One of the most rewarding parts of 4-H for many students is the impact that it has on their lives and how the program molds their future. For Cheyenne Johnson, the program has afforded the opportunity to try new things and set her up for success as a leader in her role as the 2019-2020 UTK Collegiate 4-H/FFA Fundraising Chair.

Johnson’s introduction to 4-H was sweet – literally! Participating in a cookie baking contest in the fourth grade introduced Johnson to the program and sparked an interest. From there, Johnson participated in several sub-regional competitions, held leadership positions in the Loudon County 4-H Honor Club, participated as a teen leader for the sheep project, and assisted in livestock judging where she helped younger 4-H’ers by coaching them and preparing them for competition.

“These positions I was offered to assist younger 4-H’ers is part of what inspired me to become a teacher,” explains Johnson. “I felt that I was doing my best to prepare the future generations of agriculture.”

At the collegiate level, Johnson is still working tirelessly to make the best better and works with a team focused on the betterment of their communities.

“Collegiate 4-H has taught me more about professionalism and how important being involved in your community is, even as an adult,” says Johnson. “As a student, you learn how to give back to your community and how to interview, but as a collegiate member, you begin to see just how important these skills are and how you will use them in your everyday life.”

For Johnson, remaining active in the program after high school was never a question. She describes her experience as not just an after-school activity, but as a family that encourages each of its members to push themselves and take chances.

“4-H pushed me out of my comfort zone, which opened up a lifetime of opportunities for me,” says Johnson. “If it was not for 4-H, I never would have even considered my study abroad opportunity. The self-confidence and drive that 4-H taught me is what pushed me to study abroad in Australia.”

Johnson hopes to spread that message to younger 4-H’ers and encourages members to try new things.

“If you aren’t uncomfortable, you aren’t learning,” says Johnson.

This sentiment is an integral part of the 4-H program, and students like Johnson are the reason it’s so successful.