After high school, many 4-H’ers are left wondering how they can continue to be involved in an organization that has given them so much. As most head off to college or enter into the work force, there are many ways to stay involved. While being a volunteer is very important, and greatly appreciated, there is another way to stay connected during college — join a collegiate 4-H club.
Collegiate 4-H is a great opportunity for those who want to continue to grow and be a doer. Bridget Schumer, a founding member of Missouri State University’s 4-H club, embodies everything 4-H represents. She saw a need for 4-H on her campus and intended to fill it. We asked Bridget how and why she wanted to start a club on campus.
What gave you the idea to start a collegiate 4-H club at Missouri State?
“I was a member of MIZZOU 4-H at-large for 2 years before I was a founding member for MSU’s collegiate 4-H. I knew the good it could do, how to give back to an organization that gave me so much and how it serves as a great way for college students to achieve service hours needed for scholarships and classes.”
What resources did you utilize to start the new club on campus?
“Since I was a member of MIZZOU’s collegiate 4-H for two years and was heavily involved in 4-H, I had a very good contact that helped me at the state level move through the process. We all became certified 4-H volunteers to help with various 4-H events throughout the year.”
With collegiate 4-H, the land-grant universities are in charge of chartering a new collegiate program. According to the organizational structure, “Land-grant institutions are responsible for the chartering of collegiate 4-H programs taking place at any school within that same state.”
What did you have to do get the club started?
“I had to get really great people around me. We wrote a constitution and was approved by Missouri State’s Student Government Association. We opened a bank account and went through the process of becoming a club recognized by Missouri 4-H.”
How are the collegiate clubs connected with the National 4-H Council?
“4-H traditionally serves ages 8 to 18, with programs serving 5- to 8-year-olds and volunteer opportunities for 18 and older. Collegiate 4-H is structured very similarly to Collegiate FFA. Collegiate 4-H is affiliated with the National 4-H Headquarters, the USDA, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture through land-grant universities. We received a charter from Missouri 4-H and have a contact through the state 4-H office. There are national and regional conferences for collegiate 4-H clubs that are hosted at various universities around the country.”
What advice would you give someone who wants to start their own collegiate chapter?
“My advice would be to make sure you have great people around you and that you have the support of the administration. Size of a club is not everything — less is more. You can do a lot and get a lot accomplished with a small club size.”
Who is able to join a collegiate 4-H club?
“Anyone! Because of the nature of collegiate 4-H, you do not have to be a former member to join or attend the school hosting the club. Because Missouri State didn’t have a club, I joined MIZZZOU’s club at-large for two years. It is also open to members who are attending community colleges to join a club or start their own. We also have an option for community members. It’s a really unique situation.”
How did 4-H and collegiate 4-H prepare you for life after college?
“4-H as a whole program gave me my love for agriculture at an early age. It gave me confidence and it taught me what it meant to set short-term and long-term goals for myself and achieve them. It taught me tough-love, how to work as a team, event planning, professionalism, and poise. It has given me a “work hard-play hard” mentality and taught me, possibly most importantly, to never take an opportunity to have a conversation with anyone for granted because it may teach you the most or take you the farther than you would ever imagine.
“Solely because of my involvement in 4-H, I was given a prestigious internship as a sophomore in college. A conversation I had when I was 16 at a 4-H event directly gave me a client when I started my own business at 23. I can credit most of my success back to 4-H.”
4-H opportunities don’t have to stop when your career starts. By giving our time and talents, we may just find ourselves forming the future of agriculture.