development, leadership, community service. Really, it's what you make of it!"
- Tiffany, Southern Youth Summit Chair
The Youth Summits were planned and organized by the California 4-H Management Board.
- Author: Kate Lyn Sutherland
- Author: Suzanne Morikawa
Over 200 youth participants attended State Leadership Conference (SLC) on July 20-23 at UC Davis. The SLC Planning Committee came up with the theme, "DRIVE-Find your place on the map." The focus of the conference was on finding what is important to you, making a plan and getting there.
Alumni join the Opening Kickoff
The 4-H Foundation invited alumni and friends to an Alumni and Friends Nite Out just before the start of SLC. After an early dinner at a nearby restaurant, they joined the youth delegates at the Opening Kickoff. Socializing and networking between youth and alumni was a highlight for both sides!
Keynote Speaker: Houston Kraft
Houston gave a dynamic presentation on "Making Kindness Normal" to our young leaders. Houston is a professional speaker, leadership consultant, and kindness advocate who speaks to middle schools, high schools, colleges, and businesses across the country. He has spoken to nearly a half a million people nationwide at nearly 500 events and counting. He believes that real change comes through more than just motivation, so he has created tools like CharacterStrong and conversations like the Choose Love Movement to make sure that his work isn't just about good feelings or a positive message - it's about making real, practical, sustainable change. http://www.houstonkraft.com/
Covering topics ranging from Mindfulness to Bullying Prevention
Participants attended assemblies, workshops, and recreational events while networking with 4-H'ers from all across California. Workshops covered topics like mindfulness, robotics, bullying prevention and more. All of the workshops and activities were planned entirely by youth volunteers on the SLC Planning Team.
For more photos and to see video highlights of the event, see the SLC event page.
Planning for SLC in 2018 is starting!