Grant County Extension Connection

What is 4-H? Part I

January 26, 2021 Jessica Swapp Season 2 Episode 1
Grant County Extension Connection
What is 4-H? Part I
Show Notes Transcript

This episode focuses on answering what the 4-H program is. What do youth learn, what do they do, what is the impact on their lives from being in the program?  This episode features local 4-H members, Sarah Gardner and Ally Massengill as well as viewpoints from Sierra County 4-H Agent Sara Marta and Associate Dean and Director for the NMSU College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, Jon Boren.

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Speaker 1:

[inaudible] welcome to the extension connection podcast. The grand County cooperative extension service is here to help you with research based information about economic development, energy and water farming, ranch, Yarden garden, natural resources, health, and wellbeing, and our very popular youth development program. Four H I'm your host just for swap the four H an agriculture agent hearing Brent County, New Mexico. We are part of New Mexico state university's college of agricultural consumer and environmental science, and we are here to serve you. So let's get started.

Speaker 2:

Welcome back everybody. I want to explain why my hiatus , um , for so many months, I actually took a little bit of time off because I had a brand new daughter. Um, she was born in October, and so I've been , um, taking some time out for that, but I am getting back into the swing of things and I wanted to start the year with an episode that kind of talks about what is four eight. So in this episode , um, it's pretty long, but it's probably going to be , um, part one part two. Um, I'm going to discuss what is four H with several different people, including the youth, as well as the department heads. So I hope you'll enjoy this and hopefully it'll answer the question. What is four eight?

Speaker 3:

