The new generation of 4-H reaches first-generation members

Louisiana 4-H is proud of its traditions and the involvement of multiple generations in the program. 4-H'ers enjoy some of the same opportunities that their grandparents did.

While valuing this strength, tremendous efforts are also being made to reach first-generation members. Reaching new audiences helps the 4-H program expand its impact. First-generation members may not have history with 4-H, but they quickly recognize the many lessons and benefits of the program.

Jill Wiltz

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Jill Wiltz, right, of Natchitoches Parish, learned goal-setting skills through 4-H
and served as state president in 2016.

As a fourth grader, Jill Wiltz, a first-generation 4-H member from Natchitoches Parish, was excited about the idea of students leading peers and being given a voice.

“I relied heavily on my 4-H agent for guidance,” Wiltz said. “My family and I embodied the ‘let’s just wing it’ mantra, and the greatest obstacle we faced was walking on uncharted territory."

Each year, Wiltz built upon her 4-H experiences. In her freshman year, inspired by her involvement in a state leadership board, Jill set a goal to serve as Louisiana 4-H president, a goal she achieved in 2016. Wiltz shared that her inspiration was 4-H agent Gwen Fontenot, who served as a source of encouragement and equipped her with many skills to help her to realize her leadership potential. Wiltz also had the support of her family, even though they were unfamiliar with the program. She eagerly shared her 4-H experiences with her family and involved them in listening to her practice for contests. They were supportive and present for her numerous banquets and presentations.

“The 4-H program was easily the most impactful organization I was involved in as a student,” Wiltz said. “No other program empowered me like 4-H. I gained confidence, learned how to fail with grace and improved my interpersonal communication skills.”

Grant Dupaty

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Grant Dupaty, first-generation Assumption Parish 4-H member, says 4-H has taught him many
valuable lessons and prepared him for his future.

Grant Dupaty, a current Assumption Parish 4-H member, initially thought that 4-H was a great way to miss class, but he quickly learned that 4-H would open a whole new world for him. After his first summer camp, he was hooked. From entering a few parish contests to admiring older 4-H members, Dupaty continued to become more involved. As a middle school member, he wanted to be more engaged and decided to run for a club officer position. He also joined the Assumption Parish Junior Leadership Club.

“4-H has taught me how to be a better leader,” Dupaty said. “One of the things I value the most is it has taught that making mistakes is OK if you learn from those mistakes and try to do better and not intentionally make the same mistake again.”

He is proud of his many accomplishments, from 4-H University to shooting sports, but considers serving as a camp counselor his biggest accomplishment.

“4-H has always taught me to use my head to think of new ways to solve problems, to follow my heart no matter where it takes me, to always use my hands to help the community around me and to help serve others, and, lastly, to live a healthy lifestyle for not only myself but my family and community,” he said.

As a first-generation 4-H member, Dupaty eagerly shared his experience with his parents. His father, who taught him to hunt, enjoyed watching Dupaty practice and compete in shooting sports. Both of his parents, who love gardening, were surprised to hear Dupaty share gardening tips after attending an agriculture career day and learning about growing plants. Dupaty is already encouraging his sister, who is 6 years old, to join 4-H when she is 9.

“I tell her if she wants to have some of the best moments, make some of the best memories and create some of the best relationships of her life, join 4-H.”

Jordan Dang

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Jordan Dang, St. Charles Parish 4-H alumnus, helps others see their potential. Serving as a camp
volunteer is one way Dang gives back to the program.

Jordan Dang discovered Louisiana 4-H in the ninth grade through a friend. He quickly became involved in the St. Charles Parish 4-H program and was attracted to opportunities such as 4-H University and the Junior Leadership Conference.

“I have a big heart for the 4-H program. It was so impactful in my life in so many ways it is hard to express,” Dang said.

4-H helped Dang strengthen his leadership skills and learn to be a team player. His experience in 4-H also instilled character traits such as respect, fairness and responsibility.

“My involvement in 4-H helped me to see potential in myself,” Dang said.

Dang’s participation in 4-H University exposed him to LSU and helped him develop his photography skills. In 2016, Dang received his bachelor's degree from the LSU College of Art and Design, and he now works as a freelance photographer. While in college, he continued his involvement in 4-H as a Collegiate 4-H member.

You can find Dang actively volunteering for the program as an adult leader. Whether capturing special 4-H moments through his camera lens or serving as a camp volunteer, Dang hopes to give back to the program that afforded him many opportunities. He hopes to inspire members just as his 4-H agent, Kali Zammit, helped him to see his potential. He continues to cherish the many friendships he established through his involvement. Even though he is a first-generation 4-H member, he is hopeful other members of his family will become involved.

“I am proud of Jordan and his growth from 4-H’er to 4-H adult leader,” said Kali Zammit, 4-H agent in St. Charles Parish. “He continues to serve as a role model for youth each summer with an enthusiastic personality and a camera in his hands ready to capture the moments of other youth beginning their own journey through 4-H.”

2/11/2020 8:09:20 PM
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