Gigi Otten says 4-H has really helped her go places—to the state fair with her projects, to Washington, D.C., and to college.
Gigi has been a dedicated 4-H member from an early age and eventually served as president and community pride officer of her Hayward 4-H Club. In these roles, she hosted blood drives in her school, helped reorganize her school's waste disposal system and joined volunteers at her county's humane society. She spent her summer months raising sheep, goats, rabbits and chickens.
Her service and leadership took her to the state and national levels in 4-H. In 2019, she was a 4-H Purple Ribbon livestock auction winner at the Minnesota State Fair. This award recognizes leadership, personal growth and animal science knowledge. In the same year, she was a delegate to the National 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C., chosen from many applicants to address issues that face youth and their communities.
When asked about what the four H's —Head, Heart, Hands and Health—mean to her, Gigi said, "I think it's all about joining together the different aspects of yourself, just like we're joining together the different aspects of our community, our country and our world."
Reflecting on her time in 4-H, Gigi said, "4-H can provide youth with a wide range of opportunities, more than a lot of other clubs I have been in. 4-H, as a singular organization, can not only take you on trips to Washington, D.C. but it can also bring you closer to your own community and grow you as a leader."
A passion for serving and leading
Gigi has taken the passion for service and leadership skills she's developed in 4-H to the University of Minnesota. Continuing her interest in public service on campus, she works with Swipe Out Hunger and BrightSide, student organizations focused on food security. She also serves on the Student Conduct Board, and she is completing a social justice leadership certificate focused on improving physical accessibility on campus.
4-H helped Gigi to pay for college. She is a recipient of the Kern Scholarship, which recognizes youth for achievements, leadership and service. She is using the funds from this multi-year scholarship to pursue degrees in anthropology, and fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology.
"The Kern Scholarship will help me get through school. It's allowing me some more free time to participate in different organizations and grow as a leader," she said. The Kern Scholarship awards $1500 to two Minnesota 4-H'ers each year who will be starting university. The scholarship can be renewed for up to four years, making it worth $6,000.
Please consider donating to 4-H scholarships to support the education of 4-H members across Minnesota.