Yeah , Sarah , Martha with us , um, on the podcast to talk about what is four H before we dive into that, Sarah , would you mind giving us a little bit of background about you, your education, your job title, what you do, I guess, way, way back. My , um, my family's from North Dakota. I was born in North Dakota. We moved to New Mexico and I was five years old to change our ranching dynamic. My family was tired of very cold winters and wanted to do things a little bit different. So we moved to New Mexico and ranched and leased a forest allotment. Um, I went to college at New Mexico state university , uh , where I received degrees in animal science and extension education and got a master's in range science. Um, and that range science degree is really what , uh, originally pushed me into my , um , career, which was working for the , uh, United States forest service in Western New Mexico. Um, I was arranged land management specialist , um , for the forest service early on in my career. Um, and then I later switched gears a little bit, worked for the NRCS, the natural resource conservation service , um , where I was also a range management specialist for them as well. I , uh, I loved my jobs working for both those federal agencies. You know, I got to work with , um, ranchers and farmers and producers, and, and really got to use my background in the ranching industry and my degrees , um, which, you know, it was just great. It was a really, really great jobs and fun jobs, but I always felt like I was missing out on , um, some of the aspects that played such a huge role in developing who I was, and that was being more involved in youth. When I was growing up, I was very, very active in four H and FFA in different youth activities where I was always competing or working with T teams or working as part of a team. And so when working with the inner city , yes , there was a job opening that came up in even our same building. And that was to be the County director through extension with New Mexico state university. And it was definitely a big choice, a big career change, you know, working for federal agencies for almost 10 years and then completely switching roles and doing something different was definitely a big decision. But I felt as though having an opportunity to work every day with kids and youth, and yet still having an opportunity to work in the natural resource field kind of seemed like a great fit. And that was kind of what led me to take the job as a County extension agent in our County. Awesome. So I've already learned something. I had no idea that you were from originally from North Dakota. Like I've already learned something out of it . Yes. The cold, the cold country, right. You're tying to NSU , you did a lot of different things and they, it sounds like they really kind of set you up , um, in terms of your education for your future. Yes, definitely. You know, I love going to school there. Um, you know, they provided me some great scholarship opportunities and, you know, for me, of course, one of the choices was it was wasn't too, too terribly far from home, which, you know , I always wanted to be fairly close enough to where if I needed to come back and help work house for the weekend or something, we could do that. And so that , that was important, but , but the university system as a whole was super supportive and I always had, you know , great advisors that, you know, tried to push me in directions that they solid would fit maybe where my career path was potentially gonna go. Um, so it was , I was very glad that I went to school there and I , and you know , still glad that that was the decision I made you and I colleagues. So you, you're an agent and another in another County, and that's kind of why I wanted to have you on the podcast on just so that people don't care just from me. Um, I wanted to ask you the question that I get asked more often than not is what is four H then I'm gonna put you on the spot and ask you what is four eight . So, you know, they always tell us, and I'm sure you have heard this too , Jessica, you know, growing up in different classes or doing anything in like a leadership conference or seminar, everyone always tells you to have your little elevator speech ready for, if you have, you know, two minutes to explain to somebody what you do or what you're doing with something that you , you have it prepared so that you can tell them while you're in the elevator. Um, well, you know, four H is four H is I think one of those places where , you know, in some levels you have to sit down and think about it because it's , it's such a broad organization. Um, so I guess if I, you know, had to really sit down and explain it and what I've tried to tell people who have asked me that question is, I guess I see four H as an opportunity. You know, it's not necessarily an organization, although it is, but it's more so an opportunity for kids and adults to be part of something great. It provides those involved a chance to develop skills that can be carried with them for a lifetime. And I know that sounds very general, but I guess that's one of the great things about four H is that it is so broad. It is so general, you know, it's not just one thing where it's not a not making organization where you're just learning how to do that one specific thing. It provides so many huge, broad, fantastic opportunities. And , and not just for you, you know , if you're a leader involved with the youth, it provides it's opportunities and growth for, for you as an adult as well. You know, in general, I would explain to someone who knows nothing about the organization at four H is the largest youth organization support system, you know, it's providing opportunities and leadership, community service, and self-improvement, so it's almost like you have this national support system, that's there for you as a youth individual. And then, like I said, also as, as an adult, if you're a leader involved in the organization, right, right. There's a lot , um, a lot that can be gained , um, for everybody , um, by being a part of the program. So some, some other common questions I get are, you know, what do they learn? What do they do? How would you answer that one? Well, you know , as with anything kids get out of four H what they put into it, you know, you're only going to get out of whatever it is you're doing what you put into it. I guess that's kind of why , I guess, four H appeals to so many youth at a national level is it does provide so many opportunities at so many levels. Um, in leadership, animal science, nutrition, healthy living, critical thinking, teamwork, community service, and the list. You could sit here and rattle off all the different things that they can be involved with in four H um, you know, it's one of the few youth organizations that you can almost guarantee that there will be something of interest for anyone at so many levels. You know, if you're a kid that wants to go to a club meeting and that's all you want to do, that's completely fine. But, but that is an opportunity that if that's what you want to put into it, that's completely acceptable. And that's what you'll get out of it. If you're the individual that wants to go and do things at a national level, there's opportunities for that as well. So , you know, I think , um, you know, you've looked at as an example, just our four H curriculum and, and all the different avenues that you can look into. It's massive. I mean, you kind of have to , um , stand back and wait a couple of times when you look at it, because there are so many opportunities that it can provide. Yes, I totally agree. You're also a parent , um, in the four H program as well, which is also , uh , a different aspect. What do you, what do you see your, your kids learning? What are they, what are they benefiting from the program? Well, you know, of course my kids specifically are going to be very involved in the, the animal component of the organization, partly just because of our family backgrounds and whatnot. Um, and so, you know, they, they definitely get to benefit , um, from experiences traveling and showing livestock and learning the responsibilities that go along with that whole process and project. Um, but another thing, you know, that I think is very important is they, they get sort of a constant family network and connection, you know, not just from immediate family, like me as their mom or their father sibling, but also from the families that they gain when you travel and do things all the time with these different projects and everything that you're working on, whether it be, you know, a conference or a , uh , livestock jackpot, or , um, you know, any sort of activity that the club or their , their group is doing, you know, you , you really do become like a massive extended family. Yes . I would completely agree with that. Well, I think you pretty much answered all of my questions. Um , is there anything else you want to add? We hope that it kids, or, and, or parents or adults, or anyone that, you know , maybe listening to this can, can keep, I guess, optimistic and stay motivated that, you know, organizations like this are great. You know, there's been a lot of changes , um, that have happened throughout the last year plus 13 days. And, you know, hopefully the, they can still find the benefits and see the opportunities that, that are available through, through organizations such as this. I wholeheartedly agree. And I think you really , um, you really brought up a lot of things that I hadn't really thought of in terms of that, that whole elevator speech that, you know, we're always kind of told that we have to have prepared. And I always seem to kind of struggle a little bit, cause I , I always want to say, well, what, isn't four H you know, that's kind of my, my role initially. And then I have to really think about, well, if I hadn't come from a background of knowing what it is, you know, how would I explain it? And I think you did a really great job doing that today. So I think

