Published on Thursday, March 5, 2015 by Andrew Buck
Over the past ten years, senior Lilly Chilek has lived by the 4-H motto and has come to learn many valuable lessons in that time.
For Lilly, the decision to join 4-H was initially an issue of confidence.
“I was very shy as a little kid,” Lilly said. “Looking at the senior 4-H’ers who were really outgoing and really confident in themselves and prepared for life was definitely a motivator.”
The professional skills gained from 4-H has impacted Lilly’s abilities for her future work environment.
“The most important skill I have learned through 4-H is both public speaking and what it means to be an effective leader,“ Lilly said. Others have also witnessed the impact 4-H has had on Lilly’s confidence and speaking abilities.
“I always get excited when they hand Lilly a microphone,” Lilly’s father and 4-H Extension Program Specialist Kevin Chillek said. “You never know what she is going to say, but you can be sure it will be thought provoking, a little edgy, and worth listening too.”
4-H isn’t just about livestock and horticulture, it also focuses on skills useful for daily living and hobbies.
“I’ve done photography, food and nutrition, clothing and textiles, baked goods,” Lilly said. “And over the past two years I’ve focused on leadership and politics.”
For many students like Lilly, 4-H provides a diverse range of career paths through their programs.
“The main idea behind 4-H is youth development,” Lilly said. “It’s so diverse and you want to try everything and you want to get involved in everything. You may have a few things you like a lot, but you’re so curious as a child that you want to get involved in anything that you can because of your curiosity, and 4-H wants to cater to that.”
It’s easy to become a part of 4-H, especially given the local support for agricultural studies in the county.
“Within Brazos County there are about 20 4-H clubs, some specialize in dogs, some specialize in rabbits, some do everything,” Chilek said. “There’s a website called ‘4-H connect’ where you sign up to become a member of 4-H, and then you just start going to club meetings.”
Lilly will move on from 4-H and begin to utilize her abilities in college and in life.
“4-H was a youth activity and going on to college means participating in young adult activities,” Mr. Chilek said. “One day she will feel the need to give back to the program as adult, and when they day comes I’m sure she will volunteer to serve as a 4-H Club Manager, or some other significant role. But until then, post-4H life will be just that, post; she will move on to new challenges.”
Through Lilly’s continual dedication, she has found enjoyment in an organization that gives back to hard working students.
“It’s not something you dread going to, every 4-H event I’ve ever been to, I’ve had an amazing time,” Lilly said. “I’ve made the best friends that I could’ve asked for through 4-H and I’ve met the best people, and I’m so prepared for college and for life because of it”