Sept. 23, 2013
LINCOLN, Neb. — Many young people continue their involvement with 4-H even after they graduate. Anastasia Johnson, Amanda Berg and Levi Likens are three such people.
"I was really involved with 4-H and I didn’t want to give it up because it was something really important in my life," Johnson said. Johnson, 21, participated in 4-H from ages 5-18.
Johnson, a senior applied science major, from Merrick County, works at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as a 4-H ambassador. The Nebraska 4-H Ambassador program promotes 4-H throughout the state by sending members to attend 4-H events at the county and state level; it also improves their leadership and public relations skills through attendance trainings and professional meetings.
Through her position, she was able to attend Ag Day, a conference that allows two 4-H representatives from each state to receive one day of training focused on agricultural communication and professionalism. The second day was spent on Capitol Hill meeting state senators and congressmen.
"It was really cool to see how the Senate works," Johnson said. "It was really good networking."
Johnson learned to promote agriculture to urban audiences, as well as how to present herself in a professional manner.
"Don't put anything up on social media sites unless you would like your boss or grandma to see it," Johnson said. "Act professionally; always put a smile on your face."
Berg, 23, from Seward County, participated in 4-H from ages 8-18. She was one of the two first 4-H'ers to receive the Diamond Clover Award. The award is given to youth who complete a high-level "Diamond Clover" project.
Berg wants to use the experiences gained from completing her project -refurbishing a target practice building known as the 4-H cottage- to help other 4-H'ers do the same.
"I have really tried to put together the older generation of 4-H alumni and the new 4-H'ers to help them work together," Berg said.
Berg said that her volunteer experience has made her realize all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into 4-H.
"Once you become a 4-H volunteer you do it forever," Berg said.
Likens, 21, a physical education major at Peru Sate and former Jefferson County 4-H'er enjoys giving back to 4-H by serving as a camp counselor.
"It's definitely a rewarding thing to do during the summer," Likens said. "You see a lot of kids grow and learn."
Likens has worked for the 4-H camp system for four years. He worked as a staff member at the Eastern Nebraska 4-H Center and the South Central 4-H Center.
Likens hopes that his experiences as a 4-H camp counselor will help prepare him for his future career as a physical education teacher for children in grades K-12.
"It's a great experience for me," said Likens. "I've made a lot of life- long friends.
Watching the youth grow and develop is super rewarding."Tracy Pracheil
Sandi Alswager Karstens
IANR News Service