Six Reasons Why 4-H is Fit for a King
“She had such a great experience that I wanted to get involved, too,” said Collins, a Hampton native and Iowa State University’s (ISU) 2014 homecoming king. “For me, 4-H became addictive.”
As a member of the Reeve Hampton Hustlers 4-H Club, Collins’ 4-H adventure encompassed six life-changing benefits:
- Exploring new interests. Collins was interested in photography, along with food and nutrition projects. He earned top honors at the Iowa State Fair with recipes like Mint Truffle Cups (see recipe below). “I enjoyed spending time in the kitchen with my mom and grandma while expanding my culinary skills,” Collins said.
- Developing life skills. From grade school through high school, 4-H taught Collins how to set goals, be resourceful and complete projects. “4-H helps kids develop a work ethic from the very beginning,” noted Collin’s mother, Dawn. “The more you put into it, the greater the reward.”
- Learning to lead. Not only did Collins serve as treasurer, secretary and president of the Reeve Hampton Hustlers, but he co-chaired the Franklin County 4-H Council, served on the area 4-H council and attended state leadership conferences. “I was always looking for the next step at every level,” he said. “I also learned how to work with people from all different kinds of backgrounds.”
- Improving communication skills. Collins and his friend, Spencer Claypool, often collaborated on 4-H working exhibits. Their demonstrations ranged from how to build pinecone bird feeders to creating “soil sundaes,” complete with chocolate cookies and gummy worms, to show layers of soil and promote conservation. Not only do these opportunities develop 4-H members’ public speaking skills, but they give young people the confidence to become advocates for what they believe in. “In large groups or small groups, they are able to present ideas with confidence,” Dawn Collins said.
- Discovering new opportunities. While Collins grew up in town, he enjoyed expanding his horizons through 4-H field trips that included a visit to ISU’s veterinary medicine facilities. He also appreciated 4-H’s emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). “I got to experience a lot of the agriculture world through 4-H, thanks to club leaders like April Hemmes,” added Collins, a senior majoring in journalism/mass communication and political science at ISU. “Her energy and enthusiasm are contagious.”
- Networking with others. Not only did Collins make friends through 4-H, but these connections endured beyond high school. “I reconnected with a lot of former 4-Hers at ISU,” Collins said. “It’s great to have a 4-H family at college.”
Dawn Collins is grateful that 4-H has given her children so many things that other groups can’t offer. “We really appreciate the long-lasting friendships and opportunities the kids would have missed out on had it not been for 4-H,” she said.
There’s no youth development program like 4-H, Collins concluded. “4-H gives you the chance to grow. All you have to do is seek these opportunities.”
A Taste of 4-H: Mint Truffle Cups
1 / 2 cup powdered sugar
1 / 2 cup butter, softened
1 cup flour
1 / 4 cup cocoa powder
2 / 3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 / 2 cup whipping cream
1 / 4 teaspoon peppermint extract
12 thin chocolate and green mints, unwrapped, coarsely chopped
In a medium bowl combine powdered sugar and butter; beat until light and fluffy. Add egg; blend well. Add flour and cocoa; mix well. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 to 2 hours for easier handling.
Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces. Place 1 piece in each of 24 ungreased miniature muffin cups. Press in bottom and up the sides of each cup, level with tops of cups.
Bake for 13 to 16 minutes, or until set. Cool in pans on wire racks for 20 minutes. Remove from pans.
Meanwhile, in medium sauce pan, combine all filling ingredients. Heat over low heat until chocolate is melted and smooth, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Cool 20 minutes, or until filling thickens slightly.
Spoon about 2 teaspoons of filling into each baked cup. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until filling is set. Sprinkled chopped mints on top of each cookie. Press in lightly. Store in refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.
As Collins prepares for a career in public relations or marketing, he continues to rely on the skills he learned in 4-H, along with his award-winning recipes like Mint Truffle Cups.