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 feature Shannon Stickney, a Delaware County alumna working as an executive coach and consultant.
Stickney fondly remembers her eight years in 4-H through projects and experiences that included rabbits, gardening, foods and nutrition, and photography. She spent summers attending 4-H camp, served in club leadership roles, and served as the Delaware County Junior Fair junior and senior princesses.
Stickney proudly shares her most cherished memory—the year she won rabbit showmanship and was selected to compete in the county showman of showmen contest. “That experience stood out, because of how intimidated I was to go from managing a 4- to 5-pound rabbit to managing an 800-pound steer! For the first time in my life, I watched a group of strangers who were competing against each other for the same title, come together and genuinely teach one another and help each other out.”
As she reflects on her time in 4-H, Stickney makes many connections between the skills she learned as a youth and those she uses every day. “I learned the value of healthy competition and what it felt like to win, and what it felt like to not do as well as I hoped. I learned how to stretch outside of my comfort zone, and most importantly, I learned the power of believing in myself and accomplishing things I never thought possible.”
Stickney took those skills and turned them into a rewarding and successful career, pursuing a passion instilled by her 4-H experiences. “4-H taught me at an early age that I had the ability to do things I never dreamed possible. I had a passion for guiding people to reach their goals.”
This passion led to a career in executive coaching and change management. “As an executive coach and consultant, I use many of the lessons and skills I learned through 4-H to coach and guide executives as they solve complex business problems. I teach business leaders how to move outside of their comfort zone to achieve extraordinary results.”
Stickney knew early on she wanted her two children to experience the program that gave her so much. “When my kids reached 4-H age, it was important to me that they had an opportunity to experience everything 4-H had to offer.” Stickney helped make that happen as a club advisor.
“My favorite part about volunteering with 4-H is helping kids connect the dots between how their experiences today can prepare them for their future. Project judging can prepare them for job interviews, and managing multiple projects helps them learn the skills they need to juggle classes, work, and life. The discipline it takes to raise an animal translates to what it's like to be responsible for something other than yourself, and how giving back and helping others translates to being a good citizen and community member. This is by far the most rewarding part of my 4-H career yet.”
Stickney has made the most of her connections to Ohio 4-H and shares this advice with youth who are pursuing their passions: “Take advantage of every opportunity you can. Go to 4-H camp, try out for junior fair board or the junior fair court, be a club officer, or try a project you know nothing about. What you will learn about yourself through these experiences will teach you lessons you will carry with you the rest of your life. 4-H is what you make of it, and I truly believe you get out of it what you put into it.”