He didn't get involved as a kid, but Jeff Hoelscher has made up for not being involved in 4-H activities as a youth.
"I always thought it was a good group with good projects," he said. "I will always remember a sheriff giving a speech at one of their activities and he said, "You don't see 4-H kids getting into trouble,' and that always stuck with me."
Hoelscher grew up in rural Cole County and got a degree from agricultural business from Lincoln University, so he said he is familiar with what it takes to get things done on a farm.
When he became an elected official, Hoelscher said he found out just how much 4-H and the county's extension office work together to promote youth activities.
"When I've judged, I've found that their projects at the county fair are always good," he said. "They do a lot of different things such as leadership, speaking and other real world experience. They meet people most all of them tie in having fun even when working with their cows or their plants."
Hoelscher's efforts are appreciated by 4-H and extension leaders.
"Jeff Hoelscher is a true servant leader in Cole County," said 4-H Youth Specialist Jenny Flatt. "I have worked with Jeff for four years. I have admired Jeff's perspective and his knowledge about working with people and with construction projects. Jeff has always been willing to lend 4-H a hand, providing expertise and desire to give back to the community."
Hoelscher said 4-H continues to deal with the stigma of just being just for farm kids.
"They're open to everybody who wants an opportunity to learn new things," he said. "They have 4-H groups in the city and they're always looking to do new things. There some that want to get a groups for equestrian lovers. There's a group dealing with robotics. Young adults can do projects by themselves or as a group. It's not athletic so if they don't like sports this gets them another opportunity to meet people and not just sit around home."
He said it encourages youth to get involved in community. In the real world, you compete against everybody, and 4-H teaches real-world experience, he said.
"Look at a lot of jobs we hire for and this can give these kids something positive for their resume and something to be proud of," Holescher said. "They earn their keep and have limited funds. I wish I could help out more."
Flatt said: "I consider Jeff a true partner in the 4-H community, interested in leveraging resources and maintaining a physical presence to support and further the goals of youth development," Flatt said. "Leaders like Jeff are not often found who are willing to both provide vision and engage in the physical actions to manifest the vision."