4-H Scholar Spotlight
Heading to college 1,000 miles from home isn’t easy for any freshman, but the leadership experience and sharp focus on the future that Dean VanWinkle gained growing up in 4-H and on his family’s ranch has helped make his transition easier.
A native of Fruita and recipient of the Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply 4-H Youth Scholarship, Dean is attending Fort Scott Community College on the eastern border of Kansas. He is a member of the college’s livestock judging team and majoring in Ag Business and Bovine Reproduction.
Dean is the 5th generation to grow up on his family’s ranch in the Grand Valley—the first family to introduce Charolaise cattle to the western Colorado region. He became a member of Mesa County’s Shooting Stars 4-H Club when he was just eight years old, focusing on breeding heifers and market steers.
“Our extension agent, Trent Hollister, helped me a lot with growing my leadership skills,” Dean said, “My livestock judging coaches over the years were also an inspiration to me—they taught me how to express and defend my opinion.”
Not surprisingly, Dean won dozens of awards throughout his 4-H career, and held numerous offices at the club, county, and district level. “The one I am most proud of was the district president on the State Officer team,” he said. “I had the pleasure of working with 13 other 4-H members throughout the state to put on camps and leadership conferences throughout the year for hundreds of other members across Colorado.”
When he was still in high school, Dean grew his own Charolaise herd and even started his own company, VanWinkle Enterprises LLC. He says that once he completes his college education, he’s looking forward to putting his skills and knowledge to work on his family’s ranch. His passion for cattle and agricultural is driving him to be an industry leader, while continuing a rich heritage of ranching in western Colorado.
Dean credits his 4-H experience as being a big factor in his success so far. “You learn to keep records, leadership skills, and the business aspect of the industry. I’m a third generation 4-H member; it’s an extremely good program that opens a lot of doors for you the rest of your life.”
Imagine going from a deep fear of speaking up in front of just a few people to actually enjoying impromptu public speaking opportunities, organizing community events and mentoring young people.
That’s the profound transformation that Rebecca Watson says she experienced in large part because of her years of involvement in the El Paso County 4-H program.
“My 4-H experiences have made me appreciate myself and my ability to hold leadership positions much more,” Rebecca said. “Before I was in 4-H I was extremely afraid of having leadership responsibilities and having to communicate.”
Rebecca followed in her two older sisters’ 4-H footsteps, becoming joining as a Cloverbud when she was just 6 years old. She spent the majority of her 4-H years in the Colorado Springs-based Wildcats 4-H club, completing projects with guinea pigs, rabbits, woodworking and cake decorating.
As she grew, Rebecca aspired to more and more leadership roles in the Wildcats club including Junior Leader, Vice President of Fundraising and Vice President of Community Service. She also received El Paso County’s 4-Her of the Year and 4-H Community Service Excellence Awards. Rebecca’s impressive leadership in 4-H and her community helped her earn the Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply 4-H Youth Scholarship, which is helping her pursue a Music Education degree at Fort Hays State University in Kansas.
“I’m passionate about my education and really grateful for the scholarship,” she said. “It’s really helped me going into freshman year.”
Rebecca is an accomplished trumpet player and says she’s excited to continue sharing her love of music with others. “I believe the skills of leadership, public speaking and community service that I have learned through my 4-H experiences will help me succeed in college,” she said.
Rebecca is a shining example of the personal rewards that come with staring down fear, hard work and the support system and many opportunities that 4-H provides. She sums up her own
4-H experience beautifully: “To me, being a 4-H member means becoming a more rounded person and working with others to improve the community and yourself.”
Colorado State University freshman Tyler Camblin has been following his dream nearly his entire life. Born and raised in Holyoke, he became a member of the Raising Ranchers 4-H Club in Phillips County when he was just 8 years old.
“I am passionate about agriculture and farming,” Tyler said. “I ultimately want to help continue my family farming legacy and have my own cattle herd.”
Tyler, who credits his parents and uncle with giving him strong support during his 11 years in 4-H, participated in market beef, breeding beef and market hog programs. He held the offices of Flag Leader, Reporter, Treasurer, Vice-President and President and was a member of the Phillips County Judging Team for four years. He showed at the Phillips County Fair, the Colorado State Fair and the National Western Stock Show.
