Latecomer to 4-H, Allen rises to the top quickly
Even though she is relatively new to the 4-H program, Mollie Allen of Kasson is making a big splash with 4-H.
Allen and 27 other outstanding Minnesota 4-H youth have been selected as Minnesota 4-H State Ambassadors for 2019-20. Their first big leadership opportunity came at this year’s Minnesota State Fair.
For Allen, she has carved out a somewhat untypical path to becoming a 4-H ambassador. She was a latecomer to 4-H as she joined just two years ago. Most teens her age have generally been in 4-H for at least 10 years. And now she has found herself a part of what is considered one of the highest honors of 4-H—the ambassador program.
“I want to grow myself as a leader and leadership opportunities open new doors and avenues,” said Allen, a senior at Kasson-Mantorville High School. “Kelli (Vincelette, Dodge County 4-H program coordinator) reached out to me to become an ambassador. I thought I’ll give it a try. It’s a new opportunity for me in 4-H,” she said.
Elected through a meticulous selection process by 4-H adults and youth, this year’s group of state ambassadors will serve as spokespeople for the youth development organization, representing 65,000 of their 4-H peers throughout Minnesota. The ambassadors spent a week at the University of Minnesota learning how to be ambassadors for the coming year.
Some of the ambassador responsibilities include educating youth and adults about the importance of youth development, leadership, citizenship, service, teamwork and other invaluable life skills. Ambassadors also teach and facilitate hands-on workshops and trainings at the local, county, regional and state levels. They appear at various events, including the Minnesota State Fair, where they serve as goodwill volunteers, greeting thousands of visitors to the 4-H Building and helping 4-H youth throughout their stay as fair exhibitors.
During the recent State Fair, Allen focused most of her time on working in the cattle barn where she assisted in a booth answering questions from fairgoers. “People ask random questions,” Allen said. “It’s never the same.”
The 4-H State Ambassador program began in 1968 and more than 1,000 youth have participated since its founding.
The best part of the ambassador program, Allen said, is meeting new people from all across the state.
Besides helping out as an ambassador, Allen also earned a trip to the State Fair with her beef project. She was awarded third in her class for beef showmanship. “It was a hard competition,” she said.
She also had a self-determined project in the 4-H Building on women in the war. She received a blue ribbon with that project.
Allen credits the Moenning sisters from Hayfield for getting her involved in the 4-H program a couple years ago. Allen is a member of the Canisteo Young Farmers. Her father, Lyle, is an alumnus of 4-H. She is also involved with the FFA program at K-M.
In her short time in 4-H, Allen has developed a passion for teaching youth. “I want to help them find their goals and passions,” she says. “Finding something for everybody to do is important.”
Allen has found an important life lesson in joining 4-H late. “Always push yourself to do new things. Never hold back on a new opportunity,” she said.
She has enjoyed her focus on animals in recent years that she plans to attend the University of Wisconsin at River Falls next year to major in agriculture business.
And what has Allen found in her quick ascension in the 4-H program?
“4-H is literally for everyone, and it’s never too late to start,” she says. But, she quickly added, “I wish I would have joined sooner.”