In Clark County, the Fair often becomes the center of a lot of life in the summer, and to many people outside of 4-H, it tends to be their only glimpse of the program and what it can offer. However, in order to fully understand the role that 4-H plays on the youth of Clark County, you can learn much more by looking over the entire 4-H life of a single exemplary 4-Her.
Introducing Abby Schoessow, a high school junior in her 11th year at Clark County 4-H, having joined back when she was just in first grade. A member of the Romadka club, Abby has grown tremendously in her time as a 4-Her, in every sense of the word, allowing her to become a true role model for the rest of the county as she sets her sights on gaining experience beyond.
When Abby was a Cloverbud, she wasn’t anticipating that 4-H would play such a pivotal part in her life. Her perception of 4-H was that of just a “fun after-school event” to hang out with friends, with her best memory being the “very good snacks” at each meeting. Now, Abby has served at just about every possible officer level of Romadka club: going from secretary, to treasurer, to vice president, and all the way up to the highest office in the land! (Which, as we all know, is president of the Clark County 4-H Romadka club)
Abby credits this growth in leadership and involvement to her growth in confidence that 4-H has provided her. One way this confidence was brought out was through signing up for a number of public speaking contests (through some perhaps needed pressure from her mom, who now leads the Romadka club).
But where Abby truly found her spark, and her lane to shine was in the horse project. In the beginning when she first joined, she expectedly “didn’t know a whole bunch,” but after being able to get her own horse, and especially through the help of her trainer and mentor Brooke, her skills and confidence have soared. Now, she’s trying to be “the new Brooke,” giving helpful tips to all of the younger kids who ask, and proving to be a “huge asset to the horse project” while “really representing Clark County well” (in the words of her mom) by shining at the state horse show every September and providing presentations at Discovery Days.
Stepping into that position of being a role model for the next generation of Clark County 4-Hers has been big for Abby, who said that a major part of what kept her going in 4-H through COVID was the chance to be someone that the younger kids could look up to, as Clark doesn’t have a lot of older youth to lead by example as Abby does.
Abby is in a unique position wherein the younger kids of Clark County actually want to be her. To add on yet another layer of allure, Abby was selected to be one of 14 youth in the Wisconsin 4-H International Programs travel abroad opportunity, where she will get the chance to represent Clark all the way out in Japan! Just hearing about the chance that Abby might be selected for the trip got other 4-Hers excited, and on her return she’ll have the chance to further spread the word about how 4-H can open up doors to experience the tremendous growing opportunity of surrounding one’s self by other cultures.
Abby’s 4-H career is a testament to how 4-H provides the opportunity for Wisconsin youth to truly grow, and to truly thrive. So the next time you meet a non-4-Her who thinks it’s just about the fair, use Abby as an example of its true potential. To quote her mom one final time: “The fair is a few days, your 4-H experience lasts a lifetime.”
Clark County 4-H is open to all youth in 5K through one year after high school. Find out about 4-H by calling the Clark County Extension office at (715) 743-5121 or request information at https://clark.extension.wisc.edu/4-h-youth-development/