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Voices of ACES Blog

Transformative 4-H Journey from Shy Beginner to Collegiate 4-H President

Caroline standing with her hands on her hips

My 4-H journey began when I was just 8 years old when I joined the Chester 4-H club. At that time, I was absolutely terrified of public speaking and even raising my hand during a club meeting. However, through talks and demonstrations within my club, conference-style judging at the county fair, the annual public speaking contest, and even speaking to legislators in DC, I gradually came out of my shell and grew into a confident leader within 4-H. 


As a young 4-Her, I had the opportunity to teach cooking and STEAM camps during the summers. One of the highlights of my summers was being selected to participate in the Illinois State Fair, where I could showcase my projects in fields such as geology, leadership, intercultural studies, and visual arts.


In the summer of 2016, my family and I hosted an exchange student from Japan through the state 4-H international program. This experience ignited my fascination with international travel and different cultures. The following summer, I had the incredible opportunity to visit Japan for 8-weeks through the same program, and a couple of summers later, I explored Costa Rica for 4-weeks. Through each of these experiences and more, 4-H opened doors for me to explore and understand the world in ways I could have never imagined.


In 2020, I joined the State 4-H Youth Leadership Team and started actively participating in 4-H events across the state. Every year, one of my most cherished experiences is planning the Junior Leadership Conference for 7-8th graders. These opportunities solidified my passion for pursuing a career in education. Currently, I am a junior majoring in elementary education at the University of Illinois. Additionally, I am a member of the 4-H House Cooperative Sorority and hold the role of Collegiate 4-H President. 


Overall, 4-H gives youth the opportunity to learn by doing. My passion for teaching and travel was rooted in 4-H. I could not have made it to this point without the 4-H leaders who have guided me along the way as well as the ACES department supporting me through college.