Each month we highlight an Ohio 4-H alum. They 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 India Bradford, Adams County 4-H alumna. India recently graduated from Maysville Career and Technical College with her Associates in Culinary Arts. She was inspired to pursue a career in the culinary industry after she discovered her love of cooking and baking in 4-H food and nutrition projects.
During her nine years as a 4-H member, India Bradford took a variety of projects. “I did everything from baking yeast breads to grilling and loved it all! “ she said. “One year I took a cake decorating project, which put me through three courses of cake decorating classes.” Her focus was on cooking, but she also explored different areas such as beekeeping. “I took beekeeping every year and enjoyed watching how my hives grew and changed, all while learning the intricacies of the hive with the goal of producing my own queens and nucleus hives.”
Ms. Bradford recalled her experience winning her county’s bake-off competition for the first time. “I had been participating for years, but the competition was very stiff and I never won, but I kept trying. The final bake-off for my junior year I made walnut orange chocolate chip cookies and they were amazing! When the time for the awards came and they started calling names, I knew yet again I hadn’t won. They came to reserve champion, then grand champion and my name was called. I have very little memory of walking up to get my award, because my club and family were cheering. My mom said the extension agent commented on how purely delighted I looked. I had worked to achieve this and it was amazing to see how my hard work paid off.” For the next 5 years in the senior division yeast breads competition, she was the grand champion.
Ms. Bradford explained how 4-H impacted her life. “4-H taught me to never give up and to keep trying, because if I didn’t win one year with my project there was always the next year to try again. And if worse came to worst I could eat most of my projects, which was always a plus!”
4-H also taught her skills she used as an adult. “Through 4-H I learned valuable interview skills. Participating in pre-fair judging and talking to a judge helped me to learn how to speak clearly and describe subjects that were important to the topic at hand. I also learned how to respectfully speak to adults and authority figures. These skills helped me interview for jobs and be comfortable speaking with my culinary professors about questions or potential future jobs in the culinary industry.”
Ms. Bradford shared this advice for 4-H youth, “Take at least one project that will benefit you in the future. For example, a food project that will teach you how to feed yourself, or a leadership project that can help you with a future career.”