Tyler’s leadership roles and clear commitment to his future helped him earn the Colorado Agricultural Development Authority 4-H Youth Scholarship and CSU Freshman Scholarship through the Colorado 4-H Foundation. He says he is already enjoying his chosen major of Agriculture Business. “In the long run, Ag Business will help me with what I want to do,” he said.
Tyler is excited to use his education to further advance the agricultural industry overall and the success of his family’s farm in Holyoke. In his case, coming full circle with his farm, family and 4-H is part of his own strategic life plan – and he’s well on his way to doing just that.
“I’d like to have a family when I’m older and have them involved in 4-H too because of the great life skills it has taught me,” he said.
Bill and Barbara Holthaus Family 4-H Scholarship Recipient
As a freshman this fall at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, 4-H scholar Madison Mahaffey has found herself drawing on many of the skills she learned during her years as a 4-H member in Montezuma County.
“It’s definitely helped me create the work ethic I have now and I think it helped me get into Colorado College,” Madison said. “It’s so different to be up here by myself. Raising animals and having to complete projects on time has taught me to be responsible and get stuff done.”
Madison became involved with the Battlerock 4-H club in Cortez, Colorado when she was just eight years old and spent a decade participating in a diverse range of projects including ceramics, rabbits, sheep, goats, dogs, archery and woodworking.
She also jumped at leadership opportunities, serving on her county council, attending the State 4-H Leadership Conference and as a Montezuma County representative for Citizenship Washington Focus. “It was fantastic,” she said of the experience. “I was part of a debate group where they taught us how to keep the flow of conversation going, and it was amazing to be able to tour Washington D.C.”
Madison is leaning toward a major in foreign languages, and says she’s grateful to be furthering her education at a small arts college in Colorado—an experience that involves a renowned unique block plan, and began with students participating in community service activities before school officially started late last August.
“The classes are amazing,” Madison said. “The 4-H program has made me a more confident and capable young adult ready to achieve success in my continuing education.”
The word “leader” could well be Justis Marshall’s middle name. As a 4-H scholar and freshman majoring in Agribusiness Pre-Law at Oklahoma State University, Justis has already been selected as a member of the President’s Leadership Council. He says he’ll be drawing on life and leadership skills gained from his 11 years in Kit Carson County 4-H clubs to help him succeed as a council member. “Growing up in a rural community, 4-H is something you’re always a part of but getting involved on a larger level I was able to gain valuable leadership skills,” he said.
Of his numerous leadership roles in 4-H, Justis points to his experience as Colorado’s State 4-H Vice President and the opportunities the position provided to work with youth across the state as having the most significant impact on him. “4-H has taught me the value of hard work, setting goals, being held accountable, doing your best, doing what’s right and serving others before self. It’s helped me see our world differently and that we each have the potential to make a bigger difference in the world.”
Horse, market steer, breeding heifer, market swine, rocketry, leathercraft and shooting sports are among the many 4-H projects Justis took on in his hometown of Burlington. “One of the great things about 4-H is that you can get into a lot of things. It’s really broad, he said. “With all the projects, it definitely gave me a base for work ethic.”
A bonus for Justis was the ability to make 4-H a family affair – both his parents and siblings have been involved in the program too. He certainly has exciting, busy years just ahead of him, but Justis expects 4-H will always have a place in his life. “I’m confident that one day I’ll put my kids through 4-H and give back to the program that gave so much to me.”
Brianna McBride was just 6 years old when she became involved in Colorado’s 4-H program as a Clover Bud. Today, as a fresh graduate of Windsor High School, her enthusiasm for 4-H is as strong as ever.
“I definitely learned a lot about how to be a good sport in winning and losing, and how to work within your club family,” she said. “There’s a lot of value in learning to work through issues and problems.”
Brianna is currently serving on Colorado State FFA Officer team, but eventually plans to attend Iowa State University and major in food science. “I would like to go into nutrition and business, creating products for consumers tied to dairy,” she said.
Showing and judging dairy cattle was Brianna’s primary focus in 4-H. Her experiences included traveling to the National Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky and attending a dairy show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin. This summer will bring the bittersweet event of showing for the final time at the Weld County Fair.
Brianna says the support of her family and the Weld County Extension helped her succeed for more than a decade in 4-H. They’ve also helped create a life-long advocate for the program. “I want to become a leader down the road,” she said.
No doubt she will be a great one.