Meet Michigan 4-H: Makenzie Rajala, Marquette County 4-H

Marquette County 4-H'er Makenzie Rajala gives a personal testimonial of the impact of Michigan 4-H.

Makenzie Rajala

Makenzie Rajala is an 18-year-old member of the Manes & Tails 4-H Club in Marquette County. She has been involved in 4-H for four years, truly embracing the 4-H spirit of seeking to learn as much as possible, encouraging her fellow club members, and growing into the best version of herself. Her project areas include horses, model horses, horse judging and community service. Currently a senior in high school, Makenzie will be attending Northern Michigan University in the fall, majoring in information assurance and cyber defense.

The following is a personal essay Makenzie recently wrote for the Marquette County 4-H Awards program.

"As I embark on the final semester of my senior year of high school, I can’t help but to reflect. For a long time, I felt like I didn’t belong. Growing up I hadn’t known people who were interested in the same things as me, and I didn’t have any opportunities to explore those interests. Horses have always been what I’ve loved most, however I had once felt alone in my passion for them, making me the quiet kid who never spoke up and lacked in confidence.

Makenzie with her horses.

Since joining 4-H it has given me the most incredible friends and experiences, while also allowing me to accept myself and continue to grow as a person. By giving me a chance to explore what I love with like-minded people, 4-H has gifted me confidence in myself as well as in my passions and future endeavors.

There has been no greater learning experience than 4-H.

I have learned about horses, I have learned about friendship and leadership, and most importantly, I have learned about myself. In the past I might have been nervous to share what I love in fear of judgement, but now when given the chance, I always encourage others to follow their passions through 4-H as well.

It is truly a life changing experience to be able to learn, grow and explore with others.

I have gained a lot from being a member of 4-H, but no matter how many ribbons I win at horse shows or during the fair, my own self growth will always be the most important achievement I have made through the help of this amazing organization. Without 4-H, I would have stumbled through high school not knowing who I was, or who I was meant to be.

Now I am more confident in the person I have always been, and stronger because of the person 4-H has allowed me to become. To some, confidence might not seem like an achievement, but to go from scared and unable to express myself to the person that I am now is something I am truly grateful for as I prepare for the future ahead."

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