Founding a Taskforce

When I attended my first 4-H club meeting as a shy, withdrawn middle schooler, I had no idea that that day would guide the course of my life to where I am today. I began to take on more roles in my club and county, gaining public speaking and leadership skills along the way. After being named a 2020 Virginia 4-H Youth in Action winner, I became more involved in 4-H at the state level. I attended Virginia 4-H Teen Summit in the fall of 2020, where I heard from Mayyadah Zagelow, a co-founder of the Washington 4-H Teen Equity and Inclusion Task Force. Mayyadah inspired me to develop a plan to create an Equity and Inclusion taskforce along with Becca, who is now my fellow co-founder and the Taskforce’s Director of Programming.

As a queer, black person, it can be difficult to find spaces where I feel entirely comfortable being myself. I often feel as though I have to hide or tone down parts of my identity to fit in, and I have to filter whatever I say to appeal to the people around me. Attending Teen Summit was the first time that I felt like I could be my authentic self in a 4-H setting, which made me realize that having an inclusive and open space in 4-H is entirely possible. I want every 4-H youth to feel free to express who they are to their 4-H community. I want every youth to feel valued and supported by their club and their unit. 

To begin working towards this goal, we have presented two workshops since we went public on May 1st, 2021. Both our 4-H Teen Summit and our 4-H State Congress workshops were so rewarding for us to present, and the energy and positivity that we received from our audiences will continue to propel us forward as we work on creating new content. We hope to continue to present workshops and create resources that can be distributed across the state to help ensure that everyone feels welcomed in Virginia 4-H. 

I am so proud to be able to call this taskforce my community, my family, and my team. So far on this journey, I have learned countless lessons about patience, leadership, and acceptance. As our application period for new members this year comes to a close, I am so excited to start the new 4-H year with the rest of our taskforce, new members and old, as we work to make Virginia 4-H a better place.