From the garden to the meeting room, Jessica Olson blooms with life
Plants that are full of juicy tissue, retaining water in arid climates or soil types. The tenacious succulent symbolizes enduring and timeless love as their thick leaves store essential water.
Jessica Olson has a particular fondness for the succulent flower. She has grown them for the past six years, and has a talent for using them in arrangements to enter for judging at her local county fair. She recently said that she loves how succulents are not the typical flower you see in Minnesota, but just as beautiful as our local plant varieties.
Like the succulent flower, Jessica’s involvement in 4-H is both enduring and timeless. Her parents enrolled Jessica and her sister at a young age and they grew up in a community club. Once she was old enough, Jessica began leading her club, filling various officer roles for the past nine years.
Growing, preserving and leading in her community
Along with the flower gardening project, Jessica also really enjoys 4-H vegetable gardening and food preservation projects. She grows a large garden every year and sells the produce to the community in addition to saving a few choice items for 4-H judging. She also cans products she grows in the garden that she enters in food preservation, including asparagus, green beans, strawberries, and raspberries.
Last year was her first time preparing a youth leadership project for 4-H judging. She drew ideas she learned from being a 4-H camp counselor and used them to host a day camp at her farm. When she spoke with the judge, “I talked about being a camp counselor, what is has done for me and what the day camp did for youth in my community.” “I ended up getting grand champion for that project and bringing it to the state fair, where I received grand champion in a category of projects from across the state.”
Dabbling to find new sources of joy
Jessica dabbles in many activities in 4-H. She grew up participating with her club in her county’s Share the Fun program, and is in her third summer serving as camp counselor at Sandhill Lake 4-H camp. Along with her gardening and leadership projects, she usually enters about 8-12 projects at the fair, which means she’s always learning and trying something new. 4-H offers dozens of project options and Jessica has explored many, including needle arts, shop, fine arts, small grains and legumes, citizenship, potatoes, food and nutrition, and self-determined.
“4-H can give you so much,” Jessica explained. “4-H gives you everyday leadership skills. Like communication, everything you learn from doing projects, how to overcome problems and learn from failures and successes.”
The future is full of life
Jessica hopes to stay involved with 4-H, and give back to the organization that has given so much to her.
Much like an enduring, timeless, juicy succulent full of life.
“I’m inspired to give back to 4-H as a youth leader and adult volunteer. I want to be there for the younger generations, to encourage questions, be a teacher and a positive role-model. I hope they’ll look up to me as their mentor and feel inspired to reach their dreams and goals.”
By Bailey Ruen
University of Minnesota student
Fillmore County 4-H member