New 4-H coordinator will promote activities all year
Natalie Johnston knows firsthand the benefits of participating in 4-H, having joined the youth-development organization as a kindergartner growing up on her parents’ farm in west central Minnesota.
“I think 4-H really prepares you for life,” Johnston said. “It gives you the everyday and professional skills you need after high school or college and going into the workforce.”
As Goodhue County’s new 4-H program coordinator, she is in charge of recruiting volunteers and developing projects to impart that same support to the 615 or so local 4-H’ers.
Though animal science projects and exhibiting livestock are popular 4-H activities in the summer fair season, Johnston said there is a wide range of other activities that she will look to promote year-round.
“It’s not just for farm kids — there are a lot of opportunities for anyone out there,” she said, including gardening, crafts, performing arts and day camps available to members and non-members.
The organization is open to coming up with new projects as well, Johnston added, noting the county is piloting a yak program for children to locally adopt and show the animals.
Johnston started as program coordinator May 19, replacing Mamie Luhmann who submitted her resignation in February.
The Morris, Minnesota, native holds a degree in animal science from the University of Minnesota with minors in applied economics and mass communications.
Johnston said she knew after her 13 years in 4-H and showing various livestock that she wanted to study agriculture and be part of the industry. She also was active in Stevens County 4-H council and ambassador leadership.
“It was just something I fell into and really liked,” she said of transitioning to a role in 4-H leadership. “I was able to get more active and have a bigger say in the county.”
Still a newcomer to southeastern Minnesota, Johnston said she is looking forward to meeting 4-H members and families at the Goodhue County Fair and other events this summer.
One of the first programs she is promoting is a day camp featuring games, crafts and fishing held June 25 at Pottery Pond, June 30 at Covered Bridge Park in Zumbrota and July 2 in Lake City. The cost to attend is $20.
For more information on summer day camps and other Goodhue County 4-H events, visit www.extension.umn.edu/county/goodhue.