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Viewpoint: The Goodhue County 4-H 2017 year in review

Alyson Kloeckner, Goodhue County 4-H program coordinator

This has been one whirlwind of a year for Goodhue County 4-H. With a new 4-H program coordinator coming on board at the beginning of the programming year, I think there was plenty of apprehension and a lot of learning for everyone — but the year was a success, and Goodhue County 4-H has thrived!

Beginning in October, the 4-H programming year is fairly cyclical — the same things typically happen at the same time, year after year. But day to day — you never know what will happen! With more than 650 members and 160 volunteers participating in 19 clubs around the county, there is always something going on and always questions to answer and programs to develop and grow.

The year started off with a bang when the Goodhue County 4-H Dairy Judging Team placed first in the National 4-H Contest at World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis. By winning the contest, our youths were given the opportunity to participate in an international judging tour. They fundraised, gave presentations and spoke with the community about the trip, and at the end of June they took off to judge in Scotland and Luxembourg. Many memories were made and much was learned about the international dairy community and agricultural systems.

Throughout the winter, Goodhue County 4-H hosted project bowl team practices, had 44 youths participate in the Missoula Children's Theatre production of "Gulliver's Travels" and many participated in monthly 4-H Council and Ambassador meetings. We also provided leadership training opportunities to the youthd and held trainings for our adult volunteers and adult club leaders.

Spring started to ramp up with animal ID, livestock clinics, our annual hog roast (where we ran out of meat we served so many people!), and planning for our summer day camps and events.

This summer we had 30 youths participate in the Region 4-H Camp at Whitewater State Park and also had three older teens participate as camp counselors. Numerous dog and horse training clinics were held, we had 75 youths participate in the summer day camps that were facilitated by our summer intern, and a group of very talented youths put together our Arts In show called "Rise Up" that was performed at the Goodhue County Fair and State Fair. There was also a group who had the opportunity to travel to Kansas on a travel exchange with a 4-H club down there.

County fair is always a highlight of the summer, and this year we had 1,200 building projects and 1,300 livestock exhibited. From there, 170 of our youths advanced to the Minnesota State Fair where they were able to exhibit projects, give performances and demonstrations, as well as judge and exhibit livestock.

Goodhue County 4-H youths came home with plenty of purple ribbons — congratulations to all! The General Livestock Judging Team put the cherry on the cake for us and will be advancing to the Denver judging contest this year after placing second at the Minnesota State 4-H Judging Contest.

The excitement and passion that I see in our Goodhue County members and volunteers is endless. The willingness to tackle tough conversations, the drive for new opportunities for our youths and the "let's try it" attitude is a perfect combination to help us continue as one of the largest 4-H programs in the state of Minnesota.

While much was accomplished in the past year, there are many opportunities that I am hoping to bring forward this year. The ideas spinning in my head include (and are not limited to) photography clinics, landscape and gardening workshops, after-school programming, records taskforces, new member opportunities, more advanced livestock clinics ... the list goes on.

On to next year! Anything is possible.