A group of 16 teens from across South Dakota has been selected to serve as the 2020-2021 State 4-H Ambassador Team. Throughout their term, the group of ambassadors will serve as positive role models to other 4-H members throughout the state as they advocate for 4-H and the opportunities it provides youth to better themselves and those in their communities through hands-on projects and activities, adult mentorship and more.
To qualify for this role, applicants must be a registered 4-H member in good standing between the ages of 14 and 18. All applicants must submit the necessary application materials and complete an interview at the South Dakota State Fair with a committee of industry professionals and State 4-H Ambassador Program co-advisors Hilary Risner, SDSU Extension Regional 4-H Youth Program Advisor, and Amber Erickson, SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Development Field Operations Coordinator. Current ambassadors wanting to serve another term must re-apply each year, regardless of their returning status.
“The South Dakota State 4-H Ambassador Program is a positive youth development program founded on the principles of a learn by doing approach,” said Erickson. “The opportunities for leadership development are endless. Each selected State 4-H Ambassador will participate in a leadership development retreat, receive one-on-one coaching from their primary State 4-H Ambassador Advisor, and engage in the learn by doing approach through their action plan.”
Teens selected to serve for the 2020-2021 term include Dillon Browning of Brown County, Maggie DeMers of Tripp County, Grace DiGiovanni of Turner County, Brianna Duerre of Day County, Matea Gordon of Lawrence County, Nicolette Hoffman of Douglas County, William Karels of Grant County, Isabelle Mairose of Brule County, Hayden Niles of Day County, Cassie Richarz of Hamlin County, Emily Robbins of Brookings County, Isaac Sousa of Grant County, Ella Stiefvater of McCook County, Taylor Storbakken of Marshall County, Logan Tlam of Davison County, and Colton Wicks of Lake County.
“This is such a great group of young adults that we are welcoming to the team this year, each with a diverse background and portfolio of experiences,” said Risner. “Each individual has an immense amount of skills and passions that they bring to the table. I’m really excited to see what this team will accomplish in helping us tell the 4-H story.”
Once selected to serve in this role, the ambassadors are expected to:
- Serve to support the 4-H program through public relations;
- Function as a positive role model for youth in South Dakota;
- Abide by the South Dakota 4-H Code of Conduct both during and outside of 4-H events;
- Continually strive for improvement by serving as an agent of change;
- Promote inclusion and respect for diversity across 4-H;
- Utilize skills and knowledge gained through 4-H to engage youth in educational activities; and
- Proactively engage in youth-adult partnerships.
Each team member will create a State 4-H Ambassador action plan, facilitate an educational opportunity for youth and serve as an ambassador for one of the four program priority areas of agriculture, health and wellness, leadership, and science.
“Throughout their one-year term they will have the opportunity to dive deep into their program priority area, sharing their passion and knowledge with youth across the state,” said Erickson. “We have a great group of phenomenal young leaders who I know are ready to step up, speak out, and change the world.”
To fill his educational opportunity requirement, Logan Tlam, a second-year ambassador, has chosen to facilitate and host a podcast series that will be circulated on a variety of platforms throughout his community and the South Dakota 4-H organization.
“My personal goal for this 2020-2021 term is to influence youth’s knowledge in agricultural literacy and careers by providing educational opportunities,” said Tlam. “My educational opportunity will be a podcast series about agricultural literacy, and the topics will revolve around agriculture and nutrition, environment, animals, lifestyle, technology and the economy.”
Members of the team also have the opportunity to serve on either the marketing or Teen Leadership Conference committees. Throughout their term, the marketing committee will continue to build promotion and awareness efforts of the 4-H program, while gaining valuable life skills in the areas of marketing and communications. The Teen Leadership Conference committee will work closely with Risner and Erickson to plan and implement the 2021 Teen Leadership Conference, all while gaining event planning experience.
“I first heard about the South Dakota State 4-H Ambassador Program when I attended the 4-H Teen Leadership Conference this past year, and thought it would be a great opportunity to further my growth as a leader and help promote 4-H,” said Nicolette Hoffman, a newly-selected ambassador. “I am now on the Teen Leadership Conference committee, and I’m looking forward to helping plan the conference this year, as it has had such a positive impact on me the past two years I attended.”
Additionally, team members are presented a variety of supplemental leadership and service opportunities that include shadowing a state legislator or industry professional, representing 4-H at a community and/or industry event, interviewing with news and media outlets to discuss the impact of 4-H, writing letters to the editor promoting 4-H, creating a promotional 4-H video and serving on a state 4-H committee.
“The role of serving as a State 4-H Ambassador is truly a phenomenal opportunity for teens to grow in their leadership and life skills, while networking with peers from across the state,” said Risner. “They are mentors to other 4-H members and serve as the face of the South Dakota 4-H organization.”
The objectives of the State 4-H Ambassador program are to prepare individuals to serve in roles as leaders, mentors and problem solvers, enhance their skills in communication, public speaking and critical thinking, focus on fundamental life skills, develop skill-specific career exploration, and provide positive youth-adult partnerships.
“I would encourage youth to get involved in 4-H because it is an excellent provider for supplemental opportunities to develop leadership, communication, teamwork, and individual skills,” said Tlam. “I initially joined 4-H to show livestock, like many other kids. However, this organization helped push me to find my skills, and to use every opportunity within the organization to practice those skills. 4-H’s purpose is to develop youth into better people, and it lives up to that saying by providing many opportunities for development.”