Speaker 1:

For being on the podcast, yeah . Thank you, Jessica, for thinking of me next on the podcast. I have one of my four, eight kiddos that has been

Speaker 3:

My program for several years. Her name is Sarah Gardner and she is pretty amazing. She has already actually been on this podcast. I'm on a previous episode talking about the future of agriculture. And if you haven't checked out that episode, I would really encourage you to do so. She's, she's a phenomenal young lady and I, I find it a privilege to be able to watch her grow and , um, and evolve. And , and she's, she has changed so much since I, since I started here , uh, several years ago. So welcome to the podcast again, Ms. Sarah , thank you. All right . So this time we're talking about four H but first I want you to tell me a little bit about, about yourself, where you go to school and anything else you might want to tell us, you know, hobbies and things. You enjoy, stuff like that. Okay. So I go to cliff high school, I'm a freshman this year, I'm doing school online currently. Um, some of my hobbies, I like to do shooting sports, shooting sports in four H and outside of four H I like to , um, do things in FFA. I did creed and public speaking last year, and I'm doing that again this year. And I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and just testing out with them. And , uh , what, what positions , um , have you had in four eight , um, since you, since you started , uh , or since you joined in the four H program. So this year, well, actually 2020 was my first year of being on the council and I was elected president. And because of COVID and not really being able to do anything, our positions were rolled over when you're given the option to do that. So I'm president again this year. And before that, I have been an officer in my club since my second year four H I has been secretary and treasurer in my club. Wow. So you've had a lot of leadership experiences so far. Yes. A lot of times , um, when I'm talking to people that may or may not know it for ages , um, you know, maybe they grew up and they , they didn't know , you know, they weren't enrolled in four H and had never heard of it. And so that's the number one thing they asked me is what is four H and sometimes I kind of stumbled to explain what four H is just because it's such a , a broad program. Um, but I'd like for people to be able to hear from the youth on, you know, what is four H to you, what do you gain out of it? So I think that a lot of people think that four H is like showing animals and some people don't even realize that they're shooting sports before it, but four is a lot more than just showing animals and going to club meetings. I think that there is a lot, I mean, I really think that there is something for everybody in four H and that might sound cheesy, but it's true. Like, I really truly think that there's something for everybody and for each , no matter what you're interested in, I'm sure that there's something that you would enjoy for me. Four H is shooting force and the contests that are in the summer, like the judging, I've done livestock horticulture. If you see where decision-making and a prepared speech in the past. But I think most of all for it, for me has been a place for me to grow. Um, Jessica is exactly right when she said at the beginning, I had changed so much since I joined four H whenever I joined four H I did it to shoot archery. My dad wanted me to start shooting more. And so we went to four H because I enjoyed shooting and I could interact with other people. Whenever I first started, I was super shy. I literally wouldn't say hi to people because I was terrified of people and obviously grown out of that because I can speak in front of people now, and I can talk to strangers without it even bothering me. And so that is something that I had gained before I is making skills and leadership skills. Of course. So I would say that, that, to me, it's funny, you mentioned that because you don't know this just several minutes ago, I was actually on a different call and I was talking about my next interview that I was going to be having for this episode. And I was telling them about you. And I, I remember when I started and you were, you know, you were a little girl and, and you were absolutely correct. You were so shy. I remember you, you know, you didn't really talk much. You could barely get a hello out of you. And I have no doubt now that , um, you feel comfortable speaking to anybody now. Um, and I I've seen a big change in you since you've been in the program. So , uh, I'm going to echo that as well. Absolutely. It's been really good for me, and I'm forever thankful that I was putting in four H because I would definitely not be who I am today. If I wasn't put in archery when I was eight years old. And you've done a lot of, a lot of different things in four H. So talking about , um, you know, there's a lot of different things you can do. I know that you have done, obviously you mentioned archery shooting sports , um, and you also have done a lot of contexts related to livestock and horticulture , um, the consumer decision-making, but you've also done welding and sewing , is that correct? Yes. Yes. I thought I remembered you coming to our selling classes. So you've really learned a lot of different , uh, skills while being in the program. Definitely. Yeah. There's over 200 different projects in four H did you know that? So there's, there's a lot that can be learned. And , um, I think you're a perfect example of what, what you've gained from the program. So let me ask you this, what I think I asked you this last time, but just in case it's changed since then. Um, what are your plans for the future? Where are you thinking of college? Um, if so, where are you going to go? What are you going to be when you grow up? So I honestly am not completely sure. I have a bunch of different ideas. I just don't know exactly what I want to do. I don't think that any of the career paths I'm thinking about I would have chosen or thought about if I wouldn't have been put into four H when I was younger, like four or five, I wanted to be a vet . And I had changed my mind. I had thought about being an ag teacher, but I have also thought about working for either way. You were, you were already kind of headed down , um, the agricultural type of , uh , career path. Yes, ma'am good stuff . So I have to mention, you know, that New Mexico state university has, has a very good school and state . Yes. Ma'am um , New Mexico state or the college that I considered going to. Very good. Very good. All right. Well, I think

