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Where some find challenges, others see opportunities

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JIG PROCESS: Garrett Riegel of the 4-H20 Excelsior Springs 4-H Club demonstrates how to make a jig at this year’s Missouri State Fair. The 4-H Building offers members a chance to practice their presentation skills while sharing their passion.
4-H Week shines a light on the Gen Alpha movement to create — don’t be afraid.

It would be simpler to go to the store and buy a fishing lure, but not for Garrett Riegel. I stood and watched how this young Excelsior Springs 4-H member used fine motor skills on a tiny skirt attaching it to a jig. The 11-year-old made it look effortless, especially in front spectators at the Missouri State Fair this year.

Garrett was teaching others the art of making a jig. Just watching you could tell he loved fishing. It was more than just being on the water, waiting for the elusive nibble. He wanted to put his mark on the entire experience. And while a store-bought jig works, creating his own to reel in the big one meant more. So, he shared that passion with others.

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DETAILS MATTER: From warming the jig to placement of the skirt, crafting a one-of-a-kind lure takes creativity and knowledge. Here, 11-year-old Garrett Riegel does both.

Honestly, I lack the eyesight and patience to sit and create such a small item. I also lack the knowledge. At his age, I did not have any drive to create something either for myself or to sell to others. In looking at this type of task then or now, all I would see is a huge challenge.

However, Garrett’s actions resonate with the 2022 National 4-H Week slogan, “Where many see challenges, kids see opportunity.”

Engaged young people

While 4-H over the years changed to reach a broader audience, its mission remains the same — to assist youth, and adults working with those youth, to gain additional knowledge, life skills, and attitudes that will further their development as self-directing, contributing and productive members of society.

The Generation Alpha group (kids born from 2011-25) is taking that mission to heart. This year, I’ve been amazed at the entrepreneurship of our young people who are finding their passion, overcoming challenges, and creating a product. It is truly impressive.

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SHARE STORY: Visitors stop in the 4-H Building at the Missouri State Fair to listen as Garrett Riegel of Excelsior Springs shares his love of fishing and creating jigs.

Now, I don’t normally give a nod to social media, but its platforms are allowing them to create products and sell them, develop videos on agriculture and advocate for it, and simply see a challenge and recognize an opportunity.

For all of Gen Alpha’s bold moves, it might have you concerned. Why in the world would we allow these young people the “dance floor” so to speak? For me, it boils down to two things:

1. Motivation. 4-H members are stepping up and taking advantage of opportunities. They want to solve problems. They want to serve their communities. Simply, 4-H members want to work.

2. Upbringing. The parents of 4-H kids are doing an amazing job. They have volunteered as leaders, transported kids to meetings, and encouraged them in 4-H and life. They raised respectful, innovative and driven young people. I trust in that.

Change in the winds

4-H is where I started my lifelong passion for the agriculture industry. It taught me how to raise livestock, create a meal and talk in front of people.

My daughters followed and took part in 4-H, each finding their own opportunity for success whether in the show ring or the exhibit hall. But more importantly, it instilled in them a sense of service, a desire to engage in their community and give back.

But that was over a decade ago. There is something about this up-and-coming generation. I’m excited to see where the future takes Generation Alpha and certainly glad 4-H was a part of their journey. They are going change our world and the agriculture industry.

TAGS: Farm Life
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