Each month we highlight an Ohio 4-H alumnus. Our alumni have amazing stories to share, from their personal experience in 4-H to how they have given back to the program. This month, we feature Sherrill Cropper, Brown County 4-H alumna and new product development lab manager at the Lesaffre Corporation.
Even before Cropper joined 4-H, it was a big part of her life. “My mother, Becky, was the Brown County 4-H agent at the time, and I spent much of my childhood attending meetings and 4-H events with her. My older brother was also an active member, and this allowed me to see all the benefits that 4-H had to offer,” Cropper said. Cropper later joined the Jackson Junior Farmers 4-H Club and several other 4-H programs: “I took self-determined projects, money management, collectibles, And My World, and You’re the Athlete. I was a member of CARTEENS, Kids on the Block, and Teens for the Future, which were all programs offered through Brown County 4-H. In addition, I had the opportunity to be involved with 4-H camp at Camp Graham.”
Through 4-H, Cropper was given many amazing opportunities, especially through the Teens for the Future program. She recalled one of her favorite memories: “In Teens for the Future, we learned about agriculture in other regions. I had the opportunity to travel to Chicago; Cooperstown, New York; St. Louis; Quebec; Burlington, Vermont; and Blacksburg, Virginia. One of the best experiences was our trip to St. Louis, where we toured Purina Farms and we learned about their research, as well as touring the American Soybean Association. We also stopped by the Gateway Arch and the Meramec Caverns.”
Cropper also gained new skills in 4-H that she uses daily: “When I reflect on my time in 4-H, some of the key skills I learned include public speaking, how to conduct an interview, leadership skills and how to work on a team, how to execute a project to meet a deadline, and the importance of proper communication. 4-H provided me with the foundation for project management which is how to plan, design, and execute a project; something I use regularly when I develop ingredients for the baking industry. The different projects I took, especially self-determined projects, allowed me to design my own experiments and projects, as well as pushed me to be creative and think critically about how to share my findings. Other workforce competencies include the value of time management and taking responsibility for your actions. The interview process helped me to see the importance of improvement and the benefits of constructive criticism.”
Cropper went on to say, “Having the passion to help others and giving back by using my hands for larger service are things I try to exemplify every day. And the friendships you build through the activities you participate in are something I truly cherish and value from my time in 4-H.”
Today, Cropper gives back to the 4-H program in several ways: “It’s been a pleasure to share my experience in 4-H and in my career with the next generation. I’ve provided technical expertise for the food science contest at the local county fair, as well as supplying yeast to a local club focused on yeast-leavened bread projects.”
When asked what advice she would give to current 4-H members, Cropper said, “Get involved with the many activities that 4-H has to offer. The program provides many different opportunities ranging from Junior Leaders, Junior Fair Board, CARTEENS, and 4-H camp. These activities will help you gain a variety of leadership skills, but the biggest benefit will be the friendships you gain and build that will be invaluable in the future. You will make connections that will last a lifetime.”