Each month, Ohio 4-H highlights one of many outstanding alumni who have applied their 4-H experience to their personal and professional life. Our June story features Margaret Peterson Haddix, Fayette County 4-H alumna, and best-selling author of books for kids and teens, including the Greystone Secrets series, the Shadow Children series, and numerous stand-alone books including Running Out of Time, Remarkables, and The School for Whatnots.
Current 4-H members most likely know Margaret Peterson Haddix as the author of their favorite series featuring time-traveling children or those living in a dystopian society. They might not know she spent ten years as a 4-H member in Fayette County, long before they were introduced to her books.
As a 4-H member, Haddix showed hogs, and completed sewing and cooking projects, activities she considers life skills. “I did learn how to become a passable seamstress and cook—skills I think everyone should learn. But I also learned how to recover from mistakes. I remember pulling out lots of stitches when I sewed seams too crookedly, and my family to this day talks about some of the worst cooking disasters I subjected them to!”
As an older youth, her writing skill was honed with projects that included journalism, creative writing, genealogy, and photography. Haddix acknowledges just how much her school and 4-H experiences shaped her career choice. “The writing projects I took in high school connected directly to the careers I’ve pursued. Before my first book was published, I worked as a newspaper reporter, so the experience I got covering the Fayette County fair for my local newspaper through 4-H when I was in high school led to that career, too.” Haddix is a New York Times-bestselling author of more than forty books for kids and teens. Her books have won reader’s choice awards in multiple states and have been translated into more than twenty languages.
4-H also meant a variety of leadership roles for Haddix. She was part of the junior leadership club, Junior Fair Board, attended Camp Clifton as a camper and a counselor, and went to Citizenship Washington Focus in Washington D.C. Her 4-H experiences included many special memories. “I always loved fair week, and the year I was a fair queen attendant was especially fun. I particularly enjoyed being a camp counselor for three years. And the DC trip was eye-opening—I ended up meeting my college roommate there.”
4-H made a positive impact on Haddix. “I learned how to see a project through from start to finish, and how to pace myself with an endeavor that took longer than just a few weeks. I am grateful to those lessons from my long-ago 4-H experiences every single time I write a new book.”
Today, Haddix is a 4-H donor and serves as a resource for 4-H youth by answering questions about their projects. Her advice to current members? “Explore various projects—you may be surprised to discover a new interest!”
Be sure to visit haddixbooks.com to read more about her work, life, and resources.