In 4-H, youth are building leadership skills for the future and today. Programs like Youth Teaching Youth provide youth opportunities to authentically partner with others, build critical interpersonal skills and become change agents.
“4-H challenges youth to think about how they can use their voice to create positive, sustainable change in their communities,” said Jacquie Lonning, 4-H Civic Engagement & Leadership director. Abbey Rademacher, 18, uses 4-H leadership roles to do just that. As a 4-H Ambassador and 4-H Youth Teaching Youth teen teacher, Abbey shares her knowledge and skills with youth across Washington County, encouraging them to make healthy choices and set positive goals for their future.
Like many youth, Abbey started her 4-H journey as a Cloverbud member of the Lucky Aces 4-H Club. She recalls fondly her early interactions with the club's older members, who helped her feel cherished and encouraged. “I was heavily influenced by the older 4-H’ers who helped me with projects. They guided me and made sure I learned,” Abbey said. “I knew when I got older that I wanted to do the same for others.”
Abbey’s roles as a local ambassador and teen teacher means she meets many young people across Washington county. She especially enjoys planning and delivering hands-on learning experiences for youth in grades k-2. “Seeing the light bulbs go off in the kids’ heads when they learn something new is so satisfying to me. I love knowing that they will carry that piece of knowledge with them.”
While the pandemic continues, Abbey’s drive has not wavered. She is currently making virtual presentations educating youth on the importance of a balanced diet and the characteristics of a good person. These presentations are available to 2nd - 5th grade students in the Stillwater school district and many of them have generated video responses when youth share how they plan to use what they’ve learned.
Teaching and leading in 4-H helped Abbey identify her college and career plans. After high school, she is headed to University of Wisconsin - River Falls to major in elementary education.
Abbey is one of many 4-H youth leaders building communication skills and affecting positive change in their community. She continues to excel in leadership programming that 4-H Youth Development cultivates in Minnesota teens.