Utah Department of Agriculture and Food

National 4-H Week: Current UDAF Leaders Molded by 4-H

   More than 6 million young people across the U.S. are celebrating National 4-H Week, an annual celebration of 4-H during the first full week of October. 4-H, the nation’s largest youth development organization, grows confident young people who are empowered for life today and prepared for career tomorrow.  We thought this would be a great opportunity to highlight the role 4-H played in shaping two leaders at the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF).

Utah Agriculture and Food Commissioner, LuAnn Adams, participated in 4-H while living in Chubbuck, Idaho as a child.  “I have always felt that 4-H programs builds character in kids,” Adams says as she reminisces on her experiences with 4-H.

When UDAF’s Plant Industry and Conservation Division Deputy Director R.J. Spencer was nine years old his grandpa took him into the office of 4-H leaders Randy Sessions in the 4-H extension office in Morgan, UT. 

"This young man would like to be in 4-H,” his grandpa said to Randy.

Mr. Sessions look down at R.J.’s mud covered tennis shoes and said, "You’re wearing the wrong shoes for this office!"

R.J. was then given a paper to fill out with all of his interests that dealt with 4-H. Thus began a fun and life changing adventure for R.J. He was a member of 4-H until his senior year of high school and obtained his 10 year pin. Eventually he was elected to serve on the 4-H Council and helped others to get involved in the organization.

“I went through everything I could in 4-H and loved the experiences that this organization taught me,” says Spencer when asked about his time in 4-H.

“From the Turkey BBQ contest to judging livestock to showing home grown livestock in our local county fair, I feel like 4-H played a long lasting and impacting influence in my life and career,” he adds.

UDAF’s Senior Policy Analyst Melissa Ure joined 4-H when she was just eight years old and participated in the organization for ten years of her life.

“Not only did 4-H teach me a ton of useful skills but it taught me how to become involved in my community,” Ure says as she fondly remembers her time in 4-H.

Melissa now uses her experiences from 4-H to shape policies that effect agriculture and food for the entire State of Utah.

4-H wouldn’t be such a successful organization if it were not for the countless leaders who work tirelessly to provide young people with experiences that shape them into leaders.

“I have admired and looked up to the many 4-H leaders who are dedicated and committed and volunteer countless hours of their time helping the youth,” says Adams as she talks about the role 4-H can play in a youth’s development.

RJ learned a wide variety of important skills in his many years with 4-H. “While coaching me on how to judge livestock, Randy was the first person to tell me that when you make a decision to "K.I.S.S it", meaning to Keep It Simple Stupid,” he remem

4-H was also where R.J. first experienced public speaking.  Mr. Sessions coached him and guided him as he wrote a speech for the state 4-H competition. “I went on to win the Utah state competition and take 7th at the National competition in Denver, Colorado,” says Spencer as he ponders on that experience.

4-H is filled with opportunities for our youth in Utah. There are so many groups, projects, livestock opportunities, and competitions that are training the next generation of leaders to be better, stand stronger, and be more confident in their abilities. It is an organization dedicated to making our future leaders people of strong character and high moral values. Commissioner Adams, R.J. Spencer and Melissa Ure are proof that 4-H molds youth into leaders who then change the world around them.

We at UDAF strongly encourage youth around the State of Utah to join your local 4-H club and get involved.  We also encourage adults to look for ways to get involved with 4-H. “If you are older and can serve as a 4-H volunteer please do so. Without Mr. Sessions and his ability to influence me to participate, get involved, and encourage me to be better, I wouldn't be in the position I am today,” encourages R.J.


For more information about 4-H in Utah visit: http://utah4h.org/