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Lessons learned
michelle beran
Michelle Beran

A basic tenet of 4-H is experiential learning – learning by doing!

The learning in 4-H goes far beyond understanding how to measure a cup of flour or wash a calf. The ability to present in front of others, seeing a project through to the end and assembling a set of records are the true lessons of 4-H.

While in Denver each January for the National Western Stock Show, I am consistently impressed when meeting 4-H and FFA students by their polite and friendly manner, and appropriate attire. It is great to see them “dressed for success” as they leave the hotel to attend their banquets and award presentations. Each lesson they learn through their successful and less-than-successful moments will carry through to their continued education and job prospects. It truly warms my heart to have a young lady that I have worked with over the last few years share that she was complimented, during an interview, for her posture while sitting and how much she appreciated the reinforcement of this practice.

As a life-long learner, I am always evaluating how an event played out – was it successful? What could be done differently? What do I know now that I didn’t know when planning?

I came into the role of 4-H Youth Development agent with an unusual background having spent 20 years in consumer banking and 4 in health insurance. While many things in both roles helped to prepare me as a 4-H Youth Development agent (making presentations, marketing and communication, customer service while abiding by policies and procedures), my experience as a 4-H member, 4-H parent, Extension Board and PDC member have also shaped my background. Each county/district does things a little differently but works within the same framework of policies and procedures. Learning those differences is a challenge and I continue to learn as I go!

There is always someone willing to be critical of your work – some requested and some not. However, I have learned to take the good from any criticism and let go of the unrealistic or unreasonable. That doesn’t make it easy to hear but is an important skill for every age!

Good judgement comes from experience. Experience is often a result of bad judgement.

Don’t give up in the middle!

Michelle Beran is the 4-H and Youth Development Agent for the Cottonwood District, Barton County office. For more information on this article or other 4-H Youth and Development related questions email Michelle at or call 620-793-1910.