Hands-on leadership: Kanabec County youth grows his skills
“Everybody comes together,” said Tanner Schiferli about why he enjoys being involved in 4-H. The 15-year-old from Kanabec County joined 4-H four years ago, when his dad enrolled him in the Nice River Rabbits 4-H Club.
Being a camp counselor is his favorite 4-H experience so far. By working with younger youth in this role, Tanner has grown leadership and communication skills. He has been a camper for a few summers at his region’s 4-H camp before he became a camp counselor. Tanner notes his favorite part of being a camp counselor is “entertaining the campers,” as well as how well everyone at camp, “relates to each other’s situations.”
Kanabec county program coordinator Laura Ambrose has noticed how Tanner has thrived as a leader. She commented that he is great at “Finding unique ways to connect with campers and make them feel welcome and comfortable.”
Being a 4-H camp counselor has been an opportunity for teenagers to not only help others but become a better leader and person. Laura adds, “As he has grown in the counselor role, Tanner has proven to be someone that campers, other counselors and staff can rely on to complete tasks and contribute new ideas. He is hardworking and dedicated - and does it all with an infectious smile across his face!” Without hesitation, Tanner assures he is returning this summer as a counselor.
Tanner has also developed his practical skills by doing 4-H projects. From his home on a 40-acre hog farm in Mora, he has entered many of them into the Kanabec County Fair, including a wishing well and a fire hydrant. He has restored two lawn mowers and a very old tractor.
Tanner expanded on just how he came to own and restore the tractor. The 1939 Farmall H tractor was only one of five-hundred and one of its kind made that year. The previous owner called the county office to see if any 4-H or FFA member could make use of it as he was moving. Tanner was the second in line and eventually got to take it home. To restore the tractor, he “tore it apart,” as he made the old new with sandblasting, new paint, and new wheels to just name a few improvements. Tanner smiled that his dad helped him “a bit,” but one can see that Tanner has a real talent for restoring equipment.
The experiences and new skills Tanner has gained from 4-H will stay with him throughout his life. Though he has years left as a 4-H’er, Tanner says he’s thinking beyond that to a career in construction.
Tanner recommends getting involved in 4-H because the experiences “make you want to expand and try new things.” He adds that 4-H’ers can “make new friends, see things you haven’t seen, and help the community."
Interested in having some fun while making new friends this summer? Check out the different 4-H camp opportunities to learn more.
By Bailey Ruen
University of Minnesota student
Fillmore County 4-H member