West Otter Tail County 4-H’ers learn to lead at 4-H BLU

2016 BLU

West Otter Tail County 4-H’ers learn to lead at 4-H BLU

More than 500 Minnesota youth learn leadership skills at the 2016 4-H Building Leadership & Understanding conferences

Detroit Lakes, Minn. (21/02/2016) – In February, more than 500 youth from across Minnesota gathered to participate in the annual 4-H Building Leadership and Understanding (BLU) youth leadership conferences. The five regional BLU leadership events were filled with exciting and fun activities that help youth learn and practice valuable leadership skills that they will be able to take back with them to their counties and communities, and use throughout their lives.

This year’s conference theme was, “Find your Element,” which taught participants about their intelligences and challenged them to think about how to apply them to future careers and community work. The topic was selected by the 4-H state ambassadors based on a survey from youth at previous events.  There was also plenty of time dedicated to meeting new friends and having fun, with skits, singing, dancing and games designed and facilitated by the ambassadors to help youth participants get to know one another and have a good time.

“As 4-H members, we want our young people to understand their potential for leadership in their homes, schools, communities, and world. BLU is just one of the many opportunities youth have to learn to lead through 4-H,” said Jacquie Lonning, Extension Youth Development Citizenship & Leadership state program director.

Using a youth-teaching-youth model, the 4-H BLU leadership conferences are developed and led by 4-H State Ambassadors, Minnesota 4-H youth who have been selected to serve as spokespeople for 4-H, and to educate youth and adults about the importance of youth development, leadership, citizenship, service, teamwork, and other invaluable life skills.

“I get to see 4-H at its best through consistent learning and leading in real time,” said Joshua Kukowski, Extension educator and one of the state ambassador advisors.  “During a 4-H BLU reflection session, one state ambassador said, ‘I get so much energy out of this that I wish this year wouldn’t end.’ I know we are making a difference in the lives of the participants.”

Of the 137 4-H’ers who attended the Northwest Region BLU held at Castaways Club near Detroit Lakes on February 20 and 21, 23 were from West Otter Tail County. They ranged from grades 6 through 12. Most are pictured, not in order: Elizabeth Bergem, Fergus 4-H; Holly Bergquist, Grove Lake 4-H; Brianna Carter, Dane Prairie 4-H, Nickolas Carter, Dane Prairie 4-H; Brooke Grewe, Dane Prairie 4-H; Samuel Heeter, Dalton Gophers 4-H; Esperanza Huizar, Dane Prairie 4-H; Andrew Jensen, Barnhard 4-H; Theo Johnson, Sverdrup 4-H; Elli Johnsrud, Dalton Gophers 4-H; Bret Leitch, Barnhard 4-H; Benjamin Meek, Barnhard 4-H; Broderick Mekalson, Eagle Lake 4-H; Spencer Mekalson, Eagle Lake 4-H; Cody Peterson, Fergus 4-H; Brien Poser, Barnhard 4-H; Alena Shores, Dalton Gophers 4-H; Mia Stewart, Pelican 4-H; Mackenzie Thornton, Pelican 4-H; Mason Thornton, Pelican 4-H; Greta Tollefson, Grove Lake 4-H; Karina Walvatne, Eagle Lake 4-H; and Nicholas Wiezorek, Oscar Trondhjem 4-H. Klarissa Walvatne, Eagle Lake 4-H, attended as a state ambassador.

To learn more about 4-H in West Otter Tail County, contact 4-H Program Coordinator Tammy Nordick, at 218-998-8760 and visit the website, www.4-H.umn.edu.

About Extension 4-H: 4-H is a youth development program of the University of Minnesota Extension.  Available for youth grades kindergarten through 1 year after high school, 4-H’ers participate in hands-on learning experiences in STEM, citizenship & leadership, animal science, creative arts and much more. Through this unique learn-by-doing process, youth obtain essential life skills such as problem solving, decision making, coping and communicating that help them succeed in their school, college, community and career. Research shows that youth who participate in 4-H have better grades and are more emotionally engaged with school, are more than twice as likely to be civically active and contribute to their communities, and are 47% less likely to have risky or problem behaviors.

Thank you!

Sharon Funk
Office Manager/EMG Coordinator
University of Minnesota Extension
West Otter Tail County
505 South Court Street, Suite 3
Fergus Falls, MN 56537
Phone: 218-998-8760
Fax: 218-998-8765

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