4-H Experience Leads to Lifelong Community Service

My hands to larger service

That line from the 4-H pledge usually stays with members throughout their lives.

For example, Bridget Mattern was a member of the Prairie Schooners 4-H club in Emmons County. As a 4-H’er, she remembers dying Easter eggs and taking them to nursing home residents, among other community service projects.

Today as a busy mom in Strasburg, Mattern still devotes time to community service, including with her two older children’s 4-H club.

Mattern provided leadership to start the Clipper Tots child care center in Strasburg. About five years ago, Mattern and others in the area saw the need for a preschool. The school district supported the half-time preschool, but child care was needed for the other half of the day and for full-time care. They created a 501(c)3 nonprofit, repurposed two rooms in the former school, hired staff and received licensing for 18 children. Mattern said child care is so desperately needed in rural North Dakota that one family brings their children nearly 30 miles each way to the center.

“Through 4-H, I learned to step up and help out when needed,” Mattern says. “Community service became engrained in me to step up if you can. That’s what happened with the day care. It wasn’t an easy thing to do because it was a long road to get it up and going. But like with 4-H projects, we didn’t give up and we worked until we saw the end result. It’s exciting to get to see the fruits of your labor.”

Meagan Scott Hoffman, an assistant professor and 4-H youth development specialist in the state Center for 4-H Youth Development, says 4-H encourages serving others.

“In a recent survey, 93% of North Dakota 4-H’ers acknowledged that 4-H has inspired them to volunteer in their communities,” Hoffman says. “That mindset of giving back to their communities seems to stay with them through adulthood and provide ongoing positive impacts across our state.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Meagan Scott Hoffman, 701-231-7964, meagan.scott@ndsu.edu

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