Area Teen Serves Up Leadership at State Fair
Through citizenship education and leadership activities, a Dodge County teenager has engaged in positive promotion of Minnesota 4-H by serving as a state ambassador.
In her second year as a 4-H ambassador, Valerie Sauder served in a leadership role this year during the Minnesota State Fair. She was selected with about two dozen other 4-Hers from around Minnesota to represent 4-H as state ambassadors.
“It has given me a broader view of 4-H,” Sauder said of being an ambassador. “I have met some of my best friends through the program.”
She is a 10-year member of the Milton Climbers 4-H Club and lives on the Alberts Brothers Dairy Farm outside of Pine Island, where the family milks 600 dairy cows.
The State Ambassador program is a time-intensive program and requires full participation to build relationships with team members, plan for events and be prepared for ambassador activities. One of the key expectations is to be a positive role model to and representative of all youth involved in 4-H.
After serving as an ambassador for one year, Sauder was chosen to come back for a second year to be part of a leadership team training new ambassadors. The ambassadors are involved in the State Fair as well as regional and state conferences earlier in the year.
In addition to being a state ambassador, Sauder also worked as a barnyard assistant at the Miracle of Birth Center on the fairgrounds during the second half of the fair. She handled the animals in the barn and answered questions from fairgoers about the birthing process for livestock.
Sauder, a member of the Pine Island chapter of Future Farmers of America, enjoys the connection with people. She especially likes seeing the spark in the eyes of children in the birthing center.
“I love having a way to connect with the public about agriculture,” Sauder said. “Our farm has been in our family for over 100 years. It’s kind of a legacy my family has left and I love it.”
She enjoyed sharing her knowledge with people, like a man from New York City at the fair who had never been exposed to a farm.
“I like to talk to them about what I do and what I love,” Sauder said. “It’s the connection with people where I get to share my story with them. It’s the great Minnesota get-together.”
Sauder has been showing dairy cows in open class at the fair since she was 3. At this year’s State Fair, she earned a blue ribbon with her cow. She also shows rabbits and sheep.
Agriculture has provided her with many unique opportunities. Just last month she met the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture near Mankato. “There are opportunities to do so much,” she said. “Being involved at the state level has changed my life.” Sauder is home schooled and will be a senior this year.
After graduating, she plans to pursue agriculture education. But in the meantime she has her sights set on another milestone. She wants to be a dairy princess and compete for the Princess Kay of the Milky Way within the next few years.
“My mom was a ‘butter head’ representing Dodge County and I hope to try for it as well," she said. "It's in the family."