Shauna Staloch had no doubt in her mind that she wanted her daughter Aubri to be in 4H.
It’s not just because Staloch’s own mother, Lavina Domagala, is a longtime 4H leader and staunch 4H advocate. Nor is it just because she herself is a Cloverbud leader. It’s because her own experiences as a youth in 4H were full of amazing opportunities. And because she can see how enormously helpful those experiences were to the adult she has become.
Staloch has two disparate jobs, that require completely different skill sets. One is data entry and the other teaching dance.
“I think working with kids so much in 4H as an older member, I helped the younger kids, teaching them and helping with the modeling during the fashion review. That has just continued to spread through my teaching and my dance classes.”
The organizational skills she learned in 4H have meanwhile helped her with the more detail-oriented work she does in her data entry job.
“I don’t know if I would be that great at it if I hadn’t had that in 4H,” she said. “The motto for 4H is make the best better. I’m working in a job where there is little room for error, and that’s the type of eyes you need to have.”
Her daughter Aubri is aware 4H will help her later in life, but she likes it right now primarily because it’s fun. She gets to meet new people and take trips.
Among the trips were Medora and horseback riding, as well as 4H camp, where there are lots of crafts to do, and many people to meet from all over.
“This year I got to go to the state fair to do the Goldberg congest,” Aubri said. “That’s a machine you build to put a quarter into a piggy bank without touching it.”
The device Aubri’s team built began with a little marble and a remote-controlled robot. The robot starts the marble rolling into a chute of toilet paper tubes. It taps a golf ball that heads into a pipe, which in turn taps a tennis ball. The tennis ball rolls into a block of wood painted to look like books, which move, pulling a string that drops the quarter into the piggy bank.
It’s fun to watch, Aubri said. But it was even more fun creating it.
Hailey Smith, meanwhile, liked the diversity in 4H. She was a member for 8 years, through her senior year in high school.
“There’s an entire book of different topics people can look into,” she said. “I did photography and clothing review, which is like a fashion show, but there is also baking and so many other things out there. It’s literally limitless.”
Karissa Kjos felt that her 4H experiences were character building. She recalls getting a red ribbon because her notecard was missing from the back of an item.
“Expectations are held high,” Kjos said. “Just because you are in fourth grade, you don’t get to slack, even if it’s fourth grade versus seventh.”
Kjos was a 4H member for 10 years or so, and these days is annually a judge at the fair.
“I’m so happy to see so many more kids in 4H,” she said. “And their personalities … you can just tell the interview skills. That is probably when they first interview, and it is how they get that confidence, through that, every year.”