Celebrating 4-H: 4-H roots help build strong foundation for adulthood.

October 10, 2016


shelby_soberalski_miss_ludingtonCelebrating 4-H: 4-H roots help build strong foundation for adulthood.

#MasonCountyYouth #MasonCountyAgriculture #4-H

By D’Ann Rohrer, Michigan State University Extension of Mason County.

Shelby Soberalski, was crowned 2016 Miss Ludington Area almost a year ago.  The subject of Shelby’s platform was autism and mental health acceptance.  Her talent could have been how to show a steer at the fair, but she shared a slideshow of the book she is writing about her older sister who has autism.  Shelby affirms that 4-H has shaped who she is today.

D’Ann (D):  How did you become involved in 4-H?

Shelby (S):  4-H was a family focused event.  My grandma and both parents had participated in 4-H, plus my mom’s uncle was a leader forever.  I remember I was 6-years-old when I started 4-H.  I entered a candle, carved with “I love mom and dad”, at the fair and I still have the candle today.  My participation moved from a candle to showing beef and swine.  I think I have shown everything but sheep, ducks, and turkeys.  I even qualified to show poultry at the state fair.  It is a great thing to do as a family, I appreciated working with my parents and other adults to create a successful product.  4-H prepared me for the future and college.  I was awarded many scholarship for college outside of the 4-H area because of skills I learned in 4-H.  My love for 4-H started with a simple candle but has continued to create a lifetime worth of memories.  

D: Besides showing animals, have you participated in other 4-H events or activities?

S:  I attended Exploration days one summer and I have been to Kettunen Center.  I enjoyed those experiences because I met new people with the same interests and drive as I had.  I remember attending Exploration Days the summer after my eighth grade year. It really was a springboard to start thinking about colleges and what I wanted to be when I grew up.  We were able to stay in a Michigan State University dorm and eat in the cafeteria.  It made me realize college is really cool.

D:  What has participating in 4-H taught you?

S:  4-H taught me responsibility, no one did my chores for me.  It was my project so I did the work to be successful not my parents.  I learned how to relate better with others especially when they had different perspectives.  4-H helped me mature quickly.  I became a better communicator, I learned how to put ideas into terms others could understand and want to follow along.  The life skills I learned in 4-H was beneficial through college and helped me be a better member of society.  I feel more comfortable in all situations because of the experiences I had while in 4-H.

D:  What were your leadership experiences while you were in 4-H?

S:  I was very involved with Western Michigan Livestock Council.  I held most positions on the board. I was the secretary, president for two years, corresponding secretary and then when I was a sophomore in college I was an adult advisor.

D:  What has been your greatest take away from your 4-H leadership experience?

S:  There is so much of the 4-H program and curriculum that has shaped my life.  The leadership experiences and responsibility has helped me to be successful.  I remember learning a proper handshake at a 4-H event, later in life I got a job because of my handshake.  Another skill that has been invaluable is the ability to relate to other people of all ages, the ability to talk with people and listen to their hardships with compassion.  I learned how to conduct multiple fundraisers.  4-H has taught me how to be an effective leader, how to make things work, and turning plans into action.  

D:  If you were to give an aspiring youth leader some advice, what would that be?

S:  First I would thank them for their contributions to 4-H already then I would encourage them to use all 4 “H’s” Head, Heart, Hands, and Health to make a difference.  You are given these tools to help others so take full advantage of it.  As a teen leader in 4-H I realized what I could do as a person to make a difference.  

D:  What was it like to run for Miss Ludington Area?

S:  First you have to do an interview with the judges before the pageant explaining why you are a good fit to win the crown.  So I talked about my 4-H involvement growing up.  The judges asked me about my 4-H commitment and what that has done for me, my leadership roles in 4-H.  I shared that because of 4-H I was able to graduate from college debt free.  There were 30 seconds left and they were still asking me questions about my 4-H involvement, leadership skills and communication skills.  They were so interested in learning more about my experience in 4-H we went over my interview time.  After you win a local title you go onto Miss Michigan then Miss American.  Betty Cantrell was a 4-Her from Georgia who won Miss America in 2016.  Her platform was “Healthy Children, Strong America” – she is working to educate Americans about the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables and exercising.

D:  Since you have graduated with your graphic design, art history degree, what are you doing now?

S:  I am working for a nonprofit currently and as Miss Ludington Area I am busy with community service events.  I truly believe I am meant to serve others.

D:  What are your future plans?

S:  I plan to participate in the Mid-Michigan pageant, enroll in graduate school to become an art therapist, publish a children’s book, and continue my 4-H leader role.   


If you would like to learn more about 4-H Youth Development visit http://msue.anr.msu.edu/topic/info/4_h or contact 4hleadership@anr.msu.edu .


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