Ohio 4-H alumni have wonderful stories to share about their personal and professional lives, as well as the ways they are giving back to their communities. Each month, we highlight one of these exceptional people. This month, our Face of Ohio is Lynnze English, a 4-H alumna from Adventure Central in Dayton.
English began her 11-year 4-H career hoping for a few fun experiences, never expecting to gain a plethora of life skills, memories, and friendships that would last long beyond her time in the program. As a new 4-H’er, she attended camps and activities that began to spark her interest in widening Adventure Central’s opportunities for other youth. Later, she worked at Cox Arboretum, Possum Creek Metropark, Five Rivers MetroParks’ main office, and facilitated many activities within the Adventure Central after-school and summer day camp programs. English assisted with grant writing to introduce biotechnology-based curricula into AC's educational programming and helped train other employees to deliver those activities during the summer and school year. She also enjoyed participating in Workforce Preparation Day at the Ohio State Fair.
English knew from a young age she wanted to be a lawyer and recognizes the 4-H program gave her more than just professional skills. “I participated in 4-H because it just seemed fun, interesting, and cool. It developed something in me that I cherish now as an adult, and it’s the idea that I can participate in something solely because I’m interested. I don't need to have some financial, professional, or developmental purposes to try out an experience, and going into something with no expectations, but to have fun and try, usually yields great results.”
Looking back on her time at Adventure Central, English remembers her official exit from the program as one of her most fond memories. “I was showered with so much love and support in that moment (and continue to be), and it was heartwarming because it showed me that despite the fact that I was no longer ‘youth,’ I would still have this 4-H family.”
Now as an adult, English works to continue improving the Adventure Central program by giving her time and energy to new youth. She believes in recognizing how impactful her adult leaders were when she was young and hopes to have that same lasting effect on those she mentors on her visits home. English celebrates how far the program has come by catching up with the youth she counseled at camps, informing new members of all the opportunities that lie ahead of them, and recognizing the hard work of every Adventure Central member.
English is passionate about sharing with others what she learned through the program. “I would tell 4-H members to take advantage of any and every opportunity offered. I said yes to so many things I assumed I would have no interest in or wouldn't enjoy, solely because I was offered the chance.”
While she remembers fondly many of the positive experiences that came out of trying new activities and stepping out of her comfort zone, she also recognizes the important lesson that can come from this. “It was great because I either found something new I enjoyed or gained a new experience and learned more about my likes/dislikes.”