4-H’er writes President Obama about skills developed in 4-H

Eleven-year-old shares feelings about 4-H in a letter to the president for a school project.

Young people are often very passionate about experiences that mean so much to them. 4-H is important to 11-year-old Merannda Russell. When her teacher assigned a letter-writing project to Russell’s class, she chose to write about her experience in 4-H. The letter demonstrates the impact 4-H makes on young people in all areas of their life, particularly leadership. 4-H leadership development involves giving youth a voice and giving adults who work with youth the tools to help young people find and use their skills.

To learn more about the Cornell study referred to in Merannda’s letter and other similar studies, visit the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) website. The website also cites other state studies about the impact 4-H makes on young people.

Merannda’s unedited letter is included in it’s entirety here. Contact the Michigan State University Extension office in your area for more information about 4-H.


Dear Mr. President,

I like cool things; do you? 4-H is a cool thing, to me, it teaches me to work hard, achieve high, never give up, how to be a better leader, improve my communication skills and helps me earn money for college. I think that if we get rid of 4-H, it would be really weird because many people are in it and people would become lazy.

If 4-H stopped I would have to find something different to teach me to work hard and never give up. I learn as I work with my animals, create my craft projects and attend required meetings that it takes everyone working hard together to accomplish great projects. The hard work pays off when I start bonding with my horse and winning in different events.

I have achieved higher from my experience in 4-H. I have learned that I like the feeling of succeeding and accomplishing what I set out to do. This is true in 4-H, school, and things I do at home or anywhere else. I have learned to aim high and not settle for less. Cornell University (nys4-h.cee.cornell.edu) did a study and their research found that youth involved in 4-H have improved study habits, better problem solving skills and are better at goal setting.

Nobody likes to lose. But, not everyone has drive to continue on even when things are hard. 4-H has taught me that animals are similar to people. Some days things don't go as I had planned. However, if I keep trying, things get better. 4-H has helped me realize that I can do anything if I don't give up.

According to msue.anr.msu.edu, 4-H helps develop better leader skills. I had never really thought of myself as a leader. However, last year, I was elected as our club Treasurer, and this year club Secretary. I am gaining more and more confidence in myself through these roles. Therefore, I agree with these findings, 4-H is teaching me to be a better leader. I am exploring new options every year.

Communicating in front of people is a great example of how I have grown. I have always liked to talk, but not in front of a group of people. By giving reports as the Treasurer and Secretary, I am learning to be more precise and clear when I speak. I know that I need to speak up so that everyone can hear me. I am also learning to talk about the facts and not ramble off topic.

4-H also is helping me save money for college or other necessary future expenses. I work hard to prepare projects that I can sell at the fair like a cow or a pig. The first year that I took a cow, I was really sad. I brought my favorite cow to the fair and I had to sell it. However, now I am over that because I see the money that I am earning for college.

Without the opportunities that 4-H offers me, I cannot imagine what I would be like today. It has opened a door for me that helped me grow and become a better person. I have learned multiple things. I hope you consider your decision about getting rid of 4-H and think of people like me. I don't know what I would do with my life. Your decision affects many people. Without 4-H, many people would become lazier and less successful, so please do not stop 4-H. It is the best program in the world to me.


Merannda Russell

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