Monthly in 2021, Itasca County 4-H spotlights current 4-H members and adult volunteers. 

May Youth Member spotlight: Kainezee A.

Kainezee has been a 4-H member for 7 years. 

What is your favorite project or activity:  “Dog Training is pretty fun. The cooking programs helped me with learning to cut things like vegetables. I really like the leaders of the programs. They are fun and explain stuff really well.”

What is one skill you have been able to practice or improve in 4-H?  “4-H has helped me learn how to train my dog, Miya, and she has gotten better at learning to sit, lay down and finish.”

What is one of your favorite memories or highlights of being in 4-H? “I've met new people and made new friends in 4-H. One of my favorite memories in 4-H is helping volunteer with the United Way at the YMCA gardens. It made me feel happy because I was helping them.” 

May Adult Volunteer Spotlight: Al Gustaveson and LeeAnn Baker

Al and LeeAnn have been volunteers for the 4-H Lunch Buddy program for 10 years. They are part of a dedicated Lunch Buddy volunteer team at Bigfork Elementary School.

What is one of your favorite memories or highlights as a volunteer? “Every time we leave a session we’re just invigorated by the integration with all those happy faces… They want us to come! They welcome us! We’re buddies! The energy they pass to us is a tonic to us seniors. Interacting with second graders is just plain fun.”

Why do you volunteer? “LeeAnn is a retired special ed teacher, and I [Al] am a retired canoe builder and we both like to interact with children. Second graders are at a special time in their education where everything is new and fun and reading is a big part of their learning. Reading with a kid opens so many new ideas and places. It’s an important chance to affect the remainder of their education. Kids that read do better. That can make a real difference. 

Both of us are avid readers and it all started early with parents who read to us, who didn’t object to reading under the covers when it was past bedtime. Who had homes full of books and newspapers. Encouraging reading is one of the most important things an adult can do for a child. It sets them up for a better outcome no matter what they do in later life. It’s an investment in the future anyone can make.”

4-H is an out-of-school, hands-on learning program for youth in grades Kindergarten - 1 year past high school. Youth choose a project that’s interesting to them and explore it with peers and caring adults. 4-H clubs are groups of youth who want to learn together and meet in every part of Minnesota.

If you are interested in joining Itasca County 4-H or becoming an adult volunteer, please contact the Itasca County 4-H office at (218) 327-7486, visit https://local.extension.umn.edu/local/itasca/4-h or find us on Facebook University of Minnesota Extension-Itasca County 4-H.

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