Speaker 1:

Good . That answered all my questions. So thank you for being on the podcast again. Thank you for having you in my next interview,

Speaker 3:

I have Dr . Boren . He is the department head , um, and I am so glad that you agreed to be on my podcast today. Dr. Borne , we appreciate the opportunity, Jessica. Thank you for allowing me to , to visit with you this afternoon on four H . So if you would, just for the listeners , um, give us a little bit of background about you , um, your job, title, education, all of those types of things. Anything you want to tell us? Sure . Well, I appreciate that. Um, I got my bachelor's and master's actually in wildlife at Oklahoma state university, and then went on to do my PhD program in, in rain , science and management , uh, also at Oklahoma state university and then was fortunate to , to get the wildlife specialist position at New Mexico state university , uh , feels like yesterday, but it was back in 1996. And so that's when I started at New Mexico state university and the cooperative extension service. And then my current role is the associate Dean and director of the New Mexico cooperative extension service. And I've been doing this for about 13 years now. Wow. See, I've every time I asked somebody a question, I learned something because I had no idea that , um, you had gotten , um, some of your education there at Oklahoma state, so still, still have family there. And , uh, but , but New Mexico, you know, after 25 years is certainly home. Yes, yes, for sure. A lot of times , um, when I'm approached by families that maybe didn't grow up in the four H program, I lost enough, well, you know, what is four H and I find myself a lot of 10 tests struggling to answer those questions. Um, just because it's a, it's a very large program that encompasses a lot of different things. And so I'm interviewing a lot of different people and asking them kind of their answer to what is four H . So I'm going to let you answer that now. That's a great, that's a great question. And I know , you know, oftentimes it is somewhat difficult because it's such a large and diverse program,

Speaker 4:

But we all kind of come from different perspectives probably from , from my perspective. And , and really I was introduced to two , four H not until I , I did get the extension wildlife specialist position at New Mexico state university back in 1996 and started working with , uh , uh , four H youth in the wildlife natural resources area. But , um, you know, over the past 13 years with this current current role, I really do view , uh, four H is , is one , uh , you know, kind of a flagship program if you will, of the cooperative extension service, certainly nationally, but also , uh, for New Mexico cooperative extension service. And it really is the youth education and development program of the land grant university. And , uh , from my perspective, Jessica, the real important piece of the four H program is that it provides those critical life skills , uh, through participatory learning and caring adults that allows you to have successes , uh, throughout their, throughout their life and really impact communities. Um, and you know, when, when, when even you start looking at the impacts of the New Mexico four H program, you know, we're , we're able to reach over 40,000 youth. You know , that's , that's one in New Mexico , uh, trialed , uh , annually through our four H program that teaches again those critical life skills. And what are those such things as leadership management , uh, communication skills, et cetera, that really makes a difference for, for them , uh, their families and their communities.

