Over the years, thousands of young people have taken part in the Ohio 4-H program and carried the skills and experiences gained with them throughout their lives. Each month, we highlight one of these outstanding 4-H alumni who continue to make the best better in their lives and careers. This month, we spotlight Bill Patterson, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation president and former board member of the Ohio 4-H Foundation.
When he considers what he learned in 4-H, Patterson has one word—leadership. Growing up as a 4-H member in Geauga County, Patterson cites his experiences in 4-H as his first exposure to many of the leadership skills he now uses in his daily life and career. “I’m not positive where skills like running a meeting, making wise decisions, and being respectful would have come from if not for 4-H.”
As a young 4-H member, Patterson participated in familiar 4-H activities. Four years of camp activities at Camp Whitewood created two favorite memories—archery and the cold lake in the morning! Project work was also part of 4-H for Patterson, who was in a woodworking and gardening club. “I went to the Ohio State Fair for woodworking after building a mailbox. It was the whole mailbox, including the 8-by-8 post, and I’m quite sure we drove down to Columbus with it sticking out the back of our Suburban!” Patterson also recalls planting his garden and excitedly checking the progress each morning. “Although, I’m not positive I was ever great at weeding,” he said.
After years of involvement with 4-H, Patterson knows that the memories and lessons will last a lifetime. “As I continue to be involved in 4-H as a parent, advisor, and Foundation board member, I have seen the multitude of opportunities that I had no idea about at the time if not for 4-H.” He also emphasizes how information is readily available for interested youth. “It only takes a small amount of effort to become aware and involved, although each of these opportunities requires much effort to be the best one can be in that role.”
As a proud Ohio 4-H alumnus, Patterson continues to give back to the program that invested so much into him as a youth. Alongside his wife, he is raising four children involved in a variety of projects and opportunities. “Kristin and I believe in 4-H, the work of 4-H, and the Ohio 4-H Foundation. As we consider our philanthropic opportunities, we see 4-H as being a key area where we can invest in youth across Ohio to provide leadership to Ohio agriculture.”