"I learned that life isn't all about the ribbons and sometimes projects don't turn out the way judges think they should. I learned about friendships, teamwork and that sometimes the stumbling blocks you overcome make you stronger -- as a kid and an adult."

Years in 4-H

B.S. '73 Home Economics with minor in Journalism, University of Illinois


Journalist & Freelancer, Retired Chicago Tribune

Favorite Projects:  Cooking, Baking, Sewing, Flower Arranging, Food demonstrations

How did 4-H contribute to your leadership skills today?

All of my projects and county fair events taught me how to value the skills each person brings to a project. Those 4-H food demonstrations helped me gain confidence in myself.

Did 4-H instill a career path for you?

I learned some cooking at home from my mother and grandmother, but it was in 4-H that I understood more of the "science" of cooking and how certain cooked or baked foods are supposed to look when done well. And how some culinary principles are used throughout the world's cooking though how each cook uses them is fascinating -- especially during my time working for an English-language newspaper in Mexico City and during interviews with celebrities for a Chicago Tribune column.

What advice do you have for someone who is interested in your career path?

Be curious -- about whatever you're interested in. Science. Cooking. People. Health. Computers. Then read other writers to see how they handle the English language. Then write in your own voice. Sometimes I think of myself as a "translator" -- taking cooking concepts or some interviews with scientists into stories using words in a way more people can understand. And, if you do go into writing, check and double-check your facts. Or as the Chicago journalist credo goes, "If your mother says she loves you, check it out."

What advice would you give a current 4-H member?Dig into what you love, then dig deeper. Give some project you wondered about a try -- then decide if you'd like to go deeper. 4-H gives you a chance to sample so many aspects of life, so go for it.

Why should young people join 4-H today?

For the friendships, teamwork and the vast array of programs they can try and find out where they get the most smiles, where they shine and where they are hungry to learn more.