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Terri Kimble and 4-H are inseparable. The agriculturally-based youth organization is her work, of course, but it's also her passion and a significant chapter in her family history.
Kimble is a second generation 4-Her, having been involved in 4-H since she was 10 years old, while her parents became ardent supporters a few years before that.
The organization helped Kimble turned from a shy high school student into the warm, talkative, talented woman she is today. It all started when her classmates elected her president of the 4-H club.
"I was shocked that my classmates even thought to write my name on a slip of paper, let alone elect me president. That was my first opportunity to stand in front of a group - I was terrified but that was my first opportunity - and lead something. That made big difference for me," Kimble said.
Her leadership training was all on full display last week, as Kimble brought home two national 4-H awards in the communication category. One was for the combined effort of 4-H and Main Street to promote 4-H week on the square, including the distinctive Squarecrows, while the second award was for a feature article she wrote about opportunities for military families. She also won a regional award for the weekly column she writes in The Covington News (she won a national award for that two years ago).
She's so dedicated to her work that she agreed to forego flying and head out on a road trip to the award ceremony in Omaha, paying part of her way there. Kimble's boss told her the chance to network with other 4-H professionals would be beneficial and encouraged her to save up money for the trip.
"We get limited professional development support, and the trips usually cost $1,000, so early my boss told me to start saving, either plan for it be a vacation or find the time and money," Kimble said. "It was chance to learn more about the history and culture of 4-H and pick up different ideas and tips."
Don't ask Kimble how many hours she works in a typical week, because she doesn't want to keep track. Some weeks its 24/7 Monday through Friday because of a camp or other weeklong event, and nearly every week is filled with a least a couple of events or meetings.
But she wouldn't trade it, because she gets to pass on the same lessons, skills and memories that she learned years before. One of her favorite memories is of former 4-Her Ed Hunt, who even after he was retired, used to take a group of children to judge poultry, and then would take them to The Varsity to eat.
"He would take a whole bunch of giggling girls to judge chickens, and then would take us to The Varsity where I would get a naked dog and chocolate milkshake every year," Kimble said. "I wasn't that interested in chickens, because I never owned one, but he would take us every year, that poor man."
Now, Kimble is the one to take the kids to The Varsity. She wouldn't trade those experiences for the world