Each month we highlight an Ohio 4-H alumnus with amazing stories to share—from their personal experience in 4-H to how they have given back to the program. This month we are featuring Megan Burgess, an alumna of Wayne County 4-H who works as the state grazing specialist for the Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
During her 10 years in 4-H, Burgess took a variety of projects, including woodworking, gardening, and veterinary science, but market goat and lamb projects were always part of her efforts. One of her favorite 4-H memories comes from her time spent raising Winsloe, a German shepherd she trained for a Guide Dogs for the Blind project. “It was interesting to learn about the independence these dogs provide visually impaired people. While it was bittersweet to return Winsloe for his intense training to be a guide dog, a few months later that feeling changed to joy when I learned they were able to pair him with a person.”
Burgess gained invaluable leadership skills while in 4-H. She held several officer positions in her club, was a camp counselor, served on her county’s Junior Fair Board, and was a Junior Leadership Club member and officer. “The successes and disappointments from 4-H projects and leadership opportunities fostered my growth in public speaking, patience, and responsibility,” said Burgess.
After graduating from high school, Burgess obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at The Ohio State University. “My time in 4-H showed me I wanted to continue to study livestock, so I studied animal science. I went on to complete my research for my master’s with the Department of Horticulture & Crop Science, studying goat grazing preferences.”
Burgess also participated in Collegiate 4-H while at Ohio State. “Throughout undergrad I was a Collegiate 4-H member and officer. We planned a regional Collegiate 4-H conference that was held in Columbus, and I served as chairperson for the workshops committee. I also volunteered as goat advisor for a Wayne County 4-H club during this time.”
Burgess has been working for the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service since graduating from college. “I help landowners and farmers use conservation practices on their land and get to work with many types of terrain, including pasture operations.” Earlier this year, Burgess began working as the state grazing specialist within the Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service. “This opportunity has brought my passion full circle. My success with NRCS stems from my time in 4-H: raising animals, learning about public speaking and responsibility, and becoming a leader.”
Her involvement in 4-H continues today, through her time spent volunteering with Hardin County 4-H and serving on the Hardin County Fair’s sheep committee. She is also an active supporter of 4-H Camp Ohio. “I make donations to improve the camp because I love giving Cloverbuds a fun, supportive environment to fuel their sense of exploration and discovery,” said Burgess. For her, 4-H offers so many opportunities to try new things and she encourages youth members to take advantage of this so they can uncover new interests and passions.
Burgess shared that her 4-H achievement record from late 1997 included the following: “Through the activities and experiences I have had in 4-H, I have grown into the person I am today. I treasure these memories, and hope to help some other younger members have memories of 4-H that they will treasure, too. I aspire to do this through being a leader and role model to the younger members.”
“I cannot begin to say how true this paragraph still is today,” said Burgess.