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 Stacey Russell, an alumna of Muskingum County 4-H who serves as executive director of the Muskingum County Library System.
Throughout her time in 4-H, Russell’s project work centered on showing dairy cattle at the county fair and completing food and nutrition projects. “The rule at my house was that every year we had to take a special interest project along with our dairy projects. I was selected to represent Muskingum County at the Ohio State Fair twice with my food and nutrition projects and consider myself to be a pretty decent cook and baker as a result!”
“The friendships I made at the fair still stand out as favorite memories from my time in 4-H,” said Russell. Growing up on a dairy farm and showing Jersey cattle from a young age meant being around animals was second nature, so time spent at the fair was always a highlight. “My friends and I would spend hours playing euchre, joking around with one another, and just hanging out.”
She also credits 4-H for helping push her outside of her comfort zone. “I was a very quiet, shy teen and felt unsure of myself, but 4-H helped me grow in immeasurable ways.” Project work and time spent at the fair with friends not only taught her new skills she still uses today, but also helped bring her out of her shell and become more confident.
Today, as executive director of the Muskingum County Library System, Russell says her time in 4-H played a significant role in her success. “I think the beauty of 4-H is, while you may think you’re just completing a project, you’re also learning soft skills like responsibility, time management, accountability, and how to be a good leader.”
Russell continues to show her support and appreciation for 4-H through her volunteerism. “I served as a club volunteer while my daughter was in 4-H and was a member of the Muskingum County 4-H Committee for years.” Russell is also a founding member and the current treasurer of the county’s Reverse Raffle Committee. Since the event’s inception in 2014, the Reverse Raffle has helped raise more than $100,000 for Muskingum County 4-H, and Russell has been integral in this success.
At the 2023 Ohio 4-H Conference, Russell was presented with the 4-H Alumni Award for her continued dedication to Ohio 4-H. “Stacey is an advocate for positive youth development and lifelong learning. She is an excellent testament of 4-H’s role in helping youth thrive. She exemplifies the 4-H motto and pledge every single day,” said Jamie McConnell, Extension educator for 4-H in Muskingum County.