My 4-H Story: Abbie Stack

I'm originally from Lafayette, Indiana and grew up with cornfields as my neighbors. Agriculture has always been a part of my life ­­­– my grandfather was a farmer and my mother grew up on the farm. At a young age I can remember going with my family to the 4-H fair to see my cousins show cattle, hogs and sheep.


I am about 5-years-old in this picture, so it was taken a little before my 4-H days. Growing corn next to our pig mailbox was a family tradition each year.

In many ways I'm a legacy 4-H member. My mom was a ten-year 4-H member and later an adult leader before I was even born. She was the one to enroll me in mini 4-H in second grade, which I stuck with until the summer after my senior year of high school, and I loved it! My favorite projects were Consumer Clothing and Foods. I made countless friends and even won a couple giant purple "Grand Champion" ribbons along the way.

The benefits of my membership didn't go away when I graduated. My county offered a small college scholarship to 10-year members, so sticking with it was beneficial to furthering my education as well.

When most people hear 4-H, they immediately think of showing animals, but it's so much more than that. As a 4-H member, I gained applicable life skills that you can't learn in a classroom. I actually never participated in any projects related to animals. Instead, I focused on projects related to foods, basket making, fine arts and consumer clothing. Another component of 4-H that most may not be aware of, is an opportunity called Junior Leaders, which teaches youth customer service skills, teamwork, leadership and the value of volunteering.

My favorite 4-H memory is participating in the 2013 Tippecanoe County 4-H Fair Queen Contest. I can remember going to the fair each year and watching the girls compete in their gorgeous dresses. During my 10th year in 4-H, I signed up to participate. It's not something that comes together overnight; you start preparing months in advance with classes teaching you everything from how to walk in heels to answering interview questions. Although I did not win, this experience provided me with life skills, new friends and increased self-confidence, just by pushing myself outside of my comfort zone.


Me competing in the 2013 Tippecanoe County 4-H Fair Queen Contest.

I am excited to participate in Bayer's partnership with 4-H because of the STEM opportunities it will foster. Historically, people have separated agriculture and STEM but more and more we are seeing the two overlap. I'm excited to see how the Science Matters program helps 4-H'ers to think about careers in STEM. I know if this partnership had existed when I was in 4-H, I would have jumped at the chance to participate.

By Abbie Stack
Discovery Pathology Research Associate