WI 4-H’ers share in international culture, ideas at summit

Wisconsin 4-H’ers Tarilyn Mikel, Abbie Hammer, Abby Korb, and Adam Riley pose at the Global 4-H Network Summit in Ottowa, Canada, in mid July.

How do Wisconsin 4-H’ers share our culture at an international summit? Teach the world the Wisconsin Milk song, of course!

Six representatives of Wisconsin 4-H joined delegates from 35 countries in Ottowa, Canada, for the Global 4-H Network Summit in mid July. Participants in the summit, geared towards older 4-H youth, volunteers and professionals, were: Megan Rebout, Rock County 4-H Program Coordinator, Josh Goede, Monroe County 4-H Youth Development Educator, Adam Riley, Wisconsin 4-H Leadership Council Vice President, Abbie Hammer, Racine County, Abby Korb, Racine County, and Tarilyn Mikel, Monroe County.

Global 4-H programs have 7 million members from 70 nations.

“The summit opened my eyes to how international and widespread 4-H is. Sometimes it is called 4-S or even 5-H, but the commonality is that it teaches youth life skills to influence their communities,” says Megan Rebout, Rock County 4-H Youth Development Advisor.

Abbie Hammer, left, enjoys a song from Lindy Couch of Illinois at the Night in the Country event at the mid July Global Network Summit in Ottowa, Canada.

The goal of the global summit was much like that of 4-H in the United States, but on an international scale — to build capacity and offer shared learning experiences. Each day was themed: Community Engagement & Communications, Science & Technology, Sustainable Agriculture & Food Security, and The Environment & Healthy Living. Attendees participated in seminars during the day and cultural activities, like visiting the Canadian Museum of History and Canada’s Agriculture and Food Museum with local 4-H club displays and demonstrations, as well as a high-level (fancy) dinner,

In some countries, like Finland, 4-H is for young people aged 6-28 years, with a focus on developing young people to start a business and earn money. In Nicaragua, 4-S (Saber-know/head; Sentimientos-feelings/heart; Servicio-service/hands; Salud-health/health) helps young people raise funds by selling coffee, dried fruit, honey and chia with programs run through churches. In Nepal, 4-H youth have sat on round tables solve peace problems with India. In Gambia, where youth are defined as age 13-35, they use sports, especially soccer, as their educational platform to bring more than 10 ethnic groups together.

Wisconsin 4-H’ers brought home great ideas as souvenirs from the international gathering.

“I did not know what to expect, but it blew my mind,” Rebout says. “I plan to use the stories, a few tools and the contacts made.” She has been in contact with a Scottish group called Are Ewe Okay about a tool that merges ag industry and mental health awareness.

Abby Korb (center) and Abbie Hammer (right) take part in an activity during Science & Technology Day at the Global 4-H Network Summit in mid July in Ottowa, Canada.

Abby Korb, a sophomore at Ripon college who recently graduated from Kan-Do 4-H, took part in science experiments at the summit. She played with a powder known as instant snow that puffs up when water is added, as well as magic sand, which is coated with a compound that keeps it from getting wet in water.  Korb said the seminar was useful to her in her summer job as an assistant daycare teacher with children ages 3-12. Korb is a psychology major who hopes to focus on children in foster care or with severe mental illness or trauma.

Youth under the age of 30 account for nearly half of the world’s population, making them important assets in addressing national challenges.

“From this summit, I learned that it doesn’t take much to change the world. You need to have participation, passion and a solid reason to make the change,” says Hammer, a 17-year-old 4-H Ambassador from the Burlington Back 40 4-H Club.

Wisconsin 4-H’ers said a memorable part of the summit was the ongoing cultural exchange, including traditional dances and dress from many countries.

“The Wisconsin youth made sure to teach everyone the Wisconsin Milk song. It was a great way to wrap up the conference,” Rebout says.

Don’t know the Wisconsin Milk song? Here’s a great tutorial.