4-H Experiences Impact Lifelong Leadership

Though generations apart, two former Hettinger County 4-H’ers credit 4-H for their early leadership experiences.

Teddy Mayer, who recently concluded his membership in the Flickertail Club at Mott, now is a 3rd Class cadet at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

“4-H Communication Arts and the Ambassador program taught me how to speak clearly and effectively in front of others to best communicate my ideas,” Mayer says. “I just finished cadet field training at West Point this summer, which is meant to teach and inspire the sophomore class to be able to lead the incoming freshman class as team leaders. 4-H Communication Arts provided me a great foundation for honing my own leadership style and abilities through effective communication.”

Former U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan was a member of the Indian Creek Club near Regent.

“My 4-H experience was a real treasure in my life,” Dorgan says. “When I served as a congressman and U.S. Senator, I decided to speak about my 4-H experience because I thought it had contributed so much to my knowledge and understanding of so many other things we experience and confront in our lives.”

Meagan Scott Hoffman, a 4-H youth development specialist in the NDSU Extension Center for 4-H Youth Development, recently surveyed 4-H members.

“Every child has the potential to be a true leader,” she says. “However, youth often report lacking life experiences to build the skills they need to reach their full potential as leaders, including perseverance, decision making, integrity, inclusivity, positive relationships and leadership skills. The more time youth spend in 4-H is positively associated with the development of these true leader skills.”

In the survey, half of the 4-H members said they already feel comfortable being a leader. In addition, 66% said they are willing to work hard on something difficult, 54% look for ways to involve all members of a group and 50% get along with others who are different than they are. Hoffman says all of these are important leadership skills.

Dorgan and Mayer are just two of the thousands of former North Dakota 4-H’ers who have used their 4-H experiences to provide leadership in their careers, with organizations and through other avenues, Hoffman says.


Meagan Scott Hoffman, 701-231-7964, meagan.scott@ndsu.edu

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