Speaker 3:

Um, I know as a youth growing up in the four H program , um, probably helped me prepare for the position that I'm in now, maybe more than anything else , um, even all of the education and everything that's required, actually being a four H member really prepared me to enter the working world and go on and get the , the education and stuff that I have. So when we're talking about youth and being in four H uh, one of the things that we always say is that , uh, being encouraged is actually one of your first classes at NSU . Could you talk a little bit more about , um, the interaction that youth a lot of times get when they're in four H with the faculty that are at an MSU and the college of basis?

Speaker 4:

That's just a really excellent point. Um , I think, you know , oftentimes when the general public, you know, looks at , uh , New Mexico state university, it's certainly obvious of the research programs and , and many of the, the , of course, the teaching programs for, for students. But I think sometimes it , it, it's not necessarily the connection made that through the cooperative extension services, four H program, you know , how's that the, at the university that really has our County extension faculty across the entire state, all 33 counties and , and also , uh , many of our extension specialists , uh , which are also of course, faculty members at New Mexico state university working directly with , uh, youth across the entire state. So it really is in many times the first touch that , uh, we have as a university , uh, with youth across the state. Um, and in fact, we, we, we do know, you know, that , uh , youth participate in , in four H uh , for example, or , uh , there've been a number of studies conducted, and they're about five times more likely to actually graduate from college. And it's a , it's an excellent opportunity for, for the university, from a student recruitment standpoint. But I think more importantly, it's that relationship building over the time that , that four H you spend in the program and really developing those relationships with our County extension faculty within the college of agriculture, consumer and environmental sciences.

Speaker 3:

Yes. And , um, I think that , uh, um , I'm speaking kind of from a student standpoint and a parent standpoint now that , um, it's a really good thing that you want your kids to have under their belt in terms of , um, being in the forage program when I was a youth and I, and then I went on to an MSU, it was really good to kind of know that I was going to an MSU and I already kind of knew some of the faculty that were there. So if I had a problem or a question or something, I could always reach out to them and they would be more than happy to help me. Um, so that's something that the youth can look forward to and their parents can kind of have a sigh of relief that , um, they're not just sending their kids off to college and kind of saying good luck. Um, there's people there that know them and care about them.

Speaker 4:

Yeah . I think you just make a really critical point. And that , that really is the culture of the , of quite honestly, the , the college of agriculture, consumer environmental sciences, and certainly a focus point of the cooperative extension service in the four H program. And that's developing those, those close working relationships , um, with , uh , the students and also our four H volunteers, which are, which are critical to the success of the program in the state. But it's that relationship building, you know , that starts in a four H program at a very young age, but, but develops over time. So as you point out, you know, it, it really does allow , uh, new students to that have been through the program when they enter , uh, the university and the college, they already have contact points and , and folks, they feel like they can, they can, they can call or go to , to visit , uh, and get good and

Speaker 3:

Input. Yes . And a lot of times they're relationships that are built over a lifetime. Um, for instance, my, my County agents that I had Tracy German , which is in Katherine County is now a colleague of mine. And then , um, I was, I was pleased to add to our four H roster. My four H club leader is now , um, living here in grant County and she has signed up and she is actually the sponsor of our four H County council. And so it's been really good to, you know, grow up in the program and then still be able to have the people that I grew up with , um, helping and mentoring me. So it's really a good program for kids and for adults, the adults also gain a lot out of the program as well. And especially now, as we need a little bit more touch in our lives, even though that is virtually it's , it's been good to have this as kind of our backup to, to keep those relationships going out earlier, Jessica , you always learn more about somebody when you visit with them. I didn't , didn't didn't realize the connection you had with, with Tracy and Tetris County, but that does exemplify unintended relationships that you developed over time through the program really do, do affect you all the way through your career. Um, as you know, I think lifelong friendships are really developed not only between the different forage participants and youth that are involved, but also among . Yeah, I think he did a fantastic job of answering the question. What is four eight?

Speaker 5:

And I thank you so much for being on my podcast with good. Thank you so much for the opportunity and thank you for what you do for work .

Speaker 6:

Okay .

Speaker 5:

Now on my podcast, I'm actually going to interview my daughter, Allie, and she is going to explain to us , um , some of her experiences in four H but first I want you to , um, tell us a little bit about you.

