Meet Alexzandria Johns-Devries: Alger County 4-H
A personal testimonial of the impact of Michigan 4-H from Alger County 4-H'er Alexzandria Johns-Devries.
Alexzandria Johns-DeVries is a 17-year-old 4-H'er from Alger County. She's been involved in 4-H for the past five years, taking part in a variety of cooking, leadership, natural resource and special interest programs. In the fall, she will enroll at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay with hopes to pursue an accounting degree. The following is a personal essay Alexzandria wrote at the conclusion of her senior year of high school as she reflected on the impact of 4-H on her life.
"I have had the privilege of being a member of Alger County 4-H for the past five years. This inspiring organization has changed my life in more ways than I could ever count. Most importantly it has helped me overcome my fears, taught me how to be myself, and helped me become prepared for life after graduation.
When I first joined 4-H, I was a shy, young teen who was scared of everything and anything new. Just the act of joining 4-H scared me, even though I had seen so many in my class affiliate themselves with its many clubs. However, when I finally mustered up the courage to join the small cooking SPIN club, I immediately knew I had to at least try to be more involved. At first, it was just a new SPIN club here and there, but by my third year in 4-H I was given the opportunity to try the Teen Leadership Wilderness Hike.
At first, I was adamant that I could not do it. But after some convincing, I agreed to go and had the time of my life. The hike was the first time in my young adult life that I had been independent and felt capable of doing anything. After I got home, I realized that if I could backpack through 40 miles of backwoods, then I had no right to be scared to try new things. Since the hike, I have conquered many fears including that of heights, meeting new people, and being different.
As I said, I have been in 4-H for five years. This means I joined at quite possibly the most awkward time of a young adult's life…also known as eighth grade. It was a time of life where all you wanted was to fit in and be “normal.” However, I was a nerdy, book-reading, theater kid in a school that seemed full of athletic popular kids. At my 4-H clubs, I was able to be myself and not worry about being seen as lame or an outcast.
Slowly this attitude permeated everyday life too, instead of just when I was at club meetings. The friends I made at the clubs also made their way into everyday life. Suddenly, I had friends who liked the same things as me and made me feel less awkward for wanting to be the dorky girl I am.
This support that 4-H introduced me to is one of the main reasons that I am exactly who I want to be today.
As I take my next step into adulthood, I will use the lessons that 4-H has given me and utilize them to be more prepared. I will use the team-building seminars that I attended through National 4-H Congress to help guide my way through new groups of people at college. I will use the endurance and independence I discovered during the Teen Leadership Wilderness Hikes to help adjust to living alone. Finally, I will use the kindness and compassion that everyone in 4-H has shown me to remember what really matters at the end of the day.
4-H has affected my life in so many ways that any action I take in the future will be influenced in part by what I have learned. I am eternally grateful for 4-H teaching me how to overcome my fears, become my own unique person, and by giving me the skills and lessons I need in order to successfully transition into the next phase of my life."