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K-State Research and Extension

Sisters agree: Years in 4-H were crucial to their success

Jenae AndersonThis year’s Kansas State Fair marked the12th year Jenae Anderson of Doniphan County has participated in the Kansas
4-H Youth Development program. She showed her pig, Dexter.

“Dexter is hands-down the best pig I have ever had,” Anderson said.

She remembers hard work and the awards won in competition, but mostly what she gained was a springboard to a future career. She is pursuing a degree in animal sciences and industry at Kansas State University.

“I have learned time management, responsibility, money management and most importantly the ability to work hard as a team,” she said.

Jenae’s sister Alysa, who has won numerous county-level awards for showing sheep and in other
4-H projects, tells a similar experience.

“Coming from a single parent home is never an easy thing. We did not have a lot of money to get the best show animals and oftentimes had to use whatever was in the pasture that year,” she said. “There were times I didn’t want to go to the fair because I believed my animals were below quality, but I need to thank my family and 4-H friends for reminding me that shows are not just about winning, but having fun and walking out of that arena knowing you did your best.”

Through that experience, Alysa said “I learned to dedicate my time to bettering myself and my animals.

“Competition is important, but I also learned that losing is OK. I learned that if I work hard and focus, I can achieve just about anything,” Alysa said. “My family is an important part of why I got involved in this project, and with them I have learned how to cooperate and ask for help when needed.”

The Andersons’ mother, Jessica Juhl, says the lessons her daughters have learned in 4-H will make a big difference in their lives.

“Beyond the competition of their projects, I have enjoyed watching my girls learn valuable lessons related to their identities and how they see others,” she said. “As a single parent, I wanted my biracial daughters to learn their identity is not based on a risk factor of being children in a single parent home nor is it their sex or their race, and it has absolutely nothing to do with how much money is in their bank account.

“And I wholeheartedly believe their involvement in 4-H helped them learn that lesson. They are versatile – with a variety of interests, skills and friends – and can easily move with confidence within many different settings because they know who they are as an individual.”

Alysa is currently a sophomore at Highland Community College, and Jenae is a freshman at Kansas State University. Alysa hopes to go on to veterinary school, while Jenae is eyeing a career in the swine industry.

“I honestly need to thank 4-H for the person I am today,” Alysa said. “From the bottom of my heart, I love 4-H and everything it stands for. I can never thank the people and the organization enough because I am truly a better person because of 4-H.”

Jenae added: “I met my best friends through 4-H and it’s true: 4-H friends are lifelong friends.”

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