In the important years of my youth, 4-H provided a foundation for my current success as a nationally recognized author and thought-leader in the business world. Many of my achievements over the years can be traced back and attributed to my experiences growing up and the skills I learned in public speaking, teambuilding, leadership, record-keeping and business acumen in the 10 years I participated in New Hampshire 4-H.
Before 4-H, I was a shy kid with low self-esteem. I was good at school and excelled academically but lacked social skills and the confidence or ability to step up as a leader. It wasn’t until elementary school when my parents bought their first goat from a neighbor that the idea of 4-H came alive for our family. My parents took the step to enroll me and my brother into a local 4-H group called the Hustlin’ Hoofers. I participated in all aspects of club activities: projects, record keeping, demonstration events, skill-building, public speaking, developing friendships, exhibitions at state and county fairs and so much more. Each year my competences grew, and so did my confidence.
I learned about business in 4-H by cultivating successful livestock projects. I learned about sales, marketing, customer service, record-keeping, running meetings, giving presentations, leadership and how to win and lose gracefully through local, county and state competitions. I ran both a successful egg business and a competitive dairy goat enterprise. I also participated in gardening programs, crafts, cooking, demonstration events, and teen leadership programs and conferences. After many years of participating as a member, my involvement evolved into club management roles as I was voted in to several leadership positions, including president of the Hustlin’ Hoofers club. It was these leadership roles which opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities. Ultimately, at the teen level, I was afforded the opportunity to travel for regional events representing my local group and my county. I was also able to participate in a teen trip to Canada.
I learned many valuable lessons during my 10-year tenure in 4-H, and one of the most valuable follows me to this day: anything new requires starting at the bottom, taking time to work upwards, developing skills and knowledge, and not expecting overnight success. It’s this exact lesson which has allowed me the patience to develop as a writer and a novelist without expecting instant gratification. Without this lesson from 4-H, I might have given up on my dream before realizing the success I have today.
I recently read an article about kids raised on farms. According to the article, that experience shapes young minds for success in the workforce. Often, this hands-on education is better preparation for college and careers than a traditional K-12 education alone. I would say the same for kids who have grown up with 4-H experiences. My 10 years with 4-H helped me gain confidence, community awareness, public speaking skills and real friendships that survive to this day. For all of that, I am eternally grateful.
Michelle Reynoso is a nationally-recognized author. Her debut book, "Do You?" was a finalist in the Writers' Digest International Self-Published Book Awards, the New York Book Festival, and the Global e-book Awards. Her newest release, "EN," is already a finalist in the 2018 International Book Awards and has received praise from reviewers, booksellers and readers. Learn more about Michelle at MichelleReynoso.com.