Each month, we highlight an Ohio 4-H alum who has an amazing story to share—from their personal experience in 4-H to how they have given back to the program. This month, we feature Connie Shaw, a financial consultant at Keeping TABS, Inc., and an adjunct faculty member at Kent State University’s Tuscarawas campus. Shaw is a proud alumna of Tuscarawas County 4-H and serves as the Ohio 4-H Foundation board’s treasurer.
Shaw was an 11-year member of the Buckhorn Buckshots 4-H club and loved livestock projects. “I always took market hogs, beef breeding, and market steers, but I also experimented with woodworking and veterinary science projects over the years.” Shaw was a member of her county’s livestock judging team, served as a CARTEEN, and was Ohio’s beef representative at the 1994 National 4-H Congress.
“I have so many wonderful memories from my 4-H career,” said Shaw. “I loved the camaraderie and competitive nature of the county fair and being the flag bearer for Ohio at National 4-H Congress.”
If she had to pick one favorite memory, it would be breeding and raising her own Hereford steer to show at the county fair. “I knew the chances of me winning the steer show with a Hereford were low, but my competitive nature pushed me to try. I bred one of my former show heifers and ended up winning Reserve Heavyweight Champion to the grand champion steer and 4th overall!”
Today, Shaw works as a financial consultant and teaches agribusiness classes at Kent State University. “My background in agriculture through 4-H has been invaluable in these roles,” said Shaw. “Livestock projects showed me the importance of recordkeeping, and today, I see the way it translates to running a successful farm or business.”
Her 4-H experience also helps her when teaching. “I compare preparing classes for the semester to completing a 4-H project each year. The public speaking knowledge and practice I gained through 4-H are definitely the skills I use most when teaching.”
In addition to these practical skills, Shaw credits 4-H with teaching her responsibility and adaptability. “I knew that I might not always have the best steer, hog, or heifer to earn Grand Champion, but I learned that I could control the knowledge I had about my project and how much time and work I put in at the barn with my animals,” said Shaw. “Today, controlling the controllables is something I still work on every day in my career and personal life.”
Since aging out of the 4-H program, Shaw has served as a 4-H volunteer, assisted with fundraising efforts, and volunteered as a livestock interview and Showman of Showmen judge in Tuscarawas County. As a member of the Ohio 4-H Foundation board, Shaw also assists with Celebration of Youth, the Ohio 4-H Foundation’s annual fundraiser. “I spread the good word about 4-H at every opportunity, but my favorite way to give back is helping youth with their projects. I love the direct impact those interactions have on our youth.”
Shaw said, “4-H teaches you how to win and lose with grace and humility.” Her advice to current 4-H’ers is there are always things to learn from your fellow exhibitors. “If you don’t win, do not hesitate to congratulate the winner and ask what they did to prepare their project. You will be surprised at how willing others are to help you and cheer you on. And if you are the winner, please take the time to help another exhibitor. This is your opportunity to set a good example.”