It’s National 4-H Week. Frankly, throughout my career, I never thought I’d care. My work life never pointed to 4-H, though I was a life-long 4-H’er and still carry my leadership award keychain. I come from a tiny spec of rural America I call “northern Illinois, not Chicago” when people ask. In high school I remember students getting out of class early during hunting season and harvest season because, why wouldn’t you?
That’s why after a lifetime of building a career in communication I’ve had the best National 4-H Week yet because I’ve shaped my skills and experiences into a role at a company who not only supports the agriculture industry through our marketing and client relationships with it, but also because of the number of kids like me they’ve hired. Seeing so many of my colleagues name their 4-H Clubs and share in the solidarity of the week on our internal messaging boards was incredible.
I always thought of my move here as a “switch” into the food and agriculture industry, but I like being reminded that I’ve always been invested in feeding my community. Where the food comes from, how we supply it and how we help plan for all the people who need it has always been a part of who I am. From blue ribbon baking at the state fair to board memberships that delivered anti-hunger programs and anti-poverty programs in my community.
Other 4-H lessons become clearer in hindsight. Community service. Public speaking. Global awareness. Animal care. Growing and building things, together. So, though my past work life hadn’t drawn me to celebrate 4-H one week a year, I realize I’ve been doing it all along. This week more than others, however, feels like incredible career success as I’ve come full circle from my time with the Mississippi Wranglers and the Carroll County 4-H Federation to Bader Rutter, my Milwaukee-based marketing and advertising agency who supports famers and growers, farm progress and food revolutions. And, most importantly, all the 4-H’ers on staff who bring the big ideas.
Feminist, activist, outdoor advocate, animal lover, chocolate shake lover, reader, watcher, talker, actor, speaker, worker, writer, urban adventurer, hustler, involved, passionate, excited, ready.