BROOKINGS – Each year, 4-H teens across South Dakota have an opportunity to apply to become a South Dakota State 4-H Ambassador. In this role, 4-H’ers grow their leadership and life skills, while serving as an agent of change and promoting inclusion and respect for diversity across 4-H in South Dakota. In October 2021, 16 teens were selected to serve on the 2021-2022 State 4-H Ambassador team.
“These individuals will work to develop their leadership skills, while serving South Dakota 4-H as positive mentors and role models to their 4-H peers,” said Hilary Risner, SDSU Extension regional 4-H youth program adviser.
“Each ambassador is assigned to a priority area that allows them a platform to dive deep into their areas of interest,” said Risner. “In addition, selected teens will have an opportunity to plan and execute an educational engagement of their choosing for 4-H youth – this can be in the form of a workshop or even a digital learning experience.”
In order to be selected, 4-H’ers must submit an application containing a personal narrative and three letters of recommendation from an SDSU Extension Professional, a 4-H leader or volunteer and a 4-H member or alumni.
After submitting an application package, candidates participate in an interview with the State 4-H Ambassador Program Coordinator and industry or 4-H professionals. Candidates are then selected on their perceived ability to serve as a positive role model to other youth and as a champion for South Dakota 4-H.
The ambassadors selected for this year included:
• Kate Hamilton of Beadle County with a focus on leadership
• Emily Robbins of Brookings County with a focus on health and wellness
• Dillon Browning of Brown County with a focus on leadership
• Izzy May of Butte/Lawrence Counties with a focus on leadership
• Laurie Vifquain of Butte/Lawrence Counties with a focus on leadership
• Logan Tlam of Davison County with a focus on leadership
• Hayden Niles of Day County with a focus on science
• William Karels of Grant County with a focus on leadership
• Isaac Sousa of Grant County with a focus on leadership
• Emma Eppe of Lake County with a focus on agriculture
• Ashley Bondesen of Lincoln County with a focus on leadership
• Carter Effling of Marshall County with a focus on agriculture
• Madison DeMent of Minnehaha County with a focus on agriculture
• Grace DiGiovanni of Turner County with a focus on health and wellness
• Shane Rist of Turner County with a focus on agriculture
• Eli Hamre of Walworth County with a focus on leadership
For second-year ambassador, Dillon Browning, being selected again is quite meaningful because it is an opportunity to serve as a positive role model for youth in South Dakota and to make a difference in 4-H youth experiences.
“I am really excited to be serving in this role because this program has had a significant impact on improving my own leadership skills while being able to help others do the same,” said Browning. “This year, my goals include encouraging others to get involved in civic and leadership activities.”
Browning will also serve on the Teen Leadership Conference Committee for a second year.
“Being a member of the TLC Committee, a goal of mine is to identify and encourage at least five 4-H youth from surrounding counties to attend the Teen Leadership Conference this year,” said Browning. “I would also like to facilitate a workshop or educational engagement at TLC – potentially a creative communication workshop.”
Additionally, Browning hopes to provide the opportunity for members from his surrounding counties to attend 4-H Day at the Capitol.
“I had never heard much about the opportunity before I began serving in this role,” said Browning. “I am excited for what the year has in store for me and my fellow team members!”
Grace DiGiovanni, another second-year ambassador, thinks this year’s team will be strong role models for South Dakota 4-H.
“This year’s team is very strong, and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of it,” said DiGiovanni. “With that being said, being on this team makes me feel like an important part of something that can hopefully change the future for many. Some of my goals include facilitating a workshop on healthy living at TLC, creating an educational engagement surrounding my Whole Foods program, and impacting a youth member’s life.”
For more information about the South Dakota State 4-H Ambassador program, contact Hilary Risner, SDSU Extension Regional 4-H Youth Program Adviser.