Speaker 6:

Well, my name is Allie Massengale, I'm 13 years old. I go to school and cliff and I do a lot of different things, but just a few of them that I've been doing for a long time is , um, show pigs and baking for the most part. And ,

Speaker 5:

Um , you've also done some shooting sports too, like

Speaker 6:

What I've done archery, and we were going to do rifle, but then COVID hit and we couldn't do anything. Yeah .

Speaker 5:

And how many years have you been showing pigs for, and what's your favorite part of that?

Speaker 6:

Um, I think the showing part,

Speaker 5:

You like to show them , what's the worst

Speaker 6:

Part, taking care of them . I'm kidding. Um , getting up really early just to feed them . What

Speaker 5:

Do you think you've learned from being in four H?

Speaker 6:

Well, I'm four H I've learned a lot of things. I've made a lot of things. I made a lot of friends in four H and from four H I learned how to, cause I knew how to shoot, but , um, I've learned more on that and pig showing. I've learned a lot on it . I just keep learning every year.

Speaker 5:

Have you held any offices or anything in your club?

Speaker 6:

Um , just song and rec leader. My club. Oh yeah. What does a song and rec leader do? Um, I tend to really just make games and songs for them to play right before the meeting starts.

Speaker 5:

That's cool. That's a fun job. Do you think you're going to run for any more positions in the future?

Speaker 6:

Maybe. I don't really know exactly. Maybe like secretary or something, cause I don't know. It just depends on the year.

Speaker 5:

Okay. And what are you going to do this year in four H

Speaker 6:

Um, this year I might do steers and pigs at the same time. So four pigs and one's deer, which is going to be really fun. Um, I'm also doing, I'm doing a lot of things before from doing horses, pigs steers, like I said , um, cake decorating, baking.

Speaker 5:

I'm thinking you might be signed up for shooting sports again too. Okay. Yeah. So if you had to name one of your favorite things that you have done while in four H what would that be? Pigs. Pigs. What about the trips that you've gone on?

Speaker 6:

Oh , my GA was probably the funnest ship I've ever done because they have all these dances and there's like different things you get to learn about. And they have like a lot different, like their free times. And like free times you can do a variety of things. There was one thing I did one year and you had to jump off this really tall inflatable thing. They had jump off onto like a huge bean bag . And that was really scary.

Speaker 5:

So I have to mention that when Ali first started in four eight , she was absolutely terrified to talk in front of people would hide behind me anytime we went anywhere and just stayed so close to me. And then as the years went on, she got, she made a lot of friends and pretty soon I'd take her someplace and she'd just be gone. Um , and you know, other friends and doing her own thing. And , um, she, wasn't afraid to stand up and talk in front of people anymore. Um, she's really grown a lot. Don't you think?

Speaker 6:

Yeah. Except for the talking for people, like in huge crowds, that's kind of , I'm still iffy on that. Getting better. Yeah. Will be a lot better. Yeah. It was cool.

Speaker 5:

Are you glad that you joined four H yes. Very loud talk com .

Speaker 6:

I have a lot of friends I've made there's too many to count in four H. And so what's really good about that is that you can spend time with them, but you can also do a lot of fun activities. Yeah. And are you excited to get back to kind of normal and being able to go to your club meetings and yes. Extremely excited. And what are you looking forward to the most this year? Probably my show steer, cause it's my first one and I'm just really excited to have one . Cool. Well, it's very late at night and I I've kept her up so I can do this. So , um, thank you for being on my podcast. Thanks everyone for listening. If you enjoy this podcast, don't forget to hit the subscribe button on Apple podcasts, Stitcher, Google play, or whatever app you're using to listen to this podcast. Want more information? You can visit us at our website, Brent extension dot N M S u.edu. Follow us on Facebook at NSU grant County, C E S [email protected] or give us a call (575) 388-1559. New Mexico state university is an equal opportunity. Affirmative action, employer and educator and MSU, and the U S department of agriculture cooperative. Did you enjoy this podcast? Did you learn something? Did you gain knowledge that you can use? Please feel free to reach out to me and let me know. I'm always looking for feedback on what I can do better or topics that I can discuss. So please give me an [email protected] .