What is 4-H?
It depends on who you ask. When Amir first joined Minnesota 4-H as an eight-year-old, he jumped right into the performing arts. He and his older brother, Manny, and other youth from their neighborhood enjoyed dance, spoken word, digital media and leadership.
As a newcomer, he felt nervous at first. But the fiery support of his fellow 4-H'ers boosted his confidence -- on stage and off. “4-H boosted my confidence. Everyone in 4-H is mad supportive. I’ve done bad on stage and still got cheered on," he said recently.
Building understanding and connections
It wasn’t until Amir got old enough to travel to 4-H retreats and workshops that he realized how big the program was -- and how broad. He discovered that young people from across the state who were also in 4-H had widely varying interests. He attended Building Leadership and Understanding, a regional 4-H leadership conference also known as BLU, and made friends with people from across the state and from other states, too. Later on, he got a job at the Minnesota State Fair.
"I saw people different than me and who had different projects than me. I like 4-H because I get to meet new people and make more meaningful relationships."
He's thankful for all of the doors 4-H has opened for him. Amir went on the Citizenship Washington Focus trip last year. He saw the amazing sights of Washington DC, such as the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the war memorials.
Learning and leading with pride
Today, at age 17, Amir uses the leadership skills and patience 4-H taught him to work with youth at his local rec center. He is respectful, responsible and helpful. He’s sure 4-H has made him become a better person, and says it helps him to defy any negative stereotypes people might have about him. Two Minnesota 4-H staff members, Jalil Shabazz and Joyce Strand, have been particularly helpful as he grows as a citizen and a person.
"I’ve been around great leaders and do better things with my life because of 4-H," Amir said. “Jalil and Joyce are both people I feel comfortable opening up to.”
Ramsey County 4-H alum