Head, Heart, Hands, and Health
I was rock climbing with my friend Ryland two years ago, and after mentioning how my day was at work, he looked at me and said flatly, "Collin, I just realized I have no idea what you do, and I've known you for a few years." He then followed up with "I think I want to keep the mystery going, don't tell me." So if you're reading this, Ryland, don't continue. As I was thinking of things to write about, I realized how if I didn't work for 4-H, I wouldn't know anything about it, nor would I have even known it existed. So if you want to know what 4-H is and what I do, well sit back and listen, because I'm about to weave one of the most thrilling yarns you'll ever read.
When I told a friend about my upcoming interview with 4-H back in 2012, she said "so... you're going to work with horses?" This was the first time I had heard that I could be dealing with animals in my day to day life, but that was not the last time that I heard that question. So before we get into what I do, let's talk about what 4-H is.
Back in the early 1900s, farmers were good at their job, but they sucked at staying competitive in a changing world. There was also an education gap in rural communities, where kids were getting left behind in skill development. So ye ol' US government stepped in and declared "well what if we just taught the kids to do stuff? Then when they take over the farms, they'll be doing all the best things!" and that's exactly what they did. In 1902, 4-H was born.
Today, 4-H has changed a lot, but it's been an additive change. There are new programs that focus on STEM and healthy living, but the ag roots are still there. So do I work with horses? No. I don't. Have I had to work alongside animals at various points in my career at 4-H? Absolutely. I'm not going to get into the political/demographic stuff because we definitely have that covered, but when Trump won and there was this outcry that we (liberals) didn't know much about the rest of the country (trump supporters), I wasn't shocked. You don't know America until you've been to the Western Regional Livestock Show, which I attended with my coworker Kelly in 2014. You want llamas? They've got llamas. You want sows? They've got sows. The people I met in Louisville, Kentucky that year are very different from the people who I encounter at Drake's Dealership on a Friday night in Oakland. Very different indeed.
But that's just a snippet of the 4-H community. I also got to travel up to Portland, Oregon, to visit a robotics club for a brand campaign photo shoot. We're not talking tabletop-Lego robots. This thing was about 6" tall, with complex circuity and architecture. It zoomed around the room picking up ping pong balls and delivering them through obstacles as it practiced for an upcoming competition. These kids were doing more with technology on this one project than most people will do in their lifetime. It was awe-inspiring.
But enough with the free PR for 4-H. I'm sure the million page views this will get is going to put our brand on the map. It's time to cut to the meat of this thing. What the heck do I do for 4-H? Well first off we have this (not) super slick website that sells all kinds of 4-H goodies and learning products. It's called the 4-H Mall, and before it was a website, it was an order-by-phone Catalog called the 4-H Supply Service. It was founded in 1925, so it has some history. They had awesome hats. A few years ago, when malls were in vogue, someone changed the name to 4-H Mall, and it wasn't a terrible idea, but given the way malls are trending over the last ten years.... we needed a change. So I get to help out with a big fancy facelift for a 90 year old entity. Coming soon is Shop 4-H, a new experience that will revolution e-commerce and will simultaneously change the world. Oh and did I mention we help kids? Eat it, techies!
But that's not all. For those of you who have spent any time in Chevy Chase, Maryland, you've likely drive by the 4-H Conference Center. It's a beautiful building and you probably thought to yourself "What the hell goes on in there?" Well wonder no longer my Marylander friends. It's a big ol' hotel and conference center. By some odd stroke of fate, I now handle the marketing for that too. Fingers crossed I don't mess anything up.
So there you have it. If you were wondering what the hell 4-H was, and you made it this far, well then you're a truly dedicated fan and I salute you. You should also check out our Wikipedia page. Thanks for reading, I hope this was enlightening!