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 Justin Bower, state 4-H Healthy Living and Ohio Military Kids educator and a proud alumnus of Hancock County 4-H.
“I joined 4-H as a family legacy and started as a Cloverbud in the Country Bumpkins 4-H club. Everyone in my family took dairy cattle to the fair, and as soon as I was old enough I did too,” said Bower. In addition to showing dairy cattle, over the years he added rabbits, collectibles, public speaking, mentoring, woodworking, and welding projects to his resume.
As he got older, Bower extended his 4-H involvement beyond project work by volunteering as a 4-H camp counselor, serving as a member of the Hancock County Junior Fair Board and 4-H Advisory Committee, and reigning as the 2013 Hancock County Junior Fair King. One of Bower’s favorite 4-H memories comes from his time as a camp counselor. “One year at camp, my 4-H educator let myself and a couple of co-counselors lead a music workout similar to Zumba, and it was such a success that it was requested for the next year!”
Since aging out of the program, Bower’s love for 4-H has not waned. As a student at The Ohio State University, he was a member of Collegiate 4-H, and after graduation, he went to work in OSU Extension as the Logan County 4-H educator. In 2022, he took on the role of state 4-H Healthy Living and Ohio Military Kids educator. He provides leadership for programs and activities and fosters the relationship between the Ohio National Guard and The Ohio State University.
“With 4-H, you get out what you put into it. There are so many opportunities to excel at project work and learn new things, practice leadership and teamwork skills, and get connected with 4-H’ers across the state and nation,” said Bower. “You shape your 4-H experience into what you want it to be. I always wanted to be a 4-H educator, so it makes sense that my 4-H experiences directly impact my current work.”
Outside of working as a 4-H professional, Bower still finds ways to give back. “I love helping colleagues out with programming and volunteering my time to make a 4-H event successful. I also enjoy mentoring 4-H’ers, young alumni, and current 4-H professionals, and finding ways to make the 4-H program better for all of us.”