Editor’s note: “A Better Life” is a weekly column by the USU Extension – Tooele Office that focuses on a variety of topics intended to enhance quality of life.
It is common today for people to assume that anyone who is involved in leadership is a leader themselves. But that isn’t always true.
As a 10-year member in Tooele County 4-H, I have seen many of my little friends in cloverbuds (kindergarten through second graders) play with slime, make arts and crafts, and even start to cook. At other times I have seen Junior 4-Hers (third- to sixth-grade) tip kayaks, cook extravagant meals, and help run family clubs. While that sounds amazing, we haven’t touched the surface of what 4-H entails. The last two age groups are intermediates, who range from seventh to eighth grade, and the senior 4-hers, grades 9-12.
On Oct. 17, 2019, Teen Leadership Training began at a place that is beloved by all Aggies past and present. Eight kids decked out in costumes made it look like Comic-Con had moved to Utah State University’s campus. Approximately 150 senior aged 4-Hers hugged old friends and met many new ones while in several small groups for a game of Ninja.
For those who don’t know what Ninja is, the best way I can describe it is karate-chopping people’s wrists and ankles until everyone’s out. I swear it’s safer and less chaotic than it sounds. To someone who has never been to a State 4-H event, it would probably look as chaotic as is sounds. To these 150 4-Hers and eight Utah State 4-H Ambassadors, this event was life changing, enthralling, and magical in its own unique way.
TLT is a three-day camp planned by the eight Utah State 4-H Ambassadors, and made possible by Utah State University Extension and appointed 4-H advisors. The main goals of TLT are decided by the ambassadors and are focused around the main idea of leadership. Throughout the duration of the camp, participants from all over the state attend workshops and learn skills to become better friends, teachers, and acquire professional skills that will help them in their lives regardless of what profession they choose.
This year’s goals fell under these categories: Public Speaking, Belonging, Networking, Conquering Fears, and National Youth Science Day participation. Each ambassador taught a total of two workshops each and applied these goals to give participants new skills to work on and adapt to meet their needs. In addition to learning these skills, the senior 4-Hers learned another that is perhaps the most important in life — people skills.
The simple idea of walking up and making yourself known to the world is absolutely terrifying for some teens. Teens who are not natural leaders come from all walks of life. We have your classic shy kids, the extroverts who are leaders in their own way, and the kids who have never considered leadership until now.
I am a firm believer in the quote “Leaders are made, they are not born” by Vince Lombardi. Leaders come from all walks of life. We just need to have enough courage to see that we are all leaders who are just starting to dabble in leadership.
Autumn Zierenberg is a 4-H Ambassador for Tooele County. She is a junior at Stansbury High School.