Each month we highlight an Ohio 4-H alumnus. 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 Lisa Peterson, Geauga County 4-H alumnus, past Fayette County extension agent, and current Ohio 4-H Foundation board vice president.
Lisa Peterson was a 10-year member of 4-H in Geauga County. “My entire family was and still is very involved in the 4-H program. My parents were club advisors and all five of my brothers were heavily involved in 4-H. My mom served as a club advisor and 4-H committee member in Geauga County for over 40 years and my siblings continue to be active in 4-H with their children.”
She was involved in 4-H at the state level. “My 4-H years were jam-packed with everything! I was active in three different 4-H clubs as well as Junior Leaders, Junior Fair Board, and as a camp counselor. My projects included sheep, clothing, vet science, and gardening. I attended State Conservation and Leadership camps, Club Congress, Washington Focus, Carving New Ideas weekends, and OFMA conferences.”
“I was also a State 4-H Ambassador. Back then, State 4-H Ambassadors were like social media influencers for 4-H. Each county had a team of teens that were trained in public speaking and sent out into the community to invite people to join and support 4-H. All of my 4-H experiences led to the honor of being selected as the 1986 Geauga County Fair Queen and 1987 State 4-H achievement winner in public speaking. And attending National 4-H Congress in Chicago was the climax of my 4-H career.”
Ms. Peterson’s 4-H involvement wasn’t over after graduating from high school. She said “As a student at the Ohio State University, I was a member of Collegiate 4-H. After my second quarter at Ohio State I decided to change my major to Agriculture Communications and focus on becoming a county extension agent.” And after graduation, she accepted a position as the Fayette County 4-H agent.
The first week on the job was memorable. “My first week on the job was the county fair, where I happened to meet a young man who was coaching the livestock judging team. He eventually became my husband! We’ve been married 28 years, so to say that 4-H had a huge impact on my life is an understatement.”
4-H continued to be an important part of her life after she chose to become a stay-at-home mom. “My husband and I started a 4-H club and raised our kids to have the same passion and love for 4-H that we did. All three of our kids were state achievement winners! Although our kids are now grown, serving on the 4-H Foundation is a great way that I continue to be involved in Ohio 4-H.”
Like most 4-H alumni, Ms. Peterson learned much from her time in 4-H. “It taught me leadership, work ethic, communication, public speaking, time management, confidence, and more. But to me, the most important life lessons learned through 4-H came while watching our kids develop and grow into well-rounded individuals. 4-H taught them the more you put into something the more you’ll get back and that success is not found in winning a blue ribbon but in the lessons learned along the way. I am grateful that 4-H inspired me to help my kids find direction and passion in their own lives. 4-H definitely raises generations of leaders who become capable, contributing members of society.”
Ms. Peterson and her family currently give back to 4-H in several ways. “Serving on the Ohio 4-H Foundation allows me to continue to give back to the organization that gave me so much! I currently serve as Vice President of the Foundation, stewardship chair, and am active in the planning of our annual Ohio 4-H Celebration of Youth event. My husband and I also support 4-H financially at both the county and state levels. But our favorite way to support 4-H is by encouraging our nieces and nephews as they navigate through their own 4-H experiences. We look forward to the day when we can encourage our grandchildren, the next generation, to Make the Best Better through 4-H.”
Ms. Peterson encourages all alumni to stay involved. “In the 4-H pledge, we say, ‘hands to larger service’. We pledge to make a difference, no matter how big or small. That is what 4-H is about, making a difference in people’s lives. I want all 4-H members to live life to the fullest and strive to make a difference along the way.”