Wisconsin 4H celebrates 100 years of leadership at state fair

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by Marshanna Hester

WEST ALLIS - Day six of the Wisconsin State Fair is well underway.

One of the highlights is a celebration of a program that's been growing leaders in both the country and the city for 100 years: 4H.

Farm animals are usually the first thing people associate with the program.

Agriculture is still a part of 4H, but nowadays, youth can learn about exercise and healthy eating at interactive exhibits like "re-think your drink."

Organizers say the exposure can lead to a career choice.

Over 100 years, 4H has grown to include programs like science and robotics, archery and even singing and drama.

The organization is not just for kids who live on a farm, leaders say anyone can join.

Co-chair Jill Jorgensen says 4H has added a number of youth outreach programs in Wisconsin cities, including Milwaukee.

"As our community evolves, as our state evolved, as our world evolves, we evolved with that to make sure we're meeting the needs of youth and make sure youth are fulfilling those needs," she said.

"I think one thing that's very critical to 4H is the leadership projects because it teaches children and kids public speaking and how to work well with each and team work," said Ryan VanDenboom, 4H member.

Alumni say it's rewarding to see 4H progress and still fulfill its purpose to create future leaders through life skills and responsibility.

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